English Teachers Are Happy To Share

English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 31 2014, Friday 

Kung Hei Fat Choy

 Today is the first day of the Year of the Horse!  Kung Hei Fat Choy!

This must be the most heard of expressioon these few days! We all want to "Fat Choy"  or  "get rich"! But in recent years, another expression has also become popular - good health. We can't enjoy anything if we don't have good health. So here is wishing you all the best of health!

There are many classic Chinese New Year greetings. There is wishing others "Man See Sing Yee" or "May things turn out to be better than expected". There is one I like "Yu Yu Tak Shui" or "I wish you happiness as the fish is in the water".

People used to greet each other with "Tim Ting Fat Choy!" meaning "Have lots of children and riches!" But eversince bringing up children has become more and more expensive in every respect,  people have stopped wishing others "Tim Ting".


Random Thoughts by Pauline

 JANUARY 30 2014, Thursday 
          Flower   Market

Going to the annual Flower Market, doesn't matter which one in the territory, has been a family ritual for decades. I remember going there in freezing temperature, in pouring rain and in great heat. So this evening after dinner, we went to the one in Mong Kok.

The stalls in all Flower Markets are divided into two types - dry goods and wet goods meaning the flowers. The entrance is usually dominated by cooked food stalls. The setting might be the same from one Flower Market to another and from one year to another but the goods sold are definitely different.

This year, in the dry stalls, all things sold whether balloons, cushions or stuffed toys were horses of all kinds of designs,  colours and shapes. I also noticed that many of the stalls were manned by very young people in their late teens. They were so full of energy yelling at the top of their voice and pushing their products right to people's face. Well, we couldn't blame them. They were not working. They were enjoying themselves and the company they were in. I really envied them. When I was their age, I wouldn't have even thought of the idea of bidding for a stall at Flower Market and do business.


Random Thoughts by Pauline

 JANUARY 29 2014, Wednesday


It is holiday! I decided to treat myself to a morning with no "wake up" call and I went to bed extremely early last night - 10:30! I only do that when I am sick!

But unfortunately my biological clock has adapted to the 6-hour sleep regiment. So what happened last night was I woke up at 4:30! I tried every means - counting sheep, getting up to have a drink and of course tossing and turning to get into the right posture that would put me back to sleep. Finally, I was vaguely asleep but the quality was poor.

We are all suffering from sleep deficit. While we are taking supplement, getting facial treatment, putting on expensive cream and be forever in pursuit of longevity and good health, we have shelved the best formula - a good night sleep and appropriate amount of exercise!



Random Thoughts by Pauline

JANUARY 28 2014, Tuesday


Today is the 28th day of the last month of the Year of the Snake, a day for clearing the clutter and tidying up the house for the red posters to be put up. What a good practice!
But it is really hard and slow to decide what to keep and what not! I could be sitting down there on the floor for hours clearing the drawers but in the end, the stack of things to keep was much higher than the pile to throw away! Why? This ticket was from the trip to a museum and that coin was a gift.  Then that was a Christmas card signed by all the good colleagues of the school office! Next to it was the programme of the school musical! Can you believe that I still have my report cards from primary 5?

I also like to keep tins and cans. They come in all colours and sizes. I give myself many excuses for keeping them such as they are good for separately holding my collections of coins, stamps, shells, book marks etc. 

Well, in Hong Kong, space is most precious. If we want more space and can't afford big flats, we have to clear our clutter. I know but it is just not so simple!

Well, in Hong Kong, space is most precious. If we want more space and can't afford big flats, we have to clear our clutter. I know but it is just not so simple!

So my resolution for the Year of the Horse is not to clutter from the start! By the way, the photo attached is NOT my room!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 27 2014, Monday        

             Telephone Call

I was working late. It was about eight when the office phone started ringing. As it was already past office hours, there was no clerk to answer it. So I picked it up. It was a lady asking if application for Secondary One places was still open. I politely replied that it was.

I was quite perplexed why people could call for enquiry past office hours. What were they assuming? They might just have the thought at that very moment and therefore made the call!

Have you come across other cases of "matter of course"? The lift door opens and you are about to step out only to find a person standing there right in the middle. You are almost pushed back. Another situation - you push open a door and hold it for the one behind you and that very person walks past you without any gesture of courtesy!

Some might think that courtesy is pretence and is not for "cool" guys. I cannot agree. Courtesy makes us human.


