Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Percy Jackson Series ... by Rick Riordan

I did 4 books in 3 days. Picked up the book cos my girl had been asking me when I was going to read them. Ancient Greek mythology given a modern twist. Enters Percy Jacksom, I supposed in the 21st century. Olympus has now moved to New York. The Greek go where the western world goes. Greek gods are western.... ang mohs. Lol!

Percy has his sidekicks too, of course. Stories with heroes will never be complete without their sidekicks. They change a little with every book but the main ones remain Annabeth and Glover. They travel in style too, with the help of magic... the three sisters with one eye.

I refreshed a lot of my rusty knowledgw about the ancient Greek Gods. Am reminded of words like Titan, Kronos... a nudge that etymology of words can actually be very fun. The Big Three... Zeus, Poseidon and Hades versus Kronos, the Titan.

And so as the wars are waged between the supposedly good and evil, I was transported into a fantasy world where Percy Jackson, a half-blood inherits his father's power in the water. No story is complete without greed for power, treachery and a little love. A story which reflects life .... well, I guess that will always be the selling point.

I read in between weeding. I read while waiting for people. I read before I went to sleep..... when I woke up. I read during toilet breaks, and while waiting at the supermarket.... The smartphone made it very easy to start, continue and resume. It's with me most of the time....

At the end of every book, Percy emerges triumphant. However, triumph was never total... can't win all. Life doesn't work that way in real life too. I did not finish books 5 and 6 yet. Might or might not complete them... Will see.

It was fun reading the books. A little magic always makes reading fun. We are all in a quest for that little magic in our lives too. If one wants to learn about the Greek gods, this series is a sure winner. It's fun. It's gripping....

Ah... I did read some books after all, this year. 8)

 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sabai Dee Cafe

Sabai Dee Cafe... Of late there have been a mushrooming of eating places. This is one of the newer places and it is hidden from plain sight. It is located along one of the bund roads in the middle of the party fields in Jitra. Easiest way to get there... Get off the North-South Expressway at Darulaman Exit. Turn right and go a short distance. Make sure to watch out for a small road on your right, soon after you drive down the flyover. Turn into that road and the cafe is around a kilometre down the narrow dirt road. Bear in mind that the road leading to the cafe is a very tight squeeze for two cars.
We were not sure of going as it had been raining. However the sky cleared up somewhat and we decided to give it a go. It was a 2 kids and 3 adults affair. However, the sky darkened soon after we arrived and it started pouring.
This was just before the 'cats and dog's decided to make their entrance! Ambience is nice...setting is idyllic. It's a quaint little place! After the waiter took our orders we had a little time to snap these...
All around, little pockets of dining places were created for diners. They're quiet and peaceful. But I'm quite sure the mozzies will be hovering around, little vampires waiting to fill up. I like the plants though. They really make the place very beautiful.
We had no chance to sit outside as the evening was totally washed out by the torrential rain which came. The cafe operators had put up bamboo blinds for an eventuality like this but we still had to bear with rain splattering into the dining area. And that sort of tropical rain made many tables unusable....
We didn't order any of the traditional spicy Thai food because of the kids. So, no tomyam for us. Instead we had the waiter's recommendations. They were okay. Portions were generous enough.
We left by 7.30 pm but the sky was quite dark by then. It was still raining when we left. And oh yes... The narrow road was rather dark. I guess it is okay to say that an occasional worry about the canal running beside the road did cross our minds too as we made our way out.

Overall, I think this is a nice place to have dinner... For the food, ambience and experience.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gulai Tujuh Kawah

Passed by this place many times over the years. Was always taken up by the name plus the restaurant looks inviting. Kawah in the Malay Language means crater. A wok is like a crater. So Gulai Tujuh Kawah means Seven Big Woks of curries. This restaurant is situated along the road to Gunung...the same road where you will find Pantai Johor. But there is no beach anywhere nearby. Nor is there a gunung unless you count this solitary limestone crop.... Of course in the olden days, this crop must have looked really high...
That's Gunung.. You'll find the Science Centre, Paddy Museum and the Aquatic Centre all in the viccinity. It is also quite a scenic place, green and golden paddy fields, depending on the time of the year. And not forgetting occasional floodings which turn the whole area into a sea of sorts.
Think this is why the restaurant is called Gulai Tujuh Kawah... Seven 'craters' of soups and gulai, including 'kari itik'. You will be spoilt for choice. Thought this was quite quaint. If one is looking for good and nice traditional Malay food, I think this place deserves a second look.... well, maybe even third. You get all kinds of food here; ulam, ikan bendang, all kinds of grilled stuff (meat and veg) and even pulut. I tried the mango pulut taken with santan, simply rich. During the durian season, you get (yup) durians with the glutinuous rice, sinfully rich with santan.
The place was quite empty when we arrived but packed when we finished our meal. Noticed too that the owner had put in this windows of light in the attap roof. I think it's a cool idea. Not only does it save electricity cost but it provides a nice ambience.

It was a Wednesday when I went and there was the 'kenduri bubur' which was green bean soup. I tried a bowl of that too and it was nice. It had enough of everything and the corn added to it gave it a nice taste. It is quite a nice feeling to experience the genorisity of a restaurant which seem to put in the same effort into food that they serve as kenduri. This one gets a big thumbs up from me. I also had an interesting conversation with the proprietor who was nice and affable. We talked about how the quest of knowledge should cross different cultures and also education.
I like Malay food, especially the kampung cooking. Here, the food is not bad. I like the kambing bakar which is cooked in the tandoor oven. I have been there twice and will probably go back there again. The price is reasonable, the decor has a rustic feel which is quite nice. The place is also cool. Definitely one of the makan places to consider if you don't mind the drive since the place is quite out of the way from town.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Volleyball 2014

I supposed volleyball is a game which can be considered a game I picked up seriously in adulthood. I have always enjoyed games. Over the years, I actually became quite good in the game. Being a badminton player and also endowed with good arm strength gave me an advantage of powerful serves. It used to be the only thing I could contribute to the team. I would go in for the service and be promptly replaced after that. But even then, service was more of brute strength without the finesse of control.

But over the years too, due to the encouragement and support of friends I improved. My friends put up with my very basic skills and tolerated the mistakes I made in the game. Not wanting to disappoint them, I bought a ball and dug against the wall. And there was one year when guidance from a young friend honed my digging skills. I continued to improve.

