Name calling- Eunoia


At the onset the school is already risking alienating themselves from the local heartland population.

Dear Boys,

There is a new kid on the block in the junior college (JC) industry. The new JC will be called Eunoia JC.

There are 18 other JCs in Singapore are simply called;

Anderson JC, Anglo Chinese JC, Catholic JC, Hwa Chong Institution JC, Innova JC, Jurong JC, Meridian JC, Nanyang JC, National JC, Pioneer JC, Raffles JC, Serangoon JC, St Andrew’s JC, Tampines JC, Temasek JC, Victoria JC, Yishun JC.

Some of these JCs have a heritage to their names, some are very established and has a long history, some are new, some choose to tie their name to the specific geography where the school is located, Yishun JC is located in Yishun, and so is Serangoon JC (well, sort of). There is some logic towards naming these schools. There were another 2 new JCs which was opened at the turn of the 21st century, Innova (in Woodlands) and Meridian (in Pasir Ris).

By the way, Eunoia JC is not even going to be sited anywhere near to ‘Eunos’, the next most rhyming Singapore word.

Even these 2 schools, which names sounds a bit more contemporary, was spared the limelight the way Eunoia JC is in right now.

Well, I can live with Meridian, or even Innova, which sounds a little cheesy, too pushy toward inspiring, but yes, Innova loosely equates ‘innovation’; well, we do openly harbour hopes and desires we have for our future generations, to be innovative.

So what is Eunoia? Why Eunoia?

(Even MS Words and WordPress spellchecker flagged it red!) It’s Greek loosely meaning ‘goodwill’ and some ethical human foundations. One of the many flak it received was it’s too difficult to pronounce, and Greek? Sounds a bit too far from Singapore, geographically speaking. On top of the economic situation they are in? Not the best example of a nation state in the current free world.

According to the incumbent principal Mrs Wong, there was a selection process and Eunoia  was chosen over 199 other suggestions, this was based on an online suggestions from stakeholders like parents, students, then there was ‘brain storming’ (what a cliche!) and consultation which took them 6 months to choose Eunoia. It was revealed that, these processes are documented and recorded, as in any bureaucratic government sanctioned work.  I’m sure they also document and record as to how they came about with other names for other JCs.

K.I.S.S.-Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Gen Z JC

So maybe, based on their records, they tried out ‘Meridian’ in 2003, no one really bat an eyelid, ‘Innova’ was up in 2005, well, didn’t create much of a buzz either. So base on their past experiences perhaps, no one really bothered with the names, so they were probably embolden to try something different… hence Eunoia (I’m still trying to get used to typing this Greeky word); and it hit a media storm.

Since this is the newest kid on the block, I wondered, why did they choose a name that is from an old. long dead civilization?  Is Eunoia going to teach Greek philosophy? Mythology? How is Greek culture related to ours anyway? Will there be statues of Greek gods in the schools? How far will they take the Greek theme to?

And I wonder how will our young, tech-addicted, literally-glued-to-the-smartphone generation (Gen Z) take to the name? Does it even inspire them to higher Greek aspirations? I’m not sure if I am.

KISS… again!

In my own small pragmatic way, the way to name names is a 4 word-acronym… K.I.S.S.-Keep It Simple, Stupid.

As we all can see, this is not as simple and stupid as it seems. Even big, smart organizations like MOE can trip on it. Process upon process, brain storming and consultation, group thinking will not work. Logic and sensibility will always prevails, a good name sticks quickly, has a good vibe and helps bring in the right crowd, is Eunoia trying to target a Greek audience?

No local wise cracks?

Why do we need to travel to Greece to get a name? We have plenty of smart, wise people in Singapore. All our state Presidents, past and current are great people, why not Benjamin Sheares JC? Yusof Ishak JC? They bring a sense of Singaporean-ness to the JC, students can relate and entrench to that. They can read up on these great men and also aspire great things, for Singapore, not Greece. These names are closer to home, and gives our school a local identity. Oh, why not name the JC after a great Singapore woman? Joaquim JC would be a simple one, easy to mouth as well.

Stay grounded, MOE

Most schools in Singapore are meritocratic, which means we are going to have heartlanders aunties and uncles sending their kids to this strange sounding school for their education. These folks will know nuts about Greek, and mouth something as ‘cheem‘(deep), profound and greeky as Eunoia; all they want for their kiddos is to have a good education. As much as the Eunoia JC’s principal defending the school as not wanting to sound ‘high class’ but wanting to provide ‘world-class’ education. But in this naming gaffe, people are already thinking the former, even before you can prove to deliver the latter. At the onset the school is already risking alienating themselves from the local heartland population.


