• Leo Education

Part 4: IP and my flops

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

Author: Watermelon

So I wasn’t the most terrible student, but this is the period of time where I didn’t really study. I usually blame this on the number of distractions like laptop usage, CCA, extra programmes, joining some small leadership positions and the other random activities my school offered, but truthfully it’s just easy to become lazy if one doesn’t have excellent discipline or goals in mind.

Curriculum in the first two years

In the first year, the curriculum was very much manageable, as the school was probably trying to ease students in from primary school. The school I went to had was trying to emphasis both humanities and science, so we took the humanities concurrently but half a semester dedicated to each science and combined science block in the last semester of the second year. Literature revolved around a book for each year. We spent the entire first year pondering over what blue meant, then had to make either a sonnet or a villanelle in the second year, as well as act out a scene in a Shakespearean play. History was revolved around Singapore, and a lot of online learning was used. If anything, the thing that my school taught us best is how to type fast. Geography was also interesting, a lot of diagrams.

These subjects had a lot of alternative assessments, which are projects instead of pen and paper tests, which can be good or bad depending on what you like. It just means that consistency sometimes pulls through more than last minute studying, and that time management is important.

Science wise, I don’t think the curriculum differed a lot from the regular O level syllabus. In the first two years, we had very simple introduction to all the sciences. Biology was probably more interestingly taught, we watched movies about pandemics when studying pathogens and elephant mating in chapter of reproduction. The real specialty was in the last semester of the second year, where we had an individual project where we did anything we wanted as long as it was investigative and related to science. We also had a module on crime scene investigation, and then had to form groups and make a fake crime documentary.

There were also other strange modules, like learning how to dance (what even), learning how to compose a simple track, sewing, cooking, drilling wood and making a wood toy. Strange stuff.

In conclusion, the first two years were really for enrichment, to allow kids to settle into their CCAs, get ready for leadership roles, somewhat bridge gap in knowledge between primary school and secondary school syllabus and identify areas of aptitude for years 3 and 4 where the activities chosen would have a real impact on future JC subjects, university admissions, scholarship applications, etc.

On choosing subject combination

Curriculum in the third and fourth years would depend a lot of what subject combination taken. At that time I decided I didn’t like any of the 3 humanities taught and decided to take something else which had a little bit of history, culture and general analysis and argumentation, which might not have been the best choice for me because it had lots of projects and a term paper every year, but when I look back it was good practice in learning how to write long articles, which is practically all I do these days. I took triple science, and for that the syllabus has a lot of overlaps with O Level syllabus, except Biology probably went a little deeper and focused more on molecular biology than O Levels. Math was also similar, structured a little differently but the main concepts remain. We just had a few extra things like learning a little bit of math modelling and smaller projects.

The subject combination chosen would go on to impact JC subject combinations, because usually one only chooses subjects they already have an understanding of for JC. I mean, certainly I do know of people who completely changed and did arts stream after doing lots of science, but it is certainly much easier to maintain the subjects you already have awareness of. My advice for students who don’t know if they want to do science or arts is to take double science double humans for secondary school, so that it’s possible to transition well into either science or arts later. But of course, JC combinations also include hybrid classes and further math classes so there’s still quite the room for choice if we don’t limit ourselves to the pragmatic bcme/pcme combination. I’ll talk more about this later in the JC section.

How I studied…or didn’t

I’m being very honest when I say that I didn’t ever have a period of serious studying in secondary school. Somehow, last minute revision and the GPA system made sure that I didn’t graduate with a terrible GPA, but there were some bad habits that were cultivated during this period that took very long to fix. And I’m still trying to fix them.

1. Device/Internet usage

a. Computers are evil. Phones are evil. During this period of time I did everything on my computer. Studying, entertainment, organization, etc. I think it is very important to compartmentalize. And that means one should separate their entertainment distractions from their actual work. When you have five tabs open and one is of cute cat videos, two are of music videos and two are on notes of different subjects, and it’s like 3 days before the exams, you know there’s something terribly wrong. It would take huge discipline to not be distracted. Many of my friends set timers on their devices. I didn’t even have enough willpower to do that.

2. Procrastination

a. I am both amazed and horrified whenever I look back at how bad this was. I distinctly remember a 1000 word essay having a deadline at 10pm on one of the days, and I started the project the day before, procrastinated until 7pm on the day itself, and submitted at 9.59pm. That paper turned out terrible, of course. This got so bad that it required me to be on a terribly tight deadline before I got anything done.

3. Lack of goals

a. I mean it’s normal to not have clear goals, but I should’ve set some short term goals to motivate myself instead of doing things half-heartedly with no true goal in mind.

I think these are issues that everyone faces, but my mitigation measures could certainly have been better and that could have saved a lot of wasted time.

Stuff outside of curriculum

I was in a performing arts CCA and had a small leadership role in it. Honestly it had more drama than you would expect, and I didn’t expect to actually need to resolve certain situations. Again, good practice, but also unpleasant to deal with at that point in time. While I was in secondary school, research projects were compulsory, but I heard they’re more of an option now. I did a science project that wasn’t very successful, what with team conflicts and changes in project. The achievements were honestly decent when considering the utter mess my whole project went through.

I’m glad I participated in these activities honestly. For all the mess that came with them, there were also a lot of fun times, and I think I learnt a lot about talking to people through these activities. This would prove to be slightly applicable in H1 Project Work in JC. Which is another messy hurdle all JC kids have to cross.

So with that I conclude Part 3. Key takeaways:

1. Not losing rhythm in studying is important, and at least attempting to be disciplined would help.

2. do take a few activities out of the buffet spread provided, they will be meaningful, but don’t be too ambitious or they’ll become burdens

Previous: Part 3: PSLE

Next: Part 5: Jam packed JC life and its culmination in the ‘A’s

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