The teachers have their own sporting event and that became my bench mark. I took part as and when I could. There were some years when we participated and other years when we would just not. One thing though, coming together was always nice. Over the years too, I learned many lessons of life from there. Some of us have been playing together for a long time. Friendships grew.

I think it is probable that many find it hard to imagine why a bunch of ladies, ranging from 24 to 50 plus; in this age where we seem to do everything we can to keep our skin blemish free, go under the hot 3.30 afternoon sun, disregarding the tan which will definitely occur to play an outdoor game of volleyball. The same group too would brave the evening thunderstorm and resume play after the rain had stopped. Or dealing with the bruises, cuts and muscular pains during and after the game. Many of our spouses just cannot understand why we 'torture' ourselves too.

Yet for the many of us who are reaching our 50s, we have been pleasantly surprised by what we still find ourselves able to do. And that is why I believe sports is good. It builds resilience. It teaches a thing or two about life. It enables us to allow the kid in us to come out and play. In a game like volleyball, it is about being a team player too. No one player should be jaded. We cover and bear each other's mistakes. We encourage and pick each other up. We play the roles assigned to our best ability. And learn to grit our teeth and plod on when the going gets tough.... together. And we learn to take the mistakes one member makes as a team.

I think many of us, as we grow older, we tend to have a mindset how we should 'behave', that we should behave our age.... We should not. Mindsets should not be static. Retesting old limits, setting new ones and testing them... All these are good for us, regardless of our age. It keeps us young in the mind and heart. It teaches us a thing or two about being flexible and malleable. It is actually lifelong learning at its best.

One week being out of school has its merits too. I think schools should encourage teachers to continue to be involved in 'co-curricular' activities too. It makes us better teachers cos staying just within the walls of a classroom sometimes is sterile too. Academic prowess is mainly theory with no practice. It puts ideas into our heads with no practice. And sometimes it makes us behave as though as we know everything. We don't.

I am glad I still can play. I am playing my best volleyball. I am learning new skills which I never imagined possible. My friend says the same too. Ageing is no excuse for not learning.... There will no doubt be physical limitations which only the young can break but there are always new things for each of us too.

We won but the highlights of this season... I met up with a young lady I used to carry when she was a toddler. Her mother was one of the people who watched out for me as a rookie teacher. She is my equal now. Leya, as she is fondly known to us.... Without volleyball, it would not have been possible to reconnect. Another highlight... I can still pack power in my serve. I served a couple of aces which made a difference to the outcome. Plus, I can finally feel the game. My team mates no longer need to cover my mistakes. I can hold my own.... and cover my team mates too. But the best of it all remain this... the people I met. The stories and struggles that some have gone through, of grit and resilience, they remain the most priceless.

 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Google Drive vs Apps from Apple in the Classroom

This is probably long overdue, two months overdue, as I have been meaning to blog about my experience of using Google Drive as a teaching tool... mainly for writing.

I have tried using Google Drive in all my language classes, mainly for writing purposes. I went in without anyone to guide me and it has been a journey of sorts for me.

Week 1. In my first attempt I merely asked my students to share their files with me, meaning they were owners of their documents and I was given the right to edit their documents. But it soon became clear to me that it was no way to do things as it was very difficult to keep track of all the essays which were coming in. I blogged about my first week's experience here...

Week 2... in my reading, I came across an add-on, Doctopus which was actually a script written as an add-on for Google Sheet (Google's twin to Microsoft's Excel). What Doctopus does is it enables the students to work on their assignments on my drive. This means I am the owner of their assignments until a time when I relinquish ownership into their respective Drives. Doctopus is rather like an automated assignment mailer. Everyone gets the same assignment and I can embargo the whole class's assignments for grading. Embargo is like locking their files so that no editing can be done by the students. This is great for me to set deadlines.

What I like about Google Sheet with Doctopus as an add-on is Goobric. Goobric is an Chrome Extension which adds rubric functionality to Doctopus. It is a great tool because it enables the rubric to appear as you grade the essay. I have taken a new interest in rubrics lately because of that too. You can type the marks on each section of the rubric. And with a little work added to Sheet like formulas to calculate the total and grading it, it gives a very good feedback to students (once they understand how it helps them) and me as a teacher. My only grouse is the waiting time for the rubric to appear as if you click other tabs, the rubric will disappear. That wastes quite a bit of time for me.

If I continue using Google Drive as part of my teaching tools, I will definitely be looking into making class work (essays) as part of the overall grades. There are other add-ons like autoCrat and Flubaroo which I have tried on my own but not with the class yet because I am also trying out other apps.

Now the snags... For this to work, the teacher has to be rather competent on the computer. A good understanding of how the filing system works is very important. I think for many teachers at the moment, this issue alone would probably be deterrent enough. The next thing is typing skills. Speed typing not just helps but makes a world of difference. If you are one of those two-finger typists, it is going to an uphill task to clear 40 essays on Drive.....

....which brings me to the note taking apps on the iPad. As you can see from the picture, I have quite a few of those apps. My current favourites are Notability and Inkflow. The latest addition is Notes Plus which I just bought because they had a one day sale which knocked off 90% of the price. I could't resist it and I have just spend the whole weekend trying it out.

And of course, my girl as usual became my first 'student'. The fact that the iPad is based on finger gestures is alone to make it 'superior' over Google Sheet/Doc, I feel. Hand gesture means most people should be able to use it minus the requirements like the ability to type fast or of having a good understanding of how the filing system in a drive should be organised or even the inner workings of all these mumbo-jumbo techie terms. The add-ons require more understanding too as locating certain files can be quite a challenge.

Notes Plus... I am very pleased with this app. It is a note taking app. And it does precisely that. With either your finger or stylus, you can type, write, doodle, draw... basically, you can do just about anything you can do with a paper/pencil and a pen and more. And you can keep all your work in neat little digital notebooks which you can carry with you or store them in the Cloud. Notes Plus has a built-in browser, which means you can directly capture or import PDF files into your notebooks. It also is capable of this little neat trick of transforming your handwriting into typewritten words. This is a good feature to make your work searchable. And you can always print your work of art out too if you feel the need to touch paper or hear the scratching, scribbling, swishing or rustling paper sounds.

These apps also serve as a teaching board... much better than the traditional boards. You can draw, annotate, highlight and switch among materials with great ease. And for me who run a class with two projectors, I am beginning to learn that the possibilities are actually quite endless.

The only thing I wish for now if I can have something like Doctopus/Goobric functionalities with these note taking apps. Because somehow I feel, Google Drive is still basically doing things the old way with a new twist... We are still stuck in that MSOffice way of doing work. It's an efficient way of doing things but feels a bit sterile very often.

