Complaint against a Polytechnic lecturer

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Last week, my colleague SM was very perturbed. Usually, I’ll meet up with him for a little chat in between my driving breaks. He’s a walking encyclopedia of sort. Most of his waking hours are spent watching Fox News, Discovery, BBC, National Geographic channels, Russian Times etc. No wonder he knows everything in the world especially the financial market, Euro crisis, Japanese, Taiwanese mafia, Japan, Hong Kong and our own train systems etc. I don’t watch t.v.

That day, SM was rather subdued. He was not his usual self. He confided to me his daughter having some problem in school. I tried to advise him to speak to the school directly but he refused. He just wanted me to pen a letter about his daughter’s problem to the school. He would send it as an email.

I just whipped out my stylus from my shirt pocket and within 20 mins started penning a short memo just to assuage his constant whining. After few versions, he settled for the following final copy (edited copy for this blog)

“I’m a concerned parent of my once bubbly happy-go-lucky daughter who is now on her second year in your Langgar Polytechnic reading Retard Behavioral Science.

Of late, I have noticed a slight worrisome change in her outward demeanor. She is no longer the lovely daughter I once knew. She refused to confide in me.

Nevertheless, my wife managed to draw out the cause of her recent abnormality. It seems that lately, she was under much duress. Apparently, she is the target of much public humiliation by one of her lecturers – one new hot spicy lady lecturer with colorfully tainted hair. The latter has an irresistible penchant of picking on her in class much to her chagrin! As a young sensitive introverted lady, my once lovely daughter ‘s self esteem is impinged to the point of wretchedness.

In the circumstances, I appeal to your good self to intercede and pull her back from that bottomless pit she seems to be sliding into. Failing which might add to her woes leading to more damning emotional damages. I would greatly appreciate if a discreet investigation is initiated to reverse this relentless onslaught on my precious daughter’s fragile self-esteem by not publicly targeting her by the said lecturer.

I look forward to your favourable reply. I sincerely thank you for your assistance on this urgent matter.”

What’s the matter with our educators. They are amongst the highest paid in he civil service yet they pale in comparison to our teachers of yester years. I’m sure you have read recently of those teachers having up-close and personal with students. One of them – amongst the batch of 44 itchy monkeys was recently convicted in court, not with his student but an underaged professional. What about that disgraced MOE scholar in an UK university found with lots of objectionable materials? Male teacher up-close and personal with girl students and even female teacher with a boy student etc. You name it, they have it either way!

I may not be surprised if one day, we wake up to read headlines of mass orgy amongst them instead of inculcating nation building values and life’s intrinsic qualities to our future generations.

Teachers can break or make a student’s career. I’m speaking from my own experience. Thirty years ago, an extremely dedicated Englishman with a Masters degree in English from Oxford University came to teach us. Within one year – end of 1982, everyone in my class passed the General Paper. I scored distinction for my GP when my English never surpassed C6! It’s amazing when you consider the fact that I never had any private tuition and my parents are illiterate.

It really validates the Chinese saying, “名师岀高徒” – Excellent teacher produces excellent student. If the teacher is in perpetual itchy mode, will that teacher produce an excellent student?

Of course, there were many more dedicated teachers over the 13 years of my formal education. Some of my Chinese teachers imparting Chinese values I still fondly recall. Until today, I still remember my form teacher Mrs Baratham – wife of late Dr Gopal Baratham where she taught us to write good proper English and her history lessons on Malaya peninsula were always lively discussion. Dr Gopal Baratham was a neurosurgeon and a published author of poetry and short stories. He used to drop by at our school ECA on Saturdays.

Will you concur with me if I make a general statement here that most of our teachers are not as dedicated as those teachers in my time years ago or earlier. What do you think?

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About Alan Tang

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of SG. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I also share some of the interesting jokes, stories or anecdotes from my friends or observations on my blog. Thanks for visiting my blog.
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39 Responses to Complaint against a Polytechnic lecturer

  1. Joey Foo says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to make a general statement about all teachers, when a very small minority have problems with doing their job right.

    I do not know about the standard at your time, but in my own opinion, most if not all take teaching as more than just a job. From teachers who are concerned about his/her students beyond just their academic progress, to lecturers who spare no effort in explaining complex concepts to students, I have had the fortune of being taught by these dedicated educators. I dare say that the lecturer in question here is a very, very small minority, as from my experience, I have never met any educators like those you have described.

