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Posts Tagged ‘direct

Yesterday I shared some simple and general things I learnt from my visit to Amsterdam. Today I share what I learnt about the people I met and even those I did not meet in person.

The Dutch seem to possess a dry wit. I know this from the way street artists and window dressers expressed themselves.

The people I dealt with — from the public transport ticket agent to the sandwich lady to the SIM card guy — were very direct. Their mindset could be represented by this sign I saw at a knick-knack shop: Be nice, or go away.

Sign: Be nice, or go away!

I was nice, so I did not go away. But in being nice, I used phrases that did not work. For example, I revisited a sandwich shop that I chanced upon and discovered that the friendly old man was replaced by a seemingly uptight lady.

As I was there at opening time, I asked, “Are you open for businesses?” The lady replied, “Well, the door is open.”

Me: I mean… Are you ready to serve?

She: Let me wash my hands.

Me: (Waiting silently, looking at all corners of the store)

She: (At the sink area) You can order. I am not facing you, but I can hear you.

I made conversation about meeting the old man who told me that they were going to sell piccante, a spicy meat. I ordered two piccante sandwiches and my wife wanted two small slabs to bring home.

While the sandwiches heated up, the lady cut a few slices of piccante for us to nibble on.

I not only learnt where the best sandwiches in Amsterdam were, I also learnt how to be more direct with the Dutch.

The Dutch in the service industry were also prompt. Very much so.

I only exchanged emails with the host of my apartment. He said that he only had a landline, but I suspect that my emails to him were rerouted through an app on his phone or computer. Our email exchanges quick that they felt more like being on WhatsApp.

I also emailed the Van Gogh Museum because I wanted to get tickets in advance. I had an I Amsterdam card that allowed me to get into the museum for free. However I noticed that:

  • There was an online time slot booking system
  • People queued to get tickets in one line
  • The same people queued again in another line to get in
  • Some people used their phones to skip the first line

I wanted to know if I could get a mobile-based ticket by choosing time slot online with my I Amsterdam card. I emailed the museum and got a reply. The bad news was that I had to queue twice. The good news was that the reply arrived within an hour.

Some folks here take pride in being efficient or productive. I challenge that notion with the museum example. I also provide evidence of how slovenly we can be by comparison.

Upon returning to Singapore, I learnt that my telco had disabled access to my account information. This was true for the mobile app and the web-based portal.

StarHub app access denied.

I emailed my telco three days ago and have not received a reply. Not even an acknowledgement.

In learning about others, we learn about ourselves. When we look in that mirror, do we like what we see? Do we do something positive about it?

Probably the most commonly misunderstood concept of direct instruction (DI) is that it is equivalent to lecturing.

Defined this way, DI is didactic teaching. This is not the most effective way of ensuring that students learn because the focus is on transmission and delivery instead of on reception and processing.

Another way of defining DI is that it is a form of step-by-step instruction so that students learn knowledge and skills. This definition uncovers a missed concept of DI: It is a response to questions from a student following initial instruction or feedback.

Such a definition necessitates the reception and processing by a student and is a more focused form of instruction. The focus refers to the deeper or more specific exploration of a topic. It can also imply that the teacher works with a student one-on-one or in small groups.

The problem with DI as predominantly defined or practised is that it is driven by efficiency instead of effectiveness. It is faster and easier to deliver content as a form of teaching. It is much slower and more difficult to focus on the learner and learning.

Teaching is neat. Learning is messy.

Teaching is neat, but learning is messy. Trying to impose an expert structure on the learner might seem to be the most efficient way to teach. However, this does not encourage the learner to struggle and negotiate meaning.

Put another way, an efficiency-based approach might focus on the cognitive what and how; an effectiveness-based approach focuses on the metacognitive why, so-what, and what-if. We need a balance of both. Unfortunately, too much of teaching is heavy on efficiency.

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