A Mother and An Educator

As an independent platform for commercial education services in Singapore, we have seen many discussions on various service providers.  The happy customers sing praises, the unhappy ones rage and swear, while the skeptics would raise an eyebrow now and then as they critically assess the comments and tear them down as biased or irrelevant.  Yes, critical reviews are fun to write and read.

Occasionally, we do come across some educators who stand out of the crowd, and yet remain hidden, because it is not in the nature of these truly good educators to actively promote themselves.  Education is about changing people’s lives, to find ways to empower and encourage students to challenge their limits.  Each step taken by their students, no matter how small, is significant progress in the eyes of these passionate educators.

Finding these educators in our midst is a breath of fresh air, a testimony that despite the pragmatism that permeates Singapore’s early education scene, there are educators who are in the business not solely for the purpose of making money, fame or fortune.  For these educators, the returns on investment of their hardwork in teaching students is not measured by the number of “A*”s scored by their students, but by the change they have made to their students’ view and attitudes towards the subject they teach.

How many times have we heard of supposedly premium private teaching centres assessing their students before taking them on as customers?  Ostensibly, this is to “save money” for parents so that they do not “waste” money on children who have “no hope” of doing well in exams.  In truth, this is to maintain the “high standards” of the centres, so that they can continue to publish and proclaim that their services have resulted in a large number of A*s.  Is this education?  Or is it just business?

I had the good fortune to meet and interact with the founder of Molin at Katong.  As I spoke with her, I came to understand the real meaning of being an educator.

As a grandmother, she remained as spritely, passionate and true to her role as a teacher to promote and help her students in gaining competency in Chinese, regardless of how proficient they may be before attending her classes.  She does not care that taking in non-Chinese students would affect the overall academic results of her school, even when these students have been rejected by many other providers.

As a young teacher, she gave up her teaching job to look after her sick mother herself when she found out that her care-taker had been secretly mistreating the old lady.  Unfortunately, within a couple of months, her mother passed away, and she was left with no other option but to use her skills to tutor children just to get by.  As she took on more assignments, her reputation as a passionate teacher grew through word-of-mouth, and she started a tuition centre with a single classroom.  After slogging for many years, Molin now has facilities for 18 classrooms and with a constant stream of children coming in to learn Chinese, some as early as 4 years old.

I have never seen a single advertisement for Molin on any medium, and the reason was simple.  It has never placed any advertisment for its services.  The centre basically lives by the principle that the only people it needs to convince about its effectiveness are the parents who are currently its customers.  Word-of-mouth would do the rest.  I must say that this is certainly true.  I heard of Molin from my wife who heard about it from chatting with our neighbour whose kid is in the same school as our own… it is definitely promoted by raving parents who have seen the passion and sincerity of the teachers who were personally trained by the Principal to adopt the exacting standards that she impose on herself.  Around the Marine Parade and Katong area, the centre is perhaps the best known secret, and extremely popular with students from Tao Nan, Kong Hwa, Ngee Ann, etc.  The small road besides the school gets choked up with cars at the start and end of each session of lessons.

How on earth does a service reach such popularity without a marketing engine behind it?  The Principal simply attributes it to her principle of treating students in the exact same manner as she would treat her own children.  When kids are naughty, she would punish them without reservation, because she is concerned that they grow up as well-behaved individuals.  And as a “mother”, she would love and accept her students as they are, without ridiculing their accomplishments or abilities.  She has an overriding wish to see them improve and build up their character with Chinese morals of felial piety, honesty, and hard work.

The demand for early-childhood education in response to the highly competitive Primary school education we have here in Singapore has led to educators joining the industry primarily to make good money, and often milking on the innate fears and hopes of us KiasuParents.  For a tidy sum, they offer to “prepare” our children to get into GEP, to “motivate” them as cheer leaders, or to score As for their examinations.

When was the last time we have heard about tutors giving free tuition to the needy?  I was amazed when Molin made my son and his classmates attend extra lessons at no extra charge in order prepare them for PSLE oral and written examinations.  I have never encounted any other service provider who does this without prompting.  Yet despite this, there are some parents who would make a scene when they couldn’t come for the free lessons, annoyed at the fact that their own children is “losing out” on the lessons!  If educators are prepared to give their time and effort, we parents should not take this for granted.

This is not an article to promote a tuition centre.  Nor is this an article to glorify a person.  Rather, my intention of writing this article is to bemoan the dearth of educators the likes of the Principal of Molin in our country today, and how it is so difficult to find private tuition centres that operate in such ways.

Hi, May I hv the contact no.

Hi,

May I hv the contact no. for both the swim & piano tchr,

thank you very much.

 

Mdm Goh

 

Hi Can you share the contacts

Hi

Can you share the contacts of the piano teacher? Has been trying to find a good piano teacher who is passionate and able to inspire my kids.

