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Resistance vs Resilience – Journey of the Learning Father

Resistance vs Resilience – Journey of the Learning Father

October 8, 2019, by barry ng

The month of September and October was pretty significant to me. I had my town hall just 2 weeks ago and had various updates. Last Friday was my son’s first sports day carnival. Then I saw a post on PSLE Mathematics questions, which made me thought about how fragile kids can be these days. Also, I had to be parent ready and went ahead to read these 3 books:

  • The Yes Brain by Daniel J. Siegel
  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber
  • How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber, Julie King‎
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I do hope to help them overcome these setbacks and help them grow in life.


People with Aspirations have Superpowers.

First of all, I’m not the brightest student when I started. At the tender age of 10, I wanted to be an architect. I was mesmerized by the cool and funky name it had. The partial link to my aspirations was also related to my love for Lego. I loved building stuff and I understood that my parents shouldn’t afford to give me any toy that I wanted. So (just maybe), I started building them. I started by trying to build siege tanks from the StarCraft game. I was also tinkering on how to make sure the turrets would move with my existing Lego parts I had because Lego is really expensive.

The White Tiger Megazord

My next favourite Lego construction was creating a Power Ranger Megazord, notably the white tiger Megazord. So, I asked my dad if I could rent the LaserDisc and I went on to replay the segment of the episode where I could understand how the Megazord actually looked like.

He agreed as he thought I must have really loved the series a lot, but his expression did show and wonder why am I always renting the same episode over and over again. However, he didn’t really probe into asking why. For me, it was to help myself visually remember, I implanted the concept of the White Tiger Megazord into my head. I started to wonder why didn’t I pick up a pencil and started drawing it instead. Following Adele Faber’s concept of encouraging autonomy, I’m sure my dad did a pretty decent job in that area.

Being in the state of Flow

All that being said, I was trying to link all of it to the concept of FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Being in that state could help me visualise things without learning anything about visualisation. It was the moment where time gets distorted and you realised that you haven’t had dinner. Consciously understanding that I am in that state, helps me go wild in creativity as well as allowing ideas to flow more coherently in my wild chain of thoughts.

It helped me ‘grit’ through building things that I really loved, as I had an end goal in mind. How wonderful would it be if that unbelievable experience could link to lifelong learning and grit to help us become better employees of an organisation or individuals. Also, as parents, to show our children that we can consciously activate FLOW to help us become active participants of learning.

We’re all guilty of forcing our children to learn while we subconsciously say we’re done with learning. However, learning should be an enjoyable process. As parents, we should act as facilitators to help our children enjoy the process of learning. This is regardless of whether it is a painful or joyful experience.


Resistance vs Resilience

In all honesty, nobody told me how I could become an architect and I never understood how to express my aspirations as I grew up. I never eventually became an architect but went on to work in the field of learning and development. There wasn’t much motivation to get good grades because my parents didn’t impose that I must score 90 and above.

Being good was defined year after year by the teacher’s remarks of me, saying that I been a quiet and well-behaved boy. I can’t blame the teacher, but I probably knew why they couldn’t do more to help me be better.

As the PSLE came into play, I subconsciously compared myself to my brother. I sulked all day and wonder how did I achieve a score of 183 compared to my brother who had probably 220.

I had the blessing of deciding whether to enter a good neighbourhood secondary school on normal academic stream or just go to a normal neighbourhood school in the express stream. Strangely, I was even given the autonomy to decide which school I should belong to. You probably guessed where I ended up at.

I was in a period of time where government was allowing local polytechnic graduates to go into local universities using the Grade Point Average(GPA) system. So I was pretty much the average student at the point of introduction.

During my second year in my polytechnic, I was accused of asking my project teammates to help me complete. The lecturer thought so because my codes were not compiling well on the day of the presentation. There were some bugs that I overlooked. I spent endless nights figuring out how to deploy J2ee servers and ensure that the codes were compiled correctly. Well, that was what a programmer was all about. 

Charles Duhigg reminded me of how willpower was more of a muscle that had limited strength and is a finite resource. Understanding willpower helped me optimise my finite energy and helped me do the best I could. Of course, teaching a toddler willpower is like bringing him through a marshmallow test. In order to teach willpower and resilience, you will have to be equally showing that behaviour. Because as the saying goes:

Fruits don’t fall far from the tree.

I’ll leave you with this comic that I extracted from The Yes Brain by Daniel Siegel, this comic shows Derek, who wants to play baseball in a league but is feeling afraid.

What would you(the parent) have done to help Derek?
barry ng

It's easy to teach, but difficult to enforce. My objectives are to ensure learning occurs and is infused into the mind of the learner.

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