On the iPad, the experience is dynamic. You can be more creative. You can see more colours, curvy lines... stuff which don't make your work feels like a mechanical piece. There is order but there is chaos too, which I think can be a good thing in a learning process. Cos your work has this machine feel yet at the same time, the human touch.

Gesture as opposed to the keyboard. We have the Android tablets too now... and they are catching up with the iPad... but for now, though I like what I can do with Google Doc/Sheet, I still feel apps developed for iPad (or Android based tablets) are more versatile, dynamic which allows creativity to flow more.

And how I wish our classrooms can be equipped with iPads. That will be a beginning to a paperless school.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In The Name of Progress

The water pressure to my house was so low that water cannot go up to the tank upstairs during the day and the it comes out in a trickle from the garden tap at any given time of the day. The problem started about 4 years back, if memory serves me right... I wrote about it here. Back then we refused to install a pump because we felt it was not right.... And those old pipes... their diameter becomes smaller over time. Ours is more than 10 years old and the quality of water which we have been getting of late has deteriorated even more. These days, my garden water container always have sediments at the bottom. I supposed that too contribute to the pipe getting smaller.... faster. My own home's pipes only was change after 30 years!

Well, we have had to do a rethink. A couple of days back,  the water treatment plant in Bukit Pinang experienced a breakdown. After one particular heavy use on Monday, my house ran out of water. It was after I called the Helpline the next day that I realised water had not been going up for a while due to the problem at the water treatment plant. SADA has a website. While they do put up water disruption notices there, how many people make it a point to check SADA websites everyday... Schools, town halls, kopitiams... I think they have to be more resourceful in getting information to the consumers.

Anyway, after that 'dry spell', we decided it was enough and time to fix a pump to draw from the mains like everyone else. Much to my chagrin, water was still not coming in after that. Bear in mind that 4 years ago, SADA officials came to my house after I complained about low pressure. They told us to fix a pump. They didn't send anyone to check the pipe from the mains to our house this time around. This time around, toilets without water.... I finally caved in and fixed the pump.

After the pump was fixed, the problem persisted. This time around, due to my insistence and repeated calls, somebody from SADA called up. And this was what I was told... that I had to get a licensed plumber to lay a new pipe from the main to my house. And I have to pay for the laying of the new pipe. The plumber we called has yet to come. I think including online complaints, I made a total of probably 5-6 complaints over a period of 5 days, thereabout. 

This morning when I called their Helpline again, I was told that they deal with 60-70 complaints a day. And that they could not be sure when they will look into my complaints. I think back in those old days when JKR was in charge, the response time was way faster. So much for privatisation. Can't say we have better service. Can't say I am getting better advice too. 

As for licensed plumber.... I think most people don't even know where to find one. There is no online list on SADA's website. I think most of us just have to depend on the SADA people to recommend or point us to someone. There is always room for abuse when not everything is efficient or transparent.

Water is a basic necessity. And we have privatised that. Question is, when the water company does not deliver the service that is expected, who do we bring the matter to? Privatisation is supposed to mean better everything. But it feels like we are paying more .... for less?? Water metres get stolen and the onus is on the owners to pay for the replacements... for something not totally their fault. Metal water metres are an attraction as they fetch some value.

Progress ... it's subject to interpretation like everything else. In my line of work, better sets of results equals to progress. Winning more competitions means progress too... Owning a big car, living in an even bigger house... we call it progress. Progress is when we have things to show... the more, the more progress.

Progress for water delivery?? Well, I guess inside, outside... we have to pay to ensure delivery. That is the price for progress. We need to pay more for everything...

That water crisis cost me more than just $$$. The eventual cleanup that I had to do after the 'renovation' caused my old injury to revisit with a small vengeance. Sigh.... 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Brief History ...by Stephen Hawking

This was a short read.  All the hype about the Ice Bucket Challenge reminded me of Stephen Hawking. FaceBook was full of articles about ALS and of course its most famous victim, Stephen Hawking. And who wouldn't know him.

I had read about Stephen Hawking as young girl, in a Reader's Digest article about 3 decades ago. I learned it was called Lou Gehrig's Disease. That name got stuck in my head somehow over the years and I always remembered. I remembered too flipping through my Encyclopaedia Britannica to read more about Lou Gehrig and that info about him being a famous baseball player got etched into my mind too.

And that struck me as funny cos I have discovered that many of my students don't seem to share that sort of penchant or interest to learn something which sometimes may not seem related to our lives at that moment.

Anyway, coming back to the book. The first part was easy enough to read as it mainly detailed Hawking's early life. There wasn't much difference from the biography that I had read about Hawking. The last chapter however, took a little more effort as he went into the discussion about the black hole and the cosmos. But the brevity of his narrative made the reading a very pleasurable activity.

I started reading the book at around 10 p.m. and got up at 4.00 ++ a.m. the next morning to continue reading. I finished before 6 and got ready to go to work.

It's been a while since I read any books. Most of my reading these days are mainly articles and magazines. It is quite nice to 'hold' a book and read one for a change.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two Years On... Still On CPT

Two years ago, I wrote about having to sit for the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT). And the results were finally released to the teachers. I happened to walk into the Staff Room a couple of days ago and my KP congratulated me and passed me a set of forms to be filled in. Apparently there was a one off incentive given to the teachers who passed the CPT with a C1 or C2. I had no inkling of what she was talking about as I had forgotten about the exam. I wasn't even sure whether I sat for it.

Anyway, a colleague sent me the website to check my status, which I did. And my name appeared. It is strange that we needed 2 years to process a set of results. And during those 2 years, many teachers had already been asked to attend the APTIS course which is kinda like a remedial... they have a nicer sounding term. They call it upskilling.

The MOE took away our Critical Allowance last year. The PPSMI was supposed to continue till 2018... (I might have the year wrong) and the Critical Allowance was supposed to be till then. But I supposed, with most schools teaching Maths and Science in BM, it was only logical that the allowance be taken away. One of the reasons for the failure of PPSMI I still believe is the lack of teachers skilled enough in English... If a teacher cannot convey a lesson across effectively due to the lack of language, that is already problem enough.

If the CPT results are anything to go by, they point too, to (in)competency problems among the English teachers. Results were dismal, I read. And where I am, I think it's a real problem too. Grades for CPT are C2 (Mastery; 90-100), C1 (Effective Proficiency; 75-89), B2 (Vantage; 60-74),  B1 (Threshold; 40-59), A2 (Waystage, 20-39), A1 (Breakthrough; 10-19) and Pre A1 (0-9).

