Friday 17 October 2008


Both my kids are pretty artistic. Though their drawing styles are very different, they usually turn out a decent piece of art. When SK was two, he would stay up till midnight, drawing whimsical little fishes and marine creatures in the dark.

I received a call from his teacher about his art exam. For the exam, SK did an illustration of a humanoid. He had to submit a series of sketches completed over a 3-week period (preparatory work). On the actual exam, he had to reproduce the illustration within 2 hours.

According to the teacher, his final artwork looks different from the sketch. Thinking that someone had helped him in his preparatory work at home, she singled him out and interrogated him. Now, my kid is not very shrewd. He was planning to go cycling in East Coast Beach after school. When his teacher held him back, his friends were outside the door, waiting for his release.

Instead of arguing with the teacher, he simply said, "Yah, my mother helped me" hoping that the teacher would let him off. That's what his friend did (he had help from his sister) and he was released.

I have seen SK labouring over the preparatory work for weeks. It's a really fine piece of work. He drew bit by bit every night, adding in the bolts and nuts onto the humanoid gradually into an elaborate artwork. I'm not even half as artistic as him. The only help I rendered was to print out some images he found on the Internet. I also made some comments on his drawings.

When the teacher called, I was dumb-founded. My son had submitted a brilliant piece of work and she's doubting his capability. The worst thing was, he admitted that I helped simply because he couldn't convince the teacher.

I drove to school right away. I told the teacher the real story. She showed me his final piece of work (done in marker and colours) which honestly is not on par with the preparatory work done in pencil shading. I told her his strength lies in pencil shading. I've seen his fantastic illustrations in pencil but when it is time to put in colours, the illustrations become ruined.

Besides, how can you compare a piece of art done over 2 hours with another one done over 3 weeks? That's probably SK's mistake. He should have considered the time factor when he was planning his exam piece.

Now the teacher thinks the case has to be handled by the disciplinary department because of disparity of our statements. I told the teacher that knowing my son, who hates confrontations and is rather nonchalant by nature, he must have simply 'confessed' under pressure. When I was there, SK was being confined alone in a room while the case was being investigated.

Naturally I was upset. I wanted to know why my son was treated like a criminal for something he did not do. The teacher then tried to justify that if he had indeed done that 'polished piece of art', then he has a hidden talent waiting to be discovered.

To cut the story short, as a compromise, the teacher wanted him to redo the paper again. He stayed behind for 2 hours to complete the paper. I asked to speak to him and the teacher said no.

"Why? He didn't do anything wrong. If anything, he lied that I helped him because he was under pressure."

Finally the teacher relented and allowed me to talk to him under her watchful eyes. Here's what I said to him. "I've seen you slogging away on this beautiful piece of work. You didn't do well in your final piece because you're not good at using marker and colours. Now, show your teacher you can do it using pencil. Take your time and do a good job. Don't get distracted. Call me when you're done. I'll send you to the park to meet your friends."


Anonymous said...

That's sad that teachers, of all people, are so quick to judge... the teacher could also think about those things when evaluating student's work... I am glad you did what you did... I hope you BOTH show that teacher what's what...

Anonymous said...

As a mother myself I can really feel your frustration. Shouldn’t the teacher know what he is capable of? She would have been teaching him for nearly a year now? Why she doesn’t know her students? Why is he presumed guilty until proven otherwise? Surely the teacher should know this can cause a lot of damage to his confidence. If it was me I’ll be making a formal complaint to the principal.

Blur Ting said...

JY - yes, that's what i told the teacher. I said "I feel so sad for my son who passionately produced a good piece of art and the teachers think he didn't do it."

Blur Ting said...

CKL- That's what I told the teacher. She should have seen his previous work and know what he's capable of. She had given him some really good comments before but I guess this is his most elaborate artwork yet. The thing about SK is if he really put in time and effort, he can do well. Most of the time during art lessons, he just skims through due to the lack of time or distractions. He's lacking in the self confidence department and it's something I've been trying to work on from young.

The Real Mother Hen said...

That is so upsetting.
Teachers like that should be nuked. I'm really glad that you went to school and sort it out.

I had a similar experience once when I was young. The teacher insisted that someone helped me to do my Chinese homework, because the handwriting was too good for a small kid. I couldn't convince the teacher otherwise, so I said, yes my uncle helped me - which was a lie - and was being punished. I hated it.

Blur Ting said...

Oh MH - It happened to you too? It's so sad isn't it? Kids are forced to lie simply because they are powerless when interrogated by adults. I was so mad today!

Nick Phillips (15/03/1967 - 04/11/2022) said...

I'd have been really pissed with a teacher like that. You already went there to explain everything and she still doesn't believe you.

I agree with the real mother hen, teachers like these should be nuked!