Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Pay no attention to the man..."

For all the forward-thinking that we undertake on the kids' behalf to train them in survival skills for the 21st century, sometimes all they want to do is just pass their exams.

Just took over a new class due to some internal shuffling. Perhaps it wasn't the best strategy to go all meta-subject on them right at my introduction. I thought since they'd already been trained for a year in the subject, they would appreciate a behind-the-scenes look at what they have actually been learning, and what they will be taking away with them once their finals are over.

If it were me, I'd personally like to know that what I'd learned are skills for apprehending the unknown, integrating new knowledge with prior knowledge, making key decisions by appraising available options, and for dealing with information overload. For this bunch, it was all too much, too fast. Shall we just say that they went Yahoo all over my Gulliver?

I realize that my classes can be something like "Magic's Greatest Secrets Finally Revealed". My fellow magicians may hate me for the show-all; tell-all, but I don't care -- that's my schtik; my claim to infamy. But I forget that for the kids, sometimes it's more rewarding to simply marvel at the magic than see the Wizard for what he truly is -- gears and levers; smoke and mirrors. It's all really just clever engineering.

The kids still firmly believe the myth that hard work will pay off. It does, but only if the work objectives are clear; the work crew is organized; the right tools are applied to the right job; and all activity functions according to a systematic process. Incessantly picking at rocks isn't necessarily going to net you a pretty diamond because that's only the beginning of a long chain of other complementary activities that eventually lead to the final product. Likewise, endlessly practicing past exam papers isn't necessarily going to score you an 'A' (especially in GP).

So what should I do with this lot? First, I have to shed their perception of me as a snake-oil flogging huckster by proving my credibility as a true magician. When they are finally dazzled and convinced, then I can come back in with my you-can-do-it-too sales pitch. Implication: expect a few more 'model' essays in the days to come...

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