Saturday, October 1, 2016

Inspired? Great! Copycats? Bad!

I confided in two good friends this week of something that troubled and upset me a lot.

One's wise words were, 'Imitation is the best form of flattery!'

Another consoled, 'Don't be disheartened. You should be proud you have developed such an effective method. Don't change the way you teach. For every such person, there are many more who are grateful for what you have done with their kids.' 

Recently, I chanced upon three blogger mums who wrote posts in their parenting blogs about literature-based learning. Two of them blogged in February and September 2015 of how they love this way of teaching their children and would highly recommend them. 

 At first, reading their introductions made me smile and I recognised one of them to be the mum of one of my ex-students, Amos. Amos attended my parent-accompanied lapbooking classes back in 2010 and 2011 for 3 terms (that was 30 weeks of lessons) when he was between 2 and 3.5 years old and was accompanied by Angelia, also known as Angie. 

My Experience with Amos and Angelia 

When Amos first came to my class in Term 3/2010, Angelia was worried that her 2 year 3 months old son might have learning difficulties as he could not concentrate for more than 5 minutes, did not utter a word and just looked dazed most of the time. I refused to give up and worked closely with both in and out of class. Angelia watched how I teach Amos to focus, work on his concentration span and language skill and I taught her how to extend his attention span in reading and working on activities at home for that one-extra-minute, week by week. She would email/SMS me asking for help throughout the term. I responded EVERY TIME, suggested coaching tips, encouraged her not to give up, After a term of 10 lessons, not only was Amos able to sit through the hour-long lesson, he was visibly enjoying the lessons and participated as well as the others in class. 

Angelia was so encouraged and heartened, but decided to work on him at home as she suffered from morning sickness of her third pregnancy. We continued to be in touch and Angie would faithfully followed all my advices and suggestions on how to coach Amos at home weekly. She was so thankful that she even voluntarily sent me testimonials via SMS, emails and handwritten cards.

This can be found in my Testimonial post in From Tiny Acorns. 

 Amos returned to class in 2011 for two more terms. By the end of just 30 weeks of lessons and Angelia's hard work of following my coaching method at home, we saw a HUGE CHANGE in Amos. He became so confident in his own abilities and was so keen to learn. Once the child has this motivation, everything else will fall into place. And even a year after Amos stopped classes, there was more appreciation for my hard work and coaching method, such as this message that came in via SMS in April 2012, which I also blogged about then.

'I like to reiterate my thanks for teaching me how to fish. Now I am getting the hang of planning lapbooks for my kids as well as recycling what Amos has done for her brother. Now I understand albeit a fraction of the fruit of labour that you have put in for your kids and others. It's time consuming but very rewarding. With my third child's arrival, it really helps a lot to teach myself and save costs. Amos benefitted most from your courses. Olivia is blessed to have an even more experienced mom to love and teach.'

So why do I mention all these now? 

Back to these blog posts which I chanced upon... as I read more of what the blogger mums wrote, I realized how familiar their posts were.

Literature-based learning encourages the exploration of ideas or subjects...

It is cross-disciplinary... there is exposure to different subjects (language arts, science, geography, history etc) ... and children grow in their understanding of the world (eg. social norms)....

Benefits: increase attention span, strengthen memory, enable child to transfer knowledge and make meaningful connections in life

These are just screen shots from those blogs.  

I apologise for the poor quality images, but you can just click on these images if you want to read more clearly. I could not believe my eyes when I read them. I even checked my From Tiny Acorns blog and re-read my old posts on Trans-disciplinary thematic approach and Bright Minds Lapbooking, which I wrote back in 2009. 

These are from my blog.

At first, I was pleasantly surprised to see them endorsing and recommending the trans-disciplinary thematic approach and use of literature-based learning and lapbooking, describing the method and explaining the benefits in almost similar words as I had in all my posts. 

That is OK, because they must have believed in the method and its benefits and hence highly recommending it!! So that is a big HOORAY for From Tiny Acorns, isn't it? 

But throughout their blog posts and Facebook posts, they did NOT mention even once that they attended my classes before or to mention From Tiny Acorns. They also did not include my blog URL nor mentioned that they "borrowed" the words I used on my blog to describe our unique approach of combining literature-based learning, with trans-disciplinary thematic learning with lapbooking. 

It would have been nice too if they had mentioned that they had drawn inspiration from my blog, especially since one of them blogged of making  'The Carrot Seed', 'Blueberries for Sal', 'Runaway Bunny' and 'Goodnight Moon' lapbooks - all of which I blogged about a few years ago.  

Still, it is FINE because maybe it is really a PURE COINCIDENCE that of all the millions of picture books out there, that she would pick the same 4 for lapbooking, which by the way, are 4 of the 7 lapbooks that I had listed in this blog. 

In her blog and Facebook page, Angelia led her readers to think that she 'discovered' this approach herself when she was homeschooling her three kids! 

In Angelia's blog, she even showed a step-by-step approach to folding the lapbook, which was to use 2 pieces of A3 coloured papers. This was a method that I used in all my earlier lapbooking classes back in 2009 - 2012 when at that time, all the lapbooks format favoured by other lapbookers around the world was to use paper file folders. I did not like the idea of stiff paper file folders, so I decided why not use thick A3 coloured papers instead. 

But I discontinued this method in 2012 in favour of a different approach, which of course Angelia would not have known since Amos stopped coming to class after end of Term 3/2011, after 30 weeks of lessons, because of financial reasons. Angie, who is also a MOE-trained Art teacher, just quit her job to be stay-home mum, and planned to homeschool Amos and his younger brother and look after her infant Emma. 