From among those I know, there were some C1(s) and fewer C2(s). And from the C2 group, many of them had retired. We keep saying that our education system is world class... if it is so, then there should be a big group of C2(s) and even bigger group of C1(s). Yet it is heavily skewed towards the B(s) and A(s). But like the proverbial frog under the coconut shell who has only a narrow view of one spot of blue sky, we believe that all is well.

This Merdeka Day... while many adverts keep heaping praises on our diversity, yet when you go out onto the streets... the Merdeka spirit seems kinda lacking. Fewer flags seem to be flown, the air of Merdeka-ness just doesn't seem to be in the air... It feels kinda dampened. I think many are weighed down by many things... being squeezed by rising costs, GST looms ahead... But I think too, it is hard to build a Malaysian race when so many policies around us still divide us by ethnicity. What has that to do with the CPT results? Well... the CPT result is an indication too at a nation blinding itself to our skewed values which has brought us where we are.

Well, maybe that's just me feeling it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Take Time To Smell The Roses...

Growing up in an idyllic surrounding, with time in hand for so many mundane things... climbing trees, cycling through the rubber estates and stopping to collect the rubber seeds sometimes, going to the beach, sometimes on many consecutive weekends, hiking, playing games.. we seemed to have our hands filled with activities...

Most of the time, we were game enough to try any thing. We built, took things apart, made our own toys, played seasonal games... kite flying, marbles, gasing... We still had time to smell the roses...

Many kids I see do very little of those activities.... Maybe there are other pressing needs now, tuition, music and art lessons. Busy lives we lead now. The young seems to be as busy as the adults. Busy topping up knowledge..... certs. We are all on the superhighways now, zooming at prescribed speeds trying to get to our destinations ASAP. Gone are the winding roads hugging the hillside and snaking through the countryside. The terrain used to dictate how the roads traverse the country. These days, the roads bulldozed through everything.....even mountains.

Many of us seems to be in a constant rush.... I think many of us don't have time for small talk. Or time to ask each other about the mundane.. When we have no time for that, I think we don't take much interest in each other's lives too. There are more who want to talk and less who are willing to listen... We seem to thrive on the sensational or events that will elicit oohs and aahs. I don't know whether it's just social reengineering or we are more prone to the continuous effort of creating an image.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram... They have changed the way we create image too apart from the interacting part. The Ice Bucket Challenge for example. It succeeded in collecting close to USD16 million compared to just USD 2 million the previous year. ALS is a debilitating disease. But once this hype dies, ALS will be forgotten again. If it was donation sought, even a million for many of the celebrities is just small change.

Then the honours accorded to those who died in the MH17 tragedy... even the King was there! There are many who die senseless deaths in the country every day. And there were many too who gave their lives for the country who did not get the same honour. It's rather peculiar the way we operate.. we seem to have this need to show that we care or grief in a way that lets the whole world know that we are feeling that. Or maybe it's just to satisfy this need which is innate in every one of us.. the need to show. Maybe it's just we have no time..... and we need such outlets.

A 'one-off' grieving moment... or a moment to show we care. I don't know. Over the years I have learned that it takes time to build a character. It needs time to show we care. It requires effort to know. And we don't have that sort of time. No time to even smell the roses. Maybe the social structure has changed. Maybe this is the reengineering of the way we should operate as a society of the new millennium.

But perhaps in all these.. it might do us well to take time and smell the roses again. Sit down face to face, over a cuppa and sembang-sembang...


Friday, August 22, 2014

A Chinese Concert

This is a first for me, two Fridays ago. I actually attended a Chinese concert.... I guess it qualifies for a 'pop' concert. Well it was a concert by a group of singers in the 50s reminiscings the 80s and 90s. And to think, when I was my kid's age, I was looking into the 60s and 70s.... my parents' era. Another generation, the same cycle...

The venue was Keat Private Hall. Place was quite comfy enough but the chairs were hard. I think my butt feels kinda 'flattened'. And it was a little tiring.. like many 'Chinese events' this didn't start on time and as a result it ended quite late. We left before it ended.

The hall was quite filled. If my smattering Mandarin is anything to go by, I think they managed to collect a tidy sum from the school, which is not bad considering there was just another concert at the same place just 7 days ago. It was also another fund raising concert.

I could understand half of what was going on. The other other... I depended on my own deductions and translation from my two friends. It was a night of three mothers and six children.

Many of the songs were unfamiliar to me... not surprising since it in a language not very familiar to me. The songs came from the late 80s and beyond. Back in those days, the singers were still young. Most of them have passed the half century mark I think.

Some songs were nice. Mostly were slow numbers. The few which were fast and loud were too loud for my liking. The music was too loud for my comfort. But I could see too some of the oldies in the hall enjoying the show. How not to, when a piece of your childhood comes alive for that brief moment.

Totally another first.

And oh yes.. today the remains of the MH17 were finally brought home. There is so much fanfare... Sometimes I wonder whether we were caught up by the precedence in the Netherlands earlier cos not even our fallen soldiers receive such honour.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Using Google Doc In Class

It is when we get down to things that we learn what works or not and the problems that we'll encounter. Trying out Google Docs in class was an experience which was overall quite positive. With 40 over students in my biggest class, the challenge was there alright. 

Little details like making sure students don't stray and that they stay focused were my main initial concerns. But that proved to be the least of my challenges. I started my very first lesson by putting onto the screen a step-by-step instruction. With the exception very few students, getting Google doc started was not a problem. The few problems were due to my assumption that everyone would have a Gmail. Turned out, quite a few did not use Gmail. But that was mostly sorted out by the 2nd or 3rd lessons. 

What I like about Google Doc is the immediate collaboration that I could do with my students as they worked on their writing. I think I have never been able to 'communicate' with this many students in one lesson when writing is involved. It has always been a challenge to navigate a packed class and bending down to their tables to try to read and comment on their work. With Google Doc, I literally breezed in and out of the students' writings. And to make everyone more aware of each other's work, I projected the collaborations on the projector screen. The effect was quite amazing. 

Instant remarks meant I was highly involved in each student's effort. I could amend, comment, correct, provide suggestions and even leave short notes to individual students as they worked on their writing. This increases the students' abilities to respond just as quickly too. It's been two weeks and I have already seen increased involvement and interest in quite a number of my students who before this seemed more detached. I think my being able to get back to them fast has something to do with it. Somehow, I feel Google Doc makes the connection between teacher and student more real... something akin to a more personal instruction. And I think this makes process writing a walk in the park...

