English Teachers Are Happy To Share

English Teachers Are Happy To Share

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 28 2015 Thursday                 
Pain humbles me

I do everything fast. I do not procrastinate. I hate my desk cluttered. Documents are cleared every day before clocking out. Deadlines are met promptly. Matters affecting others are dealt with first and foremost. Trivialities are handled right away as they are easily forgotten. My limbs are still dexterous. I can make all the basic yoga poses. Wearing the right shoes, I walk fast. I get out of bed when I wake up. I don’t lie in. I am proud that at my age, I am still agile and very much alive. 

But last weekend, my back pain humbled me. Since two days ago, it has tailed off to an intensity I can bear.

Now when I am writing about my anguish, I realize that it’s very tough to translate my personal experience into language others can understand. I will try. 

It started on Friday night. As usual on all Friday evenings of a work week, I was exhausted. I went to bed early. But when I sat on the bed ready to lie down, pain gripped me at the end of my spine, more severe to the right and a little less so to the left. It was like someone was drilling me round my waist with an ice-pick! I had already let my back land on the bed inch by inch hoping to lessen the agony. But even such gentle moves brought excruciating pangs. I screamed! My hard of hearing mom dashed into my room. Upon knowing my situation, she took out two pain relief patches and pressed them on my back comforting me with words like “they work magic”.

I went through the night taking the soldier or rather the corpse posture because the slightest movement would bring another round of twinges. Yet it is the foetus posture that sends me to sleep quickly. So you can image what a night it was for me – getting glimpses of sleep in between tortuous ordeals! 

Unfortunately I had a heavy schedule for the weekend. I attended the events surprising all my friends with a “slow version” of me – walking with small steps, standing up and sitting down with both hands on the table. In other words, I had to slowly manipulate each segment of my spine whenever I changed postures.

I have survived the pain test on the daily change of the patches administered by my mom!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 27 2015 Wednesday     
Different rulers

The Macmillan Dictionary defines a ruler as “an object used for measuring or for drawing straight lines, consisting of a long flat piece of plastic, wood, or metal marked with units of measurement”. These units of measurement are standardized meaning that 1 centimetre is of the same length across the world.

The same dictionary explains that the rule of law is “a situation in which everyone in a country is expected to obey the laws”. 

Hong Kong has been my home since my parents brought me here from mainland in 1949 when I was barely 2. In this liberal though many denounced as undemocratic society of Hong Kong, equality and rule of law are our core principles. We believe we apply the same rules and standards when we judge.

But in recent years, these treasured values are put to test. I falter in my convictions as I find that 1 centimetre no longer a constant length or distance. It is stretched for some groups and shortened for others. And yet, such inequality is accepted as necessary for proclaimed bigger causes. I am confused. I am not happy.

Rude and disruptive behaviour are branded as righteous. Legislators throw objects at government officials during meetings. Schools and private buildings are stormed. People speaking on behalf of the police or the government are spat on. Use of fake identity cards is to be pardoned. Differences are not tolerated. Nobody has the patience to listen. Yelling and cursing are the trends.

It is a showdown. The demarcation is clear. You are either with me or against me.  

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 26 2017 Tuesday   
I am just bored!

School children grade their teachers “like” or “dislike” according to whether the lessons delivered are boring or interesting. Pupils enjoy participating in activities but their enthusiasm easily evaporates once they know what to expect. So conscientious teachers have to keep updating the strategies adopted to sustain students’ interest and motivation. What worked last year with a particular class cannot be “copied” and “pasted”  for even the same class this year not to say a different class.

Easier said than done! No matter how hard teachers try, they cannot reach that level of sophistication comparable to the audio and visual impact offered by online games which students are so used to enjoying. And the crux of the issue is that sometimes the means becomes the end. And the lesson objectives are not achieved. Or teaches can become so engrossed in designing activities that the lesson content is thinned.

Last week, I observed how a Primary 1 English teacher successfully incorporated meaningful and interesting activities to guide the students in learning the targetted language. This was one rich and vibrant lesson. A total of 25 students were fully engaged using English all the way when interacting with the teacher and classmates alike. Information technology was utilized for the starter. The teacher designed a simple animation with herself as the news announcer. It worked! The students got aroused. Transition between activities was also smooth.

For consolidation, there was the worksheet.  How did the teacher help the students check their answers? Instead of the usual practice of asking the students to stand up and give the answers, the teacher had designed a routine termed as “Decision Alley”.  All students stood up and got into two rows facing one another. When one student gave the answer, the others would say “Yes, you are right!” When the answer was wrong, the others would give the answer.  In this way, the whole class got spirited and involved.

The secret of success is simple. Be reflective and think out of the box.