I was genuinely happy to see the drastic improvement in Amos and I understood when he had to stop classes. I was very happy that Angelia would continue the method at home. I treated her as a friend, not just a customer. I genuinely wanted to help her teach Amos and I taught her everything I knew so that she can teach Amos in her homeschooling journey. I had always thought that Angelia was such a beautiful soul, an incredible mum and an inspiration to me and motivation for me to keep improving my coaching method so more students will benefit. 

So imagine how I felt when I chanced upon her blog and left her a message to tell her how happy I was to see all her kids grown up and that she is still lapbooking. And later, when I hopped to her Facebook page and saw a post of her 'Wah so happening!' about the family's latest developments and how she is training for her half marathon now, my heart was bursting with pride for her! I left her a comment on her Facebook to congratulate her and told her I was so inspired that she is now preparing for a run. 

A few days later, I looked back at her blog and Facebook page, and realised she deleted both my comments. Why?! Why?! Why?! That same day, I sent her a Whatsapp message and told her that I was hurt by actions of deleting my congratulatory messages. I knew she read my message, but she did not reply.

Honestly, I was so hurt, betrayed and disgusted by her actions. There is only explanation for her actions. GUILT! 

The irony is, I found the following in her blog: 

If there is any copyright infringement, please inform me. I would appreciate if you can direct others to my blog or this post if you wish to share my resources. 

I thought long and hard if I should even mention this to anyone. Why not? I am not the one with the secret. 

As my hubby said to me tonight, 'Everyone out there who has ever created content would have their content stolen by someone, at some point in time. Just take heart that others will steal only because it is good. So just keep on creating the best content, even if others can steal once, twice or even thrice, but as long as they cannot create their own to match yours, they will never thrive'. 

 And I also told my sons who felt very angry on my behalf. This is a valuable lesson to me and I want my sons to learn too, that the world is filled with all kinds of people.

Though I am still very hurt by this whole discovery, I must constantly remind myself to remember my dear friend's words. That I shall not change my method of coaching each child as personally as I did with Amos and all the others in the past. Even though she behaved badly, it does not mean others will too.

I believe in karma. One day, she will get her just desserts.


Pam said...

While I am not one bit surprised that such people exist, especially in today's world with the internet and social media, I like to offer you some support. What they did was not right and hypocritical. Though their blog and facebook followers may/may not know, but you know! And the more discerning readers will eventually find out too. I think you have every right to blog about it. Good for you! Keep doing what you do. Let your other students and parents benefit from your teaching. Good luck.

Tammy said...

Shirley! reading this post actually upset me too! You are the best teacher that my kids ever had! Your dedication and ability to draw out the best from my kids, motivate them, challenge them even when me, as their parent had doubts if they could make it, was an eye-opener. My children's own kindergarten and primary school teachers failed to do that. We are one of those who benefitted so much from your teaching and guidance. Thank you again. I am sure more young parents will feel the same like me once they have the chance to experience your teaching. Good luck to your #1 at PSLE. Nearly over!

Anonymous said...

Your friends and hubby are right! Don't be disheartened by all these people. The little ones whose lives you have touched will remember. Like my girl who came to your classes when she was only 4 yrs for 9 months. Remember the shy E in the Sun afternoon class who would not say a word in class for weeks and finally when she settled down, she would not leave the class or your side every week? Haha... She cried buckets when we left SG only because she could not see her Teacher Shirley again. I will forever be grateful for how you showed me to believe in my child's potential and all your patience in handling my endless questions. E is a confident girl now and doing super well in my alma mater. You left something amazing in her after just a mere 9 months. You have a wonderful gift and I often wish you run a childcare or kindergarten. Something to think about it in future?

Anonymous said...

I remember Amos and his mum! He was in same class as my son for a term. I have been reading your blog regularly since my boy attended your classes, though I never commented before. I miss reading about your boys in the few years when you blogged less. Glad to see you back in blogging and running classes. All kinds of people out there. Just ignore them. I hope you will still have time to blog after your new term begins. Good luck to M for his PSLE!

Domesticgoddess said...

Pam, thank you for commenting so quickly after my post was published. I will bear your words in mind.

Tammy, sorry to upset you too! Thank you for your very kind words and encouragement as well. Thanks for the good luck for PSLE. Yes, can't wait for it to be over! Do say hi to your kiddos for me.

Anonymous (E's mum), of course I remember E! Made me smile just remembering how she would cling to me when the class ended. I am so happy for her (and you). I am sure she will have a bright future. Thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely think it over.

Anonymous, thank you! Though I am not sure who your boy is, but still, thanks for your comment and support all these years. I will try to blog consistently. Thanks for the good luck too! :>

homeschoolsg said...

I've had a smilar experience too. I posted a DIY home learning kit on my blog. It was my own creation as I wanted to cater my kid's learning at that time. The next thing I know someone copied my idea and tried to sell it online! I was upset. But there was nothing I could do.

I'm sorry that you had to learn a hard lesson. Bug hugs

Domesticgoddess said...

Thanks homeschoolsg! Actually there are measures we can take against these unethical people.
I was just more upset by the acts of these people whom I have gone out of my way to help, not just once but over a period of two years.

Never mind them now. I am more determined to continue what I love to do and what I am good at. Let's spread the love to more! :>


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