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Two days ago, I used my first Pokémon Go (PoGo) exclusive raid experience to illustrate how social leadership emerged from a crowd.

Today I illustrate how members of a crowd chose to respond to investigative analysis. In doing so, I link a game-related phenomenon to a social one in the teaching fraternity.

Nicholas Oyzon AKA Trainer Tips is a PoGo expert, an inspiring YouTuber, and an unofficial ambassador of the game franchise. He released a video detailing the efforts of people trying to unlock Niantic’s secret recipe for Ex Raid gyms.
 

Video source

Here is my TLDR take on the video: A few individuals used crowdsourced data, investigative analysis, and the scientific method to suggest Niantic’s algorithms for exclusive gyms.

You would think that any PoGo player still yearning for a chance to battle and catch Mewtwo would be thankful for such data analysis and timely information. However, if the Singapore PoGo Facebook group is an indicator of lay reaction here, the response was flat or negative.

A member posted a link to Oyzon’s YouTube video.

These were the types of responses when I last made the screenshot. I have labelled them A, B, and C.

A qualitative researcher might suggest that the low number of responses could indicate the low interest to helpful information. This suggestion would carry more weight if the researcher also reported the numbers of responses to complaints, polls, show offs, etc. — these regularly garner hundreds of comments.

If we think of the Facebook group as a microcosm of how some local social media-connected players think, then they fall into a few categories.

  • A: Ignorant. “Catch no ball” is a local colloquialism for “could not understand” or “over my head”. Either the video content was too complex or people in this group were unable/unwilling to process it.
  • B: Atheoretical. Unlike category A, those in B practice without theory. They operate by “what works” and care little for “why it works”.
  • C: Stubborn or wilfully ignorant. This group may or may not possess theories, and in both cases refuse to learn something new and useful.

People belonging to Group A and B might still be open to learning something new and helpful. People in Group C are unlikely to be open enough to learn.

There are certainly other groups of people, especially when this categorisation is applied to adult learners. I have met them all — these are teachers both preservice and inservice, lecturers, trainers, and professors. What is both frightening is the number that fall into Category C.

You might assume that teachers and educators should be most aware of the theories of learning and teaching practices that enable them. You would be wrong. What is worse is that while Category C is small, this group discourages those around them and holds back entire systems from improving pedagogically.

This is why I do what I do. I battle the lack of pedagogical theory in the hope of defeating ignorance. I fight the war of wilful ignorance in the hope of defeating apathy. It is relatively easy to win battles, but the war rages on.

Unlike Banksy, I do not think that the embedded graphic in his tweet is true.

The graphic is labelled “education”. What is depicted is traditional and mindless schooling. There is also the arguably necessary schooling of getting individuals to conform and to work together based on rules. Both are not the same as education. For one thing, education is about the development of the individual.

Schooling is about enculturation. Education is about self-actualisation.

I participated in a Pokémon Go exclusive raid of the Mewtwo boss yesterday. I did not plan on leading the charge, but that is what happened.

It was my first exclusive raid, but after reading in forums, chatting with a few Mewtwo veterans, and watching YouTube videos of the social gatherings from such raids, I was looking forward to it.

My ExRaid Pass to the Mewtwo battle.

I arrived early at the raid venue and it was already crowded. I asked people if they were already grouped by team colours — this maximises the number of Poké balls you receive to catch Mewtwo — but most people milled about.

I was not about to leave such an important catch to chance, so I asked teams to form and people started self-organising. As I busied myself with making sure that there were enough people per group, I also took the advice of two veterans.

One player told me that we did not need to form teams of 20; about 10 players per team would do. So we divided large groups into smaller ones and checked the numbers. Another veteran reminded me that the quality of the player mattered — level 20+ players needed to be put in groups with high level (35+) players for maximum effect. So we checked again.

My battle party for Mewtwo.

