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My mum’s involvement in my education is down to that quintessential migrant story. [My parents] had to come over and escape from the war in Vietnam and stuff. So, then they obviously wanted their children to have a better life than what they had.

When mum picked the high schools for me, one of them was just out of convenience because she worked at that high school, but the other factor was that there was an accelerated program there, so that would, again, get you forward.

Mum mainly drove education from home. She used to sit down with us every…

“in terms of the impact of school on mental health I feel like it has changed so much because people these days are super independent and I guess they don’t like being bossed around as much and have low tolerance for things they don’t feel will help them in future. there are so many cases where people have proven school is not the key to success and a happy life although it used to be perceived that way. school also just puts so much stress on you and if it lasts long it can permanently change someone. sometimes it ruins…

“This is how we’re going to…”

Eyes scan the sheet, mouth slightly open. A sudden stop as the spoken and written words coalesce like the click of a combination lock. A subtle widening of eyes and flaring of nostils, and a whispered, “Yes!” cuts through my explanation and the ringing of the bell, just on time.

Why does it feel so good when students become excited about ideas we propose?

I realised very early in my career that we don’t all understand the value of something just on the face of it. I still catch myself naïvely thinking that my…

“I was so angry when I got that A.”

“Why?”

“Because it made me care. It meant I have to try now because I can do well. I really wanted to not care about school.”

Most of my learning in secondary school was ‘passive’. By passive I mean in the sense that I wasn’t necessarily encouraged to be curious or to discover new things. It was a lot of: “This is the content you need to memorise in order to pass the test.” And sometimes I could do it very well because I had a good memory so I could get it done fine. But a lot of times I would just forget it right after because I was just doing it purely for the tests.

Take VCE, such a good example. A lot of…

So, in Year 7, I transitioned to a new school and it followed the IB MYP* system in Hong Kong. I vividly remember for maths class we did a project… (because it was MYP we didn’t have exams, everything was project-based) we did a project where we were learning about angles and measurement and all that stuff. But, how we did it was we designed a house and we had to do a blueprint of, like, the floorplan and at the end we had to calculate the area using square metres and what angle etc. There were application questions at…

Steven Lo

School stories and the lives of those who tell them. Based in Victoria, Australia.

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