Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trivial pursuit

I've been tagged by Eunice! Apparently, this means I have to write 6 random bits of information about myself. I've got a slight complication - since my blog is about kids and education, I've imposed the additional burden on myself to provide 6 pieces of trivia about moi that somehow relates to kids and education. Hmm... let's see if I can rise to the occasion.

1. I set up my own business in 2002 focusing on copywriting and to a lesser extent, other sorts of communications like branding. Although one reason for this was that I got tired of all the corporate crap, the primary reason was so that I could set up a home office and be with/scream at/chase after (delete where applicable) my kids who were only five and two years old then. My company is Hedgehog Communications - how I arrived at the name was pretty unusual. I initially wanted a clever name starting with M, but everything I liked was taken. Then while I was having chicken rice with Kenneth at a coffee shop, I suddenly thought, why am I taking myself so seriously? Let's make it fun. I told Kenneth, "I'm going to pick an animal" and would you believe, a hedgehog was the first animal I thought of? Really strange but I was instantly drawn to it. So Hedgehog Communications it became.

Since then, my official line when asked why the name is "because it's sharp and to the point, like good communications should be." But you know the real story behind how it was chosen lah. And it has given me the added fun of collecting hedgehog memorabilia. Here's my treasured hedgehog collection - they're from all over the world and many are from friends. At last count, I have 24.

2. In school, English was always my favourite subject and one of my ambitions was to be a writer. Funnily enough, this became reality although not the type of writer I envisioned! My compositions in school frequently featured girls named Lesley - see how long I've loved the name! But never Andre though, I never wrote about boys since they were like alien beings to me, what with having only a sister and coming from an all-girls school.

3. When I was in JC, I took up Accountancy. I enrolled in it because I was undecided at secondary 4 and God knows, there was no such thing as career counselling or course advisors back then. So I was persuaded by my dad, the accountant, who thought his career offered stability and financial security. It turned out to be the most miserable two years, academically, for me. Although I love maths, I have absolutely no head for financial figures. My balance sheet could never balance, all the charts on hedge funds and economic theories bored me to tears. I could only keep awake at lessons if I popped a sour lemon sweet.

After I received my dismal 'A' level results (where the only subject I did well in was General Paper - figures, doesn't it?) I opted to go to the Arts faculty in NUS where I found my fit and enjoyed myself thoroughly studying Sociology and English. I even won a gold medal for graduating top of my Sociology honours class, which proves the point that you're more likely to excel if you do something you enjoy.

4. I love puzzles. Ok, you probably already figured that out. But did you know that I also love computer games? Not the violent shooting, blood-squirting types. The puzzle and arcade types. Also word games, which is why I'm currently playing 5 Scrabble games simultaneously and chasing my Prolific score on Facebook. I sometimes find it hard to limit my kids on computer games since I understand the allure. That's why I refuse to have Playstation, X-box or Wii in our home because I know we are likely to turn into addicts.

5. When I was younger, I used to draw a lot. I don't consider myself an artist however because I'm more of a "copier", ie I find it difficult to create original drawings. As a kid, I copied all the Walt Disney cartoons and drew animals from books. Even in NUS when I stayed at the hostel, I drew lots and lots, as decorative pieces for my room and as advertising material for the many hall committees I joined. It was all tremendous fun!

I don't do it anymore, due to time constraints but here are a couple I did in coloured pencil for the kids' room before Andre was born (again copied from books).

And this is one of the few I did from scratch - I wanted to do a family portrait but I can't paint or draw faces, so I used handprints instead. I was experimenting with oil paints for the first time, so the background is terribly amateurish but it is personal and meaningful only to us, so it hangs in our living room.

6. Finally, since I was young, I'd always wanted two kids - a boy and a girl. So in that respect, I've been pretty blessed. Although in my dream, the two kids would always be loving and kind to each other, not clawing each other's eyes out. Hey, I was innocent and idealistic - I also wanted a cat and a dog that would live harmoniously together! Oh well, nothing is perfect. But God is good.

So there's my 6. I realise they're not so trivial but I wanted to share stuff relevant to this blog. It's actually quite fun so I'm passing on the baton - tagging Lilian. Go on girl, your turn!


Anonymous said...

Hey, what you said about excelling in what we feel passionate about is so true... Sad thing is, I don't think I've yet found that thing which I'm most passionate about! I seem to go through phases in my life--I have felt passionate about different things at different times, nothing that seems all consuming and pervasive. How?? :-(

I think all my life I've been so ruled by the desire to please that I haven't really found out who I really am or what I really want.