I took the precaution of reminding everyone in my group to bring the optimal Pokémon to the fight (Dark types like Tyranitar) and not engage in selfish behaviours like using a Blissey (very tanky but offers little damage). I told everyone how we would use the private group function to exclude spoofers and cheaters.

I had to do some people management when one member of my team walked away for a smoke, another was distracted with multiple accounts, and yet another panicked with his choice of battlers. Then I offered words of encouragement before we started.

Thankfully, my group’s battle went smoothly and we beat our Mewtwo with about half the time to spare. Only my first three Tyranitars were spent from the battle.

Everyone in our group managed to catch their own Mewtwo after that. I managed to catch a 91% IV Mewtwo with ideal move sets. Now I have to decide whether or not to use Rare Candy and stardust to power it up for other battles.

Screenshot of my Pokémon Go app's journal showing evidence of the Mewtwo raid and capture.

My 91%IV Mewtwo with ideal move sets.

Our partner group of 10 players had more high level players and they completed the battle about 20 seconds before we did. Unfortunately, two members of that group could not catch their Mewtwos despite the team and damage bonus of Poké balls.

As a result of the extra work, I forgot to activate a Lucky Egg (to double the XP from the catch and get the New Catch bonus) and a Star Piece (to get 50% more Pokémon stardust). I also forgot to activate the video recording function on my iPhone.

If I get the opportunity to do this again, I would:

  • Try to get a team of solo account players (they are more focused)
  • Ensure an even mix of low and high level players in each group
  • Remind players to set up battle parties in their phones prior to fighting Mewtwo
  • Remind everyone to activate Lucky Eggs and Star Pieces if they wished
  • Screen capture the process

I am glad that I did my homework on battling and catching Mewtwo from game sites, forums, and online videos. The emergent social leadership was something that just had to be done, but I was inspired by stories in social media.

Emergent leadership is not just about one person and the start of a journey. After I started the fire, the groups were self-sustaining because at least one member was experienced or had done their homework. After the group-based battle and individual attempts at catching, there was also the need to congratulate those that got their Mewtwo and console those whose quarry fled.

A few strangers thanked me for organising the group. One person even shook my hand and said he hoped to see me again at another battle. I am just thankful the group listened and offered timely advice.

There are some nasty or selfish people in Pokémon Go, but this experience showed me that there are nice ones too. And even the not-so-nice ones put their unpleasantness aside in pursuit of a shared goal.

Last Saturday, STonline reported the International Baccalaureate (IB) performances by Singapore schools. As usual, it featured pass rates and the number of perfect scores.

The local rag does this with our PSLEs, GCE O-Levels, and GCE A-Levels, so the article almost writes itself with a template. To be fair, the template has been updated to include human interest stories — the people behind the numbers — but these can seem like afterthought or filling newspaper space for a few days.

The IB result article fit the mould perfectly. It featured the usual suspects with the usual stellar results. Then it zoomed in on twins from the School of the Arts who got perfect scores.

What is wrong with doing this?

There is nothing wrong with human interest stories provided the children are not coerced into doing them and if the overcoming-the-odds stories inspire others.

What is wrong is the almost perverse fascination with quantitive results. It is one thing for schools and the Ministry of Education to keep track of these statistics, it is another to tout them and lead stories with them.
 

 
The health of our schooling system is not just measured by numbers. This would be like diagnosing sick patients by measuring only their temperatures and blood pressure. Even a layperson would say that stopping at such triage is irresponsible. The same could be said of the STonline reporting.

About five years ago, the MOE stopped revealing the names and schools of the top Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) students. It also discouraged the ranking and banding of schools into socially-engineered leagues in order to operate by its “every school a good school” principle. The move was meant to emphasise the holistic development of each child.

The IB results article and its ilk hold us back. Yes, the template includes human interest stories and background information about the IB. But the newspaper conveniently forgets or ignores that the IB practically an alternative form of assessment. From the article:

Founded in Geneva in 1968, the programme is now available in 4,783 schools in over 150 countries and territories.

