Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pickin' my brain

Been spending the past few weeks since term began living inside my own head. It was a necessary condition in order for me to deconstruct my thought processes and bare the dissected bits of my mind for all the kids to see.

Partially that's because Amy, Sha and I are responsible for the GP lectures this term and we're using our air time to fine-tune the kids' abilities in approaching essay questions with intelligence, scope and logic. It's also because Liz, Jojo and I are organizing the 'enrichment' programme this term that I felt we really needed to examine our own fundamental literacy skills, breaking them down into tiny sequential bite-size pieces so that the kids can see an order and a process at work when they think through possible approaches to their essays and comprehension papers.

I've been examining my own hare-brain as a model for identifying the system I use to improvise answers to essay questions. It's something I do that I take for granted as instinctive, but I've been quite surprised to realise that I do actually have a systematic approach after all. It's just never been articulated and spelled out so precisely before.

Likewise, in terms of the comprehension paper -- which I think is quite an archaic artifact from the Dark Ages -- I discovered (again from improvising in class) that there is some sense to it after all. The main lesson to learn from the compre exercise is not how to answer the questions per se, but rather to ask the right questions as a means of accessing inaccessible texts and thinking critically through them.

I know I haven't been specific at all about what I've discovered about my processes, and what I've been instructing the kids in based on my findings. I'd like to divulge more details but I should observe the kids' performance over the next couple of weeks first to see if using my newly developed methods will really help them improve. It could be disappointing to count my chix before they're hatched, so I won't just yet.

But what I have observed lately has been encouraging. I had some good discussions with some very interested kids today, and there's some demand for me to further elaborate on what I've developed so far too. That tells me the kids see some potential in it, and perhaps some hope as well.

Well, hope it does them some good, and I'll share more if it does.

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