Random Thoughts by Pauline

 January 26 2014, Sunday


Every day, how many numbers do you have to remember? I bet a lot! You need to key in your password to activate your computer and your ATM or online bank account! When you go in and out of your building, it is either swiping your resident card or key in the password.Then there is the password to your various e-mail accounts. If you are a very private person, you might have your mobile phone protected by password too.

What else? Of course, your identity card number and your birth date! These are always requested if you are getting some customer service done over the phone! These days, we are lucky because we don't have to memorize any phone numbers. Our smart phone has taken care of that!

If you are health-conscious, you have to check your blood sugar level, calorie and water intake! You have to monitor how many steps you have taken in a day with a pedometer.

Have you ever got yourself into trouble because you have forgotten your passwords? I have and the frustration that follows is devastating! And yet, we have been warned not to keep a written record of passwords!  Well, just keep me sane please! Whoever it is up there looking down at me!


Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 25 2014, Saturday   


 Our brain works strangely. Old songs don’t just bring back vivid pictures but also the scent associated with the scenes. It is said that everybody has a song in his or her head. In my case, I have several and all from the 1960s when I was barely 20.

I bought a record player with my first pay cheque as a birthday gift to my father. The first record was a single - San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) sung by Scott McKenzie. The scene was my father sitting in the armchair and the scent was his Camel cigarette. He would play it again and again! I was so enchanted by both the tune and the lyrics that I swore I would visit San Francisco. That only came true in 1988. Here is how the song begins:

If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there

The next one is Massachusetts sung by the Bee Gees. My mother loved the song saying that the boys were all so handsome. The scene was my mom cooking and humming and the scent was aroma of the pork stew, my favourite dish. Here you go, the beginning of the song:

Feel I'm going back to Massachusetts,
Something’s telling me I must go home.
And the lights all went out in Massachusetts
The day I left her standing on her own.

The last one is Kiss Me Goodbye sung by Petula Clark. This song was so popular in 1968 that every record shop was blasting it out loud. Then in where The Shun Tak Centre is now was the old Macau Ferry Piers with the Sheung Wan night market in front of it. Cooked food stalls where people enjoyed their hot-pots in open air almost filled the whole space. It was winter and chilly but the steam and the noise brought warmth. Big plates of vegetables and seafood were piled one on top of another. I could still smell the succulent crabs boiling in the hot soup! This song beautifully and concisely sums up the feeling of lost love. Here are some lines of the lyrics:

So kiss me goodbye
And I'll try not to cry
All the tears in the world won’t change your mind
There’s someone new
And she’s waiting for you
Soon your heart will be leaving me behind

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 24 2014, Friday 


How much pain, frustration, disappointment or sacrifice can you endure before you say “stop” or “enough” or “I can’t take it anymore”? People differ! Some can take a lot and for a long time while others have no tolerance at all. Just look around you!
There is the Indonesian domestic helper, Erwiana. She was tortured for eight months before she said “no” and ran home. Then there was a wife who proclaimed that she knew about her husband’s ex-marital relationship and that she endorsed it! There are women who proudly crown themselves as “the fourth wife”, “the fifth wife” etc.! Well, government officials these days also need to practise the highest degree of tolerance to what is being thrown upon them, be it an egg, a banana peel or a paper coffin! It could be out of fear, love, etiquette or shame or for tangible benefits that all these super humans are demonstrating extraordinary endurance!
On the other hand, there are people who can’t take any disapproving looks, negative comments or the cold shoulder. They reciprocate with their fist not to say a knife!
I have been termed as a demanding person with not an ounce or should I say 28.35 grams of patience! But that is not how I see myself! I cannot tolerate laziness but I can allow ignorance! I cannot allow betrayal but I permit indifference! I do not permit flattery but I can take criticisms! 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 23 2014, Thursday 


Throughout our adult life, we have all signed various contracts. A contract is a legal document binding the signatories to a set of terms or agreements. Technically, there is no honour involved because otherwise, we do not need this legal endorsement. It is pathetic that we humans are so weak that we ask to have our commitment institutionalized. Spouses cheat! Employers abuse! Country heads torture! But they have all pledged publicly that, some with their hand on the Bible, they will honour their declarations.
The saintliest of all relationships, parenthood, is never entered into a contract by the parties concerned, namely the parent and the child. Yet, nothing can sever this blood relationship, not the law not death! 

