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Why I think High School in my town is ill-prepared

Two of my kids are now in high school. My son is a senior and my youngest daughter is an entering freshman. They are attending my local town high school, which unfortunately is one of the lowest ranking school in the nation.

I attended the orientation with my daughter and the principal kept touting how great the school is, while neglecting to inform the parents how terrible it is in terms of academic. Yes, the principal wanted to toot his own horn but it is a disservice to the concerned parents who are sending their children to the school.

One of things that I disagree with the principal is how he often place varsity sports as priorities over everything else. If you look at his tweets, they are all about football, soccer and other sports. What he doesn’t realize is that sports have no place in the working world. When these young adults enter the workforce, no employers care if the potential employees play football or soccer, not they care if these employees are team player in the sports team. Every employer who is hiring is only interested in one thing – is the employee capable to complete the work.

Unfortunately, the high school (not named) is not doing well in this regard. Not only the principal is bad, the teachers are not the greatest either. This goes back to the education system in the US. There is a lack of understanding of what is more important and continue to play extra emphasis on varsity.

When I attended high school in Malaysia, my days are packed with classes and homework. Yes, the constant cramming of classes are not healthy but the education system of my town took to the extreme. Nowadays instead of teaching the high schoolers the essentials, it is following the same curriculum as in higher education (colleges and universities). The academic year is broken down in 4 semesters and the first two semesters only focus on 4 classes. The last two semesters will focus on the next 4 classes.

Once the students finished the first two semesters, they will no longer need to relearn the classes ever again. If there is no repetition, there is no way the students can retain anything at all. When it comes to studying SAT for college entrance exam, they would not be able to get the scores they need to get into good colleges. Maybe that’s why the high school ranks so low nationwide.

Another big fail of the high school in my town is lack of “new blood”. The principal of the high school was born and bred in my town. Majority of the teachers are also born and bred too. They lack outside views to provide new perspective to the students. Their teaching is stale and lack substance. The world outside has progressed so far but my town education system seems stuck in the 80’s.

And finally, the school board and the principals seem care about status then the well-being of the student. From the superintendent to the principals of every schools like to call themselves doctors. They have a doctorate in education does not mean they qualify to be doctors. They are philosophical doctor not medical doctor. What that tells me is they prefer the superficial title rather than finding solution for the students.

How is it in your area or town education system?


Stressed? Here are 5 ways to De-Stress…

My masterpiece – a scale model for stress relief

When my second son was born, both my wife and I had difficult time taking care of him. Although he wasn’t colicky but he was definitely gave us a hard time particularly during feeding. At some point I questioned why did we put ourselves through it. But being parents it was something that we both have to learn how to be patient. I can tell you that I was so stressed that I felt hopeless and angry most of the time.

My son just turned 17th and he just passed his driving test. Looking back while he was growing up I can tell you he is a joy in our family because he is always happy and has tons of “fun” energy. He is a blessing to us and I wouldn’t change a thing if I can turn go back in time.

Now you may asked how I was able to go through such hardship (if you want to call parenting hard) and come out victorious. I think it has to do with how I see myself and how I deal with the stress. Some stress is healthy but if you are burdened with stress then it could become suicidal.

Today I’m going to list 5 ways to deal with stress that I find useful. There are other ways as well but I’m not going to list everyone of them as it may take more than one post.

Enjoy Something that Takes Time to Complete

Invest time in doing something you really enjoy. I’m not talking about something that can be completed in an hour. I’m referring to a project that can take hours or days to complete, and it has to be something that you enjoy. For example, you can try putting a 1,000 pieces of jigsaw or maybe try building the dog house. For me, it is spending hours building the perfect scale model. As my kids are all grown up I have been spending more and more time in this hobby. It takes a lot of patience and at times frustrating if I don’t get certain parts correct. However, I can tell you that it is the best way for me to de-stress.

