Cartoon Learning & Thinking

Recently I used 5 cartoons to provide an overview of the Cold War (for General Paper/Singapore GCE A Level syllabus i.e. pre-university). This was a first for me. (Earlier I also experimented with ‘This Day in History’ to induce learners’ interest, in other words, it was to capture or hook class attention before entering the main topic).

By way of reflection, I read (before class) and re-read (after class) That’s Funny: Political Cartoons in the Classroom by Thomas DeVere Wolsey [Teaching Visual Literacy. (2008). Corwin Press. Chapter 6]. This post records my notes and thoughts.

(p. 117) Wolsey begins expounding on Cartoon Thinking (paraphrased where possible)

  • Look at all the details from the cartoon, as far as possible
  • Link to existing knowledge on the subject/topic
    • (p. 120) Where students lack the background knowledge to recognise, say a figure in the cartoon, the teacher should give a direct answer.
  • Infer (guess) the causes and effects
    • (p. 120-121) Teachers may need to inject questions about the arrangement of the cartoon characters, their size, the word/thought bubbles etc.
  • Create “personal connections”
    • (p.122) Encourage students to produce their own questions that fuse the themes in the cartoon to their present concerns; this builds in depth learning.
  • Use (other) evidence to buttress the inference (guessing)
    • (p.122) Consider showing similar cartoons by the same artist (thus additional cartoon exposure is one cure: and I agree!)

I believe alternatively that we could use cartoons that contradict the initial cartoon to activate discussion.

Previously, I had also used one cartoonist biography to spark learning.

(p. 123) Based on a 7 Jan 2006 interview with Social Studies teacher John Little, with time students become more competent at cartoon analysis and gain more joy from it. They likewise become more inclined to view the news to aid their cartoon discussions in class. Hence, information gathering remains vital (and unsurprisingly so).

See also:

Lee Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards Spalding. (2016). A Brief History of the Cold War. Regnery Publishing.


Global Financial Crisis (2008) – Math Lens

This post – Markets Crashing (2008) – Math/SS/GP – is my third try to explain the financial crisis that exploded from the US in 2007 (of course you can argue that it was the international excess of credit which created the conditions for the widespread mortgage loans within the US in the first place); the fallout then hit much of the world, including Singapore.

You can distinguish the latest attempt in that it uses statistics, probability, and some science to breakdown the reasons for the crisis. It was originally meant as a teaching tool. Hope it proves to be a good read!

Earlier efforts / Relevant posts

French – by translating – 9/11/2018 – Book

Roger-Pol Droit. (9 Nov 2018). Robinson Crusoé à travers les siècles. [] Paris. “… Les Echos is the leading French business and economics daily. Owned by luxury brands group LVMH… characterized by a liberal political outlook.” Les Echos. (18 Jan 2017). [Note: This post was adapted from Brant deBoer’s translation, The Timeless Relevance Of Robinson Crusoe, published 3 Jan 2019 in Worldcrunch].

Les raisons de ce triomphe sont multiples, trop nombreuses pour être méthodiquement cernées. Pérégrinations et péripéties sont décrites avec une précision minutieuse (plus étonnante encore quand on sait que Defoe n’a jamais voyagé !). Censé décrire un itinéraire spirituel – la rédemption d’un ancien négrier qui découvre l’humanité -, le roman est devenu, comme malgré lui, une référence incontournable des lectures de jeunesse.

There are multiple reasons for this success, too numerous to be methodically defined here. Crusoe’s travels and adventures are described with meticulous precision (all the more surprising given that Defoe never actually travelled!) Supposed to describe a spiritual journey of redemption of a former slave trader who discovers his own humanity, the novel despite itself, has become indispensable youth reading.

‘Pérégrinations’ = ‘travels’

Il nous a raconté ses pérégrinations en Chine. = He told us about his travels in China.

