Dimensional Seduction

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Not sure when I started having these dreams, but it felt like I’ve always had them. These recurring dreams of places that are so familiar yet quite different. It’s like a reflection of the real world but with slight differences that makes every step in my dream an exploration yet a revisit of places I’ve been. It’s almost like a long déjà vu when I wake up every single time.

The end of the street where I grew up lead to a main road here in reality, but there in my dreams, its a candy store which sold toys and they are still in operation till today… in my dreams. The theater in town has an underground subway, but in my dreams it’s an elevated track that circled the city. Confidently I know where I am in my dreams, but when I awake, I can never find the paper and pen I need to start my cartography as if there is an elaborate plan in play to ensure I don’t.

In my dreams I feel like I’m walking in water when I want to run, but at other times I fly like a weightless leaf dropping upwards into the sky employing only my will to direct myself towards where I want to go.

Actually I’m not sure how much in control am I of myself in these dreams. Sometimes I’m proud of myself for making certain decisions there when I awake, maybe because it reflects what I would have done here. However sometimes I regret not making mistakes as there would be no consequences anyway.

What I’m not sure is if the people in these dreams are just but a projection of my thoughts? Am I responsible for their actions? Am I in control of their actions as well or are they other individuals also in their dream state? It would be horrible if there was a massacre there and knowing it’s what my mind wanted. No, I can’t be responsible for the action of others, I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s actions.

Are we all then sharing dreams? Are we all dreaming together? Some of the people I know here are also in my dreams, but when I checked with them the next day it confirms that we do not share dreams. Maybe time is not relevant as some of these dreams are recurring and no matter what we did there, we will still wake up here in our time, our linear time that we are so used to with befores and afters.

I want to believe that dreams are little windows. Little windows that allows us to peer into our other lives in other dimensions. Maybe I live somewhere else in one of these other dimension, maybe I know a totally different set of people in one of these other dimension, maybe I have a different wife in one of these other dimension, maybe I’m of the opposite gender in one of these other dimension.

The one recurring dream of my childhood, I’m stuck in a small brick tower filled with water. It’s almost like a medieval public pool but not filled enough to let anyone in it climb out. The people trapped together with me are all trying to stay afloat and at a specific time a frail woman dressed in black robes will open up an underwater gate to let her pet shark feed. I’ve never been eaten before as I’ve always somehow manage to miraculously climb out after some frantic swimming even when I’m an average built slender female wearing a skin tone one piece swimsuit with my white swimming cap. I would dash to the bathroom door only for it to open up into a train station and that’s my cue to wake up. Have never been able to pass that point.

Maybe our dreams are truly us peering into our other lives in other dimensions. Maybe there is an edge to the other dream dimension that we are allowed to reach but not surpass, maybe we are only allowed to peer into specific windows of time there, Nothing earlier, nothing later, just that specific little snippet. Maybe our other dreams are but slices of other specific times in other dimensions that we exist. Maybe there is one me in each dimension and dreams allow the multiple me to be strung together for that brief moment in my dream.

I live different lives in each of these different dimensions and have different friends. Sometimes I meet the people I know here in this reality in my dream world and my affinity with them grows stronger. There must be a reason for us to also meet in dreams. I always want to tell my friends that I dreamt of them the night before, but I’m not always sure if they are ready for this kind of intimacy. Actually I’m not sure myself if I’m ready or not too.

The seduction from the other dimension is very real.

Our reality is very real.

Our realities.

 

Just another day, another bar.

Illustration: Space Bar by Kurobot on Deviant Art
Illustration: Space Bar by Kurobot on Deviant Art

We were seated comfortably in front of the bartender as he serves us our fourth round of synthetic ciders.

My brother looked up nonchalantly at the visualization to the side of the room and we both chuckle as the South Koreans lost yet another strategy game to Singaporeans. “It’s amazing how they used to own the scene. Nobody could touch them.” he said. We both reminisce the good old days some 2000 years ago when desktops were still around.

