Learning for Assessment vs for Life

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

While I was doing my RT2 assignments, I found an interesting education paper about holistic view of learning ((Willis D, 1993. Learning and Assessment: Exposing the Inconsistencies of Theory and Practice)). In this paper, 6 concepts of learning were explained:

  1. Learning to increase one’s knowledge.
  2. Learning as memorising and reproducing.
  3. Learning as applying.
  4. Learning as understanding.
  5. Learning as an interpretive process aimed at understanding reality.
  6. Learning as changing a person.

A relationship exists between a learner’s concept of learning and the learning approach they are likely to use. Students who perceive learning as #1 or #2 will tend to adopt a surface approach (where the motive of learning is to meet the requirements minimally, usually for a short-term target) and students who perceive learning as #3, #4, #5 will tend to do deep approach (where the motive of learning is intrinsic interest to discover meaning and acquiring competence).

Looking back through my education history – spending about 14 years in Indonesian education system and about 4 years Australian until now – most of the learning approach I have used is surface approach.

Indonesian education system was terrible. I actually did not remember learning something if not for the sake of tests and exams. Maybe it is the fact that I was in K-12 level (maybe university level in Indo is a lot better?), I don’t know. All I know was that if I wanted to be somewhat recognised as the top-students, I would have to be an all rounder, getting high marks in ridiculously 13 subjects ((Religion, Civics, Mathematics, Indonesian, English, Sociology, Economy, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer, Physical Education)). I remember my gleaming pride after a full two nighters memorising two Biology books for the final exam, in total the books were almost 3 cm and I could reproduce every single diagram in them. Can I draw one of the diagram now? No way.

Even on the assignment that I am doing in this current session, I cannot stress how reliant I am to a marking guideline. I need to make sure that what I am producing is inline to what the marker wants to see. The marks have spoken themselves to say how successful I am in doing so, but I wonder what is it that I am learning. Being in uni for about 3 years, doing approximately 8 subjects a year, I can count with my fingers how many subjects support deep learning approach. These subjects are excellent and useful, the knowledge I gain is for my life, but unfortunately they are so hard to find. There are not many of great lecturers to conduct subjects like those ((To name almost everyone at the time I was at university: Richard Buckland from Computer Science and Engineering, Bruce Gordon from Business Law and Dubravka Cecez-Kecmanovic from Information System.)).

To be called an effective teacher, one will have to be able to measure the knowledge gained by the students objectively. This is by default inconsistent with concept #6: learning as changing a person. It takes too much time and it is extremely complicated to measure changes in students’ life individually and then compare each of them to each other. Those changes may not be able to be measured then, and one can’t even put any time frame of when it can be measured because each student is different. Great teachers with students’ achieving low marks in knowledge reproducing activities may be seen as incompetent teachers where as in fact they have changed the students’ view in life through their teaching. Sad eh?

I will be interested to hear what you think about your own concepts of learning and also your view of the education systems you have gone through. Have you learned useful knowledge for your life through the system or was it all just about exams?

Boredom Unlimited

I have tried to write positive things on this blog, but let me make an exception for this one. I have been called a perpetual whinger for a while now, and that is always associated to one thing. My work at the Bank.

Doing an internship in an office for 6 months is a risky business because there are only so much thing you can do to secure your job satisfaction for the period you are there. To start off with, you seek guide from other students that have spent their time in that company. If their experiences have been great, then you will be more incline to that company. But don’t be too sure yet, especially if it is a big company, because the experience of someone in one lively group maybe quite different to experience of someone in a morbid one.

