Tuesday, May 13, 2008

the greatest impact of all

finally managed to get tye thong to meet up with his former student wing nam. when wing nam joined balestier hill secondary in 1973, tye thong was his form teacher in secondary 2/21. our 'hong kong boy' remembers mr tan (tye thong) as the teacher who introduced him to race walking.

some of our former students from balestier hill secondary who still keep in touch with us or who have made the effort to contact us and meet up with us, after all these years, have never been taught by us in the formal classroom. in fact, all of them remember us not because of our classroom teaching - that must say something about our class lessons - but what we imparted to them or did with them outside the classroom.

the extra-curricular activities (eca) that we conducted for them apparently have far greater impact than all the formal lessons in the classroom. in those days, we were the ones who initiated the eca; it was something we were passionate about, something that we wanted to do and enjoyed doing. much unlike today, where co-curricular activities (cca) are 'farmed out' to outside instructors or assigned to teachers who may deem it as extraneous to their teaching responsibilities.

it is the same testimony that we hear each time we meet our ex-students: being involved in oac (outdoor activities club) has helped to shape my character and prepared me well for life. when i asked one of our most successful ex-students what has helped him to be where he is today. his reply was: the one takeaway that has been etched in my mind was the lifeskills that i picked up at the 10-day leadership training camp.

many of the students who are doing well in their careers attribute an important part of their success to the training and the experiences that they had when they were members of oac. the programmes that we provided included hiking, canoeing, overnight camp, canoe expedition around pulau ubin, field cooking, sing-a-long and opportunities to lead.

the two teachers who worked very hard to make sure that the oac activities were meaningful to the students were sng thai soon and kwan tuck hong. khoo boo sun and i played a supporting role only. at one time, oac was so popular that more than one-quarter of the school population were enrolled as members.

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