Parenting is life commitment but before plunging into this high-risk “career”, candidates are not interviewed. There are no objective benchmarks or qualifications to meet. Credentials are not verified. There is no probation period. Neither is there any age requirement. And yet so many people, even minors rush in to become parents. On the other hand, there are people with seemingly outstanding qualifications who hesitate so much and for so long that they miss the chance to be biological parents.

I rushed in almost four decades ago ignorant of how unfit I was or how inadequate the objective conditions were. At that time, information on parenting was minimal and people seemed to accept that problems, big or small, would resolve themselves. It was by trial and error, by remorse and regrets that I stumbled through.

Now that my son is the father of a six-year old girl and I am grandma, I can see what a huge difference lies between the two generations in the perception of parenthood. Mine was uncharted with only my passion to rely on. I succeeded at times but collapsed many times. My son became a parent after all possible planning had been undertaken. It was an informed decision he proudly and whole-heartedly honoured.

Having said all these, I feel both proud and privileged to declare that motherhood is the best blessing of my life while being a teacher the second. 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 22  2014, Wednesday   

 These days, we live a life with lots of friends from school, work and of course, from Facebook. Friends can be the friend of a friend and the chain goes on.

I was born in the Year of the Pig. According to Chinese Zodiac Horoscope, I do not have too many friends but the ones I do have are all bosom friends. In this aspect, the prediction does seem to be quite true. I have had the good fortune of having a couple of good friends who have salvaged me at those melancholy moments of deep depression. They were there all ears! They didn’t do much. They didn’t have to. They might have uttered a few words of re-assurance that I was not worthless and that there would be light at the end of the tunnel. Their ears and shoulders were the floats that saved me.

I also realize that friends do not have to come from the same age group. In recent years, I have got a very close friend and she could well be my daughter! She understands me and cares for me. That’s what friends are for!  

Words of wisdom: don’t take your friends for granted. Friendship is mutual! 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 21 2014, Tuesday     
                                                       Sales pitch

I wonder if you have ever had this experience of being bombarded by sales pitches. These days, they attack in the form of cold calls or direct pitches as you stroll past the counters of department stores.

“Hello, Miss, how are you? My name is Anna. I am the customer officer of XXX Beauty Parlour. You have been selected as our VIP to enjoy a free facial and body massage. You can make the booking now. Oh, you don’t want to? But this is free?”

“Hi, how are you? I am John. I am the representative of XXX Bank. We can offer you a loan of up to $100,000 at no interest. We only charge handling fees. Oh, you don’t want it? But there is no interest at all! How about taking this loan as a stand-by fund for investment? You can make a lot of money out of nothing! You don’t want it? Strange!”

“Hey, Miss. Oh, you have so many freckles on your cheeks. Have you ever tried any cream? You have? Then your cream is no good! Come and let me show you our cream! Don’t be shy! This is free!”

I am angry at two issues: when has my phone number become common property to be trampled on by anybody who takes an interest in making a call? I don’t believe it has been random! Second, when have I become obligated to try everything free?

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 20  2014, Monday        

It was 9:30 at night and the department store was half an hour away from closing for the day. Most of the sales people were winding up. Reluctantly, I walked to the household department upon the order of my mother to buy a kettle. I always avoid “bothering” people including my colleagues when they just clock in or are about to clock out.
I checked the shelves and found one that was of the right size. Like most customers, I walked up to the sales lady nearby and asked for a new one. She was in the middle of some calculation. Without looking up, she murmured “1.5 or 2.5?”
I was disappointed with such service and rebutted though in the gentlest voice, “if you look up, you will know!”
Hong Kong is famed for being the shopping paradise but with “angels” like this sales lady, visitors will skip Hong Kong! There are other more welcoming paradises around!
This is also an apt reminder for us teachers. We should never bring our temper to school. We all have a part to play in building a happy, healthy and harmonious campus for everybody to flourish!


Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 19 2014, Sunday   

Green Mountain
Life is a roller-coaster ride. There are bound to be ups and downs. We have all suffered desertion, disappointment, betrayal or frustration of various intensity inflicting upon us different degrees of physical and spiritual damage. Some of us survive while others get stuck. Some would stay there at the bottom of the deep sea of depression drilling their hearts until they bleed. How do people extract themselves from down there? It might just be a timely hand extended, a quote that enlightens, a ear that listens or a shoulder to cry on.
There is a Chinese saying that goes like this - as long as you have the green mountain, you have wood to burn. It worked for me. At that very moment of darkness almost exactly 26 years ago when I was so engrossed in self-guilt and desperation that I dwindled to a minute dust too feeble to face the unknown future or if there were any future, it was this quote that saved me to rise and stand on my feet again.
Looking back at all the years that have gone by, I feel like I am looking at other people’s stories. The hurt is long gone! I have grown to be more reflective, more independent and definitely more positive!
The green mountain is out there for each one who looks for it!


Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 18 2014, Saturday  
                              What matters
These days, the weather has not been too stable. Temperatures rise and fall! Who are most concerned? Besides the fashion-conscious socialite, it would be my mother. Every evening, she gazes at the television in all seriousness to see what the temperature for the next day will be. If it drops to below 15°, she will call her friends announcing most unhappily that she is not joining the mahjong game. 

When the game is on, her day becomes energized! My mother gets up early, has her breakfast, showers and gets dressed at a speed much faster than her usual. She is ready to go at 10. The game is to start at noon but all the four players meet for early lunch, yum-cha at about 10:30. Since her fall some years back, my mother has accepted the helper, Teresa, as her escort. Teresa accompanies her to take the taxi, has lunch with the other players and virtually sees to it that my mother is safely seated at the mahjong table.

The rise and fall of temperature matters a lot to my mother but I am sure not so to most of us. Whether something matters or not very much depends on that very moment! I used to cough a lot when winter came. In between all those coughing fits, what mattered most would be I stopped coughing!

I have learnt to respect my mother’s small matters. They are important to her and therefore, to me too!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 17 2014, Friday 
Gap-year students
Every year, two gap-year boys but at times, only one from Sandbach School, a drama specialist school in Cheshire, United Kingdom and one of our sister schools would be sent to us to help out with English drama activities. Such practice has been on-going since 2006 and so we have had the wonderful experience of working with over ten very responsible and well-mannered boys. They are a valuable asset to our school.
Gap-year refers to the year between secondary school and university. These students have already been offered university degree places but they ask for deferment to see the world. They come from an upper-middle class suburban city. Everything in Hong Kong from the packed streets, the long opening hours of shops and restaurants, the efficient public transport to the mega buildings is amazing to them!
In recent years, Hong Kong young people have jumped on this gap-year bandwagon especially when more and more countries are offering working holiday visas. I have a student graduated with an engineering degree. He spent a year in Japan helping earthquake victims. Meanwhile, he indulged himself in his hobby – photography. He is now back in Hong Kong and last week he presented me with a 2014 calendar, twelve scenic pictures of Japan.
Right now, I am looking at the January calendar, a snow-clad shinkansen or "bullet train”. Thank you, Daniel!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 16 2014, Thursday  

I am blessed with a five-year old grand-daughter,Hayley.OneSaturday, her parents brought her to my apartment to have dinner with me and my mother, the great grandmother.

While we were waiting for dinner, I took out a stack of word cards to play with her but she didn’t think that was game. She said, “When I am in your house, I will only play. I study when I am at home.” Oh, clever girl or should I say “lazy girl”!

Whenever I remark that Hayley is sweet or give her a bar of chocolate or a Hello Kitty wallet, my son will say, “Till you are with her every day.” This doesn’t mean that he loves her less; he is head over heels in love with Hayley. Once when he returned home from a 5-day business trip to India, he hugged her so tight as though they had been parted for years!

My understanding of being grandparents is to love whole-heartedly so as to give grandchildren a breathing space away from the tyranny of parents! Gene Perret, the famous comedy writer and producer, puts it succinctly, “What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars' worth of pleasure.”

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 15 2014, Wednesday

                   Gastronomic satisfaction
Dining to me means differently depending on the time, the company and my mood, of course.

Breakfast on week days is simple, fruit juice, buttered toast and espresso. Lunch if not a business one is a lunch box either some leftovers from the dinner on the previous evening or one bought from a nearby fast food restaurant. I have this “unhealthy” habit of chewing my lunch boxes over the newspapers. Dinner is more an enjoyment, soup boiled for hours, steamed fish etc.

I do like to try new restaurants but I am not too adventurous. There are several restaurants that I patron more often and the good people there know me by my first name. One is a small Japanese restaurant tucked away in Kowloon City. My mother is my companion. Despite her old age, she enjoys sashimi especially salmon and peony prawn. A cup of warmed sake fits in just well. This type of gastronomic satisfaction would usually fall on a Friday and when there is no Saturday task. I would park my car home and take a taxi though I am drinking at most two small cups of sake!

