Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The language of Andre

The other day in the car, we saw some Malay teenagers all donned up in their best baju for Hari Raya. Andre asked where they were going and Kenneth said, "They're probably going to visit their cikgu."

Andre immediately piped up, "I thought cikgu is a fruit."

"That's CHIKU lah."

Typical Andre. Anyway, just thought I'd slip in that funny story. I always felt that Andre was creatively-inclined, not only because of his interest in the piano but in everyday life. I mentioned in a previous post about his "creativity" in English comprehension - he comes up with the strangest answers that I would never in my life dream up. His composition exam is today and I'm just praying he will do ok because he sometimes thinks up the most bizarre stories which, coupled with his atrocious grammar and spelling, become completely incoherent.

Once, I gave him a composition assignment based on these 4 pictures:

I won't type out the whole composition, but within the first two paragraphs, this is what Andre wrote:

Sam saw his classmates playing soccer. He asked John if he could join. John said he is to fat to play soccer. John had hurt his feelings. Sam sat on the grass at the side. He watched them play the game. Suddenly, a furious fox came to eat John for his lunch.

Aiyoh, how to mark like that? A furious fox? Eating little boys for lunch?? Somebody has been watching too many cartoons. In his defence, I think he has a very vivid imagination which sometimes cannot sieve out what is a realistic scenario and what is not. I'm hoping this will improve as he matures. Meanwhile, he has been quite conscientious in the past few days. He hasn't complained about the composition assignments I've given and I can see he's really trying, so I've got to give him credit for that. I must remember, as fellow blogger Adeline said, to celebrate the effort instead of the result.

Andre's creativity also extends to maths, as I recently found out. One of the maths topics in p2 is Shapes and Patterns. In one of the mock exam papers he did, there was this question:

"Draw one figure that has 3 straight lines and 4 curves in the box below. Use a ruler to draw your straight lines."

I laughed when I saw what Andre had drawn:

Maybe it's just me, but I thought that was thinking out of the box. Unfortunately, it's not enough to thrive in this cut-throat academic rat race but I'm glad he can find little ways to express his personality even within something as structured as the school curriculum.


Alcovelet said...

Monica, your Andre is a dream lah. It looks like he thinks so differently from the rest of the family, but he could be your creative side gone wild!

That face is hilarious! How not to get charmed by him?? I bet the teacher was chuckling very hard when she graded that! The world is a big place, Mon. Just my two cents worth - I think he'll be more than fine, but he'll have more fun than us while he's at it!

monlim said...

You're right, I think Andre is my creative side without the inhibitions! I guess he'll find a way to make it in this world, meanwhile I just have to make sure the school system doesn't quash his personality.

Lilian said...

Yes! Your No1 priority now is to ensure the bloody school system doesn't stifle this boy. Aiyoh, why must Singapore school have this inane picture composition section. I never liked it.

See how Andre's mind works, he started out with sentences that were 'normal' ie what the school would want. As he went on, his focus was still on Picture 2, where there's a dog/fox who can tell..., and he still managed to write 'normal' sentences, and suddenly off he goes flying to a different world where boys get eaten by furious foxes. More interesting than any story one can hope for from the 4 boring pictures.

And wrt to Mr Smiley face there...pure genius!

monlim said...

Thanks Lilian for that much needed outside perspective, I was despairing over his inability to write "normally" but is that what is really needed in this world?

Reminds me of one of Lesley-Anne's classmates - the picture showed boys stuck in a lift but he wrote about them being sucked into an abyss and alternate universe. I think that's way more creative!

Lilian said...

Darnit now I know who Andre reminds me of! Calvin lah...with his alternate universe where tigers talk and dinosaurs come alive and transmogrifiers, duplicators and time machines exist. See the similarities? Yes yes, you are very much like Calvin's mum too, the exasperated but loving mum.

I do wonder how English composition is taught elsewhere in the world. Brian's never had to write a guided picture composition, that's what they call this exercise right?

Out of curiousity, did L-A's teacher like that boys' composition about being sucked into an abyss? I sure hope so, I'd be interested in that story.

monlim said...

Would you believe when I was preggers with Andre, I was reading all the Calvin and Hobbes and I told Kenneth I wanted a son exactly like Calvin?? No wonder they say to be careful what you wish for!!! (There was even a girl in his class who used to point out his mistakes, like Susie!!)

