Category Archives: Motivation

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A Beautiful Mind

A wonderfully inspiring true story about a brilliant mathematician who didn’t let childhood blindness stand in her way.

“As a young girl, Dr Yeo Sze Ling fell in love with mathematics, solving maths problems like little puzzles in her head.

The fact that she had glaucoma and lost her sight at age four did not stop her from pursuing her love for the subject, winning an A*Star scholarship in 2002 to do her PhD in maths.

Her grit earned her a mention in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech last week.

Dr Yeo, 35, now a research scientist at A*Star, spends her days at its infocomm security department doing cryptography, a field which protects data as it transfers from one computer system to another.”

I find it also very heart-warming how Dr Yeo always helps others who face similar challenges.

“Helping younger, blind students is what Dr Yeo calls her “greatest satisfaction”. She says: “So many people in my life have helped me along – my teachers, peers and even just random strangers on the street, so I want to pass it on by helping others.”

Paying it forward at work transforming lives. Love it.

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Learning math, learning reading and writing, learning music

This blog from Kumon North America got me thinking, because I have a very deep love for music, and both sing and play the flute (though not at the same time!), and have also been an advocate of Kumon instruction over 18 years.

music keys

Certainly the points made in the blog are very true of music as well as learning math and English – I have a practice room so I can work on my singing without distraction; there has always been a large component of basics, like scales and warm-ups in my musical learning over the past decades; awareness of time, whether practice time or tempo, is indeed important in music; and constant practice as well as long-term commitment are essential to excellence in music.

music and math(Terrible at math? Maybe you just haven’t practised it as much as you have music?)

Thinking about other connections between music and math and English, there are many. We have all heard how learning to play a musical instrument helps develop a child’s brain – for example see this article from Science Daily in 2006.

Also, people who are strong in math and often strong in music and vice versa – this Wikipedia article may offer some insights.

The connection between reading words and reading music? This is a fascinating blog by a mom about connections between the way we read stories and read music.

piano flow

But beyond all these, and I’m sure many more connections, is the sheer beauty that can be found in books, in math, and in music. The love affair we have as musicians with listening to and producing/composing/directing music is not so different perhaps than the love affair with words, as readers or writers of stories, or the joy of math in its more intriguing and creative aspects.

beauty-of-music_large(Beauty in all its complexity – reflections from famous composer Benjamin Britten)

What connections have you noticed between music and math and languages?

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connections“Suspended coffee” takes off in Bulgaria

I found this a very inspiring example of “paying it forward” (a concept encapsulated in the beautiful, deeply touching 2000 movie Pay It Forward).

“Can’t afford coffee? No matter. In Bulgaria, an old Italian tradition that sees good souls buying hot drinks for those who struggle to make ends meet has taken hold after weeks of tensions over deepening poverty.

More than 150 cafes across Bulgaria have joined a goodwill initiative modelled on the Italian “caffe sospeso” tradition, which literally means “suspended coffee”, according to a Facebook page devoted to the movement.

The tradition — born in the cafes of Italy’s southern city of Naples — sees people pay in advance for one or several coffees without drinking them…” Read the whole story here

Little Gidding Part V by T.S. Eliot

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I was reminded of this sublime portion of one of Eliot’s poems today. I consider poetry a vital part of any education, but sadly it seems to be less and less a part of the modern curriculum as it is deemed inaccessible to our 21st century youth. Enjoy!

V

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this
Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Source: http://allspirit.co.uk/gidding.html

Why Third Grade is So Pivotal

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“Why is third grade so important to your child’s educational development? To start, third grade is the transitional year when your child moves from learning to read – using their knowledge of the alphabet to identifying words – to reading to learn or using books as a source of information.

“Prior to third grade, your child’s education is primarily focused on teaching him or her basics such as how to identify shapes, symbols and letters as well as how to read and write. However, from third grade forward, students are expected to build on that foundation by applying skills to learn about increasingly difficult subjects – from the solar system to Native Americans to biology and calculus. In that sense, third grade is, as Donald J. Hernandez, a professor at CUNY-Hunter College writes “a pivot point,” and a critical period in students’ educational development.

“Children who are unable to successfully transition to fast and fluent reading develop a learning gap among their peers that continues to grow. Third grade struggles will lead to increasing difficulties in 4th and 5th graders where assignments continue to rely upon knowledge acquired from this transitional period. In fact, a study conducted last year by Hernandez and the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that third graders who lack proficiency in reading were more likely to become high school dropouts.”Image

Source: http://kumonnorthamerica.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/why-third-grade-is-important-in-your-childs-education/

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How to Help Your Child Want to Succeed

“Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” -Johann Gottfried Von Herder

When children are motivated to succeed, they can do anything. But sometimes children need some extra help from their parents in order to create that desire to succeed academically. They may need some extra motivation in order to achieve specific goals such as making the honor roll, or general ones such as building critical thinking skills or improving overall math skills. Below are ways that can motivate your children to succeed and how Kumon Math and Reading Programs can help your children as well…