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BY COLUMNISTS

| Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Tom McLaughlin | Patricia Price | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. |

DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


July 19, 2017

A Chip off the Old Block?

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Dzul is number one in his class. After half a year, his report card showed he was the best. This has good and bad results.

 

The good part is that I am overjoyed at his results. The test comes from and is graded by government officials. I couldn't be happier.

 

The second part is that he was raised in an English language environment but all of his fellow students were not. English is a second language to them. So his high grade should be expected. They are struggling with beginning English, the poor dears.

 

The trouble is, since he is so good in English, the teachers want him to be the student leader in class assemblies. I don't mind that too much, except he has to memorize long poems or other drivel. I was never good at memorizing, but he is. He can whip out a passage faster than you say plea bargain.

 

He also earned a high mark in the Malay language. How he got that is beyond me. We speak English at home and he speaks Sarawak Malay to his grandparents and 31 cousins. Most of his friends also speak Sarawak Malay, way off the National Language of Malay.

 

The trouble is, he was asked to memorize a story in the language and present it to the other students. That didn't work, so he ended up taking off two days of school to avoid the confrontation. Since he is so gregarious and outgoing (I wonder where he got that) the teacher naturally picks on him.

 

It's not that other children cannot do it. They are, by culture, very shy and reserved. They don't ask questions and do as they are told. Dzul, on the other hand, wants to know why everything is being asked of him. He is not afraid to ask the headmaster a question at the end of assembly. No other hands are raised but his.

 

He is very outgoing. He says hello to all of his teachers and even to the headmaster, who is supposed to be very fierce. He always walks around with a book having to do with dinosaurs or other such science topics. Nobody else does that mainly because they cannot afford it or it hasn't been ingrained into their culture that reading is important.

 

We have started him in swimming lessons. The idea here is to enroll him in a class of 50 with three instructors from to 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

 

I said no to that one.

 

First, we eat at 6 p.m., second his bedtime is 7:30, and third he has to get his homework done. And fourth, that is just too much time for a youngster to spend in the pool.

 

Yes, it is expensive. We have four of lessons scheduled, one per week and if he shows any promise we will extend him. My god, he is only six.

 

It is not easy to raise a child in a foreign culture, in a strange school system and still keep ones head above water, so to speak. Yet, I am so proud of him!

 

...Life is good. . . . .

 



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