Thursday, October 27, 2005

Just realized that Halloween is around the corner and for the first time in 4 years, I haven't made any plans for it. When I first proposed the idea in 2001 to the college I had a great team of librarians (led by ZL who was heart 'n soul of the inaugural fete) whose ingenuity and passion overcame our meagre resources and made it a truly memorable event, for me at least. 2002 we had a 'live' band jam session and a movie screening, 2003 a bhangra-themed event (although I suspect the bhangra music was more accidental than planned). And 2004, despite the valiant efforts of the Drama Club, and a few other CCAs, that was all she wrote for our post-exam celebration. Doubt it'll ever be revived again, and suddenly I'm in mourning.

Times have certainly changed. In these last couple of years, the JC1 cohort lost the post-exam period. That's because immediately after the promo exams were over, they all had to face a real Cambridge exam -- PW. And a lot of importance has been attached to this new subject, too. It amounts to 10% of local uni admission criteria and as such it's not to be trifled with. Kids are all so busy preparing for the exam after the exam there's no time to celebrate the end of their first year in college. As of last year, we threw a party, but hardly anyone came. This year, no one can be bothered any more.

What's ironic is that before PW became serious the kids were informally working on a real project that actually had to come to fruition -- they had to pull it off for real. They were already collaborating with one another, and even across disciplines by involving talents and skills from a variety of CCA groups who were willing to pitch in mostly for the fun of it (ok, maybe I'm romanticizing a little here). They had to plan schedules and activities, organize logistics, mobilize human and economic resources, and be ingenious in creating something out of very little. There was an actual purpose behind the Halloween Project. It was entertaining, it was student-led and run, it was creative, it was compassionate (proceeds went to charity), and there was potential for community outreach as well, given time.

Wait. Did I say Halloween is dead because of PW? Maybe not. It'll take a brave PW supervisor to mobilize a CT's worth (or two) of project groups to make Halloween the focus of their group projects. Each group could focus on different aspects of organizing the festival, after all according to the Ministry, the project task -- regardless of how the question words it -- is flexible enough to accommodate any proposal the kids wish to put up.

Halloween might be the perfect project focus because of its timing in the PW cycle. All the plans have to be laid down, carried out and documented in the groups' Written Reports; following which there are a few days left before Halloween to get the logistics and publicity together; there can be one huge bash involving the entire college and maybe the community outside as well; and everything ends just in time for the groups to report on their involvement during the Oral Presentation.

But like I said... that's gotta be a brave PW supervisor, or a pretty smart one, anyway. He or she will have to run by his or her own schedule, not necessarily in keeping with the college's schedule but still abiding by Cambridge's. Not easy. Anyone wants to revive Halloween, next year's JC1 tutors?

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