Why should parents care about the Maker Movement?

With the Rainbow Loom trend taking off locally, and hearing that some mums are organizing Rainbow Loom parties for their kids, it is a good indication that Singaporeans are warming up to the idea that ‘I can actually make stuff!’

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Yes, there is more to life than our National Library banning books, lack of places in Primary school and the focus on our children’s academic achievements .

And why should parents care about the Maker Movement?

If you have noticed in the last 10 years, having aspirations like doctors, lawyers or even bankers just will not cut it anymore. Besides we can’t have too many of these.  We need more than just people who can save lives, fight for rights, or invest money for the well-to-do.

People who can invent, create, modify, hack, tinker, craft or just simply make, is more creative and productive than a group of people who refuse to make anything but plenty of noise.

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This is not a new idea, since artists have been doing it for thousands of years. But with technology and the internet, this movement have been transformed into a community activity.

 

What is the Maker Movement About?

The fundamental motivations of the Maker Movement stems from human needs of being creative and purposeful.

To be fully human is to reflect God’s creative, spiritual, communicative, relational, moral and purposeful capacities. But don’t confuse being created in God’s image to being God.

We are creative, even though many of us don’t think so.

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If we never get to expose our children to their creative and purposeful capacities, how much of their potential is being unrealized?

 

How does a parent introduce the Maker Movement at home?

Instead of running out to buy the next construction building toy (i.e., Lego), play dough set, download Minecraft on your mobile phones, buy an expensive 3D printer or buy the Rainbow Loom, if you haven’t got one yet.

The Maker Culture can span from traditional art and crafts, cooking to technology (e.g., building robots with LED lights or designing a new avatar).  Introducing the Maker Movement is a better alternative to the iPads and game consoles that so many children are obsessed with these days.

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Many of the home-based Maker projects are all about embellishing, decorating and seeking the beauty in life, or simply, just creating something made with love. Find projects that your child can personalize and make with pride.

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You really don’t need schools to introduce this to your child. However, if the local government recognize this trend, there could be more opportunities of hands-on learning for our children in school.

In the meantime, look to the internet and Pinterest for plenty of project ideas.

One word of caution though, the internet has a tendency to keep you mesmerized by the amazing number of things that you can create and DIY. So be careful not to be flooded with lots of information, and lose track of the focus to translate this information to something productive.

So just go and make something!

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So what’s my latest craft obsession? Connect with me on Pinterest.

To explore the Making Culture on a public arena, you can check out the Singapore’s Mini Maker Faire at the end of this month.

** This is not a sponsored post. I personally advocate the Maker culture at home with my child, as I see the benefits and the purposeful-ness of being able to make your own things and express your creativity.

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In Pursuit of Singapore’s Best Primary School Part II

You know how important the selection of a Primary School is to a parent in Singapore, when a father is charged for falsifying his address to get his daughter into the Primary School that he hoped for.

And there are many parents buying and renting homes in a specific area in Singapore, for a higher chance to get into the area’s popular primary schools.

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So then, do all popular, elite or SAP Schools really live up to their hype?

Here’s the second interview of a teacher who had experienced teaching in popular and SAP schools, and her take on the system. Read the 1st interview here.

 

Why I choose not to put my child in Popular Primary School OR SAP School?

‘Perhaps the distinction between schools and cultures are marked as determined by the sort of families children come from. It is inevitable that schools in geographical areas with higher income demographics will tend to have more fluent parents.

It isn’t just the money that determines how kiasu parents and a school is, I would say that it adds to more pressure for teachers and also children from less well-off homes.

Not all SAP schools have rich or stellar academic results either. Many of our so called elite schools in Singapore are not all SAP schools. SAP schools give greater pressure because of their Chinese standards. Then depending on which SAP school, the overall academic focus may vary.

I have two SAP schools near me. Both require parent volunteer programme to help assure admission. However I find both lacking in holistic development.  Having said that again, I also have a much sought after mission school, crazy Parent Volunteer scheme too… And I also wouldn’t enrol my children there.

These schools all lack a holistic development focus.

Honestly, I just have no illusion that schools can provide holistic Education simply because there is far too much administrative demands on teachers , the existence of a very rigorous and demanding assesment/ examination system and too little time for children to be given time to develop.

POPULAR schools, even the neighbourhood ones with more kiasu parents, just make this lack of holistic development worse. Since getting into these schools are so competitive, the parents are likely more ‘kiasu’.

These neighborhood schools are extremely popular with parents and are high academic achieving schools. One of the popular schools in the east had a principal that told Primary 1 parents that they should not complain about their children’s teachers. Cos the teachers will be upset and their children’s lives will ultimately be miserable. True story. 