‘quand on sait que’ = when you know that = ‘given’

‘n’a jamais voyagé’ = Passé Composé tense used with never = ‘never actually travelled’ [actually added for emphasis in English version]

‘Censé’ = ‘supposed’

‘itinéraire’ = path (figurative) = ‘journey’

‘comme malgré lui’ = (how) ‘despite itself’

‘une référence’ = OMITTED: for smoother translation = Linguee ( gave one rare translation as ‘standard’ which is probably the most suitable

‘incontournable’ = (inévitable) que l’on ne peut pas éviter = that can’t be overlooked = ‘indispensable’

Additional references

Join us in the fight for Truth!

In December 2018, I was privileged to meet someone who travelled the world more and has seen it much more than I have.

This post is partly inspired by him as I seek to promote News Literacy. This post takes two tracks. The first discusses – the Lügenpresse (German: lying press). The second explains how one achieves greater objectivity (impartiality).


In Dec 2018, news broke that Claas Relotius, the German Reporter Award 2018 recipient, admitted to fabricating news. He resigned thereafter. From the same Deutsche Welle (or DW, international German broadcaster) article, we see that Relotius took the 2014 CNN Journalist of the Year award for writing on US prisons. This sparked attacks on news media through cries of “lügenpresse”.

The phrase “lügenpresse” means “lying press” in German. While its roots have been said to go back to the 19th century, it is mostly known for its use by the Nazi party to delegitimize the media and invalidate its reporting.

Eric Cortellessa. (24 Oct 2016). Trump backers berate journalists with Nazi-linked term at rally. The Times of Israel. 4 Washington Street, Jerusalem 9418704, Israel.

And this led Sandra Petersmann of DW pleading:

I implore readers not to punish our profession based on the the misconduct of individual journalists. Relotius is a dangerous outlier. There have been other fraudsters before him who played into the hands of those seeking to push the narrative of the “Lügenpresse” (lying press), but in fact, the “Lügenpresse” does not exist. Indeed, the majority of us work hard to give an honest voice to children like Alin and Ahmed from Aleppo.

Sandra Petersmann. (20 Dec 2018). Opinion: Truth is the first casualty of Claas Relotius. Deutsche Welle. Bonn/Berlin, Germany. [A 13 Jun 2018 article by the Afghanistan Times described her as “a DW South Asia expert” –]

Achieving Objectivity

If you review the above section, you would notice 3 different sources from 3 distinct regions (Europe, Asia, Middle East). I excluded other sources from Wikipedia, RT (Russian broadcaster), NBC News (US) which I consulted but did not include. I believe cross referencing is vital for judging news in this information overloaded era. (This seems limited to the subjects of History, Social Studies and General Paper or other similar humanities / social science subjects at pre-university level. One tends to find more critical thinking practice at university level).

When acting on news (e.g. buying shares or voting or selecting medical treatment or forwarding it), it is best to read or listen to different media outlets from different countries. It would be ideal to draw from various languages: French, Chinese, English to German and Bahasa Melayu/Indonesia etc. Countries possess contrasting censorship levels or research focus areas while foreign languages structurally allow for differing viewpoints (by virtue of culture and linguistic rules). Aim for at least 3 sources. In addition, speak to someone whom you consider wise and cares for your well being (or loves the truth) – you must accept though that the person may strongly disagree with you.

Another way to verify news authenticity is to use a few sites like AFP Factcheck – AFP (Agence France Presse), an international news platform, occupies offices in Uruguay, France, Cyprus, US, and Hong Kong. You may also consider Encyclopædia Britannica – – it celebrated 250 years in 2018.

If you wish to dig deeper, do background checks on your news sources. You would find 3 samples below.

Our editorial board is a small group of exceptional individuals who offered support for The Times of Israel during its planning stages, and from whom we will seek input as we progress.