On another note, the results of the latest TIMSS (Trends in International Math & Science Study) are out. The TIMSS assesses Grade 4 and grade 8 students.

Sgp is top in Science for both grade 4 & 8 but slipped in the Math supremacy which it held in 2003. HK overtook Sgp in grade 4 math, Taipei & Korea overtook Sgp in grade 8 math.

What I'm interested in is the state of Massachusetts in USA.

It appears that Massachusetts is 2nd only to Sgp in grade 4 Sci and is 3rd place after Sgp & Taipei in grade 8 Sci.
For math its grade 4's are in 4th place before Japan, & its grade 8's are in 6th place after Japan.

Relevant data can be found in these 2 downloads:--

Not bad, huh? Interestingly, Massachusetts boasts Harvard University, ranked No. 1 in the world, and MIT, ranked No. 9.

Massachusetts is also one of the 5 states of the 'New England' region in USA that boasts the Ivy League universities, as well as 10 of the top 30 universities in the world!


monlim said...

Nice to have you back again, YY! Well, nothing wrong with not having an all-consuming passion for one thing but I do believe every individual shd be engaged in something he/she believes in and not just living for others. Not too late to find out!

Interesting abt Massachusetts. I dunno anything about the US systems, I wonder if it has anything to do with the quality of the cohorts that enter in the first place? Like the RGS and RIs of SGP can churn out such great students because they only take in bright ones to begin with. If not, I wonder why the rest of US can't use the Massachusetts model for the rest of their schools.

Anonymous said...

Massachusetts has a population of only 6.4 million.

(From wikipedia:) ""Historically it has had strong commitment to education. It was the first state to require municipalities to appoint a teacher or establish a grammar school (albeit paid by the parents of the pupils) with the passage of the Massachusetts Education Law of 1647; this mandate was later made a part of the state constitution in 1789. The town of Franklin has been noted to be the birthplace of public education in North America, due to the fact that education pioneer Horace Mann was born in the town, and The Franklin Public Library is the first public library in America. Massachusetts is home to the country's oldest high school, Boston Latin School (founded 1635), America's first publicly funded high school, Dedham, (founded 1643), oldest college, now called Harvard University (founded 1636), oldest incorporated preparatory school, Phillips Academy (founded 1778), first racially integrated high school Lowell, and oldest municipally supported free library, Boston Public Library (founded 1848). In 1852, Massachusetts became the first state to pass compulsory school attendance laws. The per-student public expenditure for elementary and secondary schools (kindergarten through grade 12) was fifth in the nation in 2004, at $11,681.

Massachusetts is home to many well-known preparatory schools, colleges, and universities. There are more than 40 colleges located in the greater Boston area alone.""

Boston, the capital of MA, is a national center of higher education & medicine. I've had a number of medical colleagues in Sgp who went to Boston for further training.

Apart from historical reasons, I'm still trying to find out what other factors are present to account for the educational excellence. I also noted that the % of blacks is only 1/2 that of the national average. It has close to 300,000 Ashkenazi Jews, which I suppose is significant given the total population of only 6.4million.


Lilian said...

Meme done!

I remember seeing that handprint painting in your house and admired it so much. Definitely one to keep for the rest of your life. And you are quite the artist, hidden talent man.

monlim said...

Thanks, but copy only lah. Cannot "tan jiah" one...

eunice said...

Like how you came up with your company name! Now I know what to get you if I meet you.

You were in Arts in NUS? So was I. I took Political Science and English. We were the same year? I graduated in '89 ( I think. IT was so long ago)

monlim said...

I graduated 93. I think you were the same year as Gerard? He took PS too, if I recall.

Would love to meet up if ever you're back in SG!

Alcovelet said...

Hey Mon, love your stuff toy collection! I have some old stuffed toy token ones (ie hang from the bag type) from way back - maybe can auction off on ebay, haha!!

monlim said...

Ad, why don't you just give to RK? You can never have too many stuffed toys, methinks!!

breve1970 said...

You have so many talents, Monica! Top the Sociology honours class as well! Now I know why Lesley Anne is in the GEP and Andre is just as brilliant!:)

Just realised that we are of the same age too!

monlim said...

Ann: first time I've heard anyone say Andre is brilliant, haha! We're the same age? Wow!

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