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Posts Tagged ‘day

The first Friday of September is Teachers’ Day in Singapore.

Schools celebrated the day yesterday with half days and staff dinners. Today is a school holiday and an early start to a one-week break.

Teachers’ Day is great for businesses that take advantage of it. But quite a few teachers still return to school during the break to get work done.

Whether teachers get to enjoy a break or not, they might be thankful that they were not subject to the rules of the past.


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We do not need a time machine to travel back to the past in order to reflect on how much (or how little) has changed, and to appreciate what we have now.

We do not need to share exactly the same contexts (US or Singapore) to appreciate how difficult it is to teach or how much more difficult it is to educate.

We celebrate Singapore’s 54th National Day tomorrow. Kids in school, kids at heart, and kids of all ages at the ND Parade will lustily sing Stand Up For Singapore.

Perhaps we might take a moment to take a critical and humorous look at ourselves.

Perhaps we might also look for different ways to distinguish ourselves. We do not all have to be rats in the same race. We can choose our own paths and be thankful for the circumstances that allow us to do so.


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The USA (not America) celebrated its Independence Day last week. It has lots to celebrate and it still has a lot to work on.

M(US)AGA, anyone?

World Teachers’ Day has been marked annually on October 5th since 1994. According to UNESCO:

World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.


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It is celebrated differently in various places or not at all. The video above is Ellen’s way. Singapore marks our own day in September.

I wonder when we might be more inclusive and global in our outlook on teachers and teaching. As much as teachers have in common in terms of problems, each system has its own issues. Teachers here might appreciate what they have here even more if they understood what their counterparts elsewhere do not.

Mainstream schools in Singapore celebrate Teachers’ Day (TD) today. School teachers will get a day off and would have received cards and presents from their students.

I am marking the day by conducting a workshop for future faculty. If memory serves me right, I had classes or workshops every TD for at least a decade.

I do not feel sore about this because institutions of higher education generally do not share the same special day* for their educators. I hope that future faculty will not be disappointed.

*I am not referring to teaching awards and ceremonies as these are typically top-down events. I am referring to bottom-up practices led by those immediately impacted by our actions — the learners.

Perhaps things will turn around in the higher education arena one day. Maybe the powers-that-be will start with an apology for not recognising the thankless tasks of teaching and facilitating.

If they need ideas, here is one from popular culture.


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The rest of the year, teaching is a thankless form of caring, mentoring, and preparing. Teachers parent kids, influence citizens, and mould taxpayers. We should apologise if we are less than grateful. We could start with saying sorry for taking their “free” parking away.

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It is Youth Day in Singapore, so I turn my thoughts on however youth is defined.

Some might say that “Youth is spoilt on the young” because they do not know how to use or appreciate it. Such a thought assigns blame and relies on an external locus of control — neither blame nor responsibility is yours.

To leave a better planet for our kids, we need to leave better kids for our planet.

I prefer this saying: To leave a better planet for our kids, we need to leave better kids for our planet. Our youth may not know what they have, so we must be role models of how to behave as appreciative and responsible stewards.

 
Primary 1 to 5 students stayed at home because of the PSLE oral exams for Primary 6 students late last week. When the first group of students needed to access e-learning resources from MCOnline, the service provider’s website crashed.

Parents complained, e.g., “the website is not available for public access” and “it took us 10 hours to finish a one-hour task”.

Even when the service was available in the past, one parent said, “The website is often very slow during peak hours to the point that it kicks you out”. Another parent, who also happened to be an educator, was resigned to saying, “I’m so used to this”.

I could point out tongue-in-cheek that MCOnline servers went on MC (medical certificate, the excuse slip for missing school, duty, or work). Instead, I shall point out the excuses and non-answers.

An unnamed MC Education representative said that a third-party arrangement to increase capacity “was not activated”. Why not? There was no reason given in the article for this oversight.

Will the service provider be held accountable for this outage just like the telco providers are? The article did not mention this either.

As information about the Student Learning System (SLS) was released last week, the attention turned there. Unfortunately, the focus was on access during emergencies. That might be why e-learning in Singapore actually stands for emergency learning.

An unnamed spokesperson from MOE said that the SLS would take advantage of cloud technologies. She also mentioned how the SLS would be compatible with most devices.

The first answer was vague. Just what are cloud technologies to the layperson? Which CMS or LMS provider does not depend on cloud technologies today? Since they do, why did a crash happen anyway? What is to prevent the SLS from suffering the same fate?

The secondary mention was a redundant non-answer. What is the point of multi-device compatibility if none can access the resources when servers are down?

We do not need redundant answers. We need more “redundant” servers to share the load. This is the sort of cloud technology the spokesperson probably meant. But this answer is still vague.

A better example might be to draw on what online users already experience with YouTube or Amazon. The uptime of these services is about as reliable as our power and water supply because they rely on “cloud technologies”.

Can MCOnline and the SLS promise the same reliability? These are services that we pay for with our tax money. Compare that with free and open services like YouTube. These are paid for by advertising that might be linked to our personal data, but that is not the point.

The point is that access and reliability of online learning resources come at a price. Neither cost is transparent to the average user. However, freely available services like YouTube are subject to scrutiny. Google, the parent company of YouTube, was recently fined 2.4 billion euros by the EU for anti-trust issues.

So I ask again: Will our online learning service providers be held accountable for outages like the telco providers are? Or is learning at home not as important as learning in school?

Let’s see if we put our money where our mouth is…


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