    Also, I don’t think we should judge just from one side of the story. Perhaps this lecturer was doing so with a sense of humour without meaning to harm? Yes, often it is necessary at times to ask for an explanation, and to understand the problem deeper, but before that, maybe we shouldn’t be making a judgement immediately?

    • Agreed with your comment. Let’s hear what others say. My stmt is meant to be provocative. Of course, I’m not referring to all teachers – not even the majority. Maybe most? My brother is a teacher in a JC also.
      I heard that the daughter is a dreamer. Like to day dream. Maybe it’s due to this that she was picked!

  2. melbyfool says:

    I do not concur. I have friends who are teachers and are as dedicated as any of the teachers past. The problem is that they are now not allowed to ‘pick on’ students because they are so precious. And parents do not have time to bring up their children properly resulting in them being monkeys at school.

    If I was SM’s daughter and my parents were SM, they would have marched to the poly and asked the lecturer to pick on me more! And that was what happened years ago at school: at a meet the parents session my mum told the form teacher in front of me to thrash me if I misbehave. Obviously I minded my p’s and q’s from then on!

    Being in a polytechnic means SM’s daughter is at least 16/17 years old. If she can’t handle being picked on by the lecturer she probably won’t survive very well in the working world! Find out why she’s being picked on. Is it because she can’t answer any questions? Why is she not able to answer any questions? Because she didn’t prepare for lectures? We have a solution right there then, don’t we?

    The teacher is not always wrong. Neither are they always right. But if we want them to be good teachers, then we have to assume that they are.

    • Wow! Excellent comment. Can’t agree with you more. In my time, when the teacher hit us – let alone picked on us, we didn’t dare tell our parents. I we did, we would get more! To my parents, the teacher cannot be wrong! They are always right! I remember my Chinese teacher used to use a ruler to knock on my knuckles and sometimes she just pinched my ear! I didn’t even dare to complt. Now, it’s totally diff.
      How do you explain the so many scandals in the news involving teachers?

      • melbyfool says:

        I’d say there are a few factors involved:

        – New media (Internet, blogging, etc) gives students avenues to bring up scandals. There might have been the same amount of scandals in the past, but we didn’t know about it because news didn’t get around

        – Takes two hands to clap; students lacking love and attention at home try to get love and attention at school and teachers get tempted

        – Competition; students wanting better grades offer themselves in exchange. Or students simply have competition amongst themselves to see who can bed the teacher. Don’t be surprised at this because I believe it happens more often than you think!

      • SG Girl says:

        I, too experience that. When I was in primary two, my teacher pinched me (really hard) when I did the sums wrongly. Another time in primary five, when I handed the maths correction to my teacher, she tore them up saying “this is exercise for my fingers”. Even as a child, I felt that what that teacher did was not right but I could do nothing. Years later I heard that teacher couldn’t have babies (thank God) and that teacher who taught me at primary two, got divorced.
        Having said that, the rest of the primary school teachers who had taught were truely awesome. They were patient and kind and I could feel their love in teaching. The most enjoyable education years were my primary school days except for maths.

        I suggest your friend to teach his daughter to be more outspoken. She has to learn to defend herself. Teachers are not always right. Teachers may not process the nicest characters (nor moral values). She should talk to that lecturer in private about how she feels. If that fails, then your friend should step in to talk to that lecturer.

        • Thank you for your suggestions. I’m sure he’s reading it.

        • agongkia says:

          You seem so happy that the teachers who pinched you and tore your exercise book that they cannot produce baby and divorced.
          My teacher spinster Ms Ong specially asked me to help to take books from her class cabinet and later accuse me of stealing the candy mean for some charity which I did not and interrogate me like a police inspector .Poor boy like me do not know how to defend myself. The candy was eaten by some of her class students earlier.
          My friend Cheng Ah Hoo also flame me and make my life miserable.
          Must I also wish that they kick the bucket without any love one besides them or give birth to children without b-side or handicap?
          Must learn to be magnanimous. Forgive and forget.

  3. agongkia says:

    The above case aside….

    Please do not be too sensitive and have some respect for those in the teaching profession.Do not be over protective of our children or we may spoil them.I have seen many over protective parents.

    When I was a little boy,I prefer one who is old ,experience and matured guiding me.The uglier she is,the better result I will score.Best if she can pick on me and cane me in public if I misbehave.It will boost my confidence and make me study better.The more she pick on me,the more concern I felt she has on me.
    Last time Mrs Nathan (Former first lady)was my teacher.She is the first in my life to commend me for writing good composition.No one ever did that.I am so glad and motivated .My study started to improve……
    Wah Lau ….suay suay dun know why suddenly appear a 20 year old young relief lady teacher ,I cannot concentrate on my study …….my fate changed……..

    But,never blame anyone if we do not have good result.Teacher dedicated or not is not an issue .They are there just to guide us.Important is our willingness to study hard.
    Learn a lesson,dun aim for pretty teacher.

  4. The teachers today have a tougher job than teachers of the yester-years. Not implying that teachers back then didn’t have a tough job – no. Today’s teachers had to deal with workload (heavier?), a performance grading system based on ‘CCA’ (You don’t get ‘A’ for just being excellent in teaching alone), more technological savvy pupils, new rules (over?) protecting students and the worst of the lot, uncooperative parents.

    Back to your question, dedicated as teachers in the past, it is hard to tell. But we will agree it is hard to be as dedicated with so many factors against you that wasn’t as challenging to the teachers back then.

    • Yes you have made your points. Those good old days, teachers and students were not that stressful. Fewer distractions also. Today, we are faced with do much Internet online activities and gadgets. Those days, no PCs, no mobile fones nor much competition.
      Just like other jobs, those days it’s quite relaxing. In today’s cut throat competitive globalized world, it’s very stressful. Everything is expensive and costs a lot. How to bring up more children? Do our children still have carefree childhood days? I guess my generation belongs to a bygone era – totally different from today’s children. No comparison can be made if we factor in the drastic circumstances.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My youngest child was poor at studies from primary to secondary levels. However, there was a period whence he was at secondary two whereby he scored high marks in most subjects. My wife and me were not surprisef as our two daughters were above average. My eldest daughter was even selected by the school to go for Mensa test at Primary Five. She and her parents declined.

    Anyway, my son came home one day looking dejected and sad. We were worried and concerned, he told us that his favourite teacher was leaving soon. After that, his result went back to poor again, making him the lowest educated member in the family. A teacher did make much difference to one of her students from my family.

    patriot

    • Dedicated teachers are important. They play a major part in a student. My Malay colleague’s three children are all graduates. Even though they are not Christians, they insisted that their children go to mission schools. He told me when I enquired how come his children could do so well in their studies. The teachers and environment are crucial to their success. My Malay colleague knew that. Whereas, my parents didn’t. Being illiterate, their mindset is that so long as you got a school to go, then it’s a blessing. Today’s parents are different from my parents. They understand the importance of school and teachers’ commitment.

      “It really validates the Chinese saying, “名师岀高徒” – Excellent teacher produces excellent student.”

  6. Lohcifer says:

    Alan, I certainly hope your friend did not send that email to his daughter’s school. “…one new hot spicy lady lecturer…”? The email is emotion-loaded, way too accusatory and written in a language that is not very proper. And making it public here doesn’t really help anyone. Perhaps a more sensible approach here is for his daughter to be mature enough to sit down with the teacher and have a frank – not emotional, bombastic – conversation. Find out what triggered the teacher’s “picking” on her. To be fair, the teacher deserves a hearing too. If that fails other options are to seek out the school’s councilor and ask for mediation or for the parents and the daughter to seek an audience with the teacher in the presence of the principal.

    I however agree with you that “Teachers can break or make a student’s career” but just because there are some black sheep in that profession doesn’t make it fair to make sweeping, blanket statements about all teachers in general. Teachers today are not very well paid, are not being appreciated, have tough students to deal with and even tougher parents who storm into classrooms threatening lawsuits because their kids have been punished for not doing their homework. Moreover teachers have very heavy work loads. It has to be calling, not just a job. Interventions are being carried out by the education ministry to upgrade the profession, hopefully giving it the respect it deserves. Let’s hope that these initiatives – and more understanding parents who have learned to level-set their expectations – can bring back those great teachers of yesteryears, teachers who really cared, were passionate about their roles and were sacrificial.