Start a Work-out Regime

This is an easy thing to start and complete. However, it requires commitment. If you set a SMART goal, getting into the groove can help de-stress. Imagine have a workout regime with the goal to run 5 miles within a month time. Having a goal not only helps you focus, but it also helps you de-stress. It would be even better if you can join a group of friends with the same goal in mind. This will put you in the competitive mode and further help in keeping the stress level down.

Reading a Book, Listen to Music or Write a Blog

Before I started working on my hobby, I would go to the local library and borrow the new books which only have 2 weeks lending period. It helps me de-stress as I had a separate deadline to complete. I find that if I enjoy the book time flies and I would not even notice the 2 weeks deadline. Nowadays I would have a music playing while I’m working. It helps me focus more and reduce the stress with the multitude deadlines that I have. At the end of the day (like right now) or end of the week writing a blog also helps refocus my thoughts.

Take a Walk

I still remember vividly when I started working for HSBC. The deadlines and the workload was unbearable that I always went home angry after work. It was definitely not healthy to my family and myself. One day during work I decided to drop everything and step away from my desk. I took a two hours walk around my office coming refreshed. Since then I learned to remove myself from my laptop when I feel stressed.

Spending Time with Family

If you read my earlier post, my daughter is having difficulty with her anxiety. I have begun to spend more time with her and talk to her more often. I find that not only it helps me understand my daughter more I also felt more relaxed. Having someone to talk to is important, especially with someone you care. If you feel overwhelmed do not feel bad or ashamed that you need to talk.

Do not less stress get the better of you. Some stress is healthy but if it becomes overwhelming, it can cause more than just losing sleep. It is extremely important that you take care of yourself by knowing yourself. Learning to de-stress is different for everyone. You need to search within yourself to see what works for you. As long as you can do something you enjoy, you are one step closer from being burnt out.

Is the U.S. Education System Prepared for the Future?

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Recently I sat down with my teen daughter going over her math homework. She wanted me to check her homework. Sad to say that I was able to solve the basic algebra but anything more than that I was clueless. So my daughter asked me what I studied when I was in high school. I told her I learned the same math and I forgot most of them because I never have to use them in real life. Then she asked me why she has to learn something that she never have to use. Yes, indeed why?

I grew up in Malaysia and learned using the education system that is very different from the US. However, both of them have one thing in common, they tend to teach you subjects that you will never use again. Is this necessary or just a waste of time?

I’ve been working professionally for over 20 years and I can tell you my profession never have to use math above grade 6. I never have to use science because as a banker that is not required. I never have to recite history because none of them are prerequisites for employment. So why do we have to learn all these subjects in this age where majority of them are not applicable in real life. Plus we have everything at our finger tips? Why is the education system today so archaic that it fails to recognize that learning life subject will prepare the students better than learning these core subjects?

Yes, I realized that many of the subjects will prepare the students to learn and think logically, but there should be a balance between learning core principles and life subjects. My son is taking several Advance Placement (AP) classes because they are recommended when he applies for universities or colleges in 2 years. However, he has been putting late nights and spending every waking hours on weekends completing the homework and assignments. Needless to say that he hardly has time to get any exercise. Is this healthy?

After I graduated from high school, I applied to the college in the US and was accepted to Bernard M. Baruch College, CUNY and graduated with a Bachelor degree 4 years thereafter. As part of the requirements I had to learn English, algebra, civic, foreign language and even history. For business management degree, I had to take statistics. Statistic was perhaps one of the most difficult subject to master that the exam was an open book exam. After graduating from Baruch, I thought I had all the necessary skills to prepare me to get a job. I was wrong!

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When I interviewed for the several jobs I applied for, I found out that I was qualified at all. The interviewers were only interested if I graduated and if I had any work experiences. They never asked if I aced math or language arts. They never asked if I was good in science or civic. By the time I received the fourth rejection, I realized that college degree is not all that. I needed some real life experiences to allow me to find a job.

As I began to work full-time I realized that I’m lacking many skills and the higher education that I completed did not teach them at all. The course I took on Excel, as an example, was not advance enough to help me to do my job correctly. I had to create a template using macros by learning from my coworkers. Working with data was an eye-opening experience too. I never knew data can be altered, sliced and presented in trends to tell stories. None of them were in my college curriculum.