It is only my second week, but I feel the students seem more engaged and interested. Maybe it is the novelty of this being new. But maybe too, being able to collaborate this way makes all the difference.

On my part, one of the first things I realised on the first day was the need to have a proper nomenclature and structure for the filing system. Being digital means you can't hold them in your hands and I think many of us old timers might miss that familiarity. By the second week, I was receiving up to 200 emails a day from my students. I had to work things out myself so that each student's work could be filed up and recalled. I have a rudimentary system in place now. It'll get refined as I go along, I am sure. 

I think trying to carry this out might be quite daunting to many teachers at the moment due to the lack of competency and familiarity with the computers/tablets/apps/softwares. I have discovered that; efficiency, speed and a clear understanding of how Google Docs, proper structures in digital filing, feeling at home with technology and even good typing skills, all play a role in easing us into this classroom of the future. 

On another lighter note, I am now receiving emails at home from students telling me that they have done their corrections and asking whether I have any more work for them. One of the other thing I learned is this. I think many of our students are not used to the computer as a learning tool. For many, it is more for pleasure than learning. Many are still not aware that tablets are slowly changing the way we learn and we need to know how to use it to that end.

I like the idea of not having to sit at the table and mark my exercise books. I like the fact that I can now check on my students' work in between this and that... I call it stealing time. Being able to put essays 'in the cloud' means I am able to access it anytime and if you can manage it well, it means utilising your time to the maximum.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Teaching Writing With Google Docs

I started nibbling on the Drive after I ran out of space in my Dropbox. Up till then, I figured I had no need for the Drive. But at the end of last year, I attended a course on the Chrome books. There I met a guy who used to work for Google and I struck up a conversation with him. He made me realise that Google Docs had its uses too. I went back that day and immediately tried out the flubaroo scripts and Google Forms.

Was quite amazed with what I could do with it. I experimented with it for a couple of days, created a few forms and sets of questions. Unfortunately, I had no place to try it out. And so, the whole thing just sort of faded into the background.

That was till middle of this year when I cleared up an unused computer lab, which is where I carry out all my classes now. About 2 weeks ago, despite it being exam season, I embarked on another journey of discovery. I tried out Google Docs in class... to teach writing. It is now possible to do what I had learned the year before because I had at my disposal 41 units of chrome books.

And so I started with my classes. But before that I brought my gal and my friend's kids to the lab for a trial run. It was pretty amazing... the result. I felt I could make it work.

However, getting students to listen when the chrome book screen is staring at them is no mean feat. Our young has a fascination with the computer screen and it is often hard to get their attention when the screen is on. Chaos reigned because it was something new for me.

Much to my surprise my students were not as savvy as I had expected, but they learned fast. Many didn't know about the uses of Drive, let alone Google Docs. One thing though, teaching the young wasn't very difficult. They have no phobia. But the patience developed over the years from teaching my senior citizen friends helped a lot in dealing with the chaotic moments teaching the young. It is easy to get flustered...

I started with a short writing assignment... a postcard. And going by the response so far, I think using Google Docs to teach writing is quite cool. The initial wonderment when the kids felt when they realised that I was right there in their documents as they worked on it was quite priceless.

It was a rather steep learning curve for me. I had to figure out how to go around the problems a they presented themselves. You can imagine how chaotic it was with one voice calling out from one table he could not browse, and another voice saying she had no gmail account. Then yet another bringing his chrome book to me saying that it can't be turned on. One more would pipe out that her mouse pointer on the screen was very big.... the list is unending. My phone was used to verify so many new accounts that it was barred by Google! All these, while I was trying to sort out my own filing system and getting back to the students... Patience memang is a virtue.

But despite all those chaos.... learning still took place. Both for me and the students. Practical skills! I felt like my brain is on the overdrive these past weeks. So many files, so many students asking for attention for the littlest problem. And trying to keep a cool head... I think I got really good training in crisis management from this episode.

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel if you persists. It's been 2 weeks. And I am more settled. And I think to be able to use Google Docs to teach writing is quite cool. The experience has convinced me all the more that we need a rethink the way most of us teach.

Details to follow on the 'moments' be they the 'aha' ones or the 'Oh crap!' ones...



Monday, August 11, 2014

Caltex Fuel Your School


Got this in my mail today..... Put in the proposal in a haste the night before the closing date and today I got this email! Almost did not want to put in but sometimes because there are people working with you... well, you kinda just continue to plod on. 

I remember staying up very late that night to upload the documents and proposal.
Anyway, the least I'll get is a Certificate of Participation... 8)

It all started because an ex-colleague wanted to ask for my help to come up with a proposal for it and she went through my colleague. When I went back to school the next day, the latter asked me whether I had any ideas. And so I hatched a couple as we were standing by the field. We found another colleague who had written in a proposal the previous year and succeeded in getting a few eco-boards for the school.

And so as we discussed, I hatched more ideas. And finally we agreed to help each other out. And so, we went and got the quotations and necessary documentations done. But because I was busy, I almost wanted to just give it a miss. That is where a little nudge made all the difference. Documents were forwarded to me and both my colleagues saw me for more details of the ideas we hatched earlier.

No iPad or AppleTV for my proposal as I have been using this. Instead I opted for personal cloud computing. I have been using a WDLiveBook at home for quite some time. Found it to be convenient for storage and also accessing files even when I am not at home. And with the WDCloud app on the iPad, it really made things easy. Having everything I need for work in one place definitely beats rummaging through your bag for thumb drives. And thumb drives get left behind or dropped.

So, my proposal includes setting up a cloud in the class or class in the cloud. Either way, it is supposed to make available resources to my students. That is the main equipment, the others being a colour laser printer (I wish I can have a 3D-printer but it's still expensive now and there is still the issue of safety where the fumes are concerned) and a projector. 

Cloud In The Class.... that is the name of my proposal. Classrooms are changing. The way we learn should change to reflect the technology available to us now. Chalk and talk, static text books, teacher as the sole source of information.... well, those are yesteryear's way. Historically, the way education is done has been changing for as long as written records have been around. So there is no reason for us not to embrace the new technologies.

But I think everything is kinda cyclical. Once upon a time, when one wanted to master a skill, he became an apprentice under a master.... personalised learning. 8) Then mass education came along when the Industrial Revolution came about. There was simply not enough people to do the one-to-one thing. But now... technology has made what was impossible possible... and better.

