Friday, August 26, 2005

PEARLS is in its death throes. One last frantic shudder before finally resting in peace within the next week or so. With this last gasp, our college Seniors are madly scrabbling for whatever points they can scrape together from their co-curricular activities (CCA) while the system still has a few breaths left.

From an outsider's perspective, I think it's sad that these kids seem so desperate to trade their toil, their effort, their memories for just a handful of brownie points. And conversely, that they can be so easily bribed to sacrifice their sweat and their time for points on an arbitrary scale. The fear is in the comparison of one's "contributions" to one's organization against another's. The more points, the greater the contribution. It's been reduced to that.

Under the old PEARLS system, kids didn't seem to join activities for fun, or because there was a new skill to be picked up, or new friends to be made. Considering the frantic contacts I received today -- "I need points for...;" or, "you forgot to add points for...;" or "don't I get points for...?" -- it seems like it's all about the points. The first response we got when we proposed activities was, "how many points will we get for that?" Honestly speaking, is that all kids want? No wonder they feel short-changed so often. Summing experience into points may work well for RPGs, but that's just too cheap in real life.

But PEARLS dies this year. Our current juniors no longer have the restriction of wondering if their activities are going to be worth how many points because the sum will always add up to zero! Now they can't compare which activity is "better" or "more prestigious" than another. CCA advisors won't have to fret over whether organizing one kind of activity goes against the kids' interests because another type would yield more points due to some technicality in an ever-changing rulebook.

Freedom will breed chaos, no doubt about that. There won't be a convenient point-ranking system that easily predicts who deserves what and so rewarding people can become a real nightmare for the decision-makers. But the Best cannot always be determined in this way. Take for example, last year's Farewell Assembly Arts Faculty Representative, Sarab. On a strict point system, let's just say he wasn't exactly a model student. But the situation called for a personable, charismatic, engaging, humorous personality with a knack for story-telling and with his feet firmly planted between his studies and work experience (and NO points for any of these qualities, though he probably picked up a couple of demerits for them, haha!), and there he stood out from the crowd. He may have eschewed the "system" but when a niche opened up, he fit the bill perfectly; and he gladly took the job and in that capacity delighted the Class of '04 that day.

People don't seem to like chaos much, though. No doubt after a while some control-freak in the future will decide to reintroduce points back into the system and the wheel will turn once again. Let's breathe in the freedom gratefully while it lasts.

Edit 01:
Was made to take certain measurements today. Not all results are in yet, but comparing my scores in relation to everyone else's so far, I doubt that there is anyone left who can challenge my title of "fattest man in the Department." Yeah!

No comments: