Monday, November 15, 2010

English composition part 7

Secondary school composition topics are so much more interesting than in primary school. Those who memorise model compositions for accidents, day at the park, day at the beach, blah blah, will be disappointed to find that they can't use them at the secondary school level.

For her sec 1 end of year English exam, Lesley-Anne had a write a composition based on either of two phrases: "It's not my fault!" or "Too many cooks spoil the broth." The kids had about an hour to write.

Lesley-Anne chose the first one and I was surprised when she brought home the exam script. At primary school, I never saw any of my kids' compositions written during exams. I figured the teachers didn't want any parents arguing with the score given. Looks like there are no such hang-ups in secondary school.

Here's her compo, mistake are hers.

Humans are the proudest creatures on earth. You know how many people, especially after a failure, say "It wasn't my fault!" As childish and immature as this line may seem, many of us are prone to saying it or at least implying it. Why? That is because we just do not want to humble ourselves, admit that we have flaws and that we are at fault. Proud as a peacock? I think that simile was originally supposed to be as proud as a human, but as you know, we humans are just to proud to believe that, so we changed it to as proud as a peacock.

Now, I know what you're thinking. I should probably be guilty of being proud too right? Wong! I am extremely guilty of being proud. However, I have learnt that pride is a dangerous thing and it can only lead to a fall. That is why I am humbling myself right now, to share with you an example in my life where I was just so horribly stuck up, so that you will not make the same mistake. Pride is dangerous, but it starts small, with something minor like the simple notion that it wasn't my fault.

That morning, I made two mistakes. The first was volunteering, the second was working with a team of morons. I had, in a moment of madness, just volunteered to be the leader of the dance group in our class performance. For this class performance, the class was split up into groups and each decided on a performance, like a dance, song or skit, to put on. No prizes for guessing which group I was in.

As a leader, I was the one in charge of the choreography and so, I wasted no time. After planning and teaching the group the dance, a problem arised.

"I do not like doing the turns!" "I can't do it, it's too hard!" "The music's awful!" "What will we wear?"

It was an onslaught of petty complaints! What did I do? Imagine that those complains were houseflys and imagine me with a fly swatter.

However, as the days went on and the performance date drew nearer, more and more complications presented themselves. The complaints I could handle, the fact that my groupmates dance horribly, I couldn't. When they danced, it was a made tangle of flailing arms and jutting legs. They could not turn without spinning out of control, they could not jump without landing and creating a hole in the ground, neither could they do a split without pulling a muscle. They just could not dance for peanuts.

There was a dress rehearsal on Saturday before the Monday night performance. We performed dismally, earning many comments that were not so flattering. Embarrassed and angry at our failure, I stormed off after the rehearsal.

Just then, someone grabbed my hand. I whirled around to see my groupmate, Lisa. She asked me why I was so mad. That was seriously a really stupid question.

"We failed! Of course I will be mad!"

"We still have time before Monday. There is still hope!"

I chuckled at how naive she was.

"You bunch of idiots can't possibly learn by then," I muttered. That was totally, the wrong thing to say.

"We are the idiots? Who was the one who choreographed a dance so difficult that only a grade seven ballet student could do? I mean, we have no dance background at all, for heaven's sake!"

"That dance isn't hard!"

"Says the ballet student!"

"But it wasn't my fault! You people filled the practice sessions with petty complaints instead of trying to learn the dance!"

Lisa opened her mouth to protest but shut it. Then, she just walked away. The argument ended just as abruptly as it had started. As I stood there, still a little stunned, I replayed the whole process of pratising the dance in my mind. And it was not a pretty sight. Instead of being an understanding, patient and kind leader, I realised I was an awful, bad-tempered leader with no empathy. What have I done? I ran back and started to apologise to the group. To my immense relief, they forgave me. Just like that!

The next day, we spent the whole day practising a simple version of the dance and we just hoped and prayed that it would be up to standard. I realised that by apologising, the team seemed to be more cooperative and seemed to be fuelled by a certain determination to do well which was now in them.

On Monday night, the curtains rose and we stepped out of the wings onto the stage. The dance was, unfortunately not a success. Many mistakes were made and we received the least applause. Even though it was a huge improvement from Saturday, it just wasn't enough. As we walked back to the dressing room, Cheryl strode up to me, as if to complain again like she always did. But Lisa suddenly appeared, silenced her with one look and said "It wasn't her fault. It is our fault that we were not serious during the practises". Cheryl looked stunned but did not say anything.

At that moment, I wanted to shout that it was my fault. That it wasn't there's. That I was too blind to my own flaws and only saw their's. But I did not say anything because it won't do any good. It was too late. But not too late to tell you, reader, that you must learn from this and let go of your pride because it is always pride before fall. And if you look at the story closely, you will see that it really was entirely my fault after all.

Score: 23/30 (content 9/10, language 14/20)


Karmeleon said...

I did see my kids' exam compos ....

The Beauties In Our Lives said...

Hi Monica,
I am one of your many silent readers who follow your blog for a while, and I always enjoy reading your insightful and well-written entries.

I am compelled to drop a comment tonight because I must say I am utterly impressed by Lesley-Anne's composition, especially her flow of thoughts and content structure. Very logical and very intimate to the reader! Well done in coaching her! Did she take any writing classes when young or even currently?

Excellent composition! :)

monlim said...

BIOL: Thanks for speaking up! Love hearing from my readers.

Sorry, I can't take any credit in coaching L-A, she reads a lot, that's about it. She's never taken any writing classes or had tuition in English, I think she just has a natural affinity to writing and the English language. If there was a magic formula to writing well, I would be the first one to sign Andre up!

Anonymous said...

L-A writes excellently. There is a dramatic boldness in her expression compared to her P6's ones.


monlim said...

Thanks QX! Hopefully she can keep the interest and mature in her ability.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...