It comprises Sharon Ashley (former editor of The Jerusalem Report and former director of Israel Engagement at Hillel), Irwin Cotler (human rights activist and former Canadian justice minister), Efraim Halevy (former director of the Mossad, ambassador and national security adviser), Saul Singer (journalist and author of “Start-Up Nation”), and Ehud Yaari (Arab affairs commentator for Channel 2 news, journalist and author).

Yehuda Avner (former ambassador and adviser to a succession of Israeli prime ministers) was a treasured member of our editorial board until his death in March 2015.

About the Times of Israel and its staff. (accessed 4 Feb 2019). The Times of Israel.

Asahi was founded in Ōsaka in 1879… It is particularly noted for its political coverage and its foreign news. The paper is known for its liberal and progressive views… Like the other two major Japanese newspapers, Yomiuri and MainichiAsahi publishes a much greater proportion of foreign news than is usual in the West. In the early 21st century its daily circulation was one of the largest in the world, with more than six million subscribers. The readership of Asahi is drawn mainly from the upper and middle classes.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (revised 16 May 2018). Asahi shimbun.

The Jakarta Globe has provided readers with authoritative reporting on Indonesia since the launch of the newspaper in November 2008… the Globe shifted its focus to updating readers through its website after discontinuing the print edition at the end of 2015…

We offer in-depth news coverage, informative business stories and colorful features about Indonesia and the greater region. Our website,, offers a daily e-mail newsletter, breaking news around the clock and a searchable archive of stories. You can find us on Facebook (, or follow us on Twitter ( and Instagram (

About us. (accessed 4 Feb 2019). PT Jakarta Globe Media. BeritaSatu Plaza, 11th Floor, Suite 1102, Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto Kav. 35-36, Jakarta 12650, Indonesia.

Sabbath — rest

No Scripture is exhausted by a single explanation. The flowers of God’s garden bloom, not only double, but sevenfold; they are continually pouring forth fresh fragrance.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

This is a serious question for young and old. When I was a boy, the Sabbath lasted from sundown on Saturday to sundown on Sunday, and I remember how we boys used to shout when the Sabbath was over. It was the worst day in the week to us. I believe it can be made the brightest day in the week. Every child ought to be reared so that he shall be able to say, with a friend, that he would rather have the other six days weeded out of his memory than the Sabbath of his childhood.

“Sabbath” means “rest,” and the meaning of the word gives a hint as to the true way to observe the day. God rested after creation, and ordained the Sabbath as a rest for man. “Remember the rest-day to keep it holy.” It is the day when the body may be refreshed and strengthened after six days of labor, and the soul drawn into closer fellowship with its Maker…

On the other hand, we should jealously guard against a loose way of keeping the Sabbath. Already in many cities the day is profaned openly. Sunday newspapers are issued wholesale, not only turning the minds of readers away from godly things, and thus acting as a positive barrier in the way of religion, but also keeping newsboys away from Sunday school to sell papers, and keeping trains running in order that they may be distributed…

But we must not mistake the means for the end. We must not think that the Sabbath is just for the sake of being able to attend meetings. There are some people that think they must spend the whole day at meetings or in private devotions. The result is that at nightfall they are tired out, and the day has brought them no rest. The number of church services attended ought to be measured by the person’s ability to enjoy them, and get good from them, without being wearied. Attending meetings is not the only way to observe the Sabbath. In Lev. 23:3 the Israelites were commanded to keep it in their dwellings as well as in holy convocation. The home, that centre of so great influence over the life and character of people, ought to be made the scene of true Sabbath observance…

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: [‘thine own’ as contrasted with what God enjoins], Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” Isaiah 58:13-14.

D. L. Moody. (1899). How Shall We Spend the Sabbath? Wholesome Words.

The reason that so many people feel it as a burden is partly that we have so much leisure, we don’t feel the need for the sabbath rest; but more important, I think, is the fact that not many people really enjoy what God intended us to enjoy on the sabbath, namely, himself. Many professing Christians enjoy sports and television and secular books and magazines and recreation and hobbies and games far more than they enjoy direct interaction with God in his Word or in worship or in reading Christian books or in meditative strolls.

