Results… Semester 2, 08/09

I’m quite surprised with my results this semester. Usually I would be getting at most a C+, pulling down my CAP, and my core modules would usually get the worst grades ever! But this time around, due to extra efforts I put in, my CAP improved! God, am I glad or what!! Here it is:

LSM2103 Cell Biology B+
LSM2104 Essential Bioinformatics & Biocomputing B
SN1101E South Asia: People, Culture & Development A-
SN2271 Religion and Society in South Asia B
ST2238 Introductory Biostatistics B-

Not bad for Cell Bio, considering I didn’t do so well for my 2nd test, I got atleast a B+. I was expecting an A- as the exam was quite okay. I guess many people did quite okay for the exam and the bell curve got shifted to the right a bit. As for Bioinfo, I am so so glad for getting a B!! The exam was tough! Open book exams are always difficult to handle. I guess it would be alright now to take the 3rd year Bioinfo module, or not! Biostats is the worst… I expected a B for it and got a B- instead 😦 But I guess its justified, considering the high number of marks I lost for the final exam. I was so worried, and B- is certainly better than a C!!

I’m doing a South Asian Studies Minor… Last semester I took Tamil Studies I, and for this semester, I took the compulsory South Asia: People, Culture and Devt module, and a module about Religion in South Asia. Not bad grades, and I’m only too happy for my compulsory module, considering I’m a science student. The B for the Religion module is understandable, considering I lost a solid 20 marks for the final exam, due to my complacency. I promise to myself that I will never be over-confident about any module again, just because I think I know about it better.

I’m really happy and also worried. Happy because my CAP improved and that means my confidence in myself has gone up. I am only 0.15 points away from qualifying for Honours, and this means I have to work much much harder next semester, getting all B+ and above! This is what worries me. Sigh… Well, it does not matter to me whether I do Honours or not, but what I want is to graduate with a good set of grades and CCA Records. Best case scenario would be to get an Honours, and continue on with a PhD. But not-so-worst case scenario would be me not being able to qualify for Honours, graduating with a Third Class, pass with merit, struggling to apply for Masters… So no matter whether I do Honours or not, I want to graduate with atleast an 2nd Lower, meaning above CAP 3.5…

Where I end up… the results are all in God’s hands. I will just do my best and give my best in everything. We’ll see…

The Big B

It feels like it has been ages since I’ve updated this blog. It’s time for me to fill up loads of application forms and scholarship forms. It’s not hard to make any decisions ’cause I know where to go. I’ve applied for three scholarships so far: CAAS, Firefly and NUS Undergraduate Scholarship. I’m not so confident with the latter because it’s highly competitive and there are so many of them better than me academically and aesthetically. So, I’m trying my chances with them. I’ve applied for two of the local universities: NUS and NTU. To the faculty of science of course.

I know I’m taking a risk by choosing the field of Life Sciences. This is because there is a big biomedical debate going on in Singapore. Moreover, local graduates and PhD pursuers and holders are few compared to foreigners. Most of the local A*STAR scholars do not stay in Singapore at all. They fly off to UK or US looking out for better opportunities and better paying jobs as researchers, not having the idea of returning home. Whatmore, the government might stop funding the Biopolis research agencies and that will be the end of the research era in Singapore. While it is now being called the Biomedical Hub of Southeast Asia, I have little doubt whether the name will continue to stay.

However, I believe I’m making the right choice, by sticking towards my interests. I definitely wouldn’t want to take a measly pay of three or four thousand after my PhD. But research has become my interest. In which field is a question that would have to wait. Anything might happen in these four years’ of study.

This is a picture taken while my colleagues and I went to Swenson’s to have dinner. Fara, the one on the left wearing pink shirt, had just got her PhD. So this is a treat from her for all of us in the WH lab.

