Lee Kuan Yew, excellence and education

Taxis in major cities have their own livery. Here it was blue. And the boxlike vehicle I was in was scampering down a glistening highway, leaving the airport behind. Rains had cleared the smog drifting in from Indonesia, cleansing the air, and an otherwise ugly trip into town, typified by overpasses, running walls of patched…

The right environment for kids

She modelled what she taught. The familiar mattered to her. So did beauty. So did family. She would have made a superb lawyer. Always crisply dressed, punctual, a stickler for detail, and very, very clever. She stopped her law degree midway through it and went into teaching. Not because she had sensed this was her vocation, but for her younger brother. He, too, was studying law; but neither the wider family nor their friends could support him through his studies. That fell to his sister. Her meagre teacher’s salary saw him through his education. He completed his degree and became…

EdTech to the rescue?

The woman was dispirited. It was a sweltering evening and she was out of a job. No more money to send home; no more support for her family. Very bleak. A paraffin lamp flickering was the only noise in the room. We sat in a circle of armchairs and couches round a low-lying, rickety old…

Nurturing a habit (2 of 7)

The rainforests of Borneo are exquisite. They hang in tiers, running up escarpments, carrying along the shoulder of a hill, before dipping down to a multitude of waterways winding their way into the interior. You get lost in fascination travelling through them. Immensely aged, soaring trees, like cliffs, break through the forest canopy beside a…

Slick D.—History and EdTech

He was the only person I had ever met who was able to dislocate his shoulder so that he could write on the board while continuing to watch our class. Slick D.—, or more properly, Mr .D—, facing front, would eyeball us with his arm twisting grotesquely behind his back writing perfectly aligned history notes in a neat hand. For Slick D.— had discovered what very few teachers ever learn: that there are at least three worlds in a classroom. The best teachers know about each. The best technology magnifies the best aspects of each. On one occasion, Mr D.—…

The Story Bridge—a Public Good, and EdTech

I am immensely impressed with Australians. They have a heart and eye for what matters. People. Take, for example, the Story Bridge. The longest cantilever bridge in the country. Finished in 1940, it rises 243ft above the Brisbane River ferrying 100,000 vehicles daily between downtown Brisbane and Kangaroo Point on the south bank. Come December…

Disruptive technology—Mike Osman and the Naughty Boys

I was impressed a man could move so easily in 95°F of heat and high humidity. We had been standing in a line, as if to attention, waiting for him. Neatly dressed. Pressed white shirts, top buttons done up, and ties tight and wet on our necks. And the women? Radiant in their vibrant baju kurungs. Willows moving with expectation. His entourage swept into the school grounds dead on 10:00am. A black Mercedes followed by three or four other cars, and a Maserati. After a pause that only increased our anticipation, a security guard sprung the passenger door and the…

Wireless technology, Ed Tech, children and Rome

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, wrote Arthur C. Clarke. And magic was what it seemed to me to be. I was sitting on my father’s lap steering the car. Too young and too short for my feet to reach the throttle, I still sensed the thrill and promise of auto-mobility! Miraculously, the…

Common Core and the bee’s knees

Travelling to London, UK, has its ups and downs. On my last visit I got to a Pre-Raphaelite paintings exhibition—an up. Yet as I headed along the Thames to the gallery I also walked down memory lane—returning to times when as a teacher I had driven students up to the City. Great school, wonderful kids,…

Christmas Gifts—Parent Power

Christmas in a hot climate doesn’t have a Christmas feel to it. As much as I dislike the cold, there is something to be said for being wrapped up in a warm winter coat. Gloves, hats, scarves and thick socks, a hassle usually, become essential, joyful wear during Noel. Night-lights, carols in the dark and…