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Posts Tagged ‘doing

I had one concern after reading this new article, Govt can do more to reduce concentration of disadvantaged and privileged students in some schools.

My concern was not what exactly our government was doing or could do. These were summed up in four paragraphs in the article:

The ministry recently improved its financial assistance scheme, which helps students with school fees, textbooks and uniforms, by raising the income eligibility criteria to benefit more of such students.

Under the School Meals Programme, the provision of food has also been raised from seven to 10 meals a week for eligible secondary school students. About 50,000 students from lower-income families are on the scheme, Mr Ong said.

The Government is also investing heavily in pre-school education, with one-third of MOE Kindergarten spots reserved for students from lower-income families.

By 2020, student-care centres will also be in every school to provide students with a conducive environment to study and finish their homework.

My concern was why newspapers pad their articles with extraneous information. Only four out of the 23 paragraphs in the article where about the headline.

One might argue that the other paragraphs provide background information or set the context. I would agree if this was still pre-Internet news. When writing on paper, you could not hyperlink to other articles that provided more background, history, or context.

My expertise is not journalism, but I take this warning to the realms of schooling and education. Are we still still stuck in the paper world of the past or are we also preparing kids for the paperless future? Are we doing more for ourselves and our past, or are we focusing on our children and their futures?

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow. -- John Dewey

Tomorrow's educational progress cannot be determined by yesterday's successful performance.

A notice about shopping cards abandoned in HDB void decks.

I photographed this hard to read notice earlier this week.

It was difficult to read because it was placed way above eye level. I had my phone raised above my head like I was surrendering in order to photograph it. The physical placement of the notice reduced the likelihood of it being read.

The heading was also difficult to read. The contrast of the black text against the very dark grey background made it near impossible to tell from a distance.

The notice was also only in English. As much as someone in the town council might think English is our lingua franca, the people who leave the carts abandoned in HDB void decks are more likely to understand some other language and unlikely to read notices.

The message claims that the abandoned carts “pose both safety and hygiene hazards”. What are they exactly? This is admin-speak for everything and absolutely nothing at the same time. “Safety” and “hygiene” just sound good.

The deeper issue is basic human behaviour, specifically, a lack of consideration or civic responsibility. The people who take shopping carts from grocery stores to bring their wares home without returning the carts are selfish and lazy.

What would it take for administrators to think and act like people and simply point that out? How about providing a huge disincentive by pointing out that they can use CCTV footage (the cameras are everywhere!) to catch recalcitrants? The selfish and lazy could then be told to collect these carts under the supervision of one or two grocery store staff.

As much as this rant is about ineffective notices and inconsiderate behaviour, it is also a reminder for me how disconnected admin-speak is to the needs and action on the ground. It is one thing to craft a policy document, it is another to articulate it effectively, and still another to implement it.

What matters is action. If the initial action is weak or ineffective, do not hold out for better follow up.

My head hurts from reading the online vitriol in the aftermath of the Sabah earthquake.

Lives were lost in Mt Kinabalu. That so many were young and from one primary school leaves me at a loss for words. I am as dumbfounded as I was 21 years ago when I shook the hand of a man whose wife I could not help save.

What can you say to a parent who has just lost a child?

I am thankful that our leaders and people on the ground have managed the crisis respectfully and professionally. Before the rabid press jumped on loose leads, parents were flown in and asked to identify their children, and then only was information released.

But there were other distractors and many idiotic responses.

Distractions like the climbers who allegedly took off their clothes on the mountain prior to the earthquake and penalties for the offenders by way of buffalo heads. As ridiculous as most people might find these events, they are just distractions. They offer no help, but they also do little harm.

Contrast that with the idiots who rely on fear and ignorance to spread even more fear and ignorance. The link I tweeted above will provide a small but concentrated sample. If you do not have the time, process this one critically and immediately read this one based on reason.

The armchair critics seek to blame the education minister, the school authorities, the teachers, the parents for allowing such trips to happen, ad nauseum. They refuse to see this as an accident over which we had little or no control.

To these trolls I say: Stop doing dumb things (inspired by this tweet).

To be clear, the dumb things are not the trips or expeditions. It takes a lot of planning, preparation, risk mitigation, and all round effort to ensure that these are meaningful events.

I am referring to critics who have other agendas and take potshots from the comfort of their armchairs or toilet seats. These trolls remind me of rocking chairs: Lots of motion but going nowhere.

If anything, the online aftermath is a perfect example of why teachers and parents need to model digital citizenship for kids (and hopefully soon, just citizenship because what is digital and analogue are not so clear anymore). And while we are at it, let us not use “cyberwellness” because that is an oxymoron.

The dumb and wrong thing to stop is playing the blame game. Nobody wins because there is no one really to blame. Instead we might learn from this tragic event just like the kiwis did from a canyoning accident in 2008.

We must learn from it. We owe at least that much to those who gave their lives.

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