Monday, October 14, 2013

Andre's Sec 1 report card

2013 simply zoomed by. My book consumed much of my energy this year, which left me little time for anything else.

As far as Andre's studies is concerned, this was a year of trial and error. When Lesley-Anne hit secondary school, I was practically hands-off, leaving her to her own devices. So, silly me thought I could do the same for Andre. Why in the world I would have this assumption, I've no idea. After all these years of knowing that my two kids are as different as chalk and cheese, I still hold the illusion that one approach might work for the other.

Anyway, I left him pretty much alone for his revisions for his CA1 and the result was that he failed 3 out of his 8 subjects. Needless to say, I went a little berserk. I mean, I could understand why he failed Chinese (in fact, no surprises there), even History (since it's the first time he was taking the subject). But he even managed to fail Science! That baffled me.

So it was back to Mummy-guided revisions and he showed some improvements for the SA1. In fact, his History jumped from an F9 to an A2. I realised that it was mostly a case of him not quite answering the questions properly. What I find is that in secondary school, the questions are much more sensibly worded than in primary school. No twists and turns in trying to "trick" the child, especially for Maths. However, having a clear understanding of what the questions are asking for take some practice and getting used to.

I've also since learnt that taking Andre at his word for how the exams went is an ambiguous gauge at best as his interpretation of what's good is a far cry from Lesley-Anne's. Eg:

Lesley-Anne: "Good!" (A1)
Andre: "Good!" (B)

Lesley-Anne: "Ok" (B3)
Andre: "Ok" (Pass)

Lesley-Anne: "Bad" (Anything less than B3)
Andre: "Not so good" (Fail)

Me to Andre: "So what's an A?"
Andre: "A miracle."

As a friend said, the theory of relativity explained in one illustration! During the SA2 period, after Andre's Chinese exam, I asked him how it went. "Ok" was his reply. "What's 'ok'?" the wiser me decided to probe.

"Well, I have a 50% chance of failing." 

The reply nearly gave me heart failure but I'm pleased to say, the outcome was a positive one in the end. Andre passed all subjects (one out of the only 4 in his class who achieved this feat) and scored Bs in most of them. We're happy for small mercies, especially since we know he entered this school with a lower t-score than most of his counterparts, as an appeal case.

My evaluation of Andre's first year of secondary school is that it was generally a good one, not least because we think the school turned out to be a great fit for him (I might blog about this later on). In terms of academics, it was a bit of a see-saw because he had to get used to 8 subjects, some of which he'd never done before. Also, this school takes into account daily work and class tests, so he needed to keep up with the work consistently which kinda wasn't his style. 

However, on the whole, we still feel it's a lot less stressful than in primary school. Even though I helped him with his revisions closer to the exams, I was definitely less involved compared to previous years. Somehow, we don't get the impression that every test or exam is make-or-break and has serious consequences. The content is also more interesting because there is less drilling and repetition ad nauseum to gain perfection in exam techniques. Obviously, this might come back to haunt us in the 'O' level year but for now, I'm liking secondary school. 

In two weeks time, Andre would have completed his sec 1. He also just turned 13 so he's now officially a teenager. Unbelievable. I wonder if I can be hands off next year... one must always live in hope.     


Anonymous said...

Great sharing! Well done to Andre for good efforts.

He is one of only 4 in the class who passed all subjects?!
In general, I am hearing secondary schools setting papers which more than half failed.
Scare tactic by schools(?) :(
Setting such papers only reflect on the quality of teaching of the school. The school has failed to make most of the class understand the lessons.

Jiayou, Andre! Meanwhile enjoy the well deserved break.


monlim said...

SL: Yeah, I know some schools love to "kill" the students by setting ridiculous papers (Lesley-Anne's school is one!)

Andre's school isn't so bad. There were a few more-difficult-than-expected papers, for science, maths and history but they weren't that impossible. Many of the kids flunked one paper. Andre got lucky, he just scraped through a couple and passed everything. Doesn't mean he's better than his classmates though, haha.

But we're happy nonetheless!

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica,
Woah 8 subjects!
Sounds a lot from the 4 in primary school...

Andre has improved and that's the most important! And he will get better once he grasps the nuances of the questions which I feel are usually the issue with exam/test questions, whether primary or sec school. Get to the point, gosh, I always say...but I am not MOE or the schools =p


monlim said...

Grace: Yes, I agree questions should just get to the point! They should be testing the kids' critical thinking not whether they can be tricked into answering incorrectly.

Andre has improved over the course of this year. Hopefully it will get even better next year :)

Anonymous said...

Well done Andre!!

Dear Monica,

I like the different interpretations of what's good to Lesley-Anne and Andre :)

Little Bao flunked his Literature (again). His teacher couldn't understand why he could fail this subject when his other subject English ain' bad.

His results (borderline for a couple, more Cs than Bs for the rest and only an A), and are way below our expectation as we know he has potential to do better, and he has not put in his best.

I am trying to look on the bright side on the fact that he enjoys his current school life and is mega happy with it.


monlim said...

Thanks, Nutella! I know it's hard not to get anxious when results fall below expectations. I, for one, has learnt to lower my expectations, haha.

But I really do believe that for most kids, there are just some subjects they find it hard to get a handle on (lit and history for boys is quite common, I believe).

And as you say, as long as he enjoys his school and has settled in well, that's a big plus. Hopefully the academic part will fall into place soon!

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