I think there are four things to look for:

  • Location. This is the easiest to pin down with little common sense. If it will take you 2 hours to get to the office then forget about it, travelling takes not just your time but also your energy. It’s true that you can read books on train/bus but if just being in any vehicle makes you dizzy and sick (like me), maybe it’s not such a great idea. Rule of thumb, get office that’s not too far from your house because your life is not just about work (and uni!), you need to make it practical for yourself to enjoy life parallel to your internship.
  • Perks. I like W3Schools‘ motto: The best things in life are free. Perks can range from free cokes to free interstate travel (or overseas I think, even though I’ve never known anyone in BIT who was that lucky). They are nice to have, but not essential to make you happy at work.
  • Work. This is the factor that will grab the most of your time being there. What kind of work you will be doing there? Each role gives you different type of work: some very technical roles require you to code as a developer, or as an IT architect; some very business role requires you to create documents such as requirements documents, process documents etc. The range is wide and it really depends on what you want to get out of you internship.
    • Do you want to experience what you have studied at uni?
    • Do you want to learn something completely new?
    • Do you want to be comfortable at what you can do already and pursue more in-depth experience?

    These are hard questions, do think about it before you contact anyone in the company. Being flexible about the type of work is great and highly necessary, but you will only be in internship for a short period of time, might as well use the most of it. If you do not know what you like, at least tell them what you do not like.

  • People. This is the most important factor in making your stay in the company enjoyable and delightful. Once you step into a company, you are their employee and they have control over you (at least your mon-fri, 9am-5pm). Most of my daily whinges (coming soon) are about one person I work with. Yes, just one person. Many people I know are very accomodating so they are fine with an intern picking what kind of work the intern wants. But it is usually a combination of factors that makes the situation a lot more complicated (read: office-politics) and makes it hard to get around the bureaucracy. Knowing good people makes the politics bearable and can turn into your advantage. When you ask other people about the company, ask about WHO is good in there, the type of work come seconds. Once you are stuck with a bad lot, it is hard to get out without any violence.

Now, my whinging (if you still bothered to read this far, sorry for this looong entry). I got the Bank as my first preference. I got in to the group I wanted to, but not the right team within the group. The sort of work I got is alright (bits and pieces of process documentation and some access db) but I feel it is not enough to make me excited. Plus there are not much deadlines to pump my adrenaline. Everyday it’s a drag to go to work, so at first I tried to do my uni work at work. That didn’t work out long because my guilt accumulated.

I have spoken to my manager many times about not having enough work but he did not seem to care. It has been 2 months now and things hasn’t changed much since first week. The peak of my annoyance was just recently. I talked to him (after so much of anxiety) and tried to explain to him in the most diplomatic way I possibly can and managed to make him promise to do something about it the next day – which was yesterday. But nothing happened.

sad and pouting

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not! by Kiyosaki

Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die ~ Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad

Published in 1997, this book is the legendary book that everyone has always talked about. After a lot of recommendation from everyone and an accidental finding of Willoughby Library in Mandarin Centre (I didn’t realise that they have moved from the old location!), I managed to get a hand on The Book – the original book, the one before all the Rich Dad series came out.

To start off with, it amazed me on how light it was. It was only 207 pages in total, reasonably big printed letters too. It took me only one night to finish it all, mainly because the language used in the book is extremely easy to read. I would recommend this book for anyone, but especially people around my age (20+) who are now at the start of their money adventure. Where should we put our money once we get our steady income? Is buying a property once you can afford it a financially smart way to go? What’s the most important skill that we can train ourselves? and most importantly: Is there a way for us not to work hard until our retirement age?

If you are looking for a book that will teach you how to the playing rules of stocks or property business, this is not a book for you. The book is inspirational, it only outlines main important lessons that you will need in order to get rich. What I love about the book is that its logic is so straightforward and direct and yet it is very powerful.

As the background story, Kiyosaki has two dads, the poor dad who is academically smart and the rich dad who is financially smart (this one is actually his friend’s dad, just in case you’re wondering how he can get two instead of one). Starting from 9 yrs old, he kept on comparing the behaviour and the way the two dads think because they are opposite to one another. The poor dad worked for money, and the rich dad let money worked for him.

