Saturday, September 12, 2009

What IS your symbol of play?

This is an interesting presentation by Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO. Some ideas that are worth revisiting and reflecting is the idea on the symbol of play. Each iconic innovative organization in the world has an icon that symbolizes PLAY, a symbol of perhaps that whilst they are working, it does not stop them from creating the notion that work and play should not be something that is mutually exclusive.

Another idea worth looking at is the sad fact that as one grows older, one tends to become less and less creative. I definitely don't want that to happen in my classrooms, and I hope I won't live to see the day that my students find me a total bore, and would rather be doing something else, than be engaged by me.

The third and last thing that I would like to touch on is the idea of role-playing and modeling as a means towards creating empathy, something perhaps I have touched on in one of my earlier posts on the 6 facets of understanding. Interesting to note that perhaps one of the best tool for creating a more user-centric product is to first and foremost be empathetic about the problems posed, and what better way than to role-play it out.

There are lots more morsels of interesting bites that are contained in this video. All I can say is that if you have 28 minutes to spare, just have a look at it. Enjoy:

The rise of the micro-micropreneurs

It is interesting that of late, there are a significant number of internet-based businesses that are cropping up, and that are run by just setting up a website on an almost freely-available platform, coupled with a little bit of ingenuity and some niche marketing. I must say congratulations to these people who have taken that first step, perhaps a bold one even, to take on this challenge of becoming your own boss. I would like to call them micropreneurs, due to their current small-scale mode of operations, and their sometimes even more-niche target consumers.

In fact, I am myself tempted to take that step too, to become a micropreneur myself. It doesn't help that I am constantly surrounded my innovative people, that somehow or rather, have triggered that innate micropreneur spirit in me! Well I must say I once tried to set up not one, but two such micro-businesses online, only to find out that the business model that I was adopting is not sustainable. Of course it didn't fly, but then again, surprisingly, I don't have any regrets about it at all. In fact it just makes me more determined to relook at my model, and perhaps come out with something that would work, and be sustainable in the near future.

And leading that discussion is the very idea that perhaps, asking students to be micropreneurs could be just the sort of thing that would really encapsulate the very ideals of Applied Learning and Holistic/Integrative Education. It doesn't matter that they might just be starting out by selling bookmarks, or ice cream in the school's fun fair, what matters more is that they are willing to do it, and are able to know the intricacies of how to start a microbusiness, and sustain it over a certain period of time. I do believe that being a micropreneur is an almost perfect platform for us to develop our students to be able to equip them with the necessary skillsets for their very survival in this uncertain future. But I need to disqualify myself with the word 'almost', because, if we are not careful and just allow businesses to grow with the sole concern of just making money, at the expense of values and such, then we could also be leading and teaching them the wrong things (aka values) too. This is where we just have to be more mindful about what the key objectives are when we set off to encourage them to start working on a business. Is it just about making more money, or more about values? It would be nice to have both, but then, sometimes, these are the very shades of grey that I was mentioning earlier in my post, the same ones that would either turn him into a better man (or woman), or just let him astray into the dark side.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Re-Understanding 'Understanding'

I do have the pleasure of revisiting and questioning some of my teaching approaches these past few months, as I make preparations to develop and refine my institution's curriculum further. It is good to have that luxury of time and space, no matter how little it may be, to reflect on what you have done as a teaching professional. I do believe it is only fair that in as much as we want our students to learn, we as teachers, must also be relearning ourselves. We should set the example, and just like what my boss said a couple of weeks ago, we as teachers are actually teaching our students what we are. Interesting concept actually, but upon reflection, it is indeed true. Can you remember how so many times we as teachers have taken the prescriptive approach and role of deciding for these students what is right or wrong, what is the 'right' way of doing things, and what is 'wrong'. But in reality, all things do not necessarily gravitate into clear shades of black and white. There are certain things that exists within the middle shades of grey, and if the predispositions and the values that we imbue in our students are not grounded strong enough, or if it is left to be unfacilitated, then all I can say is that we might actually see a preponderence of young adults that would grow up to have questionable value systems.