A notification came up in at the corner of my eye reminding me to extend the life of my physical body stored back on earth, our ancestor’s home planet. “This round is on me”, I nodded to my brother and patted him on the back like how people used to do before robotic surrogates held our consciousness. “One year is enough this time” said my brother with a slight frown. He drew a circle on the bar counter with the condensation that gathered at the base of his glass and he seemed to have no cares in the world as he listlessly recircled the path of his finger again and again.

“What’s bothering you?”

“Nothing…”

He stretched back and folded his arms, leaned forward and rested them on the bar counter. Looking at the bartender and tracing his moves with his eyes. “don’t you think as a civilaztion we are done?” “What do you mean ’done’?” I asked intrigued and started to sit up as this is how the past few hundred discoveries were made, with random questions questioning our sheer existence to toying with ideas from past.

“There is nothing more to discover. We have discovered everything. We now know everything.”, he said with a disappointment in his breath. “There must still be something to discover?” I retorted. “No. There isn’t. We had run the simulations a trillion times. After we had cracked The Theory of Everything 1000 years ago, we mastered gravity, we mastered space-time, we colonized the universe, made all possible first contacts and unified all our scientific knowledge. From that point on, all the civilizations had united to discover what was still left to discover in the physical world. It’s been close to 100 years now and no one has come up with anything new.”

He had a point. It did seem like there was nothing left to discover, no where left to explore, nothing new to try.

It’s that same celebratory feeling that humans had when they first catalogued fully every centimeter square of Earth’s three dimensional space, and which was quickly followed by the feeling a post battle warrior got,  having to hang up his armor after conquering all the lands there were to conquer.

“Is that all there is to life? Acquiring all this knowledge, unlocking the secrets of the universe, discovering all the different cultures, achieving balance, peace and prosperity, being able to have all of life’s luxury without needing to toil for it?” He took another sip.

“Maybe dying really is next.”

I totally knew what he meant and agreed with him at some level. Conversations from the past few trips to this bar have hovered around what’s pass absolute death. Science never did venture past absolute death. Consciousness could have been transferred or recreated from cloned memories, but no one really knows if we’ve lost our souls during that process. There is no observable evidence to prove so, only the individual will know, but no one did come back to tell.

“I’ve been toying with the idea we spoke about when we last met in this bar.” He took out a small device and placed it gently on the bar counter. “You actually made it?” I said with shock. “Does it work?”

He said nothing.

My brother looked away and signaled to the bartender for another round.

“I’ve thought long and hard about this and with or without you, I’m still gonna do it. There are no preparations needed to be made, no calls needed to be made, they are all irrelevant.” My brother have always been a decisive person and from the way he said it, I took him very seriously.

As the ciders arrived, we picked it up. “Shall we?” He asked. I paused for a moment, smiled, “Why not.”

We chugged as much as we could and slammed the bottles down.

He started fiddling around with the device and when he was done he placed it between us on the counter. We looked at each other one last time and he went ahead to press a small button on the device.

It suddenly went completely silent and everything came to a stand still. I seem to be floating away from myself, drifting backwards. I can see my brother and I sitting in front of me. I continue drifting.

The pace picked up and it seems like the whole room is contracting. I’m floating up into the sky and now I can see the whole room we were in, the street, the town we were in. As I continue to drift backwards, I see the planet we were in, the solar system, the galaxy. Everything moved so fast the universe was collapsing.

And then there was nothing.

“Adam, wake up” said a thunderous voice, and… I… took my first breath.

 

PSLE is like Life

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So Clié graduated from primary school and is going to secondary one next year. PSLE was stressful no doubt, but we are all super happy as she met the target she set out to reach and during the process, her attitude and hard work is commendable. If you read my previous post I’ll give a C+ to our School’s Grading system you will know what I mean.

I just read Rachel’s post on My Take On PSLE and it motivated me to share my take as well on this big exam that all our twelve year olds have to go thru.

PSLE or exams to me is somewhat a reflection of life. Think about it… PSLE is not seen to be fair to many of us just like life does not seem fair to many of us as well.