I think learning has never been more fun than now... even at school, I am trying out so many things.... my good friend keeps encouraging me to blog about it as a way of keeping record and also to remember. I keep procrastinating. I should really get down to it and blog more again...

Anyway, today's email was nice. 



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On A Day When My MacBook Died On Me

One can start a day with great plans, a long list of things to do… and the anticipated satisfaction when all is done. Then you sit down to wake your computer up. And plug in the cable to charge the iPad… I am always one who prefer a state of preparedness. So having my iPad charged to the max makes feel 'better'. I like my payung ready at all times if I can help it... 8) But all plans no matter how well thought out can go awry....


I plugged in the cable… and almost immediately, the familiar whirring of the computer stops. That was when I looked up and stared momentarily at my darkened screen. It took a moment for my brain to process an ‘Ooops!” and almost immediately too my hands started to toggle the MagSafe power adapter. Everything seemed fine. The next logical target was the power supply. Nothing wrong there too. No matter what I did, the MacBook remained dead as a doornail.


But the surprising thing this time around was even though I was perturbed, I wasn’t very agitated. Maybe age has caught up. Maybe I am more settled. Maybe it’s easier to get a replacement now. Well, there are many maybes… I sent out a message that my Mac had died! Well, we are social creatures in need of connection, especially when certain moments hit. My Mac dying seemed important enough... LOL!


The day passed… it felt kinda long but there was a steady stream of people into my room and that sort of drew my mind away from the 'loss'. But as soon as the bell rang, I was off to Switch. Got to AS Mall, lugged my heavy bags to the outlet and then plonked my computer on their table. Service was prompt and the guy there tried to see to my problem. He took my charger while I plugged out one of their display units.


The charger I plugged in seemed to work fine…. but.... then the yellow light on the charger faded into nothing right before my eyes. I took it out, toggled it, put it back...Nothing! Then I plugged the charger back to its original computer. The darn light came back on again. I took it out… put into mine. This time, it stayed green. I pressed on the button and my Mac came back to life momentarily, as in the logo lighting up being the only sign of life. And then it promptly 'died' again.


By then the sales assistant had come back. Told me my adapter worked fine. I asked him what could be wrong. He mumbled something about the battery being totally dead, which could not have been because the Mac was fully charged when it died. I asked him whether they could do anything. He told me I needed to send it to the Service Centre in Penang. And since I bought it online, I had to do it myself…. I thought as a premium reseller, they had to take my unit and send it for me… charging me, of course. But... no can do.


Well, I was a little riled up by then, but not because of what that guy said but because I need my computer. Minus a computer at work feels kind of debilitating. I told him I needed to order one but not from them since Education pricing from Apple gives a substantial discount. No way I was going to buy from them if they cannot offer me a goodwill service in my time of need, for one which I would have happily paid if it could be resolved then.


Anyway, I lugged my Mac to my friend’s place, thinking that I would try it out again before making my order. To cut the long story short, it takes a very little convincing (but I still needed that little push sometimes) for me to open it up. So armed with the WWW …. (yup! hurray for WWW! Who needs technicians when you have the treasure trove in the WWW?)... and some screw drivers, we opened up my dead Mac. I read the instructions, watched a video, well parts of it… but all from the WWW and removed the battery….. Then we plugged the MacBook back on. The familiar whirring sound came back.. the lights started blinking… and the screen came alive. So much for the need of a trained technician!!!! The dead Mac was resurrected.


And so, here I am typing this out on my resurrected Mac. I probably will need to get a replacement for my current Mac as it is rather slow now. But at least for now, it is still alive and clicking away. I am also feeling a little comforted that tomorrow my ‘trusted companion’ will still be accompanying me to work. 8) I rarely go to work without it.


Learning how to solve a problem is so easy these days. There are so many ‘teachers’ available out there. If reading the instructions is not enough, there are always the instructional videos. And if those are not enough, you can always send a SOS for help. Someone is very likely to answer your ‘distress’ call. But while the instructions and the tools are there, a more important ingredient to make this work is our attitude. The attitude of wanting to learn, try, explore and not being afraid to fail trying…. those are even more important. A great deal of learning takes place when they are there.


Today, I had all the learning models at my disposal.. blended, flipped, personalised, etc, etc. I collaborated too... Sometimes a little 'collaboration goes a long way in achieving greater things. I have always believed that no man is an island. We need people... We can do way better if we can learn to cooperate, collaborate... One of the best ways to become better is to share. Elon Musk has recently become one of those people I admire because he opened up his patents for Tesla's electric cars. It's free for all to use, adapt, modify. His goal... the demise of the gasoline cars!!! 8)


Education is one thing… but learning??? Well, I had a meaningful learning process from this episode. My learning environment was blended. It was a mix of prior knowledge and multiple platforms as resources. It was flipped because my instruction did not come the traditional way. And I had an amazing personalised learning experience because the whole episode served a need that I had. To top it all up.. I am still learning. Yup! Lifelong learning at work here too. 8)


Isn’t that awesome? On a day, too, I resolved an iPad problem for a colleague too!!

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pirate Box...

Traditional is subjective. This is a continuation of the last post. Time at school to really try out new stuff is not something that I have in abundance. With less than ideal teaching periods and classroom size, it is hard to keep up. Most of my free time is spent either marking students' work or seeing students. That means whatever I try... it is mostly with 'stolen time'. I need to be fluid too. A lot of the stuff I do are not the norm. And I rely a lot on whatever I pick up from my readings and also intuition. That means I improvise as I go along.


This is my pirate box. It's not something I made on my own. Other Half is constantly trying out stuff and sometimes I am the recipient of what his projects after he is done trying. In the pic is the TP-Link's TL-MR3040. PC Mag reports it as one of the lightest modem routers around. You can read all about it here. A pirate box??? It sounds like there is a romantic notion attached to it.... perhaps even something illegal.

Lol! Mystery, adventure in the air.... But I tell my students that my pirate box is my very own internet. This means I don't have to depend on the world wide web. Firmware required to hack the router is available on the net. Just follow the instructions given and you get your own pirate box. My good friend did just that and now she has a working pirate box too!

The physical setup is rather simple. A modem router (the TP-Link) and a thumb drive. Mine is a 32GB white mini which fits rather snugly into the design of the router. The whole thing is really quaint and being battery powered means freedom from power sockets... well, a short one. But these days, with solar powered battery packs, the possibilities are endless.