I think many schools not just SAP schools are into awards. The neighborhood popular schools are also very into earning awards like best progress, and in various niches. It is ingrained into the system that there needs to be consistent external validation of school excellence.

Teachers are assessed to death with their EPMS* yearly. And so are principals and superintendents and Deputy Directors. Schools are not ranked? Are awards not important? Think again. If they aren’t , what sort of tangible evidence do they use to ascertain performance?

Ultimately it falls on us the parents- what we desire for our children and our temperaments.

I know some amazing parents and kids who excel in system. And the children come out rather intact and have their passions still there. But there are also many who stumble and flail under the pressure.

However I believe the system is not all useless and there also many merits.’

- An ex Primary School teacher with young children, who are NOT yet in the Primary School System. 

*EPMS – Employee Performance Management System. Teachers are assessed on certain grades (A,B,C,D) to determine their work performance bonuses for the end of the year, as well as the potential to increase in their teaching grades.  

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So you have read it for yourself in these two posts, from two teachers’ perspectives of popular, elite or SAP schools. Don’t say “Nobody told me it will be like that…”.

Here’s wishing all parents going through the Primary 1 registration process for the first time this July, all the best for the Primary School selection for your child!

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Here is MOE link on Primary 1 Registration Phases and Procedures

Here are more posts on our Primary 1 journey;

Primary 1 Orientation – What to Expect

Primary 1 – The First Two Days

The Pocket Money Challenge

Primary 1 in an Inclusive Programme

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In Pursuit of Singapore’s Best Primary School Part 1

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As we are a few weeks away from the long awaited Primary 1 registration exercise, I have done some ‘home-work’ for parents who will be making the selection this year for their K2 children.

This post will focus on the ‘truth’ behind Elite schools. In order to find out the truth, I go straight to the source; teachers who are parents themselves, with children in the school system and have taught in these schools.

What is the motivation behind a post like that? If you have been following my blog for some time, you would know that a post of this angle is not motivated by ‘sour grapes’. My hb’s alumni was an extremely popular Chinese SAP school, but I eventually went with a ‘regular’ primary school or a school with an inclusive programme. You can read this post; Prelude to Primary 1 for yourself.

My objective writing this post is to help parents make well-informed decisions for their children, choosing the best primary school for your child can either help / plague the child’s next 6 years in Primary school.

The word ‘best’ is very subjective. Some parents version of ‘best’ is that place a child’s learning potential is maximized, and the child can have a better chance to top the PSLE results nationally. While my ‘best’ is simple, the school needs to fit my child’s learning abilities, and has a positive environment to cultivate my child’s learning and my child is happy being in the school. And most of all, do not create unnecessary feelings of stress and inadequacies in a parent.

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In order to get a clearer insider take of elite schools, I interviewed two Primary School teachers who had past experience teaching in elite schools.

Why I didn’t enroll my child in a Chinese SAP school.

‘To start with, I know my kids well, there are not great in the Chinese language. I am also concerned that this over-emphasis on one language ultimately results in poor result for both English language and Chinese.

SAP schools tend to assume that the children get plenty of extra help outside of school and thus teacher will not go at the students’ pace. The environment is too stifling and competitive. Not good for overall growth and development.

I don’t want my child to cultivate the elitist mentality. And besides, the standard of education of SAP has been going down the drain since the focus have been shifted to chasing awards, over the development of the children. Generally the overall standard of educating the whole child is compromised, due to an overemphasis on certain things like the Chinese language and the school’s pursuit for recognition.

Some parents like that the children learn prose and poems in Chinese so that they can learn good values. But the reality is that all school teach good values. You just need to look at the school’s handbook and I don’t think that is inferior in anyway. A child’s value system is inculcated with practical modeling and practice at home, we can’t depend solely on a school to teach that. 

There are parents who think that these SAP schools push the child to their best potential. But with that, there is a danger of hot-housing, and no child can thrive in a pressure-cooker environment. The child will likely NOT get the support he/she needs in school.

What happens when target is set too high? The child gives up trying after a while.  Their standards in these schools continually increase year on year. For a Primary 1 child, it is normal to see the child being tested on Primary 2 and 3 things on various subjects. How do you motivate a person, what more a child, with continually high and moving standards?

It functions just like a corporation.’

- Mom with children in the Primary School System. Teaching for 10 years; 2 years in a Chinese SAP School, 8 years in schools with inclusive programmes. 

 

Read the following post next week for the Interview of another teacher.

Here is MOE link on Primary 1 Registration Phases and Procedures

Here are more posts on our Primary 1 journey;

Primary 1 Orientation – What to Expect

Primary 1 – The First Two Days The Pocket Money Challenge

Primary 1 in an Inclusive Programme

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