Episode 9: What JC Taught Me About Failure

Being retained in the first year of JC, probably wasn’t part of Ihsan’s plans when he started school, but he took it in his stride. Find out his new goal-setting strategy for success and why having a support system is crucial when faced with tough times. 

Being Retained Is Not The End

Emma: My name is Emma and you’re listening to the socially awkward podcast. Today on the show we have someone who has been a homeschooler for 10 years. In fact, he was one of the first Malay homeschoolers in Singapore. He has four younger siblings, has been to Old Trafford, and loves friends, football, and sleep. Meet Ihsan! Hi Ihsan, thank you so much for coming onto the show.

Ihsan: Hi Emma, thanks for having me.

Emma: So today, we are going to be talking a little bit about redefining failure and a curiosity to learn. So just to just kind of kickstart us into this conversation, how did you start homeschooling?

Ihsan: So, I started homeschooling when my mom decided to take me out of compulsory education because she felt that she needed me out of the school system earlier in my life. She wanted to teach some of her values and implement some of her teachings when I was at a younger age.

Emma: So a lot of homeschoolers homeschool because of religious reasons. Did your faith contribute to your homeschooling experience?

Ihsan: Yeah, part of it was because of my religion. My parents actually wanted me to have some religious learning when I was younger because if you’re in school, you don’t really have that much time to learn about your faith. So that was one of the reasons why my mom decided to homeschool me. 

Emma: That’s really interesting. So was it integrated as part of your curriculum? Because I’m Christian, so a lot of the programmes that my family did have Christian theology involved in them.

Ihsan: Mine wasn’t really combined with my education. It was more like an add-on so that we have pieces of just learning. If we have a few days off, we just learn about faith and religion.

Emma: What were your early homeschooling years like?

Ihsan: At that time, life would be just mainly learning about pretty much whatever I wanted. When I was in Primary 1 to 4, before I started really studying for my PSLE, my mom would often take the day off to just bring us to the park or the science center to just let us learn about the world in general.

Emma: That’s really cool. I remember from previous conversations, you said you were a dinosaur kid, right?

Ihsan: Yeah, I was a dinosaur kid. In fact, I think I can still remember some names right now.

Emma: Oh my gosh, you wanna go off?

Ihsan: Velociraptor, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Meglado- wait, no that’s not a dinosaur. Nevermind. My memory fails me. You were a horse girl, right? 

Emma: Oh, yeah, definitely. It’s a little bit embarrassing. All over my room, It was just horses.

Ihsan: Don’t worry, I had dinosaur books, DVDs, and toys. It’s fine.

Emma: I think homeschooling especially, you had time to pursue these interests.

Ihsan: Yeah, that’s one of the things I most enjoyed about homeschooling. I had time to go and learn about the world and not just study. Because in school, of course, it’s a lot about just studying for exams, that kind of thing. Whereas in homeschooling, you have a lot more time to just explore and find out what the world has to offer.

Emma: So do you feel like your learning style has changed between JC and homeschooling?

Ihsan: Yeah, definitely. In homeschooling, I was more laid back. I didn’t take my studies that seriously because I was more learning in a sense. Whereas in school, I would. I mean, right now I have to really take time to revise and actually study to practice for exams and tests. So that’s the main thing about the difference between schooling and homeschooling.

Emma: What do you feel are some of the values you’ve retained from homeschooling that you’ve been able to translate into JC? 

Ihsan: Well one of them is definitely self-discipline, as I mentioned. Another one that I learned that is really important is being true to yourself, and having realistic goals and expectations for yourself. Because in JC, I don’t think I mentioned this, but I was retained during the first year of my JC. So I learned that having little goals and achievements is much better for me than having one big goal at the end. For my first year in JC, I was always just aiming for the promotional exams, so I didn’t really take my little tests and exams that seriously. But I think this year what I’m doing better is I’m setting smaller goals which then lead up to bigger ones, which I think is better for myself. 

Emma: Going back a little bit to getting retained, what was that like for you? How did your family react?

Ihsan: Well, my parents were very supportive of me because like I told them I had a feeling that I might be retained before I took the exams. My mom was really supportive, she told me “okay, well you’ve tried your best, maybe you can do better next time.” My parents especially were part of the reason why I  decided to stay in JC and not change schools. You know, because you can do that after you’re retained. Also, shout out to my friends, because they were really quite supportive of me as well. They were always pushing me and then even though I didn’t get the results I needed, they were like, “okay, it’s okay, you can try again.”

Follow up intervew (2023):

1. What do you do now?

Ihsan: I’m currently serving NS in SCDF as a firefighter.

2. Compared to the last time you were with us, what has changed?

Ihsan: Think that if u want to be successful/achieve your goals in life, you have to be ready to put in 100% effort and be ready to sacrifice some things.

3. Do you have tips or tricks for homeschoolers who want to continue homeschoolers?

Ihsan: No specific tips, but just be consistent and diligent in doing your work, and also devote more time in your passions or hobbies because homeschooling allows for that time.

Hear the full episode on: 

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