Some people can go to extremes spending huge bucks to satisfy their taste buds. Others are more concerned about their health and can endure the most boring tasteless dishes. Then there are those who eat only to live! Well, as long as it is a personal choice, enjoy!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 14 2014, Tuesday  
Fountain pens

Have you ever tried using a fountain pen to write - not the kind with a cartridge but the kind with a tube inside for you to pump the ink from an ink bottle? I used to like the fountain pen because I liked the feel of the pen gliding smoothly across the surface of the paper. But the nib, once dropped on the floor, would spell trouble because it would scratch when I wrote again. Back then, we did not have to throw away the pen because replacement nibs were available. Those were the days when changes happened slowly. To think of it, we were more friendly to the environment!

A fountain pen especially that brand with an arrow used to be a status symbol and the best gift idea. Now it has become a kind of antique to be appreciated by nostalgic souls who can afford. And to the impatient contemporary generation, a fountain pen is not exactly user-friendly. It has for a long time been replaced by ball pens and felt pens. In fact, we are not actually writing anymore. We use stylus to touch screens.

Those born in mid-20th century like me are lucky because we have witnessed changes in almost all aspects of our everyday life. The fountain pen is but one of those many darling objects that we have left behind. The world moves on and so do we!  

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 13 2014, Monday  

Chinese New Year versus Christmas

 With Christmas and New Year celebrations over, Chinese New year is around the corner. How would you choose between Chinese New Year and Christmas? Which one is your favourite?

Honestly speaking, I used to like both when I was a little girl. The school I attended, a Catholic convent school, would be all lit-up and we were treated to snacks on Christmas Eve. As we were poor, we could not afford Christmas trees. My father would paste a big piece of black paper on the wall and then use chalk to draw a Christmas tree on it decorating it with cotton balls. I longed for Chinese New Year because only then would I have new clothes and shoes. These were all good enough reasons to anticipate the two festivals.

Now that I am old, I don’t feel that much longing for Christmas. I am actually quite annoyed by all the commercial activities generated in the name of Christmas. Aside from the church-goers, most people have forgotten the meaning of Christmas – the humble birth of Jesus Christ. But I must say I love listening to all the old Christmas songs.

It seems like I prefer Chinese New Year more because it is a time for family re-union. My brothers and sisters together with their children and grand children would be gathered in my apartment to express their good wishes to mother – the most senior in the family. And she would be laughing all the while though complaining that there is too much noise.

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 12 2014, Sunday


I have been drinking coffee since childhood. Though my family was not rich, we were brought up eating bread and butter for breakfast. My parents would be drinking instant coffee and I as the eldest would have the privilege of enjoying a cup every now and then.
Now every morning, I would have a single espresso and a piece of buttered toast. Throughout the day, I don’t have any coffee unless I am socializing over afternoon tea or it is a Sunday afternoon. I am not addicted to coffee. I don’t drink stale coffee or oxidized coffee. If I am not sure of the quality served , I would opt for tea. My impression of the taste and aroma of coffee is not to be blasphemed.
I am careful about the amount of coffee I am consuming, unlike some Americans who drink nothing but coffee all day long because I am wary of the detrimental health effects of coffee. Research findings are quite confusing. One report says that too much coffee can cause tremors and sleeping problems. But another study finds out that there is no direct relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause.
I drink black coffee and so there is no worry that I consume too much sugar and milk or cream because then the coffee becomes a high-calorie beverage. But I don’t drink decaffeinated coffee which to me is not coffee.
Happy sipping! Maybe I should have one now!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 11 2014, Saturday  

I hate to see animals perform whether it is a cute puppy or a huge dolphin. I used to like circuses because that would be almost the only opportunity to see so many different animals. I would be very excited whenever a circus was in town.

That’s not me now. When I watched the dolphins perform in Churaumi Acquarium, Okinawa, I felt ever so guilty. I am the reason why the dolphins have to jump four storeys high! Think of all the training behind such a spectacular performance.

Owners of pets also like to show off the little tricks their pets can do. But I am not at all for this. Pets are to be kept as companions and not as performers.

When I expressed these views to Vincent, my son, he had a thought-provoking reply for me. “It is this kind of performance that has aroused our interest in protecting dolphins.” I could not disagree!  

In Praise of Slow - How a Worldwide Movement is challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore

Recommended by Pauline Chow

People who know me say that I am a passionately fast person. A friend wrote to me saying “I hope you are not working too hard. You know the expression 'burning the candle at both ends'. I think you may be burning it at all points in between as well!”

