Archive for June, 2008

British Humour

It’s safe to say that most of us know Mr Bean but that is not typical of English humour for the protagonist does not have much to say in every episode. To me, it’s just slapstick humour.

There’s another series which I find more hilarious. In fact, Rowan Atkinson surprises me with his wit in Blackadder. I personally feel it’s time that our children should be exposed to this kind of humour.

Have a watch at the following and see how Shakespeare is parodied:

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June 30, 2008 at 11:11 am 3 comments

Profundity Veiled

There are times when we are reminded not to read too much into what’s on paper. I think we are good at coming up with interesting innuendos when we read news of political intrigues. They may not be factually tenable but they are sure fodder for coffee table chats.

Be that as it may, there are also times which we should not take the superficial meaning at face value. This is especially true with deceptively simple poems. Knowing what appears to be obvious is important but that is only the beginning of an interesting journey.

The poem on the wind by Christina Rossetti typifies this notion:

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you;
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I;
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

Any child would know that this poem shows that what the eyes can’t see doesn’t prove the absence of it. The wind can’t be seen by the naked eye but it sure can be felt or the effects can be seen.

There is another layer which can be dealt with. The leaves tremble and the trees bow their heads point to an interesting reality. If nature can reverence the Creator, what about the human race that can think and reason?

As we look at creation today, be awed by its beauty. At the same time, our marvels should not stop there. Our eyes should look ever deeper into what’s hidden in all these.

June 30, 2008 at 9:10 am 3 comments

No Bowling

When I was posted to this relatively remote school, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they had skittles stashed away in the storeroom. At the back of my mind, I thought that this was a well-equipped school with excellent sports facilities. The strange thing was there was no bowling alley in the hall or in the field.

Sports day finally came and I thought what better day than today to play bowling ball. But there was no bowling. Instead we had cross country running. To mark the designated routes, I was asked to place the skittles at strategic points.

When I had a good look at them, they were traffic cones. I wonder when those two become synonymous. Any idea?

June 27, 2008 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

Beware what you say

The more languages we learn, the more we realise that all languages have their own quirks. At times misunderstandings arise from our incomprehension of the phrases used.

I remember a friend of mine who was disappointed with his exam results. My immediate response to that was ‘What a shame’.

He was taken aback and expressed his displeasure in these words “There’s nothing to be shameful of!” I didn’t expect him to be ignorant of this common expression. In fact, I was equally shocked.

Thank God the whole thing didn’t turn out acrimonious as I quickly explained to him my true intent.

June 26, 2008 at 9:54 pm 1 comment

65 Roses

If you want to have a good laugh, the person to your left is the man. You can get hold of his books from any of the bookshops in the world.

Click on the excerpt below to listen to one of his hilarious encounters with a student:

Sixty-five Roses

June 24, 2008 at 8:47 pm 2 comments

The Sound Of Music

How many of you find The Sound of Music pure music to your ears? I find that a number of people that I’ve met found it unbearable. Times have changed but to me, the songs in that musical remain evergreen. The musical is a repository of excellent materials which can be used for teaching.

For one, the pronunciation is British which is a rarity in modern English songs. Though our students are more familiar with American English, the irony is our English syllabus is still modelled on British English.

If you remember the opening scene, the first few lines sung by Maria (played by Julie Andrews as she runs up to the top of the hill) sound British because of the absence of the ‘r’ sound or what is known as non-rhotic. The words hearts, birds, church, lark and learning prove my point as evidenced in the following:

My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
that rise from the lake to the trees
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
from a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
stones on its way
To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray
(excerpted from the song ‘The Sound of Music’)

The other added advantage is that it has a number of interesting expressions which not many students are familiar with. What’s a flibbertigibbet and will-o’-the-wisp? The nuns should know for that’s what they call Maria. As far as love is concerned, Liesl feels these are things beyond her ken. Well, I can wax lyrical about those lexical items which we can use to enrich our student’s essays.

If you still think that The Sound of Music is the Sound of tragic, just give it a try. One taste of it may change your mind.

June 23, 2008 at 1:11 pm Leave a comment

Ask and you shall Receive

We were shocked and horrified when a couple just walked by our front yard early this morning and cut away a few of our pandan leaves. Either they were oblivious to our presence or it was sheer brazenness that prompted them to act in that manner. Some may argue that the tiny plot of land running along our fence is government property but it wasn’t the government that planted them.

We would happily allow them to take some if only they had the decency to ask. Could it be the price hike? Then we truly have a lot to worry about.

It’s ironical that children are taught to precede their request with ‘May I’ and here we have two adults who couldn’t care less about common courtesy. No wonder the Lord reminds his disciples to be like little children. Children after all are malleable and teachable. It is harder to teach old dogs new tricks.

June 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm 1 comment

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