All 17 entries tagged Wisdom

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April 24, 2010

Letting go and moving forward

I lost a set of analysis I did two months ago. It was about the definitons of games and concepts associated with games—nearly a week’s effort. In stead of searching up and down for it, which I actually did for a moment, I decided to discarded it and redo it again, but at a macro level. Though I have yet to finish redoing it, I am quite happy with the progress.

Sometimes life is like this, we have to learn to let go and redo what we have doen with an open mind and heart. Letting go what’s passed, embracing what’s about to come to us. Facing change is difficult, no doubt. But what could anger or depress do in making me progress in thesis writing? None, at heart.

I keep claiming myself as a pragmatist in research, so this could be seen as a form of manifestation of my claim. In conclusion, what’s passed is past, move forward and progress!


February 10, 2010

Choosing a course of study

This morning, a mother of an ex-student of mine sent me an email, asking me for advice in choosing a course of study for her daughter. I think this maybe useful for those who intend to pursue a degree or further study, so I decided to share my view with you. Herewtih a slightly modified version of my reply to the mother:

Whether it is worth pursuing a course or not depends on the personal value she holds and the social value that surrounds her. It is too early to judge or even say Early Childhood Education is good or bad for her at this stage. Firstly, good or bad is very subjective and it really depends on her value systems--her priority in life. As a parent, you could assist her in establishing a set of positive values towards her life and guide her in determining the priority of those values. Secondly, I think it is unfair to evaluate a course based merely on its financial return in the future. To me what important is that after she completed her study, she could become a matured, independent and confident individual, in which she can further pursue her career in the field of study to become a professional. 

My limited life experience informs me that one doesn’t have to study a lot to earn a lot of money; while those who study a lot might not earn a lot in return. I personally don’t value money as much as the wisdom of life, and such wisdom is the use of knowledge and skills in all facets of daily living. I always remember you said to me in 2004 that a man should become established by the age of 30. I am 30 this year and I define “established” as having the foundation of career path firmly set, and this would be the completion of my doctorate degree.

It’s a pity that Malaysian generally judges the success of an education person, especially those who earned a higher degree based on the car they drive and the house they live. Back home in Malaysia, I am still driving my cute little Kancil—although I am driving a cute little A-Class here in the UK; maybe I just like cute little car, so it could be a preference rather than capability. I don’t own any business, property or investment like most of my peers do, but I never feel being poor. I am rich in terms of confidence, dedication, passion, aspiration and energy to pursue my research and my career; I am rich because I have access to far more than enough books, journals and other resources that enable me to continue the pursue of knowledge; I am rich because I have numerous supports from those who love and care about me—my family, my peers, my friends, my colleagues, my students, etc.

Some relatives and colleagues back home cannot understand why I choose to pursue a career in education rather than engineering, multimedia or ICT which they think could earn me a bigger, tastier or perhaps more luxurious bread. A lot of people see joining education or becoming academics as the last resort or career choice. Indeed there is some truth in it: experts in other professions can join education with ease, but not vice versa. I do realise that private sectors generally pay higher salary and more bonus and benefits; I do realise that if I pursue certain so-called promising career, I should be able to get rich financially. But it is a matter of preference. I believe in my value systems and I am being true to myself. Yes, myself, not anybody else.

I hope I am being helpful and not confusing. Good luck to Y.


June 10, 2009

I love teaching

I led a session on Warwick Young Researchers Day today. It was the last session of the day and I could see most students having the “it’s about time to pack and go” faces, what’s worse, there was a break for drink and snack before that. I had to persuade them to return to their seats so that I could start my session.

‘Panic’ was the word I would use to describe myself at the moment: I was not well-informed about the overall structure of the programme—I only noticed that I ought to include a 15-minute activity / interaction at the end of my lecture. Anyhow, while the students were having their break, I added a slide, titled “Activity: How to write your Abstract” and recycled the slide I had about writing abstract. To avoid being noticed as recycled slide, I wrote ‘Magical number 7 (plus minus 2)’ in the slide to make it look fresh.