As I read the book, there are some points that kept on repeated such as being financially literate: able to read and understand financial statements (allowing you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of any business). However, for me, these are the points that I found interesting (some of them are direct quotes from the book):

  • Most people fail to realize that in life, it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you keep. Doesn’t matter how high is your income, you will still go broke if your spending is even higher.
  • Most people only know one solution: work hard, save and borrow. You want to be the kind of person who creates your own luck. Few people realize that luck is created, just as money is.
  • We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk. The main reason most people are not rich is because they are terrified of losing. Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.
  • Harlan Sanders, KFC’s Colonel Sanders, was turned down 1,009 times before someone said “yes” and he went on to become a multimillionaire at an age when most people are quitting. He surely doesn’t get the idea of being rejected.
  • Invest in education instead of anything else. The education referred here is not education we get in school, it is more to financial education. Do not start to play with stocks unless you know the rules on how to play.

I think the best idea that he put out was it is okay to be attracted to money. The society has labeled people who does so as greedy and managed to suppress the desire to have money since we are little. It is that desire that can drive our “financial intelligent”.

There are choices that we all make daily, the choice of what we do with our time, our money and what we put in our heads. That is the power of choice. All of us have choices. He just choose to be rich, and he makes that choice every day. Wouldn’t you want to be rich? ((PS: This book has been recently been put as one of the 10 overrated business books by bnet. It said the book is overrated because “Own your own business, invest in real estate, don’t buy stock and useless crap, and drive a junker car. There, we just saved you $10”. I did not agree with this at all. It looks so obvious how to be rich, but we just don’t do it, that is the whole point the book trying to achieve. It goes further a lot more realistic than the statement written. Besides, as my point above, it is an inspirational book, not a how-to-do book.))

Bugs: #1425: Memory allocation error

When I was in high school, forgetting to bring my lunch was a daily event. Sometimes, I forgot my watch and on a rarer event, I would forget my mobile. I didn’t just leave those occuring incidents alone, I tried to make checklist so that I wouldn’t forget anything. It worked for a day or two, but then I realised that the adversary in my brain made me forget about the checklist and I forgot even more things…

At present, things happen more randomly but it seems that this week I have had a streak of memory losses. On Sunday, I forgot to bring my work’s papers and books. On Monday, I forgot that I have forgotten the papers and the books at my house. I thought I left it at Minie’s place. On Tuesday, I left my mighty electric toothbrush which forced me to use the traditional toothbrush again today, sad.

Today was even worse! I remember to bring everything except one important thing. I even checked my to-do list in my mobile to make sure I didn’t make the usual mistake. I brought my camera, my harddisk, my mobile, my work papers & books, my reading papers, my lip gloss, my eye liner, my moisturiser, etc etc. The list goes on, except one: my wallet. It struck me horribly when I was about to get the usual travel ten out in the bus.

Now I am surviving the day with Stef’s $20 (Stef was luckily with me). The wallet is not something that I need for today thankfully, but I am desperately trying to install more memory to my head. The question is: how? 🙁

Which nose trills are you?

It has come to my notice about how different some nose trills are. If you are Caucasian then you would probably be used to the elongated shape, and if you are Asian – Mongoloid race then it will be the circular type that you are used to.

I managed to get two comparison pictures in my lecture today:

nosea.jpg               noseb.jpg((Copyrighted to the rightful owners of the noses))

left – my nose, right – my lecture’s nose

Not such great quality pictures but they are enough to show the difference. Mind you that they are taken in two different angles that actually make my lecturer’s nose trills looked less elongated.

Ratatouille (read: Rat-a-too-ee)

First public holiday of the month (APEC Week Fri 07/09). I should have realised that watching a children’s movie on a daytime is not such a good idea. The place to buy the tickets was on a different level than the actual cinemas were, so minie and I were not aware of the length of the queue just to get in to Cinema #6. The line was filled with kids, each parent had at least 2 around their hands, some had even 4! The chain created almost a full circle outside the theater – made me think that I was joining the wrong train as it went over to Cinema #2’s area. Suffice to look through the people in front of me, their eyes were obviously fixed on the rat.

