Saturday, October 08, 2011

Day for weddings

Look what showed up downstairs! So that's what our fleet of ageing London cabs can be put to work as -- when they retire in 2012.

Here's a bit more detail of the front.

I doubt this one came for anyone I know, although I'll be attending nephew Lion's wedding dinner this evening. "Lion" was how he pronounced his name when he was a toddler. But he's all growed up now.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Faster and with less pleasure

Our kids are lacking in information literacy. Specifically, the article says,

"their lack of aptitude to cite the sources of information used were of particular concern.

The participants were also found to be lacking in the abilities to compare information with other sources and to form critical assessments from the information."

And this study was on secondary school students.

Judging from the essays I'm grading, things aren't much better at JC level. Despite the critical reading skills that we teach in class, many of our kids are still falling back on the one method that brought them success at the previous milestone exam: memorization of 'model essays'.

There is no other explanation for why one after another the essays I'm reading are almost carbon-copies of each other. Though not necessarily word-for-word, they are identical point-for-point. And they have no critical engagement with the question they are addressing. While they may be valid points for identifying the general causes of violence, they need to be adapted to answer the current question which is asking about the reasons for the INCREASE in violence today. Ooh... subtle.

It's the study culture of non-critical cramming that's ruining our young minds. It stems from a mistrust of our own abilities and an over-reliance on the brilliance of others. So even though we haven't a clue as to what we're studying, if it was good enough to get the previous model student an 'A', it's good enough for us to say the same thing and score an 'A' as well. While this strategy may work for subjects that don't vary their questions much from year to year, it's disastrous for subjects like GP which wildly fluctuates from even assignment to assignment.

Kids, the reason why you hate studying is because you don't engage the subjects themselves. You're not playing the game -- you're spending time and effort working out the combination to unlock 'GOD Mode'... which doesn't exist. What? You'll only be confident enough to play when you've activated God Mode? Where's the fun in that? Sure, you'll get to the end, but instead of learning the cool moves and sick skillz that'll impress your friends and mesmerize the chicks, you'll just be grinding away and wonder what that was all about when the final cutscene starts scrolling credits.

As for the article, we are teaching the kids to cite their sources, and to make critical comparisons between texts at JC level. But the kids have to help themselves too. Stop blowing us off when we teach you to think and make decisions. And, for goodness sake, stop memorizing essays. It deadens your mind faster and with less pleasure than marijuana. In case you haven't noticed, you've already grown a full set of teeth, hence you don't need to rely on predigested goop any more.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Just keep swimming

Another of our number has left the nest. In pursuit of Graduate education goes B-lo, taking a year off to be an irresponsible student again. It's good to get out of the fishbowl and go swim in the ocean for a while. Either you grow to appreciate the fishbowl more, or you discover options you never thought you could have. Either way, just a year out is usually quite a life-changing experience already.

What did four-and-a-half years turn me into? Well, I really liked it out there, but I put roots back in the fishbowl because this little fishbowl is being inexorably swallowed up by the ocean, whether the residents here like it or not. The gameplan here is to make use of my experience in the ocean to prepare as many as I can to cope with the imminent sea-change.

So, I may not have any biological offspring, but I'll settle for intellectual progeny. From this batch of exam scripts that I'm currently grading... it looks like I'm not going to have many.