Thursday, August 28, 2008

10:48 PM

GP Prelims + Tutor Favouritism

In the eyes of many of my classmates including myself, the full GP exam for this prelims is really the hardest compared to all those we took before that. I dunno is this is the last time the school will test us so the GP teachers throw everything they can to drown us.

All the essay questions are simply on a higher par than the mid years, which is itself harder than the block tests. It is also the first time that I had to amend my decision on question selection after I have written it on the script because of personal uncertainty. I finally chose "Do you agree that good governance is the key to successful nation building?" over the luxury of privacy in Singapore.

As usual, I do not comment on my expectations for GP grades as they are always so uncertain. All my previous predictions have failed. The first sentence I wrote was all the more dangerously remarkable and but I think that will most likely break my essay because it bears little relation to the question. I started of something like

"The government is best which governs least" so says American philosopher Henry Thoreau in his 1849's essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"

And how the hell did I pluck this phrase out? Well, I have his very half-read essay in my bag for the most of this month. But as to whether that can get me another B for prelims once more, that would be another story. Speaking of which, I got 32 for the Second Common test 2 which I felt so worried for.

Paper 2 was very interesting. It was about soft and hard power of countries today. For a detailed explanation of what they are, I shall refer to Ajani's comment on my blog in February this year with regard to my CCA article. I vividly remember of the maxims quoted from former US president Theodore Roosevelt, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." India "speaks loudly with no stick at all." I was utterly surprised later when I saw this same phrase appear in the review section of today's Straits Times. Take a look in paragraph 13 of this article "Don't rejoice in Russia's incoherence" by Evelyn Goh in page A32 or the online edition. What a coincidence!

I know about some steps countries take to boost their reputations worldwide. The most I heard was of the British Council in Singapore. I really learned alot from this passage. And of dubbed Indian soap operas being screened to a large captive audience in Afganistan, was surely an eye-opener to everyone!

Interesting passage it is, but the killer questions were surely an anti-climax. Who cares man? I have other subjects to study for now than to bother about this grade.


I went to the Comex 2008 at Suntec with a few of the class guys today. This time, the only purchase made among us was Chwee's Panasonic RP HJE300 earphone. I also saw my new dreams, the Kohjinsha SR8KP06S, (the first UMPC with an internal DVD writer) as well as the ASUS Eee PC 1000H.

Okay, thats all for the PC Show. The main point of this section is about one of the side topics we discussed on the way there and back. Let me put it bluntly, it was the apparent favouritism shown to me by our GP teacher.

Bearing any snobbish ideas aside, it is true that my GP grades have almost always topped the class in both Papers this year. Well, there is nothing wrong to them with me regularly topping the class since everyone recognises the effort I put in. It is our tutor who likes to use statements like the infamous "If you see such a question, don't do it unless you are Kheng Meng." etc.

I personally do not like it when she says such things so I usually silence myself for awhile till after the topic of discussion has changed. She also picks on me to answer questions and sometimes to give the meaning of a "chim" vocabulary word. I dun mind that, but on the odd occasion when I cannot answer, she sometimes gives the comment or look that implies "Given your standard, how come you cannot answer?"

A comment which rung was that she overrates our standard. After doing well a few times, a perception of high standing may arise. Thus, future essays may be marked with an inherent bias to high marks even if the standard of the essay then does not warrant it.

I have realised something along this lines but this comment solidified it. I myself have reviewed some of their essays and I sometimes feel that they do not deserve the marks (some should get higher and vice-versa). It is difficult to define here how did we/I come to this conclusion. I may be biased myself since I am not a qualified GP teacher/marker so take this with a pinch of salt.

But the comments made by her to the weaker scorers to the class are very demoralising. Not just this, our Physics teacher tends lapse into the same pit but not to the same extent. I was also cited to be among the better scorers. He even made a comment in Mandarin, "If he fails his Physics, I will chop my head off and give you". Not that I have ever failed a Physics lecture test or exam, but it sends a clear signal of direct comparison and favoritism.

On the other end of the scale, our Chemistry tutor likes to suan me for my organic Chem. Every two lessons, there would be at least one comment about Kheng Meng not remembering his mechanisms or reagents and conditions. Even once, she remarked "Even Kheng Meng did better than you when he was supposed to do worse" in a small class test. That feeling was like, I want to bash her up. But as usual lah, I always appear to put on a smile and let it go. But in my head my I will remember such stuff for a significant length of time.

Even Econs is not spared. I wouldn't raise my Econs tutor to the same level though. Far from it in fact. Just one comment relayed via Yan Yu during her consultation. "Kheng Meng scores well in Econs because of his powerful language. Not that his econs concepts are very good." What is the meaning of this? Language covering for econs concepts? Maybe? I dunno. It could be possible when it comes to arts-based subject.

I just hope to all of you reading this, you will realise my point of view and the full scope of the views I received from all my tutors whether directly or indirectly. Other than those of the lower rungs of academic standings in our class, I should be the one that has received the most of such extreme comments. Of course, this is partly due to the extreme nature of my results. Luckily, our Maths tutor is generally the most understanding.

If my GP tutor continues likes this, I may have to talk to her about it. It could be too late but at least she should have the benefit of the doubt.

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