That is why when I saw this book in the bookstore, I was attracted by both the title and the illustration on the cover – a turtle and a rabbit. I bought it just to see how the writer argues his case.

Busy people like me are always on the run for more time but God is fair. We all have only 24 hours. To make the best of time, we rush and multi-task and feel proud of ourselves for being efficient. We are fervent worshippers of the Cult of Speed. But every now and then as things become quieter, there is deep down from the bottom of my heart a fear, fear that I am stretching myself too far, fear that I am burning the candle at both ends and the ultimate fear that I would at any minute drop dead. Is that what life is all be? There are so many places I would love to visit, grandchildren I would love to see as they grow up and the list does not end here. I have to slow down. This book has given me all the good reasons to take life easy.

The writer, Carl Honore, emphasizes right at the beginning that his book is not a declaration against speed since we owe so much to speed which “has helped to remake our world in ways that are wonderful and liberating.” He says that all he wants is for us to stop and remember that “some things cannot, should not, be sped up.” When we force speed, “there is a price to pay.” In fact, there is a Chinese idiom epitomizing the same message: the desire to speed things up ends in not achieving anything at all.

When we examine our own life, this does bring an echo.  Many times in the morning when we boot our computer, we are so impatient and keep clicking the mouse that we ask if the computer is down. How often do we get choked because we are swallowing too fast? Have you ever slipped because you are rushing?  These are but “cheap” prices we are paying for being fast. Think of the higher costs we might have to pay because of the fast life we live. Drivers cut lanes and tail the car in the front in order to arrive faster. Such road manner is the cause of most traffic accidents. Instead of enjoying our food at the table, we gobble our lunch washing it down with a coke. All these are absolutely “dehumanizing” but we are still behaving like this for we feel a sense of guilt when we wind down and are at a loss when we have time in hand to kill.

The book points out in greater details how the Cult of Speed is bringing devastating repercussions on the environment. When farmers do not have the patience to see their chickens or corn grow naturally, they start feeding them with pills and herbicides. We desire to look physically fit and yet feel annoyed to work out for it. We only want a quick fix and so take slimming pills or undergo plastic surgery and we suffer fatal effects.

The book makes us think but there is no urgency to finish it. Just savour one or two chapters when you have time. Take it slowly. After all, that is what the book is about.

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 10 2014, Friday  
Tom Sawyer

Statistically speaking, Hong Kong students read a lot. Well, that is one of the performance indicators looked into when External School Review Team visits schools. But as teachers, we well know the quality of our students’ reading is not that ideal. Like any other activities they are engaged in, many students are doing it for the sake of getting it done.
One of my favourite questions I ask applicants on the occasion of Secondary 1 admission interview is: “You have been doing this one article per day for quite some time. Please tell me about one of the articles you have read?” Very often, the reply is “I have forgotten.” This is the same reply I get when I ask applicants who have been practising piano to introduce to me one of their favourite music pieces.
Reading, to most of our students, is an assignment, a book report. It is not enjoyment as evidenced by the fact that if given a choice, they tend to pick easy books to read.
This morning, I recommended to my students The Adventures of Tom Sawyer written by Mark Twain in 1876. Tom Sawyer, modeled on Twain, was a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. The plot is intriguing and the book is not exactly difficult though students might need some help in understanding the setting as this is absolutely unfamiliar to our urban students.
To help students, teachers themselves have to be reading! Books, of course!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

January 9 2014, Thursday  

I grow up in a family of eight children. I am the only child with freckles all over my face. I was truly upset with this “addition” of unwanted pigments on my cheeks. Now as I grow older, age spots come in creating patches!

When I was a little girl, my mother would give me pieces of egg-plants, cucumber and lemons as she was preparing food saying that these slices could help lighten those undesirable spots. I obediently followed the advice.
As I went on to middle age, I asked my family doctor whether I should receive laser treatment to remove the unsightly speckles. He said the words which I can still remember today. “Freckles make you look young.” What a comfort to know!

Since then, I have bravely accepted my freckles. Though I still put on whitening essences and creams, I have never for one moment considered any kind of abrasive treatments.

I can understand why the celebrities are trying every means to retain their young looks because as I look into the mirror and see my thinning hair, I feel disheartened. I don’t have to count on my looks for a living and after all, I have never been beautiful. Yet, I still feel saddened. For those who have been born beautiful and have their looks adored by fans, how are they to face aging? They resort to botox and every available means to keep their pride.