I used my mobile phone as a stop watch—in fact, as something to catch the attention of the audience. I managed to convince the audience that my presentation won’t be long and I need to catch up with time. They silently agreed and this allowed me to start the session.

The presentation began with self-introduction. It was successful after making fun of my overly formal attire and what I normally dressed when I was a 3D animator. Then I used Prof Wray’s “don’t get it right, get it written” to justify the importance of report writing. When I saw audiences nodding their heads and being engaged, I knew they entred “the zone”. At the end of the presentation, I managed to avoid having them doing the activity, which I have yet to figure out how I could run—the materials needed (flip charts and marker pens) were not actually available. Phew~ mission accomplished!

Today’s experience brought me back to memory of being a lecturer. After delivering my last lectures at both Universiti Kuala Lumpur and Taylor’s University College in November 2007, I stopped delivering lecture. I don’t know whether I am good in teaching or not, perhaps, I should say I don’t care much about my teaching, I care very much about my students’ learning, hence learner-centred. The joy of seeing learners transformed from being unknown to known and feeling satisfied after the events of instruction is the core driving force for me to be a teacher, instructor or lecturer.

I love teaching, I never doubt about this. Not because I could earn a lot of money out of my job (which I never do); not because I could claim to have disciples (some of my ex-students do claim to be mine); not because I could demonstrate how intelligent I am as compared to others. I love teaching because I believe that knowledge is meant to be shared. It is the joy of seeing people who experience the change before and after gaining knowledge that makes me loving teaching. Maybe I am trying to rationalizing my decision to be a teacher trainer, but I sincerely hope my future students, who are going to be teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions in Malaysia will love teaching and knowledge sharing as well. I am quite positive about this because taking the courage and risk of being a poor dad (see ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter) to be a trainee teacher itself shows one’s dedication towards teaching profession.


February 12, 2009

Botching it by rushing 欲速则不达

欲速则不达

昨晚请两位劳苦功高的导师到Leamington Spa的宝石粤式餐馆吃饭,庆祝我成功地晋级为博士研究生。回家后,读了以下这篇故事,(取自<<星洲互动>>于2009年2月11日刊登的沟通平台)自我警惕机制骤然启动。

一个年轻人到少林寺向师父拜师学艺,他问师父要练多久才能出师,师父说:“大概5年吧!”

“啊,这么久?”年轻人急切地问:“假如我比其他弟子花更多倍的努力,是不是可以提早学成武功?”

“这样的话,你大概需要10年!”师父说。

“甚么?10年?那如果我再加倍、加倍地努力学习呢?”

“20年吧!”师父淡淡地回答。

年轻人愈听愈糊涂:“师父啊,为甚么我越努力练习,学成武功的时间就越长呢?”

“因为,当你的一只眼睛一直‘盯著结果看´时,你就只剩下一只眼睛可以‘专注练习´了!”师父说。

学习,固然需要两只眼睛都“心无旁騖”地“专注”於自己的课业,即使是从事任何行业,不论置身任何岗位,要想出类拔萃、出人头地,少一份专注也是不行的。专注力不足,工作就会经常出错、发生状况,因此,许多谈论成功的励志书籍都告诉我们,在这分工精细的社会,专注,才是胜出的秘诀。

专注,就是集中精力、全神贯注、专心致志。

专注,就是“专精”於自己的领域,把每一件事做到最好,展现专业。

[为了让更多同修分享,本文接下来用英语]

There is a reason why a PhD is commonly set to be completed in three years time. The moral of this story is one could be botching something by rushing. It is still crucial to have an aim, but once it is set, both eyes should be focusing on the work to be done to reach the aim, instead of staring at the aim while rushing on things to be done to reach the aim. My take on is, sufficient time should be spent on planning and target setting. Once it is done, I should concentrate on the tasks to be done and only review the aim after I reach a particular milestone.


February 08, 2009

Malaysia Night 2009 "Home" – My home is where my heart be

I attended the annual grand show organised by Warwick Malaysia Students Association (MSA), themed Malaysia Night 2009: "Home" last night at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry City Centre. I was an heart-warming experience. As a Malaysian myself, I am proud of what my juniors did in promoting Malaysia as a multi-cultural and friendly country.

I knew being a Warwick student, especially undergraduate student is extremely exhausting in study. However the performers managed to squeezed a great amount of time in practicing and rehearsing several dances, the play, and the modernised 'dikir barat', BROVO!!

I like the play 'Home' very much. It was a wonderful production. Although I watched it alone but I wasn't lonely. I heard graceful Malay, Malaysianised Mandarin/Cantonese and Manglish (Malaysia English) conversations; I saw Milo T-shirt which most Malaysian kids wear when they participate in sports. The 'DVD buy 5 get 1 free' of Petaling Street, and scenes of Jalan Masjid India called upon my memory of working life in Kuala Lumpur from 2004 to 2007. The script that stroke me most is 'my home is where my heart be'. Being an international student, having home sick is common, especially during Chinese New Year (tomorrow is Chap Goh Meh, the last day of Chinese New Year celebration). Watching a play like 'Home' amplified such feeling.

To be frank, I am not sure where will I work after fulfilling the requirements in my conditional sponsorship with UPSI. I sincerely hope that Malaysia could be the place I pursue my career: Associate Professorship and then Professorship in Multimedia or e-Learning. The problem is I know what is the actual situation. Anyhow, one thing for sure, I will always be proud to be a Malaysian, wherever I be. 

All the best to all Warwick Malaysian students! 


January 09, 2009

Wee Hoe is back on track, once again.

Today, I attended the first Karate training session in Sport Centre. Putting on Karate Gi and wearing my black belt gave me the confidence and the sense of being disciplined. Although I am ni-dan, but I have yet to be qualified as a Karate-ka--my ultimate goal in practising Karate-do. Karate-do would be my life-long practice, wherever I am in this world. I am glad now because I achieved one of my New Year resolutions.

My life was relatively unsorted after I moved out from Claycroft. I was hardworking, or I should say my life from March 08 to August 08 was only about research. Almost everything I did, I related them with my research unconsciousnessly. There is a Cantonese saying that could vividly describe such mental state: 'run fire entre demon' (走火入魔). When I met my old friends in Malaysia in September 08, most of them noticed the change I had. However, when I moved into Cannon Park, I was not able to cope with the environmental plus emotional changes. I was lagging from Oct to Dec 08. As I told my supervisors, I feel unease and nonproductive when the sun rises in the late morning and sets about 3:30 pm everyday. On top of that, I was under hypertension and high cholesterol medication. The pills slowed me down, in every aspects of life. Anyway, by relying on the work done before Winter, I managed to survive.

On Wednesday next week, I'll have my Upgrade Examination. I am grateful to have tremendous supports from my supervisors. Besides, after posting "Wee Hoe is preparing for upgrade from MPhil to PhD" in my Facebook, I received a lot of supports from old friends in Malaysia. I am really pleased that to have their support; even my retired primary school headmaster is blessing me now. Under such conditions, the research-oriented Tan Wee Hoe is in need now.

I have spent too much time worrying about my health problems. Now, I listen to GP's advice,' You are too young to start taking those pills. Stop being obsessed about your hypertension problem, measure your blood pressure once or twice a week, you have a lot of other better things to do now.'

I had my haircut myself, like what I did in Claycroft. Now I feel lighter and energetic. I am working on sorting things out and attempting to get those problems I ignored for quite some time solved. When Sun Tzu's The Art of War blinks in my mind, I know Wee hoe is back on track, once again.


July 17, 2008

Wenli's Graduation

Yesterday was Wenli’s graduation day. After all the blood and sweat, she earned her doctoral title—Dr Wu. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to share her glory and joy. While shooting video of her, shaking the hand of the Deputy Vice Chancellor and then walking towards Prof Alan Prout to receive her PhD certificate, I felt very proud and happy for her. I tried to imagine myself, doing the same in 2011. Let’s work harder and smarter, my fellow colleagues in WIE. Very soon, we will earn our doctoral degree like her!


July 12, 2008

谈读经典要有自己的主见

孟子讲的"君子三乐",即:

"父母俱存,兄弟无故"的天伦之乐,"仰不愧于天,俯不怍于人"的理性之乐,"得天下英才而教育之"的教育之乐。

待续。。。


July 02, 2008

How did I get my fellowship/ scholarship?

A week after I arrived in UK, there was a General Election back in my home country--Malaysia. After the election, the nation is experiencing great change. We can only hope for the best, while planning for the worst.

I always insist to be called Malaysian or Malaysian Chinese, instead of Chinese, because in the depth of my heart, I love my country. I love her because compared to other Malaysian Chinese, I am very lucky: I received two scholarships from the government, RM66,000 for my Bachelor degree, RM0.5mil for my PhD study. Some said I won Toto (Toto is a type of lottery in Malaysia), a lot of them see hope in me. I am an example of rare cases, where Malaysian Chinese gets sponsorships to further study. Of course, there are some other Chinese PhD students get sponsorship from the government to do PhD in UK, but the figure is relatively small.

Before I got the sponsorship, I was discriminated from equal opportunity to further study, merely because I am a Malaysian Chinese. When I nearly finished my Master study, I received two months of RM500 allowance from UniKL, like everybody else. Those who worked up to 2 years are eligible to receive the allowance. Then I was told that if I proceed to do PhD in Malaysia on part-time basis, I can get the RM500 allowance plus 2 days study leave per month up to 3 years. I was so happy and proud. I told myself that this is the workplace really worth staying. After I received an offered letter from Open University Malaysia, I tried to apply for the monthly allowance. To my surprise, the owner of the university, which is an agency of Malaysia Government, changed the policy: all non-Malay and non-bumiputra (bumiputra means indigenous people) are not eligible for the entitlement.

This was a turning point of my life, a big one. My initial plan was to do a part-time PhD and settle down living in Kuala Lumpur. I also planned get married on either 08/08/08 or 09/09/09 (might bring good fortune~). The plan was forced to be changed. The next day of the incident, I submitted my resignation letter to the Dean together with the allowance application form. The Dean was shocked. He himself was not aware of the change of policy. He kept the resignation letter and requested me to wait until he talk to the President regarding the matter. A week of so after that, he said, 'the top management of the university realise the seriousness of this matter and will fight for you, in a year or two time, please bear with us.' Indeed, I really appreciate what the top management did for me. In the whole university, there are only three Malaysian Chinese lecturers. I was the first person who apply for this allowance, and faied to get it. However, I remembered what Prof Gauth Jasmon (the ex-President of Multimedia University, MMU) told me when we attended a conference in Bangkok, 'Wee Hoe, come and join us. We (MMU) are the only university in Malaysia that has none of the deans is Malay.' Eventually, I insisted to leave the university, three months notice began from the date I submitted the resignation letter.

My ex-colleagues shared the joy of my success, and they too shared the my pressure. They felt much sympathy for me during my hard time (thank you very much, I won't forget your kindness!). Not long after I resigned, I was invited to join other universities. I started to realise my "market value". I also had an offer to join Codemasters Malaysia, to become a Production Assistant cum Trainer. As for UniKL, due to the lack of qualified lecturer to teach animation courses, I was offered a part-time position. Indirectly, I got 40% increment of salary plus only work two days a week. Meanwhile, I also accepted an offer to teach a programme under University of South Australia (UniSA) at Taylor's University College.

山重水复疑无路,柳暗花明又一村 。

I didn't delay my dream to pursue PhD. Instead, I scale it up. I realised that I was greatly underestimated and under-valued by myself. I believe I derserve better quality of education, I want to study abroad. As a result, I took IELTS exam (I got 7.5 overall score, phew~) and applied for universities listed in Times' Top Universities List. I contacted professors in MMU, asking for choice of suitable universities. My first offer was given by Tokyo Institute of Technology. I was very excited. Coincidently, the Ministry of Higher Education organised a lecturer recruitment in KL after I got a place in Japan. I was interviewed by the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Malaya University (the best university in Malaysia, I always believe), and he offered me scholarship on the spot.

Meanwhile, in view of my actions, my then ex-girlfriend applied for Working Holiday Visa in UK. What!? The offer of the scholarship, covers not only my tuition fee and cost of living, but also covers one wife and up to three kids of mine. I would very much like her to follow me to Japan. I changed my plan, again. I applied for University of Warwick, and I got a place. Due to the change of university, I fell into a long long queue in the to be sponsored list. I was under great pressure. I told my family that, if I eventually failed to get scholarship, my dream is partially fulfilled--I proved that I am qualified to join top universities in the world. Also, getting a place in top universities is not difficult, but getting sponsorship to further study is really something.

Early September 07, I received a call from Sultan Idris Educational University (UPSI), calling me for lecturership interview. I attended the interview and told Prof Dato' Vice Chancellor that I got an unconditional offer from the University of Warwick, and in the queue of UM sponsorship list. She verified my offer letter on the spot, and offered me the scholarship I am having now. 

This is just the beginning of my PhD journey. I appreciate what I am having now very much. This explains why I am trying my best to get the most out of my PhD journey.  


Syllabus of Social University

I had a long chat with my brother Seong yesterday. We talked about his and my future. Though we don't look alike physically--ok, he is taller and more handsome (based on my ex-students' comments) than me, we do share the same genes from our parents. I always agree with my mom's comment: he is very smart, but sometimes too smart (like figuring out creative ways to be lazy or become multi-millionaire). At heart, I always hope that he could follow my footsteps to enter ivory tower. When he was about to take SPM, I drove all the way from KL to Bahau every weekend to conduct tuition for him, and some of his friends (hoping to make him more comfortable with friends' accompanion). Although after he failed to score in SPM eventually, I still hoped to figure out ways (together with his sisters) to make my hope came true. The problem is, it all about my hope, not his. Am I pushing too hard?

Two weeks ago, I met a big group of Malaysian undergrad students in a BBQ gathering (gosh! I turned out to be the OLDEST of them all). I talked to some of them and asked them what do they want to be after completing their undergrad study. None of them had a clear picture of their career paths. I told my brother that: in a way you are better than them because you do not spend RM500K to RM1mil like them and yet don't know what will the future like. Of course, as Warwick's degrees are generally very "laku" worldwide, their bright future are almost assured once they obtain their degrees. Try not to be Ah Q.

I suggest to assist Seong to design and develop a syllabus for his "social university". Yes, I am serious. Once I get a PhD in Education, I think I dare to offer such kind of consultation service to any Malaysian, not limited to my family members. Indeed, when I was a lecturer in UniKL, I did similar things for selected few of my students, those who loved me and continue loving me as their lecturer. I have various kinds of tools to be used to construct the syllabus, such as mind mapping, stickystorm, 5W1H, Six Thinking Hats, etc etc. As for the content, it should consist of selected Confucian's ideology, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Aristotle's philosophy, theory of knowledge, Bloom's Taxonomy, etc etc. The duration of the study would be life-long, and the instructors of the programmes are everyone he encounters (like me, for example).

I once argued with a colleague about the differences between an instructor / teacher and an educator. I said I am not an educator, perhaps, I am yet to be qualified as an educator. The responsibility of an educator is too heavy, is life-long; while teacher's or instructor's is time-bound, temporary. To some people, being a teacher could be just a job to earn money for living (I think not in Malaysia, poor teachers~). Once a person stops to teach or instruct, he or she will no longer be called a teacher. Of course if the person teach till the day he or she retires, then the title "teacher" could be remained forever.

Being an educator, one should be able to provide insight or advice upon the syllabus of social university. The conception of social university, to me, came from Hong Kong drama series. In general, everyone works or lives in a society enters social university. The day you graduate might be the day you die. I am also a student of such university. I select the programmes or courses that I like (sometimes being forced to choose) and attend classes everyday. I am just luckier than a lot of my "coursemates"--I get Malaysian Government to pay some of my fees (Bachelor degree and PhD). But people normally see my lucky side and ignore those difficulties and painful pasts of mine. I designed my own syllabus in this university and I tried very hard to follow it. Now I am still trying.

So, interested to design one for yourself?


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