Friday, September 24, 2010

On task

The best thing about finishing prelim exam grading a whole weekend ahead of schedule is that I now have all the time in the world... to finish grading my assignment backlog. Yay.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Values in two hours

Big industry boss wants us to teach our kids values. The plan is to allocate two curriculum hours a week in which the kids can learn the values of citizenship and about their social and moral responsibilities as human beings who can balance their reasoning abilities with their emotions.

This latest development could be a step in the right direction, seeing as how our kiddies are so drained of soul by the time they've passed junior high. This is one opportunity for us to reach them with a different perspective from the usual results-are-everything message they're so tired of listening to. That is, if they don't have a test to pass at the end of the year just to prove that this extra class justifies the taxpayers' monies funding it, in which case the whole exercise becomes self-negating. Actually, taxpayers don't have to worry since we'll be teaching it for no extra pay, but you know how accountants get about justifying every microsecond of our time -- it's their job.

I can see how such classes would be great for the kids in secondary school and below, though I believe they already have some kind of social studies and civics and moral ed classes. An extra two hours a week could help them put the theories they learn in-class into real, practical projects; or at least get them learning about their world butts-off, hands-on. These are skills we can't learn from textbooks anyway, so let's get active for a change. Let's use this opportunity to show them what goes on outside the classroom, unmediated, uncensored, and fully sensory.

I wonder if these two-hour weekly sessions are meant to continue through junior college? If we start taking in kids who have real experience working within the community since their secondary school days, I'll bet our GP classes will be so much more engaging for both us and our hypothetical future students. After all, everything Boss wants taught we already cover in GP, with the exception that we have an exam at the end the kids must take.

With the experience they bring with them coupled with their mid-teen maturity, they should be ready to discuss the basis of their beliefs, the nature of the human condition, human partnership with one another and stewardship over the rest of the world, and have a sense of fun, innovation and hope for their future.

I know I'm being idealistic. Our intentions are always good. I'm just worried about the accountant in his little back room working out how all this is going to pay off in dollars and cents, effectively placing a price tag on the priceless, thus rendering it worthless.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Amazing prescience

Tues 21 Sept 2010, 1030 hrs:
C (via email): Please report for duty tomorrow at 1415 hrs...

Wed 22 Sept 2010, 1315 hrs:
C (via voice call): Oy, where the @#$& are you? You're on duty now, y'know!

Xmac: Oh? Your email said to report at 1415?

C: Really? That was a mistake. Please report now!

Wed 22 Sept 2010, 1330 hrs:
D  (over PA system): Due to a disruption on the MRT line at AMK station, this afternoon's paper will be delayed and will commence at 1430 hrs.

C: Er, there's a delay. You want to come back at 1415 hrs?

Xmac: Sure. Whatever.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wayne and the beans talk

Sometimes we get lucky with the little tributes the kids leave leave at our feet on Teachers' Day. Wayne, in particular, received a bagful of Sumatra coffee beans. The idea is that he takes these beans to their source -- Starbucks in this case -- where they are ground up and served as regular brew, no charge 'cos they have already been paid for.

Why did I say 'lucky'? Because apart from bringing his bag of magic beans, Wayne brought an entourage with him: B-lo, HP and me. Hey, coffee is good, but downing eight cups in one sitting by oneself is only asking for trouble.

Spent the afternoon at a nearby Starbucks, sipping coffee with our feet up... and grading essays. We were working, ok? And B-lo called it 'enjoying a lazy afternoon'. We're getting a little worried about that girl.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tongue-tied in nots

I take my hat off to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Master of the multiple negative. Responding to international sanctions against Iran, he says:

“Now, this doesn’t mean certainly that we [don’t] take it seriously, but it does not mean that it has a negative influence on our economy, because it does not.” (Jerusalem Post, 9/20/2010)

It's a head-scratcher at first glance, but it actually does make sense. But if the way he speaks is any reflection of the way his mind works, it's no wonder we are having such a hard time understanding each other.

English alone will never suffice. Does anybody remember 'Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra'? It's gotta be something like that when dealing with the Iranian leadership.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

No taste for the bitter

When June cooks, the animals usually crowd around her legs, mewing and making enough of a nuisance of themselves to be noticed and offered a taste of what's in the wok. Once in a while, Momo would take an impatient nip at an exposed ankle which would result in her summary ejection from the kitchen. Ms Teeth-and-claws would then spend her exile in my study where I am supposed to entertain her until the cooking's done.

This afternoon, June cooked in peace. The animals, they were minding their own business in the living room giving the kitchen a wide berth.  On the menu was yesterday's bittergourd fried up with mincemeat and dao chioh (a thick version of fermented soybean sauce)... nothing the animals recognised as food.

Can't say I'm a big fan of bittergourd either, so fortunately the dish wasn't for us. Packed with nutrients, June's culinary masterpiece was for the old folks we take food to once a month. To my surprise, it went down with them just fine, though out of the corner of my eye I spotted a couple of surreptitious food trades going on between some of our beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, M-i-L has taken receipt of our remaining stocks of bittergourd. I can just imagine what's on the menu for next week...!