Good Grades ≠ Good Job ≠ Good Pay ≠ Good Life. Good Grades certainly helps but it’s not a sure win ticket.

BUT

Good Grades is definitely useful for schools to pick out the best exam smart students who apply for their school. It’s kinda like a demand and supply thing as students with good grades proves statistically that they are able to score in exams so why not choose “the best” when you can. It’s just like us going to the supermarket and picking out the best 5 tomatoes from the lot.

Schools as a System

Schools were meant to be for education and a place for Institutionalised learning. It definitely still is, but the pressures to perform by teachers and schools and the expectations parents have on their kids and schools have made everything more exam focused.

PSLE and Exams in general is a system and systems are meant to facilitate a certain objective. Earlier this year I saw a documentary Waiting for ‘Superman’ and it opened my eyes to a new perspective of what the education system is for.

Education System Animation from Waiting for Superman
Education System Animation from Waiting for Superman

There are many type of jobs in our society that needs to be done and jobs need different types of people. Some pay better, some pay lesser. Some require more thinking, some require less thinking. Some are more demanding, some are less demanding. Some have more responsibilities, some have less.

So I sat my kids down in the middle of this year and spent 2 hours plus sharing with them that school is also a system and how it tries to match people to jobs. When they go out to work next time, there will be :

  • The Boss – There is usually one person. The CEO, The Founder, The person that will be fully responsible for the entire organisation. They think long-term and strategically, they tell people what to do.
  • The Managers – There are quite a lot of them and their key role is to manage. Their Boss tells them what needs to be achieved. They think mid-term and tell others to do things and check on them.
  • The Workers – Workers do what they are told and there are lots of them. They don’t really have to think much just follow the work instructions.

So I drew a diagram not to proportion, to vaguely let them see some kind of connection between grades and positions in an organisation, then asked them which band they want to be in. They clearly wanted to be more then just a worker.

More can be debated and discussed with them, but I think just getting them to have a different perspective of exams right now is sufficient.

Judging Non Exam Smarts Students

There are 2 kinds of kids I see:

  1. Exam Smart Students (generally good grades) – Can remember / knows what answers to give to earn them the marks they want. Basically knowing how to work with the system.
  2. Non Exam Smart Students (generally not big on grades) – Can’t relate to syllabus well / Don’t understand why they need to learn things they are not interested in / fearful that their innovative answers will be wrong and they will look silly / In some cases they switch off or reject the system.

To judge a student by their PSLE grades is like judging a book by its cover too soon and judging a twelve year old kid at PSLE can have a few detrimental effects.

  • They feel that their thinking is strange
  • They feel that others are better then them
  • They feel that they are a failure
  • They accept that they are not as good
  • They stop putting in effort
  • They stop thinking

I fear that my kids think lesser of themselves if they don’t do well at PSLE, hence as parents we always reassure them that their attitude is more important then their grades.

But for many years, parents have shared their views about PSLE and have even asked the authorities to scrap PSLE altogether especially as it forces their kids who go to Normal Technical to have their education path fixed as they will have to go to Technical Institutions after their N levels.

Writing on his Facebook page yesterday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat reiterated that the changes to PSLE scoring will “take some years to implement and will not affect the immediate batches of students”. Adding that PSLE scoring is tied to the secondary school admission process, it will take the MOE “a few years” to prepare for the changes.

PSLE scores to be scrapped, students to be given grades. Today (19 Aug 2013)

I’m not sure what changes MOE will make, but I hope it will give our kids a fair chance in proving their worth and not wasting too much of their youth in any educational path detour before being able to meet their basic aspiration of graduating from university.

The Gahmen need to do more?

Without a doubt the Gahmen should do what it takes to create the best possible environment for our kids to learn together with developing great character and the kind of values that we as a society want. I agree with that whole heartedly, but I also understand that overhauling a nation wide education system or even implementing changes will take time and to be honest I have seen some stuff happening during my kids primary school experience.