PS: Thought I was going to write about the big ‘B’? Haha:)

An Educational Scandal

I borrow the above post title from Richard Dawkins’s book, The God Delusion. Steven Layfield, the Head of Science at Emmanuel College in Gateshead, once gave a lecture called The Teaching of Science: A Biblical Perspective. For goodness’s sake, he is the head of science! And it seems that he has no masala in his head! Do read the lecture text in the link provided! Also, take time to read this, a reply by Richard Dawkins to this lecture. Have a good laugh! What a loser?! And at the end he says:

As we stated at the beginning, Christians, with very good reason, reckon the Scriptures of the Old & New Testaments a reliable guide concerning just what we are to believe. They are not merely religious documents. They provide us with a true account of Earth history which we ignore at our peril. Many who parade as competent scientists today are unwittingly asking the same question which Satan first uttered back in Genesis, ‘Did God really say…?'(3:1)

…True Science then should confirm pupils’ realisation that they are rational, spiritual beings of infinite worth with immortal souls whose eternal destiny, because of their sin, is placed in the balance. True science is no enemy of true religion. Indeed, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10). As the 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler remarked, his work consisted of ‘thinking God’s thoughts after Him’.

May it please God to raise up a new generation of Scientists who are duly respectful of their Maker and who, recognising the limitations of human scientific enquiry, give full weight of respect to the statements of propositional truth of Holy Scripture – being the authoritative Word of God.

True Education Is Lost

For the past few days, i’ve been thinking about the education provided in Singapore to kids nowadays. Especially with regards to my sister. It deeply worries me that we all study for the sake of getting good grades in our exams, and not because we want to study for the fun of it. We also constantly worry about what’s in the syllabus and what’s not. Not to mention, we are only willing to study what’s in the syllabus.

At least, i can agree with the rationale for having a syllabus at different levels of education. We need boundaries and rubrics to guide us in what to study from a broad subject content. But in the actual learning process, i believe that we should study as much as we can, if that subject matter interests us. We shouldn’t put a full stop in the process of acquiring knowledge and say “that’s not in the syllabus, so i don’t need to learn it.”

In A Devil’s Chaplain, Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science and Love, Richard Dawkins expresses my worries articulately with reference to a book that he constantly quotes from, The Story of a Great Schoolmaster: being a plain account of the life and ideas of Sanderson of Oundle. His essay is titled “The Joy of Living Dangerously: Sanderson of oundle”:

“It is not just the joy of childhood that is threatened. It is the joy of true education: of reading for the sake of a wonderful book rather than for an exam; of following up a subject because it is fascinating rather than because it is on a syllabus; of watching a great teacher’s eyes light up for sheer love of the subject.”


How true this is in Singapore. But it’s not only in Singapore. I can say that this is true in many of the countries like India, China, Korea and Japan. Western countries also foster the same education values. True education is lost. The joys of childhood is also lost. Richard Dawkins says here:

“I hear horror stories almost daily of ambitious parents or ambitious schools ruining the joy of childhood. And it starts wretchedly early. A six-year-old boy receives ‘counselling’ because he is ‘worried’ that his performance in mathematics is falling behind. A headmistress summons the parents of a little girl to suggest that she should be sent for external tuition. The parents expostulate that it is the school’s job to teach the child. Why is she falling behind? She is falling behind, explains the headmistress patiently, because the parents of all the other children in the
class are paying for them to go to external tutors.”


The same is happening to my sister. She has to go to tuitions for math and english separately, so that she could ‘keep up’ with her classmates. I sometimes wonder whether all this training and tutoring really reflects my sister’s true hardwork and knowledge in her progress in education. I sometimes wonder for myself too. Because i went to tuition too, until the age of 14, after which i stopped and started studying for myself. My classmates in JC also had private tutors who would help them in their tutorials. So they got their 4 distinctions because they had private tutoring. I am more satisfied with my performance than them, because i got 3 distinctions without having any private tutors.

All the schools here ever care about is ranking. How well is the school ranked depends on the academic performance of the students. Principals fightwith each other if one school loses it’s best student to the other school, like divorced parents fighting for the custody of their child. Parents here are also a step more competitive than their children. They set the expectations for their children. They tell the children that they should get such-and-such grades and that they should enter such-and-such school.

I would very much like to imagine a world where there are no examinations and no syllabuses. In a world, where students are given the freedom to choose what subject interests them and excel in it. But such an utopian world will never come about in existence. All we can do is some changes in the education policies here and there and just hope that students are doing what they really want to do, and not what they are told to do.