Friday, April 11, 2014

Lick my poop cycle!

We GP tutors think we are so important. We're all about complex systems, procedures and outcomes. Right.

What is GP really about when we strip all the elaborate trappings off our precious subject?

1) Read
2) Think about what you read
3) Write about what you think about what you read.
4) Read some more...

There is nothing else.

This process is akin to the poop cycle. Input --> processing --> output --> more input

The poop cycle is instinctive. The GP cycle, well, that's essentially the communication cycle -- and it works the same instinctive way.

The more procedure we try to drill into our students, the stronger the indigestion. Outcome: malnourished, bloated, constipated students with writing to match.

The truth is, the kids can survive if they are allowed to do what they do naturally. They can even survive without us. All we need to do is to help the process along -- let it flow, not impede the process with obstacles of 'GP' conventions.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Downward slide... arrested?

Is the state of blogging truly dead? Neither my nor any other blog I follow has been updated for some time now. Not that there haven't been opportunities to blog about. To date, I've missed potential reviews of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls and its whole system 2.0.x revamp and Captain America: The Winter Soldier; and even personal family milestones like the passing of Aunt L.

Could it be that my not blogging is due to subconsciously unfollowing a trend everyone else has already left behind, or that I've simply lost my love for it? In fact, it seems like I've lost love for a lot of things I used to enjoy doing, and now I'm just going through the motions out of routine or habit, following someone else's agenda instead of my own. Zombie is probably an appropriate description of how 2014 has been so far.

What's been behind this downward slide? Top of my list of demotivators is a sense of a loss of autonomy in designing my own curriculum because of a current mania for 'standardization'. It's a good idea to share best practices among experienced staff but a very poor one to take everybody's best practices and mash them together into a prescriptive SoP that everybody must follow. It is really a step backwards and will probably undo much of the good we have accomplished to date.

The second is the sense that the recent don't dos are the things I like to do, while the dos emphasize the things I don't like to do. We are building a risk-averse culture that frowns on experimentation and avoids uncertainty. Too much top-down control, too many reminders about things that don't need doing and too little encouragement towards what does need doing.

Perhaps it has always been this way, and I've only just woken up and smelled real-world coffee?

Or perhaps I've just let inconsequential things get in the way of what I love? Elsa from 'Frozen' may be right about some distance lending perspective to one's situation. A couple of days away from campus to attend iCTLT 2014 has brought me back in touch with other people who are visionaries in education, at the forefront of education reform and yet are juggling with old-school expectations and strictures, and rising above it to tell their stories to us who are supposed to be at the pinnacle of global education success.

It's great to hear how although we've done some things right, there are a lot of important things that we are doing wrong. I'll want to compile and digest what people here have been saying in another post, but for now it feels good not to be the lone voice crying out in the wilderness and that there are those who have waded through the same muck and have moved forward to where we want to go, even if some of us have to be dragged kicking and screaming to get there.