Mentoring the next generation of GP tutors

I received a surprising phone call this morning. It was from one of my ex-students, and since I’ve been helping some of my ex-students from last year work through their personal statements for their university applications, I half-expected it to be one of them. But she wasn’t; she was my ex-student from 6 years ago! Here’s the conversation:

My ex-student, J: “Hi Mr Irwin, this is J, I was from your pioneer batch in 2009, remember me?”

Me: (scratching head and trying furiously to recall because I think I must have taught seven students with that same name, J, before): “Uh, nope, but remind me who you are =)”

J: “I attended your very first GP tuition class when Irwin’s Study first started out and in an interesting twist of events, I’m now training to be a GP teacher in MOE! The reason I’m calling is that I remember vividly how much I’ve enjoyed and benefited from your lessons, and now that I’m going to be a teacher, I hope to have an inspiring mentor to guide me in my journey. Can you be my mentor? I want to learn how to teach with passion like you, inspire my students to think deeply and critically about life issues, and most importantly, to be values-centric in my teaching approach. You’ve taught me all these and I hope I can continue to learn from you and even sit in your classes for lesson observations, if that’s ok with you.”

I’ve always thought that as long as my students benefited from my lessons; as long as they receive assistance for their examinations from me; as long as they learn to think through issues critically,; my influence ends there. Never did I expect that I would have the privilege and opportunity to mentor a young teacher at the beginning of her journey and who comes not because of organizational needs, but because of what she had experienced during our lessons in the past. For me, this is truly an amazing reminder of what it means to pass down our legacy, mentor the next generation, and multiply ourselves. Although this is in a secular context, I am reminded of 2 Timothy 2:2 –

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnessesentrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

I pray I can rise to this task, knowing that one day, my student’s students may also approach her to mentor them. =)

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Singapore Cancer Society’s ‘Help the Children and Youth Programme’

In 2014, our Managing Director was invited by the CEO of Singapore Cancer Society to chair the Advisory Committee for ‘Help the Chair and Youth Programme’. Here’s a short write-up of what the programme is about and how you can spread the word to those who could benefit from knowledge of what SCS does.

The Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) Help the Children and Youth Programme aims to help children and youths whose lives have been affected by cancer. The programme assists children and youth who may be cancer patients themselves or whose parents are cancer patients or SCS beneficiaries. This programme engages these children and youth in the following ways:

  • Annual Book Prize Presentation
  • Youth Camp and Youth Engagements
  • Family Engagement
  • Tuition Programme
  • Education Financial Assistance Scheme

​The financial assistance and free tuition services help to defray education expenses and ease the burden on families whose finances have been heavily tapped for cancer treatments. Group intervention workshops are also organised to provide psycho-social support to these children and youths who are often confronted with a range of emotions such as fear, depression, guilt, or anger when coping with cancer or a sick parent.

For more information, please visit this website or contact SCS at

JC tuition, A-level tuition

Meeting our Prime Minister at Singapore Cancer Society’s 50th anniversary celebrations (16 Jan 2015)



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Useful info for JC Maths, H2 Maths students!

Today, Casio Singapore launched the Casio Cares Programme, aimed at providing all students an equal opportunity to have access to the tools necessary for their academic development, especially for JC Maths.

Students beginning their first year in JC are eligible for the Casio Cares Programme. Upon purchasing the Casio fx-9860GIIs from all authorized retailers in Singapore, students are required to register their product and information online at in order to qualify for a rebate of S$60.00 upon their graduation.

All students who purchased and sign-up for the Casio Cares programme may exchange their Casio fx-9860GIIs graphing calculators (used in H2 Maths) in order to receive the S$60.00 rebate.

Additionally, students from low-income families – with a combined household income of less than two thousand and five hundred Singapore dollars – are eligible for the Casio Cares free-to-loan programme. Through this added initiative, Casio will commit to loaning the Casio fx-9860GIIs graphing calculator to the students up till their graduation.

As part of Casio’s corporate and social responsibility initiatives, Casio Singapore will donate a part of the returned Casio fx-9860GIIs to developing regional countries to aid students in their academic progression.

