Saturday, May 19, 2007

Our GOH for today's college day event was amazingly down-to-earth and clear of thought. She not only noticed how creative and expressive our art students are from the paintings we display all over campus, but also how angry, repressed and suppressed their subject matter was.

While she was sympathetic, her advice was practical and sound. Sure, students understandably feel constrained by the rules they live under, by the expectations people have of them, by having to do whatever they're told or face some arbitrary consequence, particularly if they are still in a school system. In contrast, the world promises freedom, everyone being able to do, dress, say what they like; and the difference just makes it harder to live in the suffocating environment of teenage student life.

But the school is pretty much the only place in which our young can learn that there have to be rules, lines drawn that set their standards and values for life. Without having to live under rules, being thrown into a world with no rules is more frightening than it sounds. As she put it, rules provide "points of reference" from which we can deal with the strange and the unknown.

Students feel they can't be creative or learn creativity under the pressure of their restraints. But it's in having to manouvre within our constraints that's where creativity can bloom. There's nothing creative about running off to live a hermit's life -- there's no audience for what a hermit does -- but it's in learning to live with others and to relate to them that's when we need to be creative, and that's also when other people can appreciate our creativity as well.

Our GOH is wheelchair-bound. She may be disabled, but she's so genuinely positive. I give her credit because she doesn't speak in platitudes, just from good sense. Hence, unlike other happy disabled people (or even happy abled people), she doesn't give me the creeps. Perhaps her disability gives her an added dimension of being able to enjoy life to the fullest, while the rest of us simply take life for granted. It's a timely wake-up call.

Friday, May 18, 2007

2 days' of sick leave and I feel so behind on my schedules. I wonder if codine really works for coughs or if it's real purpose is to knock people out so they won't have to endure cold symptoms until the cold decides to go away by itself?

Anyway, been back at work for 2 days already since my MC ran out, and these have been days of many long hours, trying to catch up on the 2 days I lost. Maybe that's why people don't go on MC when they need to. Just because we're sick doesn't mean the work will go away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Currently in a semi-happy, drug-induced torpor. Got tired of having asthma-like symptoms at night for the past few nights, so I sought medical attention this morning. Got 2 days' medical leave and some pretty powerful medicine that makes my knees all wobbly, jelly-like. Seems to be working as I've been breathing quite normally this evening. Doc says it's probably some viral infection and that the antibiotics should take care of it.

June's just gone off to Japan, blissfully unaware of my state. Didn't tell her 'cos I don't want her to worry unnecessarily. She's a bit miffed 'cos her team came in second in the big staff race her company organizes annually. This year the company's racing dragonboats, and since I've had some experience in the area, June got me to give her team some 'secret' instruction with a paddle I borrowed from college last night.

With her strategizing and me instructing, she felt she was doing everything she could to get the advantage in the race. But today, her Boss's boat outpowered her boat to win the race. I dunno, I say if the Boss is happy, that isn't bad news.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I always have a good time working with Drama. The kids work with so much purpose and when they take on roles of responsibility, they carry them out so competently and with such confidence that these learning experiences are what they really remember from their college experience.

There's so much learning and growing that's taken place in the last few weeks as the Drama Club has been putting Othello together. So much innovation, so much creativity in the publicity machine (lovely posters and T-shirts!), in the props and set design, in the interpretation of characters; and so much hard work and dedication, just for 3 shows that are over almost before we know it. It was a wonderful journey getting there!

But I am quite upset when I hear that their subject tutors won't give them a break, but instead show displeasure or even punish the kids for the odd missed assignment or a tutorial. A person's energy is a finite resource, and when that person is giving his or her all for a cause, it's difficult to be 100% everytime.

We tutors tend to overstate the importance of our subjects without looking at the holistic development of the student. Just because they aren't scratching out answers on worksheets or scribbling essays doesn't mean they aren't learning anything. For example, there's so much historical knowledge to gain from immersing the students in Venice at the time of the Ottoman empire. And such background info will also help prepare them to play out their roles with better understanding as well.

It's the context that learning takes place in, and if we can make the kids feel that it's learning they can use, they learn faster and more willingly. Because it makes sense to them.

I'm sorry that our system makes learning so compartmentalized, so rigidly inflexible. I'm sorry our personalities and egos interpret students' lapses as signs of disrespect or negligience or laziness. I'm sorry we feel compelled to "regain control" of the situation by compelling attention from our students one way or another.

Sometimes, I wonder if we could arrange the subjects that the students take by CCA instead of an arbitrary subject combination by 'tikam' method. Classes will support the CCA by teaching background theory that the kids need to have, the CCA will put their learning into application and practice. That way curriculum and co-curriculum would be more symbiotic, as will the subject combination, and the kids won't have to feel so torn and divided dealing with everything.

Ok, enough rant. Wanna see a couple of pix from Othello?

Chief bigwigs of Venice, the Duke and 2 Senators.

The cast and crew of Othello 2007