Sunday, October 04, 2009

"Fairness" and "Unevenness"

Was talking to a friend and she was describing the opportunities that the school has created for teachers to present papers or attend conferences overseas. As she was highlighting the names of teachers who have been overseas this year, a couple of names were surfaced several times, because the areas they presented were on the areas they 'specialised' in.

1 key essential question was surfaced:

Why such unevenness in the opportunities amongst the staff?

Well, we managed to rationalise an answer from one perspective but not the other...

Unevenness? There isn't such a thing call "Fairness", in the first place. However, how do we manage such unevenness in a reasonably fair way to ensure the project thriuvesand to encourage the spirit of capacity building instead of "sole properitorship"?
  • To individuals, it's seen as oppoortunities for professional development
  • To the organisation, it's creating platforms to reach out to the bigger (world) community, to share the success stories, to create footholds at the international level

(The following questions help to scaffold the thinking process...)

Then, the next question is, why the same person, over and over again? (So, more questions in at next level...)

  • In the first place, how is this person being identified?
  • Naturally, it's someone who possesses the expertise and more often than not, he/she is the who spearheads the project. There is no doubt, the pioneer 'expert' in the area.
  • Next question is, what is the scale and influence of this project?
  • If it's always the same person (eg. NNN) sharing the project, there's only one thing that I could infer: This is NNN's PROJECT... and therefore, my further inference is, the impact is limited to the students that he/she could reach out to (probably during formal curriculum, or what we say, time-tabled time.) In other words, only students taught by this teacher have the opportunity to use it? This leads to the other questions like, the scalability and sustainability of the project.
  • Scalability - are other teachers also involved in this project, and what's their role? Just user of the applications? or as a fellow faculty member, they are also involved in the research or development work, which is part of their professional development and engagement?
  • Sustainability - logically, based on today's context, it's hardly that someone would stay in the job forever. Then, what's the implication when the 'expert' leaves the organisation? Two things could possibly happen: The project implementation remains stagnant and hardly make any new progress... and eventually die a natural death? (Hm... the 不在乎天长地久,只在乎曾经拥有mindset?). Another thing that's likely to happen is, NNN when moves on to other organisation, will "bring along" the project with him/her and talk about it, etc... This indeed happens very often. Look around amongst us, do we recall hearing colleagues talking and sharing what good works they did in previous schools and started bringing the ideas in? So, all these projects/experiences somehow cling to the individuals. What would their previous context think? I wonder... especially there isn't any successor to the project/programme...

It seems like these issues are other people's issues - however, look back at our current context... as the organisation moves into research work, capacity building, sharing and establishing footholds, aren't the above going to happen in the near future? I'm sure it will... how are we going to handle this? Of course, I think we'll need to establish some kind of common understanding as we craft and execute the approach...

As my friend put it across, "1 X 10" is not equal to "10 X 1".

  • Mathematically, based on commutative law of multiplication, 1 X 10 = 10 X 1
  • However, if we re-visit the concept, "1 group of 10" is different from "10 groups of 1". Similarly, put in the context, 1 teacher with 10 opportunities is not equal to 10 teachers each given 1 opportunity.

Then she further suggested, since there's no such thing as being fair, how about considering

  • "2 X 5" or "5 X 2"?

This is almost the similar to the idea we proposed in another project "Train the Trainer" approach (see it in a more generic sense) or just like what all organisations always have in mind - developing/ building capacity of the 2nd-liners... as we are always reminded, "No one is indispensible in an organsiation", actually, to qualify that, should add in the condition, "if the organisation has a sound structure to build its 2nd liner"...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Meeting up with OLD Friends

The recent weeks have been like riding on a roller coaster... with so many meetings going on... indeed, it's been quite scary... though was used to having meetings almost everyday while in the 3 years in HQ, well, what I'm going through now is really exceedingly far much more than what I had... anyway, feel like I'm always on the way to set some 'record"! hahaha...

As mentioned in one of the previous postings... this year had not really catch up with friends, especially during this recent Teachers' Day... Kind of tiring - hm... physically and mentally... on the other hand, blessing in disguise (or what), had opportunities to meet up with them either when I went for briefings or 'shopping'! hahaha....

For intstance, recently met SCK. Yes, quite a while already not met - think the last time was at Rosleenda's house (Hari Raya visit - was that last year?), also QLL. Well, good to know that the school is leveraging on SCK's forte - setting up the structure and managing information. On the other hand, unfortunately, she has lost her voice... and it's really a challenge when in this teaching profession! Really hope that the problem could heal...

On the same day, bump into WSS while waiting for WYWY in Borders! He looked good - at least without the 'coat' of 'fatigue' which I recalled when we were colleagues in HQ. Yes, those were the days when others jokingly said the address in his NRIC was North Buona Vista! hahaha... Of course, apart from updating some of the recent works carried out, we also talked about KB (from UK). He was just like an old friend... of course, when KB comes, it's time for another outing :D

WYWY aka TYL... another good old friend, who surprising being available though my sms was a very last minute one. Well, a great dinner at Borders' Bristo... pretty good dinner! and good time talking about what we were doing and what's her next steps... oh yes, also discussed about the next coming trip (which I hope the planning could eventually materialise!)

Today's another day of good catch-up with friends - annual gathering at Zubaidah's place... who's there? Ms Ng, Muneira, Mrs Teh, Chin Li, Karen and Ms Tan KX. Fellow old-timers were still so animated... that reminded me of the noise in the old NAS HOD Room! Yes, I missed those days - though didn't participate to much in their (cluster's) conversation, however, that's the environment - the feel and sound I missed. Anyway, things in the physical set-up has changed...

The day ended with a good treat from LCN. Well, to be precised, should be LCN's sister! Good food plus nice environment. We were at the 70th storey in the Swissotel. Of course, what else and who else would be in our conversation? :D