Tuesday, November 25, 2014

JC or poly? Andre decides

Last month during the time of the Focus on the Family debacle, we were at home discussing the thorny issue of relationship programmes when I suddenly recalled that Andre had attended one in school.

Me: "Do you know who conducted it?"

Andre: "Dunno."

Me: "What did they teach?"

Andre: "Dunno. I wasn't listening."

Me (exasperated): "Aiyoh! Why not?"

Andre: "No need lah! Everybody says relationships so complicated. Just don't get into a relationship lor! Problem solved."

That's Andre for you - always taking the path of least resistance.

Anyway, Andre enjoyed a very nice end to the school year. First, he received a medal - not for badminton but... archery! He had chosen archery for his school sabbatical programme and his team came in first.

The second surprise was his year-end results. For the first time in his secondary school journey, he scored all As and Bs (well, except for Chinese which he inevitably flunked). Not sure how that happened but we're not complaining! "Have you been holding out on me?" I asked.

Since this marks the end of sec 2 for Andre, he had to choose his subjects for sec 3. Almost all his classmates and friends were gunning for triple science or double science classes. Andre was one of the exceptions who opted for combined science.

Let me explain the rationale. Earlier this year when I had a heart-to-heart talk with Andre, we discussed his future. Based on what he told me he wanted to do, he had decided that he wanted to go to the polytechnic after sec 4 instead of a JC. He was even more adamant about this decision after he saw how Lesley-Anne was plagued by endless homework and exams in JC. "You can't make me go to a JC!" he told me.

Lol. Not that I had any intention of doing so anyway. Even though Kenneth and I have always told him to keep an open mind, based on his plans, his aptitude and his interests, our gut feel is that Andre is much more suited for a poly education than a JC one. We really don't believe that one is a better choice than the other. Unlike some parents who think that you should gun for a JC if you can make it, we honestly feel that a JC education isn't for everyone. It suits Lesley-Anne but it probably would be a complete mismatch for Andre. This is a very good website on the differences between a JC and poly education.

Knowing whether you want to go to a poly or JC impacts on your subject choices for sec 3. To get to a poly, you only need to count five subjects whereas for JC, you need six. So taking too many additional subjects would eat into your time, which the triple and double science combinations would (8 subjects each). For the combined science combination, Andre would only need to take 7 subjects, which is much more manageable. Furthermore, it's preferable to take pure science subjects only if you intend to take science at JC (combined science has reduced content and would put you at a disadvantage) or if you're passionate about science (which Andre is not). For the poly courses Andre is interested in, there is no pre-requisite for science subjects.

And that's why he's ditching the popular triple/double science route. Too often, I see kids and parents adopting the same kiasu attitude in secondary school the same way they do with the PSLE (and everything else). Get into the "best" school/course that your score can possibly get you! That's hardly a logical course of action. Understand what your child's interests and inclinations are, then choose the school and path that stand the best chance of getting him where he wants to go. It really is that simple. You can check out more details on JC and poly admission requirements here.

So that's the update on Andre. He has no homework these holidays, unlike his poor sister. I was disinclined to have him bumming around all holidays and at first, told him to find a holiday job. That turned out not to be a feasible plan as there are limited options for 14-year-olds plus he has badminton training on some days. Community service was next on the cards and he helped some underprivileged primary school kids with their homework at a cc. He was quite good at it too! The supervisor was surprised that Andre could get a usually hyper Indian boy to sit down and listen to him. Must be a meeting of wavelengths, heh.

Unfortunately the sessions have since stopped for the school hols. So now, he's spending his free time trying trying to keep healthy. He's been working on his core and flexibility. Hopefully, he will lose a little of that tummy before Christmas!

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