Seeing ourselves as others see us

ROBERT BURNS, the national bard of my home country of Scotland, wrote these lines, translated for ease of understanding: “Oh would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us: it would from many a blunder free us and foolish notion.”

As with so much of Burns’ writing it embraces the wisdom and common sense of a man who really understood the human race and all of its foibles. Although not an especially religious man, his words echo what Paul says in his second letter to the church in Corinth.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6, NIV).

I suppose this might mean that we should not assume that all is necessarily well, or that we do not need to examine ourselves too closely, without recourse to hard evidence.

I am often asked by various people how Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) International is faring; less charitably-inclined people may level some criticism based on limited evidence or on misperception. I always find it a little difficult to respond to such questions and comments but also feel that they illustrate a need to know what the school is really doing and how it is fulfilling its mission of “Nurturing Future Leaders and Global Citizens in a Christian Community”.

Happily, I now feel more comfortable in responding, following a questionnaire sent to all parents and completed on-line. The results of the questionnaire showed a very high level of 85 per cent satisfaction about all aspects of the school’s life. It was wonderful to see very high levels of synergy with the school’s philosophy, vision and goals, the underpinning foundation of all that we do.

In addition, to learn – in times of increasing levels of stress in our young people and their parents about education – that the overwhelming majority of our students enjoy school, and find it interesting and engaging is very heartening. Almost certainly, this stems from a feeling that what young people learn at ACS (International) is relevant and important for their future lives, and that the learning programme has the correct emphasis.

Of course there were also aspects where it was felt improvement is necessary and, in tune with Paul’s letter and the sentiments of Burns, we welcome the opportunity to address these aspects, the better to serve the needs of our young people.

So we will continue to examine the whole process of teaching and learning, and the use of technology in this context, to ensure that students learn in the most interesting, effective and relevant manner. We shall also look carefully at the levels of support we give to those students who need help to cope with difficulties, or to stimulate further interest for those who have mastered the content of their lessons.

With hard evidence in front of us we can feel satisfied with the remarkable progress this school has made since its foundation in 2005; we can also take comfort in knowing what we need to do to make a good school a great one, having found out what we are like in the eyes of others. What better illustration could there be of the opinion of Paul and Burns?

P. Kerr Fulton-Peebles is the Principal of ACS (International).


Bear fruit in old age, CAC seniors urged

A THANKSGIVING SERVICE was held earlier this year to celebrate the 24th Anniversary of the Chinese Annual Conference Board of Seniors Ministry. e event, held at the Qian Xi Restaurant at Paya Lebar, saw a good turnout of 700 participants.

The Rev Joshua Tan Sin Kian, a pastor of Charis Methodist Church, preached from Philippians 3:12-14 to encourage seniors to “forget what is behind, strain towards what is ahead, and press on towards the goal of becoming Christlike”.

He said that when we are old, we should not just sit still and count down the days. Instead, he encouraged the seniors to “be fruitful to glorify the Lord while waiting for your spiritual rewards”. He further emphasised this using Psalm 92:14, which spoke of bearing fruit in old age.

He also encouraged all to honour the old because of their age and experience.

Musical items were presented by Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church, Hakka Methodist Church, and Toa Payoh Chinese Methodist Church. Members from these three churches sang hymns in their dialects. Ang Mo Kio Chinese Methodist Church presented an item entitled “A Joyful Boat”, during which the performers danced as if they were on a boat that was shaken by a storm, yet were unafraid as the Lord was with them.