The movie was a bit more than 2 hrs long, a lot longer than other children type of movies. It was witty, funny, and also a seriously lame cartoon 😀 It has all the ingredients of what a kid’s movie should be like: simple-and-deep meaningful message, lively characters, and a full bag of laughs.

The story started with Remy, a human-acting rat. Remy refused to walk using four extremities just like other rats do, he likes to keep his paws clean so he wouldn’t eat any dirt with his food, and he has an extremely sensitive smelling capability for cooking materials. As rats usually only eat garbage, his talent was only recognised as a rat poison detector. His dad forced him to smell all garbage which all the rats in the clan brought into their nest. Boring job alright, he wasn’t happy. Remy liked to watch Gusteau’s cooking show on the TV. Gusteau was a great 5 stars rating chef who passed away because of desperation after a food critique brought his rating down to 4 stars. The ghost then become Remy’s toothfairy who was always there to give advice (this is the first lame aspect of the movie).

Remy’s adventure started when he met Gusteau’s son Linguini. The son and Remy shared a mutual symbiosis by cooking together. Linguini didn’t know anything about cooking and Remy couldn’t cook without a human help (any appearance of rats in the kitchen was a big taboo, definitely a no no for the health inspectors). The rest of the story then followed on just like what you would expect in a children’s movie.

This movie reminded me of cooking animes such as Cooking Master Boy and Yakitate Japan. The sole lameness appear in its pure sense whenever there was a scene of people tasting the food. Once the food was bitten, the stars came into the room, the people were transferred through another world all together, unaware of their surroundings and started to act crazy. They began to change their act and their perspective in life as the food showed its power. It is that type of lame but I should stress that it is extremely enjoyable, I was laughing my arse off many times during the show, minie was screaming ‘help help help’ all the time after every hit of lameness.

If I can rate it on my wartyscale, I’ll rate it 8.5/10. It was that good and I really think everyone who is reading this blog should watch it. You don’t really need to go to the movie because it is not really an action movie, but it is a lot better than Chicken Little or even Happy Feet. The movie gets 96% in rottentomatoes.

APEC Week

A week of blessings for me. For others, especially those who have to travel pass the city, this week will be a peril. 21 world leaders come to Sydney to have a VERY BIG meeting. The results: so much chaos, so much publicity and so much fuss for nothing. It is amazing to hear how Bush was sorry about the disruption he caused and yet still decided to go mountain biking in St. Ives to even create more traffic jams. I mean, going on the limo with 20+ motorcade just for a 150m walk from Intercontinental Hotel to Australian leader’s Sydney office is an overkill alright. Seems like he knows his time is going to be up very soon, might as well produce more hatred towards him as much as he can.

I took this pic on Tue night in the city. Can you see the banana skin on top of the bin? It just shows how much plastic bags went to waste (pollution…) just for the big huu-haa 🙁

apecbinsmall.jpg

no holes on the bin

Going back to my blessing week, I am “working” from home 🙂 I did intend to work from home from Mon to Thu (Fri is a public holiday), but there were so many distraction and work stuff wasn’t as interesting as other things that I could do from home. I did manage to get something out for my manager, but not much. Other things that I do? Read papers for my assignment, which were quite interesting albeit they still put me to sleep after 20 mins of encounters. Set up my wiki, my flickr account, tidied up my blog (more plugins!), and read books – good books.

To say the least, I feel like I have managed to catch up with my uni work and that means a lot of stress taken out from me. I usually have that ongoing worry about things that I haven’t done as I’m afraid of getting bitten by them, but then I still didn’t end up doing anything either. Procrastination rules! 😛

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

Fantasy book.. I thought I’d try another one just to see what this one is like. I have never fancy fantasy, the story usually gone beyond my head wooosh and I won’t be able to follow. In the past, I stop touching fantasy books, be it The Hobbit or LOTR. Narnia wasn’t bad in the movie though, so maybe I will leave fantasy for the big screen only.

But I managed to get my hands on His Dark Materials trilogy. The three parts are The Golden Compass (or sometime it is called The Northern Light), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. pyko has been recommending it for a while and as my usual copycat movement for anything that pyko does, I started reading it.

His Dark Materials doesn’t seem to be a children book to me. Just like how Harry Potter doesn’t really go too well for very young children in book 3 onwards (after Dementors start to show themselves), His Dark Materials have complicated background stories about institutions, especially churches around the worlds (ours and other parallel worlds). It peels into detail how each of the boards feed each other in order to survive, including doing inconceivable things and hiding it at the same time. As I was reading it, it was obvious to me that Phillip Pullman is not very religious. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, so I will keep it simple and sticking to my general feeling about each book only:

  • The Golden Compass: GREAT book, I’d say the trilogy will be better if it ends here. The adventure is on and hot, I couldn’t stop reading it until the very last page of the book. The creation of the ‘other’ world is very detail, full with enchanting, rich fantasy and interesting concepts of soul: according to the book, every human has a daemon. In some other worlds, the daemons are solid and visible. They can talk, be touched, get hurt, etc. In ours, they aren’t but nonetheless it is still there and when you die, your daemon vanished. I fully recommend anyone who hasn’t read it to do so, even if you don’t favour fantasy like me.
  • The Subtle Knife: I wouldn’t call it a book 🙁 To me, this one is simply a bridge between the first and the third book. It’s like ‘Oh we know what’ll be the content of two books, everything that are not very interesting, we’ll just chuck it in the middle’. The second one kills of the excitement brought up by the Golden Compass. Even until the end, the excitement level didn’t go as far (in fact, FAR from it) as the first one. I didn’t even realise that it was the ending when I read the end! Thankfully I got the trilogy series, so I was able to start the third one right after my confusion of this book ending. I won’t go through why it is not interesting since I don’t want to spoil the whole story.
  • The Amber Spyglass: hell lot better than the previous, but still no comparison to the Golden Compass. What is missing from this one is the causality of the situation. All the story that leads up to this point, seems to be caused by an event happened 300 yrs ago. But what is it? I totally scratched my head when I finished the book (if you know what event caused the whole situation to arise, please tell me if I missed it, I am still hoping that that is the case). Either way, I know it is fantasy so maybe it is my incorrect view to seek for explanation of the background reason.

 

kidmancompass.jpg

Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass

If you want to read more about it, there is a good review on it but beware of spoilers. The movie is coming up for the first part of the book (The Golden Compass). Go and watch it in the movie as it will be very GOOD! (Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter ((picture from http://www.randomhouse.com/images/dyn/cover/?source=9780375847226&height=300&maxwidth=170)) ) 😀

every atom of you and every atom of me ~ Lyra Silvertongue

Father’s Day

Today is father’s day, of Australia that is. Apparently the date for father’s day varies from country to country. The most celebrated date is third Sunday in June. That’s for US, UK, Singapore, India, Malaysia (I assume Indo too), Japan, etc ((from Wikipedia)). The Thais celebrate it on Dec 05. I guess depending on what nationality you are, you’ll celebrate it on whatever day your country does it.

For us, we had a nice seafood lunch, my aunt cook a LOT of seafood, chilli / tomato crab (she wanted to make it a pure chilli crab but then steffie and uncle wazza wouldn’t be able to eat it 🙁 ). Muscle and avocado salad were also there, including risotto with eggs (yummy half boiled eggs that is). This is one of the pic I took today, looks delicious eh? 😛

fathersdaycrab.jpg

nice crab

After that big lunch, we had prawns (more seafood!) for dinner, it was a seafoody father’s day indeed…