Teacher sparked his curiosity and gave him confidence

Growing up in a home where English was not spoken and in a family with limited resources led to a lack of confidence in reading anything beyond children's picture books when he was a boy, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.

When a teacher asked him to borrow a thick book - with more than 100 pages without any pictures - from the school library, he was overwhelmed.

However, the teacher - whom Mr Chan named as Miss Low from MacPherson Primary School - encouraged him to persevere, one page at a time, telling him to imagine that he could finish each page like he did with the picture books he read.

It took him "time and courage", Mr Chan said. After he finished reading the book, Miss Low asked him to be a school librarian.

This incident boosted his confidence and piqued his curiosity - a factor which, along with discipline, forms part of the foundation for all competencies, he said.

Mr Chan's personal anecdote, during a speech to a virtual audience at his ministry's Teachers' Conference and ExCEL Fest yesterday, was to illustrate how his teacher had sparked a lifelong curiosity in him and given him confidence.

When a child has confidence, no challenge is too big to overcome, he said.

"On the other hand, when a child loses confidence, there is no challenge too small that the child will not fear and succumb to."

Once a child's curiosity is ignited, it will propel that child to learn, he added.

"Discipline, once ingrained, will enable a child to pursue, master and perfect whatever he or she desires to learn."

Most people would have had one or more such teachers in their lives, said Mr Chan. "You may also have been a Miss Low in someone's life. Thank you all, for being the Miss Low of our children's lives." - THE STRAITS TIMES