Many thanks.

Totally agree....

Totally agree….

Super Write Up!

Hello Chief 😀

Totally agree on your write up. Such teacher with a heart of passion for teaching is hard to find. I’m fortunate enough to find some along the way. Some are friends, some are tuition teachers and some are school teachers. These are the people that not only teach but manage to touch the heart and life of the students.

 

I cant agree more that such

I cant agree more that such dedicated, highly committed and responsible teachers are hard to come by these days. But I am lucky to have known one of these rare species and she is none other than my son’s current Principal of Nanyang Children Skool (cum day care centre) located at Telok Blangah. She is a China lady and married to a Singaporean. Just like the founder of Molin, she teaches whole-heartedly, not calculative, flexible and accepts students irregardless of their background. She reviews her students and feedback regularly to the parents. She stresses a lot on hygiene too as she is a certified padietrician.

I enrolled my son in Nanyang for K1 in Jun 2010. Prior to that, my son was studying in another kindergarten. The sch has a very big compound and is well equipped with a garden, playground, computer room, gym room, etc. and also provides extra curricular activities such as speech & drama, arts & crafts and outdoor activities etc. (at additional fees). However, after spending 2.5yrs there, my son did not progress much despite such a good environment. He could not read Chinese characters, was poor in alphabets and colour recognition and unable to write well. Whenever I spoke to the teachers of my concerns, they told me that my son had no prbm with his work and performed ok in the class. The teachers and principal were very defensive whenever I gave them my feedback.

I was despair and started looking around for another sch but could not find a suitable one. Then came Jun 2010 sch holiday, I sent my son to Nanyang by chance. My nephew was studying in N1 there (knw the sch thru word of mouth too)and since it was a school holiday, I asked the Principal if my son could join the sch as an ad-hoc student. She happily agreed. 

To my surprise, she observed and evaluated my son on the first day, afterwhich she fedback to me that my son had a very poor foundation and did not even meet K1 standard! She also expressed her concern that he may not be able to cope with his study when he goes to P1. That was exactly my concerns and how I felt! Then she proved it to me by asking one of her K1 students to read in front of me! I was very impressed by the 5yr old boy, who was rejected by other sch (due to his hyper-activeness and bad behaviour in class)but she took him in. Though he was not her top student (only one of her average students), he could read every single word fast and sharp. I never expected the principal to share so much thoughts with me as my son was not even her student. I could feel her sincerity and genuinely wanted to help so I started to discuss with her abt transferring my son to her sch. She guaranteed me that I would see results after 3-6mths while she would strike a balance to avoid giving too much pressure to my son.

True enough, I see great improvement in my son within a short stint of 3 mths! Today, my son could read and write fairly gd in both Chinese and English. He is well prepared for P1 nx yr. These credits go to the principal as well as her teachers. I really appreciate what they have done for my son.

Im not promoting the sch but good things should be shared and good teachers should be complimented.  Thumbs up to these teachers!

 Yes, you are right, Chief,

 Yes, you are right, Chief, such people are extinct.  But I can think of two.  One is our China-born swimming coach, and another is our piano teacher.

Our China-born swimming coach is motherly, and loves our children as her own.  Yet, she was swimming coach of the year some years back when all the under-12 Singapore swimmers were hers.  Every year, near PSLE, she will summon all the P6s and an hour before training and make them read passages in front of her.  She runs through the materials, which she bought herself. 

She also knows the importance of P6 DSA.  To her credit, she made sure they are in the finals so that they have a good chance to make the DSA.  Her record was flawless until she gave up coaching this batch (P6s) a couple of years back.  She now coaches the younger kids.

Another is our piano teacher.  She trains the who’s who in the piano industry for years, yet she is selfless.  Every school holiday, she would organize piano ‘party’.  She gathers her charges by grades and they come for free lessons, they play for each other and critique each other.  She then orders Kentucky or McDonald’s all free for the kids.  She does this every week, sometimes every day throughout the holiday for each kid.  She continues to have such a long waiting queue, I have given up trying to put anyone through to her.

Yes, great teachers are hard to come by.  These great ladies deserve our utmost respect!

Super good one Chief, it make

Super good one Chief, it make me ache everytime I see someone Like Mrs Teo who is just one notch short of a Saint, because we need plenty of them in this day and age.

If only we have more of Molin and You too

who brought out the best in people and events so we know our children, children and children is not short change in this capitalist  world.

 

 

Thanks for sharing Chief. I

Thanks for sharing Chief. I agree that teaching has been pretty commercialized these days and most do it as lucrative businesses.

What is great to hear is that Molin, with a school setup, can still work on a generous model of free extra lessons. I used to think this is only possible for those educators without too much overheads on their shoulders, I.e. Sole operator. So really kudos to Molin….I am impressed because my good experience so far is only with individual operation type of educators but not one with a school setup.

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