I have started using it in my class... In the coming months I will probably be using it to complement my lessons. It will be very useful when you don't want to be bogged down by internet connection issues or if you don't want your students to wander off to other sites in the net during class time. It saves time too as you can put in the guided and selected resources for students as reference. Schools like mine run on very short teaching periods... 35 minutes and if I minus the travelling time to get to the lab.. I have very much less time than the officially prescribed one.

Anyway, I recently went paperless with the pirate box. My first try. I uploaded my listening handout and got my students to view them via their chrome books. There is no need to keep listening exercise printouts. What the students did was basically log into my pirate box network and downloaded the PDF file. They basically read from the screen while the audio texts were being played. My second try was ebooks in pdf format. I had this whole collection of books about the solar system uploaded into my pirate box. I plan to use this as a form of digital library in class for students who finish their work early and have a little extra time on their hands.

I can see quite a number of uses for the pirate box in class... apart from ebooks and digital handouts, there are podcasts, video clips. Even the chat box might find some use.

As for other applications... This would be great as a content provider for camps, meetings and conferences. A small private network, dedicated to a specific purpose, for a specific group of people. A private network can be very useful at times.

It's about time we start BYOT/D. Engagement and relevance. Our textbooks are too static for that. The world is moving and changing so fast. I was just telling my kids today that when I was their age, we learned that creatures who lived in the deepest parts of the oceans were not were evolved... primitive and all that.

I have learned in the past year that there is an amazing diversity of marine life in the deepest oceans. The thing is these creatures have not made themselves available in the past cos the submersibles sent down have been chasing them away with their clunking sounds. And I didn't learn that through the papers or books... I could go on and on about the new things which I have been learning of late... Technology does make a difference.

I taught my boy almost 10 years ago about the rovers on Mars. Then somewhere along the way, I lost touch. I recently took another look at the topic and to my amazement so much has been achieved in less than a decade. We are now knocking at the possibilities of landing humans on Mars... Never dreamt of that happening in my lifetime.

Like I mentioned in my last post. I am luckier than most. I have a supportive head who gives me lots of room to try. And I have a friend who shares my enthusiasm in using technology in the classroom. It is nice to be able to exchange notes... collaborate.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

No More The Traditional Classroom Part 1

I have not used a chalk for more than a year now. The last one year has been tremendously fun for me as a teacher. It started off with a 10 year old projector which I plugged into an AppleTV. I was lucky to find an infrequently used media room in school. That was a year ago. And so I began to use it for my classes in July until now...

This is where I have my classes now. Just before the holidays in June, I went to speak to my Principal about a computer lab which had been unused for many years. It was in a far flung corner of the school and even many teachers were only vaguely aware of its existence. How I stumbled onto it? My Robotic Club boys wanted to find a room to work on their project for FLL and they brought me to this unused lab.

However, we didn't use it after we checked it out. The room was very dusty. There was a lingering stench from what was left of a dead rat which had decomposed. It had turned into a flattened heap of grey fur in the room. That was in April. I didn't think much about the matter as we were busy with the FLL competition that month.... we won an award for 'The Most Innovative Idea'.... 8)

Then it was exam time. I talked to my Principal about my intention to use the lab. And since the Chrome carts given by the MOE were also not being utilised, I asked for a cart to be used in the lab as well. He gave me the green light and told me I had his support.

And so, as soon as the exam ended, just before the hols started... I cleaned the lab. The first task was to clean the room. There were old desktops on the tables and I was told that they were not in working conditions. And so with my students and school workers, we dusted, swept, mopped and washed whatever that needed cleaning. The electrician and air-con technicians had to be called in to check the aircons and electrical sockets. We even had to call in a roofer as the roof was leaking. I asked for a new projector too as the old one was simply too old and on its last legs. My boss was very supportive. We got the room up and running in 4 days.

My students helped me carry and stack the old CPU(s) and monitors into the store room. We packed all the wires, cables, keyboards, etc neatly into boxes, just in case parts can be salvaged to build other stuff. I couldn't do anything about the furniture arrangement as they were too big. I brought in some stuff from home too... a pair of old Altec Lansing amplified speakers which still sound very good and a fan.

I started using the lab after the new projector arrived... in the mean time, I bought one of my own too, the EB-1776w. It has been an interesting one month plus since I moved all my classes to the lab... a month of experimenting, trying out new things and improving my teaching methods while incorporating new technology.

I was a little distracted for a fortnight during that time as I had to work on a video project for a 3R competition. That took a lot of my concentration and almost all my free time. Lots of ideas and work stuff went onto the backburner. This is a reminder how teachers should be allowed to stay focussed on their main job... that is to teach. After 2 weeks of distraction it was rather difficult to get back the rhythm as I was tired. Age is catching up with my body experiencing all kinds of muscular discomforts and pains from computer work related stress. Anyway... I recovered somewhat...though the aches linger still.

A project like this would not have taken off if not for firm support from the Head. Most school heads in Malaysian schools probably don't have a very good working knowledge of how technology can be used in class. Many have become administrators first then educators. I think it's not often teachers get a chance to do what I did. I am more fortunate. My head gave me all the support needed to get the lab up.

In the coming posts I will try to share how technology has helped change my class and how I teach. More importantly, I hope it will change the way how my students learn too...

 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bad School Heads

I think there are too many bad heads around now. I think many of our check and balance mechanisms have gone into sleep mode or have rusted from decades of rot..... complacency, inefficiency, incapability, ignorance. That's just to name a few. And when school principals who appraise good teachers with a bent of vindictiveness get away with it because the check and balance mechanisms have failed... I just wonder how much more we'll rot.

A school with a head interested only with his teachers kowtowing to him can only be bad. No one is perfect. But when you have principals who can yell all kinds of deragoratory names on students and verbally pummel lady teachers (cos lady teachers are easier to bully), then I think most of us will probably agree that we might have a bully. And that is bad enough. Such people do not tolerate dissent. They are bent on releasing all hell if you dare question.

But when his vindictiveness is not checked by his number 2 in appraising teachers, I think it is a reflection too of how many good men and women we have left in the upper echeleons of our service. We have too many boot polishers and lickers now. I guess they are the products of our system, a system that is reeking with too many ineffiencies.

Many lament the sad state of our schools. PISA and TIMSS standings have been sliding. I think it's not just the slow responding curriculum or teachers who are the problem. Very often it has to do with the heads. When heads want to win more competitions or just focus on more of everything that can be applauded, seen and measured, then the building of the unseen such as character, a discerning mind will cease. Heads... many of them are too busy chasing their own agendas. Students become mere statistics.

