downward spirals, upward spirals

a second consecutive post on Benjamin Zander. below’s a video on Zander’s sharing his teaching philosophy “the art of possibility”. saw it many times in the past, and can’t help but to feel rekindled by Zander each time i watch this video 🙂

extending some thoughts from the video, our education system is built on the downward spirals, and how learning can be transformed if learning is built upon upward spirals. let’s take how (un)well students are learning CL as an example.

the downward spirals talks include:

how would the worldview change if we were to frame all these thoughts into one main sentence:


similarly, all the above downward talks can be reframed:




“We give students an A not as an expectation to live up to. We give students an A as a possibility to live into.”

这个思维的转变是非常关键的。不然又要落入downward spirals中,不得超生。

the video:

some other quotes that caught my attention are captured here:

“When you give an A, the relationship is transformed.”

“We don’t give children a name as an expectation to live up to. We give children a name as a possibility to live into… We give students an A not as an expectation to live up to. We give students an A as a possibility to live into.”

“it’s “cosmic laughter” … The A is invented, the 68 is invented. We might as well invent something that lights up our lives, and the people around us.”

“In Asia it is important to be right. The teacher is always right… and a young girl said ‘If you don’t say anything, you won’t ever be wrong.”

“You cannot learn anything unless you make a mistake. When you make a mistake, this is how you celebrate…”

“The downward spirals …”

“A Vision, is not something only a few can reach. A Vision, is something that everyone can reach.”

“Everybody loves classical music. They just haven’t found out about it yet.” (vs. Only 3% of pple love classical music. If only 4% of pple love classical music, all our problems would be over.)

“It’s all invented. Standing in possibilities. Rule #6. That’s it. Simple.”


breaking assumptions

“revolution is about breaking assumptions

— benjamin zander

more quotes from the video:

“what assumptions are we making that we don’t know we are making?”

– ‘awareness’ is a word that comes through very often in work lately. how can one be aware of something that s/he doesn’t know s/he should be aware but isn’t aware of. somewhat resonates with what zander is saying though not exactly the same line of thoughts.

“we assume that success is measured in wealth, fame, and influence… over here, we only measure success in how many shiny eyes there are.”

– as teachers, how do we keep our learners’ eyes shiny, daily, monthly, annually, for as long as they are in our classes/school, and learners in society later?

the video of the orchestra performing conducted by zander follows:

mask or no mask?

another way to phrase the above qn would be ‘N95, or no N95’? with the bad haze situation lately, this naturally becomes a FAQ 🙂

2015 Sep 25 morning, dense haze caused by PM2.5 pollution
2015 Sep 25 around 8am, dense haze caused by PM2.5 pollution from land clearing in Indonesia

the official MOH recommendation can be found here. an extract of qn 1 answers below:

– N95 masks are not needed for short exposure, like commuting from home to school or work, travel from bus-stop to shopping mall. N95 masks are also not needed in an indoor environment.

– A healthy person who has to be outdoors for several hours when the air quality is in the hazardous range (PSI >300) may reduce exposure by wearing a N95 mask.

we would see that qn 1 is written with “A Healthy person” in mind. What’s the definition of a healthy person? What are the indicators? For e.g., if I experience sinus problems, and/or blocked nose easily, and/or my nostrils partially blocked 24/7, and/or my throat is inflamed easily, am I considered ‘healthy’? The term ‘healthy’ is not well-defined; it’s ambiguous. Some may say ‘see a doctor’? Well, for those of us who have been through NS, you would know that under different circumstances, you may have to be certified to be “fit” under different labels; it’s not a simple ‘fit’, or ‘healthy; in this case. Yes, we can still see a doctor for advice, as always.

Or, as individuals we can define/judge it for ourselves too. For example, if our experience tells us that inhaling air contaminated with >56 ug/m3 of PM2.5 will cause our throats to be inflamed for a long while, we take steps to protect ourselves. If we belong to the ‘heroes’ category, we went for a 10km run when everyone’s seen in N95 (not according to MOH’s recommendation), and feel fresh and energised, give yourself a pat for inheriting excellent genes!

2015-09-25 00.39.14
2015 Sep 25 AQI(PM2.5) spot readings for 8am

In short, there’s no right or wrong, especially when we are all unique individuals. oh yes, another factor to consider is whether you like the idea of PM2.5 particles entering and residing in your respiratory system. again, ‘like’ is so subjective; you would have to judge it for yourself 😉

thanks goes to Kim Kee for inspiring this post. take care folks (:

are you happy with what you are doing now?

this morning this little piece popped up in fb history:


this year i din make it to WPS which was held yesterday. will find time to meet up with my 老板-forever soon.

if u are reading this, “are you happy with what you are doing now?”; whatever your answer, i know i am (: