All entries for December 2009

December 11, 2009

My view of British education (1)

I am having a discussion with a friend who are studying in US. Herewith some of the views I generated in the discussion:

I did my Master in Multimedia (e-Learning Technologies) with FCM, MMU. I was fortunate to learn from Dr Tengku Shahrom, an e-learning pioneer in Malaysia who obtained his PhD in 90s from University of Georgia. Through him, I was exposed to US learning models, instructional systems design models, etc. I also gained exposure to epistemology, behaviourism, cognitive theories, Bloom’s taxonomy and constructivist theories.

However, when I arrived in the UK, I was surprised that most of the British academics around me—including some European leading professors who are not aware of US learning models. In my views, they just don’t bother to know about those models. Some even see those models as “factory-like” or instant production lines that generate graduates. What I realise is that the fundamental British education aim to nurture “ladies and gentlemen”, instead of people who can get a job after graduation. Of course, a lot of universities here are adopting “factory-like” production of graduation. But these universities are basically newly formed institutions which were upgraded from technical colleges.

Another thing that I think unique in England (Scotland and Northern Ireland have different systems) is that teachers are people who possess at least a Bachelor degree plus a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Without PGCE, one cannot teach in school. This is different to where I work in Malaysia—Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, where I am training school teachers at Bachelor degree levels. In other words, those who intend to a teacher must already be a practitioner or qualified to be a practitioner in the field of study, e.g. psychologist, mathematician, statistician, engineer, biologist. And normally, after a person graduated from a degree programme, he or she will be expected (not respected) to be a professional. When everybody is a professional, then there is nothing to wow about to be a psychologist or engineer. If one professional would like to become a teacher, then PGCE is the key to the world of teaching. Also, unlike Malaysia, secondary Maths teachers can only be secondary Maths teachers. Maths teachers are not allowed to teach other subjects, including primary Maths, even though they themselves or other may think or they can.


In PGCE programme, trainee teachers learn learning theories and practices which are tailored to their specific subject area. Therefore, a Geography teacher is not learning how Maths could be taught in schools, and vice versa. The advantage of this is that teachers, researchers and policy makers could play only their roles and execute their responsibilities well without bother other fields of study. Ideally, academics conduct research related to educational issues and disseminate findings in conferences, seminars, lectures, books and journals; policy-makers that fund the research make educational policies based on the findings; school teachers instruct according to strategies, syllabus or programmes structured under those policies, and the loop goes on and on. Ideally, if everything works as it should be, the quality of education will be forever improving. Of course this is oversimplified scenario, but in a nutshell, this is how it works.

Because of the above mentioned conditions, it is dangerous to jump to the conclusion and say “US is currently adapting and learning from European/ UK education models”. The following issues need to be explored in advance:
- Which model in which subject matter are you referring to?
- Which era are you referring to?
- Which level of education are you referring to?
- Which part of Europe are you talking about?
- Whose model are you referring to?
- Why do they refer to?
- How do the adaptation and learning happen?


December 09, 2009

The Nature of Dissapointment (tentative English version)

Follow-up to 失望的本质 (The Nature of Disappointment) from Wee Hoe's blog

disappointment_Eng

This is a tentative English version


December 05, 2009

失望的本质 (The Nature of Disappointment)

人会失望,每每是因为有期望。有人认为有期望是因为在乎,但是为何在乎?

我认为,期望的前提是个人的价值观。有自己的一套价值观,是因为自己对身边的事物定下价值。

这价值可以是具体的如金钱、时间、人力,也可以是无形的如心思、心血、青春等等。

人们透过累积的知识和经验,建立了属于自己的一套价值观。有人的价值观是明确的、稳定的;有的则模糊或随时都在改变。

价值观明确且稳定的人对于周遭的事物该如何评价、为何评价--什么比什么重要、什么该做和不该做、什么可做和不可做,心里有个谱。这一切如果表现在行为上就成了稳重、有独立思想和主见。这样子的个人价值观如果和该人所处的社会的价值观协调,这个人就入流、识时务,甚至可以主导所处的社会的发展。相反的,就会被所处的社会标签为异类、不入流,甚至可能被孤立、边缘化、批斗或打压。不过有时这种人反而因不按牌理出牌而逆流而上,表现异常地出色。所谓的牌理,就是所处社会的价值观所定下的明文与不明文条规。至于明文是否等同于明智,这是另一个层次的价值观课题了。

价值观模糊或不稳定的人在应对周遭的事物时经常会举棋不定甚至在做了决定后后悔、反悔、抵赖。这一切如果表现在行为上就成了幼稚、不成熟、没主见或吊儿郎当。如此的个人价值观如果和该人所处的社会的价值观“协调”,这个人可能误导他人,甚至把所处的社会的引向纷乱、争执不断的情况当中。不过,如果这人与所处的社会的价值观不协调,就可能因其不稳定的表现与行为而经常让人无所适从,并导致被排挤、放弃。

了解了个人价值观这个前提,将有助于剖析人们做抉择时的依据。期望的产生是抉择的结果,而之所以在乎是因为主观或客观地对期望投入了价值。当有了一定程度的投入,期望的等级就会提升进而把事物的结果看成的是成果的实现与否。如果达到了成果,就会感觉有成就,不然就会失望。另一方面,即使选择不投入价值,人们还是会有所期待的,但是其期待的是结果而非成果。如果结果符合所期待的,那就是侥幸;不符合所期待的,也会有失望,只不过这种失望和之前所提到的失望是有等级上的不同的。

我依个人浅薄的知识、经历与生活经验,整合了如图一所示的流程,并希望籍此抛砖引玉,欢迎各位提出有建设性的意见。或许,诸位可用这流程图来尝试评估自己的意见是否有建设性。

[English version will be available soon]

chinese_ver


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