Therefore, inevitably people whose hearts are set more on the pleasures of the world than on the enjoyment of God will feel the sabbath command as a burden not a blessing. This is what John says in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” The measure of your love for God is the measure of the joy you get in focusing on him on the day of rest. For most people the sabbath command is really a demand to repent. It invites us to enjoy what we don’t enjoy and therefore shows us the evil of hearts, and our need to repent and be changed.

John Piper. (6 Oct 1985). Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep It Holy. Desiring God.

Hungary – Nationalism and Religion

I am making a selected reproduction of a past university essay I wrote on Hungary, a central European country. Regrettably, I would be disposing the original as it is slowly deteriorating (paper must be preserved well).

In the late 20th century, “there were around 5 million Hungarians (also called Magyars) outside of Hungary… Czechoslovakia started banishing Hungarians in 1947; while 2 million Magyars were subjected to force assimilation in Romania… Mindszenty* began castigating Czechoslovakia for their actions… With a chance to learn gospel in Hungarian, the Hungarian diaspora retained their identity… nationalism though overshadowed could not be repressed for long by international Communist class unity… Even the fall of communism came from reformers while theologians cited economics rather than theology as the main causes for the collapse of Communism. As such, religion played a victim with some victories in cross border nationalism and internal reform.”

Why did I keep the essay for so long? Perhaps the comments:

Very interesting and revealing, Weilun, as I would have expected of you.

And that history was engaging to me back then?

Sources and other references

  • Leslie Laszlo. (1984). “Religion and Nationality in Hungary”, Religion and Nationalism in Soviet and Eastern European Politics, ed. Pedro Ramet. Durham. Duke University Press. p.143.
  • Nielsen. Revolutions in Eastern Europe: The Religious Roots. p.57.
  • * [Catholic Church in Hungary, Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty] Alex Last. (6 Sep 2012). Fifteen years holed up in an embassy. BBC.

SME Talent Programme (STP) – S’pore

The SME Talent Programme (STP) helps local SMEs (small and medium enterprises) attract talent from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Polytechnics and Universities, through structured and meaningful internships.

SPRING will partner appointed Approved-in-Principle (AIP) partners as key managing agents of the programme, assisting participating SMEs across industries to engage the students through local Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs).

(1) SMEs’ Eligibility Criteria

  • At least 30% local shareholding
  • Group annual turnover of not more than S$100 million OR group employment size of not more than 200 workers
  • Offer career opportunities with a clear job description and career progression path
  • Possess sound Human Resource processes
  • Willing to participate in SPRING’s Human Resource Maturity Diagnostics (HRMD)

(2) Students’ Eligibility Criteria

  • A Singaporean or a Singapore Permanent Resident who is a full-time student in an ITE, Polytechnic or University
  • Keen interest to gain hands-on experience/start careers in local SMEs

(1) For SMEs

SMEs can offer internship opportunities to local students from ITE, Polytechnics and Universities by:

  • Providing a structured and meaningful internship experience
  • Offering interns a monthly internship stipend that meets the STP requirements ($1,000 for university students; $800 for Polytechnic and ITE students)

SMEs are eligible for up to 70% funding support covering the internship stipend:

  • Minimum $800 monthly allowance for ITE and Polytechnic students
  • Minimum $1000 monthly allowance for University students

SME Talent Programme (STP) at a Glance. (updated 12 Feb 2018). SPRING Singapore.

Notes/Related post:

SPRING = SPRING (Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board) Singapore. See Jane Wee. (2001). SPRING Singapore. NLB Singapore Infopedia.

The programme began in 2013. [The STP will decrease, and be stopped for sectors/job roles under the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP).] (13 Apr 2015). TODAY.

Earlier post on Republic Polytechnic internship (FAQ).