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Posts Tagged ‘code

Justin Tarte put more plainly and eloquently what I illustrate and say to some groups of future educators.

What I do as part of some workshops is get future faculty to experience and evaluate individual and group-based quizzes using multiple-choice questions. The individual quizzes are stressful and the norm of schools and higher education. The group-based quizzes are fun, challenging, enriching, and an eye-opener for future faculty.

What I say when we rise above the activity is: What the rest of the world calls collaboration or normal work, schools and universities call cheating. If we claim to be preparing students for work, why do we perpetuate this disconnect?

The norm outside much of schooling and higher education is to “cheat” in formal or informal teams by collaborating, accessing, and connecting. The common tool for doing this is the phone. This is the very same object whose presence is still frowned upon in classrooms.
 

 
So what is a change agent or future faculty to do? I recommend that they not try to take on the system by fighting individual-based quizzes and exams. Instead, they might consider how team-based quizzes might be used during tutorials, laboratory and studio sessions, and even lectures. These then become opportunities for students to get formative feedback and to learn by peer teaching.

My recommendation is a cheat code. In video games, a cheat code is applied to make a boss or challenge easier to deal with. Sometimes it unlocks new abilities. In pedagogical design, it allows an educator to change a system insidiously from within.

In the Singapore context, code switching might refer to a person’s ability to alternate between different forms of the same language.

For example, in a formal context like a meeting or presentation, a person might speak proper, standard English. In an informal context like lunch with colleagues or a neighbourly chat, that same person might speak Singlish.

This happens intuitively for those that actually have at least two switch positions. The problems that language purists might have are when users do not know when to switch according to context and if there is only one code to choose from (typically Singlish).

Those are problems for language experts to discuss.

There is behavioural code switching that all of us should be concerned about.

Oriental City Food Court by Route79, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Route79 

 
We used to clear our food trays after eating at fast food joints or other eateries. I am not sure when, but a generation of people have stopped doing it. This has become the norm so much so that signs and posters that urge patrons to return their trays are happily ignored.

Most schools require students to clear their trays when they are done in the canteen. The kids do it or pay a penalty of some sort. So it becomes normal or expected behaviour.

But these same kids nonchalantly leave their trays behind when they are done at fast food restaurants or food courts. There is no legal or social penalty for doing this after all.

They have learnt to code switch their behaviours. This is a sad thing.

What is sadder is that some adults justify or defend this behaviour. They might point out that this is how kids behave at home because their maids do the clearing.

They might also say that tray-clearing provides employment for the “aunties” and “uncles” at these places. But they fail to realize that these jobs would not be necessary if they cleared their own trays or that these folks could be better deployed.

Worse than this behavioural code switching is if there is only one not-clearing code or if the switch is stuck in that mode.

In the grand scheme of things, this sounds trivial. But the little things count because they all add up.

When we eat out, I make it a point to clear my own tray. I make sure my son does the same too. We can do our part in making our place a little kinder and cleaner.

Apparently the following questions (or something like them) were posed to Singapore teachers in order to introduce to the new Code of Professional Conduct for Educators (insert ominous sound). [newspaper archive]

No one (in their right mind) would ask me to answer the questions because 1) I rarely give a straight answer, and 2) I am no longer under the MOE umbrella. While I am no longer an MOE teacher, I am still an educator. So I am going to answer those questions anyway.

Q: Say a teacher forms a close but professional relationship with a student in school. The teacher then leaves the school to join another school. Is it okay for the relationship to continue and become romantic?

A: No. But if the teacher leaves the teaching profession, then maybe. And only if the couple does not mind the whispers that will follow them the rest of their married lives.

Q: If a group of students ask a teacher to join them at a coffee shop after school for a chat, should the teacher agree, or should he insist the discussion be held in school?

A: If the chat is about why the canteen stalls suck, then maybe. It would be rude to bad mouth your canteen operators while you eat in their presence.

But if a group of all female students schemes to mass date a male teacher, then no. The rules for a group of all male students and a female teacher might be different. We are unequal that way.

Q: What should a teacher do if a student complains to him about another teacher having a tattoo?

A: There are a few options. 1. Show him my own tattoo. 2. Tell the student to mind his own business. 3. Find out where the tattoo was and query why the student was staring at the teacher’s left nut or right breast.

Q: Should a teacher “friend” his students on social media platforms?

A: Where to begin with this answer?

Is “social media platforms” only equivalent to Facebook? Are we including following on Twitter, badgering on blogs, subscribing in YouTube, co-curating or social bookmarking in Diigo, etc.?

If I am limited to Facebook, then I should mention that I asked this question of student teachers a few years ago in VoiceThread. Here are their answers.

Mine is: Of course.

As long as you do not mind putting up with bad English, teenage angst, BGR drama… you know, keeping your finger on the pulse of the other half of their lives.

As long as you remain a teacher and a professional in the relationship. That means not marrying them after taking in too much caffeine at the coffee shop near your school and revealing a privately placed tattoo.


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