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Posts Tagged ‘taxi

I do not travel by taxi very often, but when I do my trips often lead to interesting conversations.
 

 
On one such trip the cabbie heard a radio ad for another station that claimed to offer content for expatriates from countries like Japan, Germany, and Bangladesh.

Intrigued he switched stations straight away. He remarked how generous the station’s benefactor had to be to provide such a service. He also wondered how the station sustained itself. At a long traffic stop, he Googled for information about the station.

For the record the radio station was Expat Radio 96.3XFM and it was relaunched in 2008 after a ten-year hiatus.

For the rest of the short journey, we chatted about progressive efforts, the irrelevance of dead tree newspapers, and how his 90-year-old mother was NOT a model of lifelong learning. When he drove off, he was still listening to the Bangladeshi music that was playing at the time.
 

 
What were my takeaways from the ride?

In demand. As a consultant I meet many people with niche offerings. Not long ago, efforts like Expat Radio would seem crazy. Today they are as common as the niche eateries that dot our landscape.

Someone will always buy into your ideas. Outdated is one size fits all. In demand is custom fit.

On demand. The cabbie practiced what I call interstitial learning. It was on-demand, just-in-time, and just-for-him. It happened with the help of his mobile phone and someone to immediately bounce ideas off.

By demand. The taxi driver also flipped his learning by not just consuming content but also teaching me what he had just found out. I listened, gave feedback, and extended his sharing.

By being on demand and by demand, we covered more ground than we could have anticipated. The transitions were seamless and the topics highly engaging. All learning is like that. It is a pity that all teaching is not.

Anyway I hope the cabbie continues on his journey to be a lifelong learner. To do this, he should refrain from Googling while driving. You must have a life first to be a lifelong learner.

As I reflect today, I link a viral video of a road accident, a cockroach infestation in an apartment, and a forum letter about the public standard of English.
 

Video source
 
Late last week a local dashcam video went viral. It was of a female pedestrian being hit by a taxi while crossing the road even though the light was in her favour.

If you asked just five people what they thought, you would likely have got five different opinions. There are many comments at the original Facebook page.

Some people blame the pedestrian for not being more aware of her surroundings or say she should not have been looking at her phone while crossing. I agree that she could have been more careful, but that muddles the issue and dilutes the blame.

The issue is the carelessness of the driver; the blame is on the driver. The car approached from the left and rear of the woman. Even if she was not on the phone, she would have needed eyes on the sides of her head to have seen the car coming.

Complex situations rarely have clear answers. But if this was a court case, the law has clear standards. In this case, the standard was that the pedestrian had the right of way. As stupid as it is to not pay attention to the road while crossing it, it is not the time to focus on mobile walking.

Mobile walking is an issue and new standards must be negotiated to address it. But let us not muddle the issues or dilute the blame.

 

Video source
 
In more shocking and perhaps stomach-churning news, local papers were set alight to the news of an apartment infested with cockroaches due to the hoarding habit of an occupant.

The road accident happened in the blink of an eye, the infestation was, by one account, at least 16 years in the making.

In separate accounts, everyone except the couple staying at the “roach motel” claims to have tried to do something. These include the children of the couple (who moved out when they grew up); the neighbours (who have to deal with the problem on a daily basis and are stuck with the problem); and various authorities (who the rest look to but seem quite powerless).

Interestingly, it seemed to require a viral video of the infestation for authorities to take concerted action.

However you look at it, the overriding issue is public health and safety. That is the standard to consider first before neighborliness, being tolerant, or social intervention.

All that said, even with standards of public housing and soft social contracts in place, the infestation was allowed to happen. Everyone involved, even the poor neighbours, had some role in letting the infestation grow.

Let us not muddle the issue. The blame is shared.

In #edsg, there is a lively debate following this tweet.

A writer concerned with the standard of written and spoken English wrote this letter to the ST online forum [archive].

The plea is straightforward: Can something be done to arrest the slide in English as spoken and written here? The writer is not the first to bring this up and she will not be the last. This time round, the examples that were cited included public signs and the poor problem-definition of the viral Cheryl’s birthday math/logic problem.

The debate on #edsg is likely to confuse. Note that depending on how tweeps replied, some responses might not be captured in the thread.

The issues of language acquisition and evolution are complex to say the least. The issues are muddled and it is tempting to lay blame to single sources.

The blame is shared and we must be honest about the problem, accepting the blame, and collectively designing solutions.

The problem is very public. It is only viewed as a problem if there are standards and standard bearers. The writer was brave enough to stand up and be counted.

The problem is also one that developed over a long time, longer than the behaviours that caused the roach infestation. It is an insidious one: Not as immediate and shocking as the traffic accident, and even harder to detect than hoarding behind closed doors.

The problem could be more obvious. If it is not, a week of critically examining posters, brochures, or public notices will reveal the problem. Alternatively, a simple Google search of Cheryl’s birthday explanations and critical examination of those explanations will reveal how language is fused with logic. It will also show how those with a better command of the language are better at defining and solving the problem.

From a systemic perspective, it is important to peel away the symptoms (grammatically poor notices and bad explanations) and find the root problems.

While the home environment is a critical start for language acquisition and formation, it is not a pivot point that system managers can manipulate easily. However, they have greater control as to what happens in schools and para-education (tuition, libraries, museums, etc.). Kids spend much of their time in such environments and there are standards for instruction here.

As educators of a nation, teachers, private tutors, and para-educators might have to own up to feeling “uncool” to have and maintain standards of English. For example, teachers might say that if they speak proper English, they risk not connecting with their students.

Our educators must maintain standards of English. I do not mean this in a muddy-duddy way, but because it is the right thing to do. By “fuddy-duddy” I mean blindly or stubbornly following tradition. By “doing the right thing” I mean recognizing that language evolves but also realizing that clear communication must exist for the sake of transnational and transgenerational dialogue.

If we fail our kids, we let it happen, individually and collectively. There is no muddling of issues here: We are to blame.


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