Good question, I don't know how composition is done elsewhere. Here, the guided pic is for lower pri, then in upper pri, you have a choice of situational or pic. What do the schools in London and Moscow give Brian for compo?

That boy's (Ryan) compo was done at home, not in school, his mother was so horrified I don't think it ever saw the light of day... Even today, Lesley-Anne says he enthralls all his classmates with his story-telling at recess, all sci-fi stuff.

eunice said...

Your son is hysterical!!! I agree with Lilian and not let the sin school system stifle his imagination. He'd do really well in international school. I know cos Sean is very much like Andre and sometimes he doesn't make sense to me but his imagination...

In BKK they recognise the effort and if you think outside the box, the teachers love you! That's why am so glad that Sean is studying here cos I'd really go nuts if he was in Sin.

I love the face. You have to admit, it IS very, very creative.

monlim said...

Too bad S'poreans not allowed to attend international schools, I hear they really give a well-rounded education.

Eunice: I'm glad to hear Sean is enjoying school in BKK, definitely not the pressure cooker like it is here!

Anonymous said...

I LUURVVEE the face AND the fox!!

I can tell you that the society over here in Canada would really know how to appreciate a kid like Andre. The arts is seriously considered like a 'higher' pursuit while 'science & technology'--while producing the most well-off people--is somewhat 'industrial class'. When you say your hobby is painting or crafts-making everyone's faces light up. But if you speak of doing extra-curricula math with your kid everyone's faces go blank and they start speaking slowly & clearly to you like they're afraid you can't understand them. And over here it's a cultural faux pas to even ask what a person does for his living--you only talk about weather, yard-work or community happenings--so you can be sure that Andre can pursue whatever career he likes and never be viewed askance from the socioeconomic point of view. You're not judged by how much your career makes or what kind of house or car you have, but by whether you 'have a life'. It's why they can come up with something like Cirque de Soleil, and that's just one example of the melding of amazing creative & commercial potentials (have you seen it? I saw the one which premiered in Portland recently, called 'Corteo'.) Besides the acrobatics it's just so full of beautiful imagery & amazing artistic details. I can imagine Andre being one of the creative directors of such an outfit. Even the TV/radio commercials here are much more creative than in Sgp.

Sad to say, but I honestly suspect that the Sgp society is going to short-change Andre and will potentially be capable of making him feel like a misfit or 2nd-class. I don't know how to say this strongly enough but I think he's going to be that much happier over here (or in other similar places). For one thing, he'll meet many more people who're just like him, teachers included!


btw I've written a comment in Lilian's post about how English is taught. It's highly relevant to your post here.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Hey Mon,
Andre has such a good sense of humour.

And as for the figure, I think the person behind that question gotta rethink how he needs to phrase it clearly.
When students are given a vague question, then they shouldn't be penalised for giving an unexpected answer.

There was no mention how the lines should be drawn, with or without angles, adjacent, congruent, perpendicular etc... And 4 curves, no mention of size too...

Maybe Andre is mocking at the mock exam questions! :)

monlim said...

Hi YY, thanks for the advice, much appreciated! I love Cirque du Soleil, it's the height of imagination. I agree that with many ang moh countries, the focus is on living a life instead of "what do you do", "what car you drive", "what house you live in" - the materialism irritates me. But without the option of migrating for now, I think what I need to do is make sure Andre's creativity is not encouraged not stifled, something which I'm more conscious of only after speaking with all you ladies. I'd like to believe that he's hardy enough to weather the system, if he gets enough support from us (ie no pressure to excel in the traditional routes).
PS I hope you found my reply to your comments on my GEP post helpful?

Cindy: Andre didn't get penalised for the drawing, it was marked correct (they haven't learnt things like angles yet). But if I were the teacher, I'd give him a star!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes I was going to reply to your reply on the GEP & non-GEP. Give me a bit more time (stacks of housework & clutter yet to be cleared and it's driving hubby up the wall!) & I'll surely get back.. probably another 24hr's time as tomorrow I'll be baby-sitting a friend's baby.. (ahhhh... I've 'got a life', don't I? tee-hee..) YY.

monlim said...

YY: Haha! Yes, you have a life. I wasn't suggesting you had to answer right away (or at all). Just wasn't sure if you'd seen it. *waits patiently*

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