We bend too many rules and insist on the long rod of stiff rules when it suits us. Funny how I didn't feel that my school had double standards when I was a student but now my students feel that they should bend standards to their advantage.

Officers from the MOE did come down to check this principal after some teachers wrote to the Ministry. He was transferred out of the school into another equivalent position in the Education Department. But as for the damage he inflicted... well, they remain long after he is gone. Appraisals are subjective. Most of us think we deserve better but I think it is still quite easy to set apart a good teacher. Then again, being a good teacher in class is not the most important thing in most schools now. Painting a good picture for everyone to see is.... and if you have to compromise your classroom work to achieve that, eyes generally get closed... well, partially closed at least.

We stoke our own egos. We live in our own castles built by our own minds. Teachers might often feel that they are better than appraised. But I think it is high time the Ministry comes up with a better check and balance mechanism. Maybe it's time too a section of the appraisal for the Principals and Senior Assistants be made up of appraisals from their subordinates, the teachers. We talk about accountability all the time. Perhaps this form of accountability should be considered as part of the check and balance mechanism.

As for this particular former Principal, maybe he was a victim of bully when he was a kid. Maybe he was subjected to much ridicule and name calling from young. Apparently word has it that he left the same trail of modus operandi every school he has held positions of authority. Heads worked their way up.... One wonders how such a head became a Principal in the first place.

In a world where collaboration, cooperation, cooperativeness are supposed to be keywords.... it feels like we are still quite entrenched in the old autocratic ways of the feudal world. This in a land where most things start from a wrong foot... by connections first, then race... then the rest of everything else. Disheartening....

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Woman, oh woman...

A small furore... an old, very old reason. Both the Bible and Quran are consistent in this issue too, that one must stay away from a menstruating woman. Words and phrases like unclean, impure, stay away and kept away are used. Menstruation is considered an illness. Makes one wonders why a woman has to bear with all this and still get more crap at the end of the day.

What the UMNO lawyer said was hillarious. And many people gave him many thumbs down for his gender biased comment. Yet, many are aware that the words he said are sanctioned by the holy texts too. Many spoke out against him. But the scriptures remain in that position.

Relevance... I taught my students that in order for the Constitution to remain relevant, changes are allowed, though it has to go through all the debates and motions in the respective houses in the parliament. Will ijtihad be allowed? The Christians are taught that the curtain in the old temple has been torn down... That which God has created is good. Yet, even as I was growing up, girls were only allowed to lead when they was no choice. Second best... That's how girls were brought up to feel and think. It still is like that somewhat, I guess.

We are embedded into a social structure. And this incident has woefully reminded me that within this social structure, with all the goodness, justice... all things supposedly good... there exists still, this hierarchy.

Women still earn less. Women do more if not most of the housework. Much of childcare, direct involvement in child raising, running of the household and the chores are carried out by women. And many of these super women have a 'real' jobs too. They juggle the 'real' and unpaid jobs, and still get the lesser deal. They still get reminded that they are not suitable to be heads.
A biological glitch or a mistake by the Creator?

Monday, July 7, 2014

It's July

World Cup madness...Neymar is out, Brazil is still in the chase; soup kitchen blunders by our ever ready to shoot-themselves-in-their-own-foot politicians; a missing plane; political maneuverings, uncertainties about water rationing, instigations from the mouths of leaders..... the never ending effort to ressurect the ghosts of May 13...

Just came out from another round of activities. I made it to the papers too... in a paper I don't read and a language I am painfully lacking in. A feature article... Lol! Made my mom proud though. At this age, I still feel kinda good that my mom felt a little sense of pride. Mom is hardly one who will heap lavish praises. But still, it's just a 'paper appearance'... Lol! Prints fade, paper disintegrates. Today's news is forgotten after a while.

My classes are finally on the 21st century bandwagon. Started using the Chromebooks in class this term. It's slow going. Thought the students were tech savvy enough. Turns out, digital literacy is something which needs time to teach too. I run my class from what used to be an unused computer lab. It's a nice and comfy class for teacher and learners. Schools ought to have classrooms like this. In this spate of humid and warm weather, it is a wonder that our students can still stay alert after half a day of slowly being 'grilled' in the class.

I have no one to guide me in this area. So far it has been a trial and error run. Time is something which never seems to be enough these days. I would start a lesson and then discover that the students don't have the skills for what I have in mind. I have been doing a lot of adapting, modifying and changes on the spot. Sometimes I switch topic totally. Teaching language affords me that. It has been challenging. But in all that chaos, I think I sense an increased interest among students. I find it fun too. I started off ambitious, wanted to do a PBL. I scaled down to just teaching students how to use Google almost immediately... Lol. But we are making progress.

Time is the one thing that I lack. Too many teaching periods. Too many students in a class. A Victorian production mill we still are. Individualized learning... I think we are still far from that. Students look and feel independent enough but they are not. The challenge is not to equip them with the necessary skills or change the way we look at how technology can best be used in education but to inculcate the love for knowledge. It's not that kids don't get excited over knowledge. It's just they have been dulled by the rigours of rote. The chase for A(s) has killed the ability to love knowledge. Sad. More of everything though, I think the level of ignorance has remained almost the same too... throughout the ages. Seems like the graph is hard to change.

There are always other duties that stand in the way of teaching... and other things that crop up that need our attention. I wish teachers be left alone to just teach. And there is always the personal domain too... One that demands our attention as well. Work and family - they remain two areas in a working woman's life that continually put her into a conundrum of sorts. I find myself not just wishing for more hours, more energy but sometimes a release.

Social conditioning... Pavlov's experiment on conditioning. Been many years but of late this topic has caught my fascination again. A recent video highlights this very aptly...
Undoing a stereotyping or reconditioning? 5000 years of written history and for the most part women have been told they are not suitable or capable of many things. Women are set into a lesser role, to serve. Over 26 million hits in less than a fortnight. One thing for sure out of this though.... education is definitely on the roll here. 8) It would have been impossible to reach this many in such a short time, even as recent as 20 years ago! I watched my students as they laughed through the comic of the first part and then the silence. But many could not catch the message too. 8(
One thing I learned though. Many things which we feel are set or unquestionable, we actually have no certainty of the truth. One thing that feels certain is that the human mind is an active cauldron... one which is capable of 'cooking' up many things.... it's just we label them differently.
It's July... and it'll go away soon. August is waiting....