1. Classes, teachers

I finally stepped into the classes after 6 months of academic hiatus, eager to find out who my teachers were (having heard of some of them when I returned from IMO). Getting into regular schedule? Daunting and refreshing at the same time.

Long story short, (just in case you don’t feel like reading the long posts below) the lessons we students learned from the teachers and the syllabus isn’t just the textbook knowledge, but also some take-home value that could accompany us for the whole life. To name a few: the need for completeness in presentation (maths/physics), the need for accommodating opposing points of view (econs) and the need for exploring materials beyond the textbook.


Anzo with physics teacher, Kingsley
Anzo with physics teacher/mentor, Kingsley

“Always 25 due to law of relativity, because I’ moving virtually at the speed of light,” this top joke of him highlighted his eccentric nature, which gave him these inspiration of academic jokes. He turned out to be my mentor as well, so I stayed with him outside the academic hours, for university application purposes or for the graduation performance (described in post 5 of the series).

Kingsley is a meticulous teacher in nature; together with his expertise in this subject this makes him present his topics in a very complete in precise manner. In particular, in writing definitions one always hear him saying “this quantity/adjective is for this object, so please don’t mixed up”, or “don’t use the wrong verb or you will be penalized”. It also became his habit of bringing us a step further by discussing some applications of a particular topic in real life, saying that he “anticipates this coming in the exam”. It turned out that his passion for this subject translated into high expectation on students, whereby he kept reminding us to “ditch the high school mentality” and “give more commitment to my subject”. Occasionally one can hear him expressing frustrations on students’ attitude.

To see him, just go to the second Physics lab (not his staff-room!) because he’s always there. Just address him as “Kingsley” because he made it clear on not adding any salutation for him on Day 1 of classes. He added that “this is not the way to show your respect; treating my work seriously is.” Be sure to spare an hour with him if you were to talk about something he’s passionate for, like Science and Music! 😛

Math/Further Math

First is the teacher who handled our applied section, Ms. Amy.

Luckily I'm still taller than her, by the slightest inch
Luckily I’m still taller than her, by the slightest inch

She gained the reputation as “teaching at the speed of bullet train” when her introduction to the class on Day 1 was minimal, then gave a ‘diagnostic test’ after that (well I missed that part so I just reproduced what people have said.) Her key feature in teaching is the strict delineation of mandatory steps that we had to write in exam, so any sit-in guest will probably remember “if you write this, you will get 1 mark…” Again, her dedication transformed unreservedly into her desire for students to success: she expressed her paranoia when the class did badly in one of her class tests.

We had two pure math teacher: Ms. Ann (first sem) and Mr. Senior Lee (second/third sem) as the former was transferred to degree program. Being a teacher of ALSTAR/ALSCO(see post #4), Ms. Ann turned herself sporting in her own way by asking for an “ice-breaking session” on Day 1. Sociable with her always-smiling face, she could punish you on test papers even with slightest typo like <= in lieu of <. Farewell to 2014 and came to 2015; so did we bid goodbye to Ms. Ann and said hello to Mr. Lee. They have two characteristics in common: many practices for students, and instant marking (and returning) of our scripts.

Class photo with Ms. Ann (5th from left, standing in the front row)
Class photo with Mr. Lee (on my left)


Group photo with Ms. Thanam (4th from right)

Giving notes in terms of powerpoint slides and explaining the exact notes before the class, that was her: Ms. Thanam. It’s not unusual to see her linking our text to past year questions to relate her teaching, and students should distinguish those topics that she emphasize strongly (like merit goods vs public goods and marginal revenue product) because these were hot topics in exams (by her careful analysis).

But what’s distinctive of her class was the avenue of expressing our thoughts freely: something I had never experienced in high school. Our pioneer was Maxis Jaisi, whose knowledge in further readings led him to tell the class on the flaws of each theory (he once whined about how kinked demand curve was still presented in textbook despite being debunked by economists). Subsequently, others like Jean, Qi Yao and I gradually joined him in doing that (albeit more gently). To be fair, though, it’s Maxis and Qi Yao who debated the most due to conflicting ideas.

Classical example of debate: Maxis on the left and Qi Yao on the right
Classical example of debate: Maxis on the left and Qi Yao on the right

Also not forgetting the presentation we had done under her surveillance: first on several essay topics that had come out in actual exams, and the other one on current economy of different countries. These not only substantially liberated the freedom of speech in class, but also enlightened the class with knowledge outside the textbook: through preparation of presentation materials and listening to the class. (I started off with Grexit and its background, a hot topic of the time. The subsequent presentations by classmates became what I anticipated in classes).

Finally, not to forget teachers like Mr. Junior Lee (another Further math teacher who handles pure math section), who offered workshop for students in May, and Mr. Leonard, who screens through the language of our personal statement to the universities in UK. The combination of these teachers did a great way in making our college life awesome!

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