As I started to have a career, I began to explore what I wanted to do in my life. One subject that came up was if I am prepared when I retire. Then I realized that I do not have the knowledge in personal finance. Unless I am in the financial planning or work in the investments, I would not know what to do with my money. I had to learn everything using Google and read Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

Needless to say I was excited about the personal finance and the potential of earning more so I can retire comfortably. I shared what I learned with my kids and started to teach them how to be responsible individuals when it comes to finance. Then I realized that personal finance is not a subject that is being taught at schools – from primary to high school. The higher education such as universities and colleges do not even have this course as a prerequisite.

Let’s switch subject and move to technology. My son is attending local high school and commented that the computer science class is not teaching anything. He learns programming that a 5 year old can do. The teacher was not even experience enough on the subject. That begs the question, is this how we want to prepare our future generation? With the advancement in Artificial Intelligence, robotics and even smart systems, the education system is not doing enough to prepare them at all.

There are various reasons why the education system fails the students. Resources could be one, but they are usually out of our control because funding for schools are entirely federal, state and local governments control.

If I have to point one major reason for the failure, it will be lack of experience teachers. Majority of the teachers are career educators who have been teaching children all their lives. They follow the program and teach what they were told to teach. I would say all of them do not have real life experiences in the world so they cannot relate what they teach.

Here is one good argument on language arts, or in other words good command of English language. I took English 101 during my freshman year where we have to follow the structure in writing essay. This has been passed on from elementary school all the way to higher education. Here is the shocker – not all of the concepts we learn are applicable to the business world! The executives of a multi-national companies do not have time to read an entire page of “essay”. In business writing, we have to “boil the ocean” to summarize the activities of the entire quarter and year to just a few sentences for the executives to read.

The education system today needs a full overhaul to prepare our children for the future. Is there a silver bullet that could solve the problem. Yes, but it will require collaboration between educators and parents.

Let me know your thoughts. How is your education system in your country? Or do you agree with my assessments?

Getting Fit Requires Commitment

I’ve always admire how those fitness influencers are so muscular and buffed on Instagram. They have muscle mass that sometimes it seems that they don’t even have an ounce of fat but just pure muscle. It is my aspiration that one day I could just be like them.

Unfortunately, I realized that it is easier to say than actually doing it after several years of going to gym. I found out that there are several things that most of the professionals have that I don’t have. Namely they have the time and energy to spend hours on end at the gym.

I go to the local community gym that is owned by my town. The best thing of the gym is that it is not crowded and sometimes I get to have the gym mostly to myself. It is not because that it doesn’t have the necessary equipment but because I noticed that majority of the people who went to weight room were looking for miracles. When they realized that the efforts they invested did not yield any results – losing fat and gaining any muscles – they just stopped going to gym.

Exercise is hard work. In fact spending an hour exercising is sometimes much more difficult than to work 8 hours shift in a day. Everyone goes to work and it becomes a second nature to tune our body to the work clock. Exercise is no longer “natural” body response; since earlier in the 19th century we no longer need to have the “fight or flight” response so our bodies become complacent. Instead of using the food we consume in the survival mode we start to store all the food for resting.

Getting fit requires commitment and a lots of it. Not only physically but mentally. To get the results not only you have to go and do it, you have to always mentally prepare. In fact that is the first thing I do before I go out to the gym. Usually this won’t take more than 2 minutes of my time. To prepare I will tell myself why I am doing it, whom I am doing for and what exercise I plan to do for the day. Failing to do so not only I won’t achieve the results but I may have wasted the time. As an example, there is this gentleman who goes to the same gym that I attend. I see him quite often, but not exercising. He is there wasting his time walking around the gym with his hands in the pockets.

After spending over 4 years working out I realized that I am not getting the results I was hoping for. At times I feel dejected and have thought of given up a few times. But every time I sit on the sofa and watching TV I feel unproductive and could sense I am wasting my life away. That usually spurn me to jump up and pack myself to go to gym. I’ve committed to get fit and backing down is not an option.