    • When it comes to teachers and schools in general, this topic definitely generates lots of emotions and controversy cuz we were part of the system. Our children are also part of it. We all have our own experiences to relate.
      Nobody is talking about the entire teaching profession. Whatever we say is based on the general perception of the average. The demands on teachers are definitely more than before. Let’s face it, every profession also has its problems.
      Like I say, this copy is edited meant to provoke and elicit response from readers. Stmts such as that quoted by you were not in the original memo. My intention is use it as a talking point. No names or institutions are cited here.
      I did advise my fren to speak directly to the school but he refused. I did write a simple and straightforward letter but he didn’t like it. He wanted it to be accusatory and emotional. I just comply with his wishes.
      I hope you now have a better perspective of the whole story. Like I say no matter how this topic will be controversial cuz we and our children are part of it.

      • Lohcifer says:

        Alan, you said “Like I say, this copy is edited meant to provoke and elicit response from readers. Stmts such as that quoted by you were not in the original memo. My intention is use it as a talking point.” But what’s the point of this whole post? To me – and I beg your forgiveness – this is just one big troll.

  7. ape@kinjioleaf says:

    In my school days, most of the teachers I had were dedicated and patient. The best ones taught me things that were not part of the school syllables but nevertheless, important life lessons. The worst teachers, a small minority, pratice favouritism. I had my fair share of dusters on head and rulers on knuckles. However, I’ve never come across any involved in crimes or being too intimate with students… not even rumours. It appears that all have one thing in common – uphold the moral image. Seems to me teachers of yesterdays took serious views on their own moral stand. That was my school days experience some 20 to 30 years ago.

    Looking at what’s reported in news these days, it appears there are some teachers are less inclined to uphold moral image. Having said this, based on my current experience with teaching friends and my children’s teachers, most are still decent folks who respect their profession doing what is best for their students.

    But parents these days are getting better at complaining… there is a difference between feedback and complaint. The letter that you help SM to write is a complaint because it concluded that the teacher is at fault who relentless pick on his daughter. I would have pen it such that the discreet investigation is conducted to establish if the teacher did pick on her or was it a misunderstanding.

    • Thank you for your analysis. Fair comments. I can’t agree with you more. Let’s hope that they resolve the misunderstanding. Cheers.

  8. Winking Doll says:

    My JC Chinese teacher pretty much told his students who were struggling to pass Chinese to either brush up on our Chinese OR we deserved our fate of not gaining entry to a local university (this was back in the late 1980’s where one must pass one’s 2nd language to qualify for university education in Singapore). For a couple of weeks, he made an attempt to make learning Chinese interesting by teaching us through songs. But things when pretty quickly back to “business as usual”, i.e. to ignore the weak students in Chinese, skipping over the weak students in the oral reading of lessons, etc.

    That JC Chinese teacher sucked big-time in his duty to his students. In fact, he came off as a Chinese-chauvinist. Guess where he is now? Looking back, it is no wonder that he was less interested in doing his job of helping students improve their Chinese than climbing the socioeconomic politic hierarchy.

    http://www.parliament.gov.sg/mp/yeo-guat-kwang?viewcv=Yeo

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeo_Guat_Kwang

    • You are right. At one time, one must pass Chinese or 2nd lang to gain admission to local university. That led to much unhappiness. Some even migrated or studied overseas. Even the Chinese standard was lowered, many still couldn’t pass.
      As for that clown quoted I nvr respect such self serving public figure. I wonder how is he going to serve the public in his primary capacity when he has to juggle 64 directorships? Who is he bluffing?

      • Lohcifer says:

        Good point. And it is good that rules pertaining to directorships are being changed. I know of well-connected people sitting on hundreds of boards. Who are they trying to con? There’s no way they can be effective. Shareholders should scrutinize the directors they have and question their effectiveness.

  9. I thinketh therefore I am! says:

    Base on your article alone, I can’t conclude that the polytechnic lecturer is guilty as charged. Too much information is missing – what actually took place, was there any independent witness on any specific incident mentioned, what specifically did the lecturer do, was your colleague’s daughter the only one being “pick on”, etcs. To see a full picture we will need all the jigsaw pieces to be in placed.