IB diploma students take six subjects and Theory of Knowledge, a course that combines philosophy, religion and logical reasoning. They also learn a second language, write a 4,000-word essay and complete a community service project.

Why not focus on how the thinking and value systems are nurtured? What are the impacts of the community service projects on all stakeholders? How might the rest of the schooling system learn from the IB process? Finding these things out is not easy. Then again, nothing worth doing is easy. Using a writing template is easy.

STonline might think it has the perfect template for reporting academic results. It might. But this template has lost relevance given MOE policy changes. In emphasising the numbers game, it creates speed bumps and barriers in a schooling system that is trying to plod slowly forward.

The chart embedded in this tweet is a good example of “just because you can, does not mean you should”.

More specifically, just because you think you can create a chart does not mean you should.

A chart should make obvious what is difficult to explain in words. If the chart does not do this, then do not use it or design a better one.

The logical problem with chart in the tweet that the visuals counter the intended meaning. A small chance of winning (1 in 14 million) is tiny, but it was represented by a large block. To illustrate the very low likelihood of winning the top gambling prize, the block should be tiny.

One could also critique the choice of fonts, the colours of the bars, the use of red font against a black background, etc.

Why harp on a seemingly harmless chart?

The chart is an example of what not to do when designing visuals for effective communication. It is also fodder for a module on critical thinking.

If schooling has not taught you to design better visuals, then continued education in your working adult life offers you some harsh lessons. This first lesson is free and could be worth more than the top Toto prize.

I wager that just a week into the new year, lots of people have given up on their resolutions.

It is easy to say something, but not do it. Far better to have purposeful resolve than to make empty resolutions. I reflected on this near the end of 2017.

Here is another example of resolve.

Clash of Clans' village with six different types of Christmas trees.

If you have played Clash of Clans (CoC), you would recognise the screenshot above. You might also discover that there are six different Christmas trees in the image.

The CoC village is from my son’s account. He gave up playing the game a long time ago, but I maintain it by farming for resources.

I also collect the different Christmas trees that appear in the game every year by not tapping on them and clearing them. They are like time-travel trees because each is a reminder of a year gone by.

It takes resolve to keep playing the game this way, but this is not as difficult as it sounds. It takes just moments each day to farm the village and repeating this behaviour became a habit.

Playing CoC this way seems like a quirky form of resolve, but it is an example of a strategy that scales up to more ambitious activities or ventures. For example, I did not make a resolution to reflect in my blog every day, but I have done so for the last several years.

Practice may or may not make perfect, but it can breed resolve.

Did you process the embedded image in the tweet above and laugh? You are probably part of the majority and get the joke about stereotypical mainstream schooling in Singapore. Read on.

Did you shrug your shoulders or go “meh”? You probably do not care or did not get the joke. Stop reading. Go away.

Did you see the plot holes and choose to plug them? I did and am doing this.

Real life is often funnier than fiction, so the image works. But it does not work all the time.

All schools here do not go full tilt during the first week. All parents do not send their kids for enrichment tuition. The rhetoric may be popular, but that does not make it right or truthful.

Kids in their first year of Primary or Secondary school often have orientation weeks or fortnights. After all, they are transitioning from one form of schooling to another.

They need to be prepared to be schooled. This means learning how not to ask questions and not to think imaginatively. So the last image of the child in pain is true, but the tag is not. It is painful to lose during schooling what employers will later demand.

My critique aside, it is also true that schools now focus more on non-academics like building character and integrating into communal culture. For example, my son has spent much of the first week outside of his school and the classroom to learn about the artwork in the CBD and to go kayaking with his teachers and peers.

A layperson who was schooled 10 to 15 years ago can create a tweet like the one above to draw laughs from others similarly schooled. While there is a little truth — take extra tuition, for example — that is more a function of kiasu parenting.

Only those in schooling and education can and should point out fallacies. I do so at the risk of sounding humourless and “not getting it”. I do get it; they do not. They need to be educated too.


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