Archive for September, 2011

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The first EdD class I attended on 3 September 2011 actually left me with more doubts than answers. The question as to why I had chosen EdD over PhD kept surfacing during the lesson. In a class where the majority of us have been in the education system for so long, it is easy to have the answers down pat during the group discussion. I appreciate a more questioning and radical approach to why things don’t work and crave for a more intellectual discourse on how to fix a global education model that is broken.  I suppose what I didn’t get that day through the group discussion, I got it through Bruce and the readings thereafter.

I like the few points that were raised earlier during the lecture – how debating about issues is part and parcel of the education process: we lose a little of ourselves in the argument in order to gain a new perspective of the issue, similar to Barnett’s (2011), take that we ‘unlearn’ in order to learn: our prior knowledge of how things are needs to be usurped before new knowledge can be added.  Barnett’s conundrum of learning is very much similar to my take in the university of life – it is a cyclical, never-ending process of learning, unlearning and re-learning in the formation of ‘being’.

According to one of my favourite poets, T.S. Eliot, life is one great adventure where  ‘we shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’  And if this is the kind of learning that should take place in the 21st century, then I must agree partially with Barnett that it will be unsettling for the students who are results driven and oriented. More importantly, it will be equally, if not more, unsettling for educators and proponents of outcomes-based learning! To that end, it will certainly be interesting to see how far Barnett’s learning conundrum will make inroads into today’s education system where complexity, confusion and convolution seem to be the  buzz words.

Along with Barnett, Su (2011) also proposes that the development of ‘being’, a Heideggerian concept formulated in the existential philosophy of ‘being with’, could be the answer to developing lifelong learning abilities in students.  Rather than just focusing on imparting knowledge as something to ‘have’ and emphasizing on passing assessments and exams as something to ‘do’ for the students, Su suggests supplementing the ‘have’ and ‘do’ modes of learning with the ‘being’ mode of learning.

One problem I envisage with this mode of learning is the segregation of being-in-the-world and being-in-school and the subsequent transfer of skills; in the former, learning is often ‘caught’ (e.g. good attitude rubs on to another) whilst in the latter, learning is ‘taught’.  How this can be achieved requires more than a learning evolution of the education system; it requires what Sir Ken Robinson calls a learning revolution, on the part of the students as well as the educators. As we teach our charges to brave the new world of super complexities by being in the ‘being’ mode, it is best that we, as educators share, show and set the example!

The Day We Die……

Posted: September 7, 2011 in Life

Not only is Death a difficult topic to grapple with, it’s also one of the rites of passage that we don’t celebrate well!

Babies weal to herald their triumphant entry into the world. Graduates throw their mortar boards into the air to celebrate their well-earned transition into the working world. Couples solemnise their vows to commit their faith and fidelity in the new union. Mothers cry with joy as they bundle their new babe with them into a new role of motherhood. Proud parents stand in solidarity with their child on his first day at school.

But the day we die oft renders us as silent observers, with no ‘voice’ to speak or celebrate how we want to bridge the threshold –  from this world to the vast unknown beyond. Hence, I personally believe that it’s not too morbid to start planning our final passage on earth….

I would want to celebrate death with songs of happiness that I’m crossing over to the Promised Land bubbling with milk and honey than with hymns of solemnity and sobriety. I would like to celebrate my death with tears welling more from joy than sadness, that I’m crossing over to another universe that doesn’t succuumb to the limitations of the human body, where physical pain and human suffering cease to exist. I would want to celebrate death with remembrances of happy times shared with family and friends than miniscule moments of ‘failing to get along’, whose paths I’ve crossed without which my life wouldn’t be any richer. I would love to celebrate my death by recounting the many alien acts of kindness that have touched me, the myriad representations of love and beauty found in unexpected places and people, than myopically focusing only on people I love and events I know and understand.

The day we die…..is an eventuality that none of us can escape from. And like the many rites of passage that have marked our lives, Death should also be accorded one last round of celebration as we cross the threshold from the finite to the infinite,  from the mysteries and beauty of life on Earth to another realm of more hidden mysteries, more beautiful gems of truths, waiting to be discovered!

– penned 060911: 0835 –

Written, in loving memory of a great friend, Yoke Mui, who has crossed over on 040911. In so many ways she has touched me but I know she would want me to remember her for her zest for living, especially for good food!!