For more information, do visit their website at

JC Maths Tuition, H2 Maths Tuition

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A student’s testimonial for JC Maths Tuition

Every year, as students graduate from Irwin’s Study, we ask them to pen down their learning experience with us. In the last few weeks, we have been so grateful and heartened to receive so much positive feedback and kind comments from our ex-students. It’s really a blessing to know that the work we are doing are blessing and growing people who come learn with us!

Here’s a testimonial for JC Maths Tuition (H2 Maths Tuition):

Mr Sng taught me Mathematics for 4 years! From Secondary 3 all the way until JC 2. After just a few months under his tutelage in Sec 3 I saw my Additional Mathematics grades improve by leaps and bounds, which showed that all you really need to do well in Mathematics is practice and focus. It was a joy attending his lessons and I like the way he conducted Mathematics lessons, which was quite radically different from any other subject as each individual would practice the questions he gave us at his/her own pace while the teacher is there to give guidance whenever he/she encountered a problem. I think that’s how all Mathematics tuition lessons should operate as lessons were always so productive under Mr Sng’s tutelage. I also like how the revisions he gave were very up-to-date and challenging. He not only pushed me to solve tougher and newer questions (by sometimes asking me to ‘Think!’ and answer my own question), he also provided us with the tricky and ‘hot’ questions that examiners like to set nowadays. I like his summarised formulae that he gave out occasionally; highly useful for revision before the exam! Under his tutelage, my perception of Mathematics changed and I became more confident in the subject. It was also very enjoyable and fulfilling to attend his classes every week and it did provide me with the much-needed practice that was not sufficient in school. Mr Sng is very kind and humorous too! I love his Math jokes like “Don’t be poisoned by poisson” haha! Thank you, Mr Sng! 😀

JC Maths Tuition

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Cambridge students were asked in an exam to write about a poem which included no words, just punctuation. How would you go about making sense of it, asks Jon Kelly in this interesting short article from BBC News.

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Makes one wonder whether this is ingenious or just pretentious? Or do we just not get it? =P

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This article is fascinating because I can relate to it whenever I play a new game app on my iPhone. Although I don’t have ADHD (I think), it is interesting to read about the evolution of this increasingly prevalent condition among young children. And here are some scary but oh-s0-true parts that I think we can identify with when we become so engrossed with our gadgets:

When kids play games, they rack up points, move to higher levels and unlock characters and goodies, and their brains are rewarded by one thing: dopamine, a neurochemical that’s released every time they “win.” That sensation of pleasure is often the reason they love electronics, and some experts even believe they seek out gadgets because they have problems with their natural dopamine systems.

When Josh is utterly focused on the iPad, he keeps constant eye-contact with the display. But without it — or his computer or portable gaming console — he’s a handful. That’s because it’s far easier for him to find solace in screens. They don’t shun him. They give him a place to escape and become a different person.

Part of the problem is the fragmented, action-packed nature of electronic media. Christakis found that fast-paced TV shows increased the risk of attention issues. And when the children adapt to those speeds, they struggle to pay attention in the slower pace of life because it’s less stimulating and rewarding. When Josh puts down his iPad, his brain finds the real-world underwhelming compared to his virtual realms.

But thankfully, it’s not all bad news. Here is how the article ends:

But some experts believe the growing attachment to our gadgets is actually part of the solution. “Maybe the kids’ focus on games could be used to draw them out as a way of developing social skills,” Stephen Shore, author of “Beyond the Wall,” told me. After being non-verbal until the age of four, he was diagnosed with “strong autistic tendencies.” Today, he’s a professor of special education at Adelphi University.

Rather than look at the issue as a problem, Shore believes we need to view it as a challenge. “These games are compelling to the kids,” he said. “Instead of battling to eliminate them, we could use them to actually develop social skills.”

In the end, the first step to finding a cure to ADHD is to understand its causes and conditions, and one piece of the puzzle, it seems, is to determine the impact of technology on kids like Josh, and let him enjoy his iPad, instead of being inadvertently harmed by it.

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