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 23 2015                  
Perfect match

What makes a perfect match? Compatibility in age, zodiac signs, family background, credentials, richness, views and habits?  In Chinese saying, there is “doors must be compatible with the wooden doors for the wooden doors and the bamboo doors for the bamboo doors”. In dynastic China, there were strict rules regarding the style and structure of houses based on the office held by the owner of the house. These covered the height and design of the doors, the eaves and all decorative structures. The dragon design symbolizing the emperor was for palaces only.

In these days, there is a more accepted view that couples should be complementary of one another. If one is concave, then the other should be convex! If one is kind of short temper, the other should have a cool temperament to manage adversity and for harmony to be maintained. If one likes to cook, then the other should love food!

But falling in love, in most cases, is more a “heart” rather than a “head” matter! We don’t follow a compatibility checklist to evaluate our partner. Neither are we calculate how far we can complement one another. Of course, I know falling in love in one stage while putting down the signature on the wedding certificate is another. Modern people commit themselves to marriages for a variety of reasons, some being despicably monetary!

Even at my senior age now, I still hold fast onto the fairy tale version of destiny bringing a man and a woman together though we have all read about how a woman painstakingly choreographed for her to “bump into” a multi-billionaire etc.

Why look for perfection? The pursuit of perfection is so exhausting! Life is too short.

Once again, I want to bring in my life motto: chose what you love and love what you have chosen! If destiny puts you two together, then embrace it! Perfect or not, till death do you part!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 21 2015, Thursday                
Are you happy? 

Do you have time to answer these five questions?  Rate how you felt from 0 to 10 with 10 being the most satisfying. These are the very 5 questions used in an international study to identify the people of which countries are the happiest or not happy at all.

  1. Were you well rested yesterday?
  2. Were you treated with respect yesterday?
  3. Did you smile or laugh yesterday?
  4. Did you do something interesting yesterday?
  5. Did you have any feelings of enjoyment      yesterday?

 Let me see! My five answers are: 4, 6, 3, 0, 0! Oh, dear! I am one very unhappy person! It’s time to reflect on my life and how it is impacting on my mood.

 It is true that when I don’t sleep enough and have to handle a long day, I am agitated and exhausted longing to go home and lie down. When my views are not taken or worst simply swept aside, I am disappointed and frustrated. If the day is like that, certainly there is no reason to smile!

Of course, I can still do something to salvage myself from the dark valley – do something silly or maybe interesting. That was what I did on Monday in the middle of the afternoon after a meaningless meeting. I walked up to an ice-cream store nearby and bought a sundae with marshmallows! I devoured it with a very guilty conscience and halfway through it, I decided to stop! My palate was not satisfied neither was my morale boosted! I did not feel any sense of enjoyment!

That is life! There are mood swings and we have to be our own savior all the time. Do what we can and then extract ourselves from the dead ends. Move on. The next moment is an unknown to be experienced!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 19 2015       Tuesday    
Flame of the forest

"That's the phoenix wood (鳳凰木). Say it after me, phoenix wood. Good! You can recognize this tree by remembering the red top with the small flowers and the tiny green leaves.” Pointing to a Flame of the Forest growing by the roadside, the mother in her late twenties was eagerly explaining to her young daughter who looked like still in kindergarten.
All the way along Ede Road, that is the route of the mini-bus I was aboard with this mother and daughter pair, there are several Flame of the Forest.   I just love this tree. When in full bloom, the broadly-spreading scarlet, lacy foliage creates a gorgeous almost regal crown. And yet, when all the leaves are shed, it can remain a bare trunk for months.
The mother and daughter attracted my attention because this mother was taking her role most seriously. She made full use of each opportunity to teach her daughter about general knowledge, etiquette, road safety and more. The moment they walked up to join the queue behind me for the mini-bus, the mother ordered the little girl to say “good morning” to everyone! I was pleasantly surprised.
“Here is one good mother.” But I was making my judgement too early!
That part about the Flame of the Forest was repeated four times because there are three growing by the roadside and one stretching out from a private estate. Then there was another incident of a man dashing out from the pavement to cross the street when the light for pedestrian crossing was flickering. Time for road safety lesson.
“You should never cross the road like that! You know what will happen to him? Yes, hit by the car if not this time, then will be the next time. ” 
A few minutes later, the bus passed by a street cleaner. The mother pointed to the man and said to the girl, “If you don’t study well, you will be the one cleaning the street 15 years later. Do you want to do that? No? Then you have to get 100 in all your dictations. Undertstand?” 
All along, the girl uttered responses not very audible to me but definitely loud enough to her conscientious mother. By the time we parted at the bus-stop, the girl had all my sympathy! It was exhausting listening to this mother during a 10-miute bus ride! Well, the girl has to listen to her for no less than 12 hours a day! 