    As a former man-in-blue doing IO duty, you should know very well that it is human nature to always present information that is in one’s favour and hide all unfavourable details toward oneself. For example, when a person who reported that he was assaulted by another person, the former will choose to only reveal information that the accused person was at fault. However, after interviewing the accused person you may find out that the complainant was in fact the aggressor to begin with and actually threw the first punch. We need to hear from all parties involved and verified all claim and counterclaim to see the full picture.

    On education. In my opinion, we should teach our students subjects on financial planning and also on how to think. My observation is that even though a lot of our students may have achieved tertiary education but majority of them are clueless when it comes to financial issues. I also find that our students are very lacking in their analytical ability. For example, in GE 2011 I asked an acquaintance of mine, who is a university graduate and voting for the first time, which party will he vote. He said he would ask his parent and will vote for the same party that his parent support. When I asked him why and he replied that his parent can’t be wrong. Besides he said he is not interested in politic. Langgar! Government policies will affect our livelihood hence for me election is about choosing the way of life that we desire. Politic = Livelihood. No?

    • Langgar indeed! Exactly! We are churning out paper generals – meaning no simple common sense or initiative like what u just quoted abt that graduate student.
      Of course, many facts and details are missing. You never heard of first information report? It means the entire machinery will will start grinding once a first report is made either via phone call, lodging an NP299 or simply a letter etc. Without a formal complt or first report, how is an investigation to be conducted? That letter albeit edited for this blog is akin to first information report.

      • Lohcifer says:

        Alan, I think you better get a patent and claim copyright for the term “Langgar” ha ha!

        • Lol! I don’t mind more and more ppl using it. I’m the special vicar of the temple of langgar. I hope it will attain the same status in our local language just like Alamak! No worry, just use it liberally. I won’t langgar them!

  10. musingsofasingaporeretiree says:

    Got a friend who teaches in polytechnic. Confided in me that her higherup regards students as customers who must be satisfied at all course. It is the students as customers who graded her performance. If the students are found wanting, it is the inadequency of the teacher and not the fault of the teacher. In such as environment, it is difficult to inculcate respect for the teacher who is just a service provider!

    • My fren SM read this post and all comments. He still insisted that “all of you dont understand” his daughter. He still strongly feels that his daughter is victimized cuz she can be very acerbic in her remarks n reply to the teacher.

  11. Confused-ian says:

    acerbic in her remarks? How should we interpret it? 1) The daughter is disrespectful to begin with; 2) The daughter has no EQ; 3) The daughter is spoiled and thinked that the world revolved around her; 4) does acerbic remark equated to being absolutely right hence disregard all proper mannerism;

    There are many ways to express one’s opinion or thought. All human are creatures with feelings. For every action there will be an equal reaction. Disrespect begets disrespect. Nothing more nothing less.

  12. Don't Assume says:

    I agree with what “I thinketh therefore I am!” said. We need all the information to know the full story. Initially, I would think that the daughter is not at fault. However when new information is available such as “…she can be very acerbic in her remarks n reply to the teacher…”, I start to ask is there anything else that the daughter did not mention to her father.

    Without hearing out from all parties and confirming all information revealed, we can only make comment base on certain assumption. However, please remember whenever we assume we never fail to make an ass out of u and me (ass-u-me).

    • You are not listening. I did explain what’s “First Information Rept.” I did say that facts and details are not enough. Need to be investigated. All those I said already. No one is assuming anything.

      • Don't Assume says:

        I hear you. What I am saying is that until the day when all facts and details are made known and investigated, until then whatever opinion or thought anyone makes has to be based on certain assumption each of us formulate from the available information so far.

  13. Claudia Chia says:

    I think SM should get his daughter to talk to the lecturer about it. Going to the polytechnic is to train students to be more outgoing and dare to speak up for themselves. I know, it’s hard initially but it can be trained up. If not, next time the daughter got picked on/bullied at work by the colleagues and boss then how? Parents can’t be helping their kids all the time right?

  14. Claudia Chia says:

    By the way, my studying life was not too bad so I had a really hard time adapting to working life. There are a lot more irritating people – boss, colleagues, customers to deal with. Have to handle many things at the same time. Therefore, I think it would be good that SM teach her daughter how to handle this kind of stuff.

    • Exactly! That’s what I was trying to tell him when he discussed it with me. She has to face the challenge and try to overcome it. In the real world, it’s even worst. All kinds of ppl out there when you go out to work. The Chinese saying, “江湖险恶” is always true based on my 29 yrs working experience!

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