Here are some of the ways I find effective in continuing the commitment. Some of these I’ve already mentioned in my previous post.

You owe it to yourself. We need to ensure that not only we are eating right, we also need to ensure that our bodies are strong to continue with our day to day challenges.

You owe it to your loved ones. Eating right and exercise are known to be the best preventive measures to life diseases. Ask yourself will you be around in 20 years for your loved ones if you continue with the unhealthy lifestyle.

Avoid modern temptation and remove all interruptions. One of the worst thing you could bring to the gym is your phones. If you use your phones for playing music that’s fine. But I’ve seen so many gym-goers have their eyes stick to the screens that they hardly did anything.

Use the mirrors as a gauge of your progress. I was always self-conscious when I was really skinny. Looking at the mirror never boost my confidence. Now I feel that the mirror actually helps me target the muscle groups that I need to work on.

Exercise breathing is extremely important. Our bodies are well oiled machines – every parts of our bodies must work in unison. Our muscles rely on air to produce enough energy to continue. Not learning to properly breathing will cause our muscles to be lethargic and tire easily. I find that if I focus on my breathing in between sets of workout helps boost my routines.

There are many other ways to increase your performance and get better workouts. But before you get there you need to commit yourself and stick with the goals. Hey, if the fitness influencers can do it all of us can achieve the same.

Are you happy?

Achieving happiness in life is easy if you don’t sweat the little things. Always look at the bigger picture but always aim high. Life is challenging, and at times quite stressful. I’m by no means perfect.

Often times I ask myself if the life that I’m having is what I always wanted. Many people will ask the same. Over time, 28 years to be exact, I believe I have found the answer.

Life is meant to be shared. Share it with your spouse, your partner or your family. Living life alone is when life starts eating you from inside out. You will start to hate life and depression will start setting in.

I always feel blessed when I met my wife, through the grace of God – more of that in my later post. We support each other throughout our life journey and we feel that we are made for each other. We have an open communication and I learn to actively listen when she talks. Follow along as I will list some of life lesson how to keep your love life strong in my posts soon.

Through her, I found my strength to enjoy my life everyday. Sure, not everyday is perfect but knowing that she will be home taking care of the kids and the home usually remove a lot of my worries away.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on. – Carl Sandburg


Hi all! I have thought of writing a book, a poem or even a short story. But like everyone else who is alive, life takes hold and all the plans take a second seat.

I’ve always believed that I’m quite artistic and that I would have no trouble expressing myself through words or illustrations. But after almost close to 40 years (since grade school), I never knew I was so wrong. I’ve tried many times to put things in writing but always hitting a dead end. I’ve also tried to draw and put things in perspective; again I hit a brick wall head on. After a while, I resigned and gave up.

So, what has changed? I felt that my professional experience in the business world and my 21 years marriage with 3 kids finally put me in the right track to share my learning, tried and true experience with anyone who wants to listen. Is this the right forum? Maybe…who knows.

What is my focus in this blog? Well, there is no specific agenda. I’m going to touch on many subjects. For example, religion, work, life, finance, career, family, kids. Essentially, life subjects. Intrigue? Hope so.

So a little about me – I think I have a lot going for me 🙂 I immigrated to the US and became US Citizen in the late 90s. Since then I was lucky enough to work for several multi-national companies, but mainly in the financial industry. Over the years, I’ve been exposed to all levels of senior management and currently is responsible for providing reports and information to the Board of Directors for one of the biggest bank in the world. My personal life includes marrying my wife more than 21 years ago and have 3 teens of which one will be going to college in September.

I’ve been through ups and downs. Went through stages in life that I’ve never thought or planned. At the same time I’ve learn to enjoy life while I can and instill strong family values with my 2 boys and a girl.

Would all these qualify me as a life coach? I believe so. One thing that I will not consider myself as an expect is providing financial advises because I continue to struggle in this are.

Anyway, hope you will read my blogs in days to come and continue to follow me as I continue to publish one of my many experiences.