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 15 2015, Friday             
Lost but not found

At the school office, there is a big carton labelled “Lost & Found”. Each time, I pass by this box, I would smile to myself. “How positive is this – lost and found!” How often does this happen in life – you lose an item and then recover it?

Of course, I know that is not the meaning of “Lost and Found” as labelled. The carton is for storing items left unattended and picked up around the campus. Owners with things lost could come and check if they are so fortunate as to be able to reclaim their belonging.

Last week, I lost a diamond ring I bought for myself years ago when I needed “shopping spree” as therapy for my depression. The strange thing was I didn’t feel devastated! It did cost tens of thousands when I bought it! I might have taken it off when I put on hand-cream and then forgot about it.

Will I buy another one as replacement? No, I certainly won’t! In these two years, I have been quite successful in tuning my mood in face of material losses like the ring in this case or the illegal parking ticket weeks ago or mental frustrations such as being accused of things I have never said or being taken for granted etc.

Lost items do not have to be found. I have far too many earthly possessions to enjoy! Lost hopes do not have to be lamented. I can always knit new ones! My mood should be at my own disposal and not in the hands of others. When others treat me well, I feel blessed and am grateful. That is life’s bonus! When people do not appreciate my kind words or good intentions, I step back without feeling upset. I don’t fight back! I don’t try to convince! I am at peace. I’ve done my part.

The diamond ring can be on somebody’s finger or lying in a hidden nook in my wardrobe waiting to be discovered! I don’t care!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 6 2015 Wednesday                

How would you remember a number like 8729? That is my car plate number. When I bought it in 2009, I had difficulty remembering it. Well, I must admit I am not good with numbers except for the years and dates in history. Do you know how long the Qing dynasty was? This last imperial dynasty of China ruled from 1644 to 1912 or 1911 as some historians put it. How do I remember 1644? 16 together sounds like “all the way” and of course “4” sounds the same as “death” in Cantonese. So 1644 is “all the way to death!

 It was my mother who ingeniously thought of a way to remember 8729!  Multiply the first and last digits, you get 72! Six years ago, she was already 82! I wish I could be this clear-headed when I am her age! Readers of Babbling could all rightly assume that my mother is my idol and dearest friend.

 Despite her advanced age, she wants to live! She is the patient all doctors would love to have as she follows doctor’s advice to the letter. She is most punctual in taking her medication. Walking cheerfully towards the dining table, she says in English to the helper “eat medicine now”. As she has been diabetic for close to three decades, she knows well what she should not eat. But all ladies in our family have a sweet tooth and so every now and then she would be tempted by the dessert we are enjoying, whether it is the crème brûlée, mousse or sweet dumpling. She would ask eagerly if it is sweet expecting us to give her the answer she prays for. Then she can have a bite! After her recent check-up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, my mother was warned that the potassium content in her blood is too high. She painstakingly memorizes all the food with high potassium content and diligently instructs the helper not to have these items on the table.

 Seeing how the elderly try so hard to live on, I can but sigh as I watch the young staying up late to play games, stuffing their mouths with charcoal-like chicken wings or puffing away their life!

Random Thoughts by Pauline

May 2 2015 Saturday            
Salute to those dedicated emergency ward staff

My mother was rushed to hospital at around 3 in the middle of the night two weeks ago. She was feeling dizzy and vomitting. We all panicked but she did not. She even instructed us what to do and what to bring. She was only very anxious to know what was causing her situation. She is 87 and has been diabetic for close to 30 years. 

The emergency ward was quite crowded with most of the patients being the elderly. They were like my mom in stretchers lined up next to one another waiting to be triaged. Two drunkards restrained to the stretchers and accompanied by policemen were mumbling and screaming in extraterrestrial language. All staff was hectically engaged attending to the patients and rushing from room to room.

 There were only a couple of seats with the signage “For patients only”. So we dared not sit and actually stood all those hours while my mother was wheeled from room to room to undergo various tests. At about noon, we were told the verdict. My mother had to be hospitalized to monitor the effect of the injections she was administered.

 The emergency ward is definitely the one place I would not want to be in. In fact, in 1966 I was successful in my application to be a student nurse. But I did not take the offer after careful consideration of two facts. Number One - I could not stand the sight of blood! And I did not know how to say words of consolation. Whenever I visit friends or relatives in distress, I have to keep back my tears! And after this visit to the emergency ward, I can add one more reason – the situation is so stressful that I am bound to make mistakes! And yet every minute has to be error-free as life is at stake.