Monday, January 23, 2006

Can You Handle the Truth?

Tune-In Question: How honest can you be in your profession?

It came to me one day how hard and how potentially risky honesty can be.

A friend of mine was doing a feedback form for a community service project our cohort had done over the holidays. And seriously, some of the questions really deserved the most inane answers.

For example,
"What were your contributions to the project?"
Oh yes, my committee was the driving force behind the whole project. In fact, I am certain that without us, the project would not have ended with the resounding success that it did. Never mind that there were other committees in this group, WE DA ONES, you hear??

"What skills did you glean from the implementation of this project?"
Personally? Nothing that I didn't already have. If I had to learn it while the project was going on, you think I'd still have been able to complete the damn thing?

"Give some feedback on your group members. (Positive only)"
What's the point of writing anything then?

And OF COURSE she didn't write any of those answers down. What, you think we're crazy? But it did make me think of how effective all these feedback thingies really are.

For one, does anyone really dare to write their true opinions on these things? When there is that chance our job security may be at sake, or worse, that we may have to sit in our tutor's office for god-noes-how-many hours listening to an impromptu lecture on why the Ministry is right and we, the untrained, uninformed, unworthy trainee teacher is wrong? Nope, most people would rather take the safe, easy route out and simply write down whatever it is that the higher-ups want to hear.

[and btw, they don't want to hear that you are neutral on the whole thing. You're supposed to have an opinion, and you damn well better express one]

This is the same fallacy facing the Psychaitric Unit in NIE. On the official front, the clinic is there for you to vent your stresses, your problems, and receive professional psychiatric advice.

On the unofficial front, do you really want your potential employers to think that you may be unable of handling the work load in school? Or do you want your future school to think that you may have some psychiatric disorder? I wonder if they get much visitors.

So in the end, the problems go unsolved. The people at the bottom are too afraid to voice out the problems they see, and the higher-ups are just to happy to hear about all the things they did right and so they inflict the same crap on the next batch of unknowing trainees.

Of course, the flip side is that who does it hurt in the end? Because when we give the wrong feedback, the higher-ups just make their next policy decisions based on the crap we feed them, and we hurt, and we bleed, and the people on top wonder what the heck is wrong with the whole thing.

There's a whole essay that could be written on the openness of Singapore society, but that would be digression on a major scale......

But then, can we be totally honest? That pretty much depends on how much you think you're going to be hurt by your honesty. As in, how much shit am I gonna be in for this? Cos it's a small comfort to think that you're giving the teachers of the future a better life, when you're jobless, and broke.

So in the end, we build a vicious cycle:

Govt controls our jobs
We scared of govt
Govt tells us things
We say Govt good
Govt thinks it's good
Govt gives us more 'goods'
We die
Go back to "We scared of govt"

*Sigh* More and more I wonder why I didn't just stay giving tuition......

Monday, January 09, 2006

Back to Life, Reality and School

As with all the little munchkins around Singapore, we too have to trudge reluctantly back to school...... Where did the holidays go???

Well, it appears that more than a few of the staff [including yours truly blogger here] may still be in the holiday mode. I arrived back to find a whole host of scheduling problems in school.

One lecture had to be postponed to a very hateful timing because Monday was a public holiday. [ok, my sympathies to the lecturers as well for that]

For another tutorial, the tutor tried in vain to find a common time slot for all of us to have a make up lesson, because a couple of Tuesdays were public holidays, but we realised that everyone's time table clashed with one another, and we were unable to find that common slot. [he tried, at least]

2 classes for another module were rescheduled because of time tabling mixups in the admin department [neither the fault of the tutor nor us, but we all suffer anyway]

And to make matters worse, I'm suddenly unable to log into Blackboard [the online portal with all the course documents, readings and other important announcements] because they seemed to have changed the whole damn thing.

I've been in school for a week and I already feel as if I'm 2 weeks behind the entire cohort.

Not to mention one of my tutors went through a pretty scathing session on What We Did Wrong During the Last Module, and with a pretty sinking heart, I suspect that I may committed most of the errors she mentioned in the project and the exam, although I don't really remember exactly what I wrote and handed in. Ok, the main reason why I suspect it is because I think I scored one of the lowest grades in the class. -_-!!!

Not an indicator of teaching ability, not an indicator of future teaching ability, not an indicator of future teaching ability

*sigh* caught up in the holiday mood, I forget that school has already started......... now to rush my ass up with the rest of the school...