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Monday, March 4, 2013

The Power of a Child's Motivation

I just want to show readers the stark difference in quality of work produced by a child who goes from hum-drum motivation to highly motivated.

Little W learnt plenty of writing techniques from me over 9 hours of writing class in December 2012. He understood my requirements very well because he is a reasonably intelligent child.

When I began to teach him again in February 2013, I asked him to produce a piece of writing. He produced a singularly flat piece of work that all but screamed at me "My creator wrote me on auto-pilot. He wrote me with neither passion nor strength of will nor any determination to create beauty. He wrote me because he was trying to get his homework over and done with so that he could go do other things. My creator did not take his time to enjoy writing me. My creator didn't really want to make me."

Here is the singularly uninspired piece the boy did in a hurry - uncorrected.

Little W's Composition Handed in 2nd February 2013
It was a summery and oven like afternoon . John and his classmates, James and Frank hastily stuffed their crumpled worksheets into their school bags . School had just ended .The three chums had decided to go to the nearest food court to have their lunch .

John and his classmates arrived at the food court which was a stone throw away . The food court was crowded with students from their school . John and his friends spent ten minutes searching for a table before at long last , James spotted a seat at the far end right corner of the elephantine food court . James told his friends that he had spotted a table forthwith . John and his pals dashed to the unoccupied table . After placing their belongings on the table . John and Frank went to buy their food while James kept a lookout for their belongings .

John went to the usual fried noodle store he always went to . " One bowl of fried noodles please , " John told the stall owner . " That would be two dollars pleased, " replied the stall owner , John stuck his right hand into his pocket and fished out a two dollar note . The bowl of febrile fried noodles was given to John . John used both his hands to carry the bowl of heated fried noodles . He was about to turn around when a cleaner carrying a tray of grimy bowls fell onto him . Seeing this , the cleaner and John apologised to each other profusely . After that , John bought another bowl of fried noodles and went to the table to eat his lunch . After having his scrumptious bowl of fried noodles , John and his friends headed back home .

John's uniform was stained with soup and noodles . On that very day , John learned to be more careful and learned to always to look around before making a move.

I huddled with Little W's mom. We teamed up and co-ordinated our use of Dr Pet's motivation strategies and on 2nd March 2013, I received a sparkling piece of work in my email from Little W. I have appended it below - uncorrected.

Mom proudly wrote and said "I am proud to say that he did this compo all by himself... I did not expect that he would take so long to do this compo. He was determined to meet the criteria... He wrote a para, and then lazed around. He wrote another para, and then lazed around some more. I even told him he could stop since it was so difficult..."

Little W's Composition Handed in 2nd March 2013
Boisterous students chatted away as their form teachers tried their best in getting their disorganised classes to line up to go to the school hall in anticipation of the Prime Minister of Singapore and his wife. At long last, the form teachers got their classes under control and they started to head towards the school hall. The school hall was dirt- free. The air smelt fresh as if the school had just replaced their grimy school hall with a brand-new one. You could hear the form teachers getting their students to sit down in an organised manner so that the Prime Minister would get a good impression of the students. The students wiped the sweat of their faces and fanned themselves. 

When the Prime Minister and his wife arrived, the students instantly stood up and welcomed them with a thunderous applause. Mr Tan, every students' favourite teacher, addressed the Prime Minister and his wife as they took their seats. At that point, Tom, the class bully started annoying, Jamie, the " Teacher's pet " as he was listening attentively to Mr Tan. The more Mr Tan said, the more Tom got annoying. Finally, Jamie got really annoyed that he stood up, pushed Tom with such unbelievable force that even Tom found it hard to believe .Tom landed so hard that his chair broke." Would you STOP IT ! "Jamie shouted as loud as a nuclear bomb exploding a centimeter away from you. Jamie's shout filled the whole school hall even the Prime Minister and his wife stared disbelievingly at Jamie. Jamie grabbed Tom in the collar and screamed at Tom " The next time you pick on me, I will slam the chair on you! " The Prime Minister and his wife were taken aback by Jamie's rude and disruptive behaviour. 

Immediately, the student's teacher, Mrs Fong came running up to the two boys and told the two boys to stop, but the two boys were having a vicious fight and were exchanging punches. Mrs Fong told the boys to bring the fight to an end, Jamie stopped punching Tom but Tom punched Jamie in the eye and the fight continued. Finally , Mrs Fong was so incensed she actually slapped Tom in the back. The two boys turned around to see an indignant Mrs Fong staring irately at the two of them. Mrs Fong scolded the two boys for their bad behaviour " Do you want the Prime Minister and his wife to have a bad impression of our school? " The Tom and Jamie hung their heads in embarrassment, and replied " No. " " Then behave yourselves! " After being reprimanded, the two boys sat down and Mr Tan continued his speech. 

The assembly ended. The students were lining up and going back to their classes. Jamie asked Tom whether he should go up to the Prime Minister and apologise for his rudeness. At first Tom refused to apologise to the Prime Minister as he thought the Prime Minister might scold him. After thinking for a moment, Tom relented. Tom and Jamie separated from their class and started searching for the Prime Minister and his wife. At last they found the Prime Minister and his wife, Jamie tapped gently on the Prime Minister's back , the Prime Minister turned around and stared down at both the boys. " Mr Prime Minister, we are really very sorry about our bad behaviour during the speech. " The Prime Minister's stern face turned into a smile and said he would forgive the boys. From that day onwards, Tom learned never to underestimate the power of other pupils and never to be annoying. Jamie learned how to control his temper better. The two boys turned over a new leaf and became well - behaved students.

When I started my English Enrichment classes, I was a little hesitant. I gave myself one year to decide whether I liked doing this. I must say that this is great fun. It's immensely thrilling to ignite a child's internal drive for the English Language. Have you ever tried lighting the coals for a barbecue? How do you feel when you do successfully get the fire going?

Well... I feel that... but 10 times more intensely.


Celine said...

Well done Petunia! The work of a teacher resonates through each student's life

Blur Ting said...

Amazing. What a difference! It goes to show that when one is inspired, he can write great stories.

I need to go for some lessons cos I stopped blogging cos I am now writing like the child's first compo. When I was in love, I could almost write like his second piece :)

Petunia Lee said...

Ting - You have a style all your own. It might not score at PSLE but it is an engaging style that I love.