Getting Educated on Education

Getting Educated on Education

Your dad’s Bachelor of Arts in English with Psychology

Dear Boys,

Studying is hard. Education is hard. Sometimes what we study is seemingly irrelevant to what we do in daily our daily lives. We study math, we study algebra, we study history, some of these subjects we take, or are forced to take; keeps us up all night, all day. And if we don’t do well, we will encounter the dreaded ‘F’ word. F-A-I-L.

And things gets worse when we step into the working world only to realise that much of what we have learned are practically useless! So we learn, painfully by hindsight that, there is something call the academia and there is something call the ‘applied‘. Sometimes they mix well, more often they don’t.

Take my experience in Aikido, being in it for such a long time, there must be a good reason why I do it. Much of it can be considered ‘academia’, as there is a discourse, there is a curriculum, even a pedagogy. Is it applicable to real life? The verdict is out there.

 You will become educated by education, only to hate the very education you were educated in.

Much of what I learned in Aikido, is ‘irrelevant’. The movement, the technique, those moves, I can get that through exercise, through jogging, or other sports and activity. And yet there is something in Aikido that keeps me going back. That is for me to know, for you boys to, find out.

You will come to this eventuality, what you learned in school is practically useless.

So when you come to that realisation, I hope you realise something else as well.

You can only get where you are through education.

That is the cruel irony. You get educated by education, only to detest the very education you were educated in.

You can let that the bitterness of realization waste more of your life away.

Go back to the books that you hated so much, those thick, thick textbooks.

  • They were written by people.
  • They were printed by someone.
  • Your parents bought them, paid your school fees.

Someone out there thought that education is a good idea, that it is one of the best ways to make our lives better.

It is.

Education is not perfect, it never was. But it gave us knowledge, and hopefully turns into wisdom.

Change the world, save the world

With education, knowledge and wisdom, can one hope to change the world. You parents and countless of people went through the strive of study, because we all harbour a secret hope that with knowledge we can change the world, make the world a better place, for you, for our children.

So we make you boys go through the same thing. Knowing that more often than not, you cannot see the ends, to justify the terrible means; the mundane, boring, words after words, exams upon exams means. And it all apparently come to nought.

People who studied more than your parents came out with those thick, thick textbooks, also secretly harboured the same hope that those books they written can change the world, through the hands of those students holding it. They wrote those books with the best intention of arming their readers a learned mind.

Transfer of knowledge is never easy

While learning, as the both of you already knows, is not easy. Being a teacher is many times harder, as the teacher tries the very best to impart knowledge to the student. I can understand this because I can see many times, the frustration Harry sensei has trying to make us understand what being ‘relaxed’ is. His best intention is often not best delivered, and of course, not best received.

And yet the teacher strives

So before you complain the irrelevance of knowledge, and justify that life can be pretty much lived without having to be put through lectures, classes, assessments, exams, homework, project, assignments and other dreaded torture tools they use in school; please see that everyone strives to put what you have, on your hands. The books and knowledge you held, is not perfect, and probably cannot put three meals on your table. You cannot buy things by ranting off a string of mathematical formula. You have to go out and work, and earn a living.

Schools and schooling are only as dead as you want them to die.

Or you can change the world

You can write a better textbook, you can be a teacher better than the ones who tried their best. Strive harder, strive better than your teachers, because, as your parents, we do want you to be better, smarter than me, richer than me, save the world better than your parents could, build a better world for yourself, and your children.

So with what you have learned, go out there, bring knowledge to life. Schools and schooling are only as dead as you want them to die. Lessons are only as relevant as their students deem them to be. Knowledge can become a bias, it can become a dogma, it can make you stupid, if you only see knowledge as relevant as the grades you get from answering the correct questions.


I hope book makers, writers, authors, sribes and wordsmiths can put a disclaimer in their publications.

“Please be forewarned that the contents in these pages are meant to be taken in by a competent, open and receptive learner. Anyone who decides to read it and become a bitter person, the author(s), while is sadden by such an unfortunate turn of events, cannot be held responsible for the wanton stupidity, any irresponsible individual can potentially make. Long story short, Books does not make one clever, but it can potentially makes many, stupid.”


Writing carefully, writing slowly


Dear boys,

I hope you pick up your dad’s interest in writing. Long before there is such convenience as iPads, and other forms of ‘writing’, it is a pen and paper world, for your dad, it still is, no this is not about penmanship, this is about writing, and writing carefully.

This is important because when we say something, wrong, we can quickly say another thing to correct the error, and in a conversation, which is usually fluid, and interactive, micro corrections and errors are made all the time, perceptions and opinions tested, exchanged and argued. White lies and jokes and shared, which is the staple of an open, casual, cordial banter.

Whereas for words, written, is another story altogether. When written down, what a person say can last a long time, and used over and over again, for different context and for different agenda. Sometimes the original reason for what was written, is no longer applicable, the written phrase has long outlived its purpose, it will still be used for other context and conversation.

