11 July 2005

Tuition Series (Part 1) - Karen

I was in JC2 when I gave my first one-to-one tuition. Karen was from a dark-blue pinafore school and roped me in to help her prepare for her O-levels. In return, she agreed to be my tennis kaki on Saturday afternoons. In other words, free tuition lah! Teaching Karen was really easy as she was a really smart girl to begin with. It was akin to having a high performance sports car and all I needed was to fine-tuned it to purring perfection.

In terms of academic grades, she would easily beat me with her hands tied behind her back. Putting our result slips side-by-side would give the impression that I was more or less redundant. Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense that she will still score with flying colours with or without my tutoring and no, in the sense that I was able to give her that little extra bit of help with her confidence to capture the A1s. One thing about her was that she was damn good at memorising stuff, which in an unhealthy way, exploited the loophole of our imperfect examinations system. It has always been the easy way to memorise every single damn thing and then regurgitate all and sundry at the exam hall. I took the effort to make her understand the ideas and concept behind the subject i.e. to figure out exactly what was being taught and in return, figure out what would be tested. In a way, I am just making the whole exams process more efficient for her i.e. get straight to gist of the question, answer it, QED, get out and on to the next question. This certainly beats the "traditional way" of unloading every single damn thing and hopefully some of the points regurgitated will score the marks. Repeat for next question.

Officially, tuition was every Thursday afternoon for 2 hours but we often overshot that mark into the evenings. Fortunately, my place is only an elevator's ride away and so traveling was never a problem. On Saturdays, you would see her trotting down to the court with her tennis gear as well as files and books which may turn into an extra impromptu tuition session on the court itself. She was such a diligent student that I was a little embarrassed myself at my own slacking self. Tuition on the concrete under the hot blazing sun? Yes. Why? No idea but it brings a smile on my face just thinking back about it.

On top of the 3 sciences and 2 maths subjects that I was coaching her, we sometimes find ourselves digressing into other stuff and I remembered this particular conversation:

Karen: Let me ask you this question.

Me: Shoot.

Karen: It's in the middle of the night and the streets are empty. You are driving and you approach a red-light. Do you drive on since there are no cars around?

Me: No. You stop because the light is red.

Karen: But why? I mean there are no cars right? Quite stupid, don't you think, to stop when the street is empty?

Me: How many times do car accidents happen because the driver didn't see the other party? The street may appear to be empty but that is only your perspective from the inside of your car. For all you know there is that fatal speeding car that you didn't see coming.

For some strange reason, I have no idea why this conversation was etched so deeply inside my memory. Perhaps, it was the only time I was able to teach her something that she didn't already know!

Anyway, our tuition session lasted only 9 months before she took her O-Levels. Score? 9 A1s and 1 A2 (for Chinese). I can't really lay claim to any credit but was just glad that I helped.

After that, it was on to JC and then to UK on some stat-board scholarship. Haven't seen her since when they moved out of my estate that very year. I last spotted her at BarNone (Knobby: Nurse Nanako incident) a few years ago from a distance but I didn't go over to say hi as it had been more than 10 years already. Just felt weird going up to say hi. Sekali, she doesn't recognised me anymore. Better leave things as they were.

- Voxeros

1. jaschocolate left...
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 2:26 am
U so handsome.. how can forget.. hee :p

2. pinafore left...
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 7:09 am
You're surely not talking about me right?
Btw, why does every young girl say you're handsome? Have I said that before?

3. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 8:25 pm :: 
jaschocolate: Wah. Dun like that say me leh. I shy. *blush*

pinafore: If it were you, then I won't be blogging here reminiscing about it right?
They don't really mean it when they say saya hensem lah. Just a meme going on, all trying to be my sugar daughter. ~LOL

4. akk left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 1:16 pm
heheh...i'm missing something here....I was abt to comment on ur tuition until i saw jas' comments, then i forget what i wanted to say...

u handsome? show show! :)

ok lah. abt the tuition thing, my fren say its more stressed to teach high achievers becos they really take u seriously, so everything u say must be very careful...

5. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 1:20 pm ::
akk: I prefer to teach high achievers because they more "cooperative". Also spur yourself to do well coz you have to work hard to stay ahead of the little prodigy.

This certainly beats those rich brats that you are forced to put up with coz of the money.

6. Zhe Bin left...
Friday, 15 July 2005 1:26 pm
it was such a sweet entry. and i think it's really sweet for you too, no? but i thought you could have went up and say hi.

7. JayWalk left...
Friday, 15 July 2005 1:36 pm :: 
Zhe Bin: Let me make a confession here. I wasn't the same guy more than 15 years ago. Back then, I was this squeaky clean. Machiam sporty with a bit of book-smarts kinda pin-up boy. 

The night at BarNone, I was this chainsmoking guy getting buzzed on booze.
I thought I would be better off leaving things as they were back in 1989. 
So now you know why.

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