  • Programme for Active Learning (PAL) -Both Cleo and Clié enjoyed it. PAL tries to strengthen the emphasis on non-academic programmes and is conducted within curriculum time. PAL modules provide our students with broad exposure in two areas — Sports and Outdoor Education, and Performing and Visual Arts. It aims to facilitate the well-rounded development of students in the five learning domains (cognitive, moral, social, aesthetics and physical) and help students to develop social emotional competencies. See MOE’s video here.
  • STrategies for English Language Learning And Reading (STELLAR) – Aims to strengthen both language and reading skills as well as promote a positive attitude towards reading in the foundational years. View www.stellarliteracy.sg to find out more. My kids are still not readers leh… I think its not as simple to get kids to read.
  • Teach Less, Learn More (TLLM) – Encouraging students to learn more actively and independently by nurture a curiosity that goes beyond the formal curriculum. Syllabuses are trimmed without diluting students’ preparedness for higher education. That is what the communication to parents is, but I somehow feel at times the homework is still quite a lot. Can’t comment about what happens in school as we as parents don’t really know.
  • Every School A Good School – I agree with this move to shift the mindset of elite-school-ism and to reshuffle the school students and teachers and perception so that its a lot more balanced and that parents don’t all go crazy to start off their kids life of education with competitively trying to get into elite schools and getting that edge thru countless enrichment programs.
  • Direct School Admission (DSA) – Provide students an opportunity to demonstrate a more diverse range of achievements and talents in seeking admission to a secondary school. Read more on MOE’s site.

At least this is what I have experienced being a parent and somewhat know thru communications from teachers. There could be more, they could have not really implemented it, I don’t know, but I know the Gahmen is trying.

What I think we Parents should do

The Gahmen is putting in effort and like it or not, some changes will take years, some will take decades and I’m not going to rely fully on the Gahmen or wait. Blame the teachers and the system all you want, but when your kids grow up and become someone you are not proud of in the future, I think as parents we will then realise we can only blame ourselves.

I think as parents we should do our part too and actively play a role to instil the truly more important things we want for our kids. There are too many things I can say to this, but let me just say 3 that is at the top of the list in my head.

1. Curiosity

The world is an amazing place and there is only so much the school can expose all the kids to. As parents we should show them how large, interesting and diverse the world is. The more they see, the more they ask, the more they know, the more they can make informed decisions and be better problem solvers. Only by knowing more things do they know more about themselves and also what their likes and dislikes are.

I’ve heard too many stories of uni graduates not knowing what to do after they have completed university. I’ve also heard too many stories of people after working for a few years not knowing what they like to do with their lives.

So exposing kids to as many things as possible I feel is the role of a parent.

2. Partner with Teachers

Parents can only spend that much time with their kids daily. It is not possible to know intimately what our kids are strong / weak / interest / disinterest are in school when compared to what their school teachers know.

My eldest daughter’s P6 form teacher is awesome. She puts in extra effort to reach out to parents to understand the situation at home and asks parents to collaborate with her to identify my daughter’s weak points and to adopt strategies that works well with the kind of learner she is.

This collaboration between parents and teachers is amazing and so effective. I’m not saying that parents should hound teachers and expect lots of time from them as they do have quite a number of students in their care and they have their own families too.

3. Love

Someone once told me that a successful person is measured by the number of people that turns up at their funeral and I think there is some wisdom in that.

We should provide our kids with a happy environment, teach our kids how to be happy, teach our kids how to make others happy. Teach them empathy by showing them empathy. Teach them to care by showing them we care. Teach them how to have a big heart by showing them love that they can understand.

Hug them, kiss them, play together with them, laugh with them, do silly things with them, be interested in what they are interested in, be their best friend and they will tell you honestly their struggles when the time comes and that to me is the kind of parenting our kids of today need.

Conclusion

Singapore is still a wonderful place to live in and Singaporeans still have a good branding overseas currently and that is a result of many years of partnership between Singaporeans.

Many people have many things to say, many complains to make but that just perpetuates a negative atmosphere. The system is not perfect and never will be. However I’m comforted by knowing many people are trying, many people are giving suggestions, many people are doing their part, so lets come together so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.