I’m not so concerned with what is written ‘right’, I’m more concerned with what is written wrongly, it can be costly, it can come back and bite you in the near future.
I think I picked up this habit of writing carefully when I was working in the banking side. Inter-department feud happens all the time and emails are basically e-missiles you send to your fellow colleagues from the offending department to defend your stand. So you have to write your emails carefully and word it in such a manner that you don’t get the blame, and your butt is covered.

Sometimes is can be a complain case from customers and the relevant department would want to find out what went wrong, more often than not, they could be trying to find an un-noticing victim to shift the blame to. Well, that’s some of the realities of your dad’ s work. It is a chair-borne commando’s life.

So the gist of it is, I sometimes will drop whatever I’m doing to write an email, taking up to the entire morning, word them carefully, cover all grounds, all possible arguments, loop holes are covered. At the same time shifting the problem back, making sure that my department gets out of any potential melee relatively unscathed. There are things in the email conversations that are not consistent and that is where your dad zoom in bite that poor bloke and pin him/her to the fault. It is a bureaucratic minefield and while you lay your mines and others lay theirs, the last thing you want is to be killed by your own mines!

It perhaps trained me to think and write, in a responsible manner, a readable manner, avoiding blind side bias, and sometimes plain sighted ones! Things that I’m not so sure about, I’ll try to avoid putting them in word, things that I have a certain authority in, I’ll still have my disclaimer, simply because you can never know enough to know everything. And everyone’s perspective and experience is unique and different, so we can never be so sure.

In a conversation, that’s pretty much fine, in a friendly banter, our mutually unique experiences rubs off one another, be very careful, writing things down, it may seem innocent now, but may turn out to hurt other very much later.
Remember, what is written is recorded, you may write a secret dirty little journal that you think may never see the light of day, and think that others may never know about, can be leaked. When it does, you better be prepared for the consequences!

this is about writing, and writing carefully.

Degrees, Diplomas and Dreams

randys-cert-postgrad-dip-in-mktgDear Boys,

This is how it goes:

The Route

Infant Care to N2 to N1 to K2 to K1 to Primary School to Secondary School to Junior College/ Polytechnic to University to Work.


The End.

Your dad didn’t went through The Route, he was off the beaten path. Way off.

He left school when he was in Secondary 2, a Fourteen year old boy who wanted to have his own smart-ass idea to take up a language course (日本語 seems like a good idea then.) and then become a tour guide and travel the world. The reality of course, is way off course. Your dad end up starting work as a retail sales guy (more like a boy at 15 years of age!) at Changi Airport.

I only started taking a Diploma course around 1997, after I finished my National Service. It was a part-time course in Marketing, and then from there, with your mum’s encouragement and support, I went on to take a Bachelor’s degree, and finally got is around 2009. It was also a part-time degree course from the Open University. I had to work and study at the same time.

Your mum, had it a little better off, she got her Accounting diploma with her parents’ support, full time course. And then she took a part-time degree.

Long story short, both your mum and I worked while we get our education. The Route, however, is a straight academic one, you probably do a couple of holiday jobs, internship, which is great, but that is it.

Who knows?

You boys might end up with The Route. That’s fine.

Even if you don’t, that is fine as well.

Your parents are not suckers for grades (Well, your mum does, a little more than your dad)

As long as you tried your best, as long as you aspire to meet the targets you set for yourself. As long as you boys grow up as decent young gentlemen, that is fine with me. Because this is your life, your education, your life’s work.

So make your education your work, don’t just go through The Route like it is The Route, have some fun, make some mistakes, work for some money, real, full time work. A lot of young folks went through The Route, like going through motion. There is little or no thinking, perhaps other than choosing JC vs Polytechnic. NUS vs NTU vs SMU vs SIT vs SUTD vs Private vs Overseas. That’s the easy part.

The thinking which is so dire and so missing is, what to do after that.

As your parents, we do not want to push the both of your through The Route. Even if it is going to happen that way, we want you both to make good, sound, sensible choices.

Don’t know is a good place to start

Even if you are not sure of your destiny, not sure what you can do after your degree. We are here to help. We will guide you to where you will find your answers, but we will not give you the answers. Heck, we might even throw in a few more questions.

The ‘don’t know’ is a natural thing. We didn’t know as much when we were younger. Problem is, more often then not, youngsters starts with a ‘don’t know’ and pretty much went through their lives ‘don’t know’ much as well, and what is worse is they end up with a ‘don’t know’ at the end of their journey. It is a sad life to live.

So go The Route, the education system in Singapore is world-class. But use the system, not let the system use you. It was never meant to be that way. Singapore’s education system gives all the young folks many, many alternatives. Even if you can take The Route, you don’t necessarily have to. You don’t have to be sheep, when you can become something greater.

So go for the value you are going to get out of an education, not forgetting that formal, academic education is great, but that is not the means to justify the end.

Your dad’s Bachelor’s Degree