Thursday, April 08, 2004

Time is the Essence

And I have none.

Everyday, I'd log onto Blogger in an attempt to write something. Everyday, I leave it sitting aimlessly minimised in my task bar and every evening, I close the window rather apolegetically, not having even put in a title of a post.

That's been the whole of this week.

Here's a summary of what's happened since I last blogged.

The first day of term and the first day of appeals. At 7 am, the general office looks like a polyclinic with rows of chairs placed outside and miserable looking people waiting. In this case, they are sick with anxiety as they await their numbers to be called- the school does not see it feasible to get one of those machines that buzz and flash the next number up. When their numbers are called, they wobble over to the waiting teacher- me, in five cases and let us decide their fate for the next two years of their lives. They range from the extremely articulate and possible, to the downright daft (citing 3 men with guns on some island as the most significant news event that has occurred in the last two weeks) and impossible to admit students.

The college got stuck with 150 more students than we could actually handle. This meant there was little opportunity for anyone who appealed to be admitted. What got me extremely annoyed and extremely down was the hypocrisy of the entire exercise. Firstly, they did not announce that and they did not close appeals even though they could have. Secondly, students who were academically more proficient were overlooked in favour of those who were academically dismal but had been in college for the first term. Thirdly, one would think that if your college was hosting a national junior college championship for something, you would make sure that your college team was filled with as best the lot of people you could find so as not to make a damn fool of yourselves during the championships. But do they?

It seems unfortunate that on the one hand we moan about bad English standards, attitudes and results and on the other hand, we turn away those who are genuinely passionate about literature, history, drama and art. We lament the loss of quality students to other colleges and panic when lesser known colleges are gaining on us, but yet the new classes opened to accomodate the burgeoning freshman populations are dedicated to the science stream.


The disilluion grows stronger when I find out my own cousin who has done extremely well, by any standard was told that her appeal was not successful. Not only did they spoil her day by ringing her in the wee hours of the morning, they rang her when appeals were not yet supposed to be closed leading me to question, why keep your doors open when you can't even accomodate those who had approached the college the day before?

To make matters worse, I had a meeting with key people from
Macquarie University and we discussed the viability of setting up advanced placement courses for our students from next year on. They were all ready to package courses to teach media, journalism, philosophy, psychology...subjects that are of great interest. However, I had to abide by school policy and guide them toward recommending us more bland and conventional subjects like history, literature, geography and economics. Why? Because even though we have great visions to broaden knowledge base, we're not comfortable with reducing the depth of knowledge each child is expected to have.

So, instead of we keep adding on and not taking away, we keep building sky scrappers of knowledge within these kids on grounds of clay.


Six hours spent at Starbucks waiting for kids playing a lame version of the Amazing Race to come by. They never came because they thought it as lame as we did although being students, they didn't have the luxury to think that and were severly punished the next day.


Finding out for sure that I've been loaded with one extra class. This brings my marking load from 73 to 102. *gulp* I am so going to die when the exams come round. I also had to fill in my goals for this year on a work review form that is far more complicated than the one I used last year. So, I had to set goals like " will use student-oriented teaching methods to ensure that students learn in a creative manner at least 3 times a term". The 6 page form took the entire morning to complete. Lunch was a pleasant affair at Oscars at the Conrad hotel followed by tea with my cousin who was mercilessly turned away by my college. On hindsight, she really might be happier somewhere else so I wished her luck by giving her a bag full of makeup that Dan complains I don't use and is taking up space. Time to buy more! :) We also pop in to the opening of Terz's photo exhibition. He made geriatrics look extremely dignified. My favourite exhibit was actually this 19 year old photographer's collage of photographs of all things yellow. It made for a very cheery exhibit.


Work review in the morning. What do you say to your reporting officer when he asks whether you're going to be around in the next five years and whether you're going to be willing to take up leadership positions then? I have a feeling that I came off sounding extremely dismissive about my future and uncommitted to everything. Which in some sense is true because I would like to skedaddle out of here. But anyone with an oodle of common sense would know not to let on unless totally necessary and it's not yet totally necessary. So yup. I also get the growing sense that there will be so much for me to handle and I'm not sure how all these balls are going to stay up in the air.

But the day isn't over for it yet. This is an interim siesta period where I wait to go judge 6 groups of 15 year olds engage in a slug fest of words about whether beauty pageants should be banned and if schools should have rules. 3 debates in 4 hours. What joy. I only hope that the organisers don't think that just because I judged at an international tournament that I'm any better at it than before I left. Sigh. The amount of work it takes to keep up appearances.

So, there, the last five days in short. The long version? Better to be buried at the back of my mind and blocked away for posterity.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:30

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