Which leads me to the reflections that I have on this thing about 'Understanding'. So many times, we as professionals and educators, have faltered in clarifying our understanding about what understanding is all about. Can you count how many times do we take the easy way out of assuming that students have understood what we have taught by just being able to do the homework and assignments that we have given to them? Or conversely, the number of times that we have enlightened the students' perspectives of the knowledge content by enlightening them even further, and perhaps make them SEE the knowledge that they have just learnt, into something that is even, should I say, deeper?

This short slideshow on the idea of understanding is one of those things that I have uncovered these past few weeks, thanks to my boss. It is good to know that I am constantly re-learning at my present environment, and I guess I won't just stop anytime soon, or for that matter, anytime at all. I hope my dear readers would begin to appreciate what understanding is all about, by looking at it from the proposed 6 facets in the slideshow. Enjoy!

"The Best I Could"

For my non-FB friends, a review of a book that I just read:

"The Best I Could", by Suhhas Anandan
An interesting read indeed into the minds and early years of Singapore's best criminal lawyer. About what makes him tick; the early years that he experiences that shapes him to what he is today, a brazen, but dedicated defence lawyer that will almost go all out to defend his clients, no matter that most of them are people whom the public have already 'convict'. What sets him apart is not the fact that he defends them for the sake of defending them, but more so in the belief that the system works and that it should and ought to work even for those that the public have already made up their minds. It's about the very ideals that even the worst of criminals do deserve a fair hearing at the courts. And interestingly, his own reflections also mentioned about possibilities, about whether some of the things that he has done are correct, especially so when one hears of criminals returning back to their old ways because they had gotten away in their earlier transgressions. The last chapter about keeping promises also throws a light on his innate character, of one who would keep up to his end of the deal, and seems to me to be the most touching too.

When the butterfly flutter its wings?

Have you heard of the butterfly effect? The effect that theorizes the possibility that when a butterfly flaps its wings in China, it can actually cause a storm in the West. Well it is really hard to believe that such a thing can possibly happen, but after having several bouts and moments of the 'fluttering butterfly effect' over the last few years, I just can't help but to revisit some of the milestones in my life, and reflect about the decisions and possibilities that I have made. You know those forked paths in your live that forces you to make a decision, to choose a path to move ahead, to select a major one that perhaps could have repercussions and implications to what is going to happen to you further down your journeys. I know I have a couple of those, in fact I think quite a number of those, some of which I must say still left me with that niggling feeling of, 'What would happen to me if I chose the other one?'. I must say there were a few major ones that I came across, perhaps to name one is that time when I rejected the PSC scholarship that was offered to me way back in early 1990's! Sometimes I do wonder what would happen to me right now if I were to take up that scholarship, I mean it might just be a life-changer, but then again, it might not be after all! No one would ever know right?

And how about that decision by my father to travel southwards from his hometown in Johor down to Singapore, when he was just a teenager? What would happen if he did not even want to make that move, that journey! Maybe, just maybe i might not even exist, or perhaps might be know as irfan 'something', or might be known by any other name except irfan darian. Funny how things just seems to fall in place, somehow...everytime.

Maybe that is why I am an optimist, a cynical idealistic optimist! Because I also do believe that everything happens for a reason, whether good or bad...there's always a reason! They call it 'Hikmah'.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If it ain't broke, don't fix it...

It has been a wild ride so far, a ride that surprisingly I won't trade places for anything else, a ride perhaps that could only happen once, or even twice in a person's life, much like marriage I guess. It is one of those things that would sap almost everything out of you, but would then reward you with an infinite degree of satisfaction. Crazy? Sadistic? Haha, is just one of those things that I feel I just needed to do, to perhaps be the change, or to make that change, rather than waiting for someone to make that change, or something to happen! After all, it is not everyday in your life that you'll be part of something new, or exciting, and in my case, both!

But people do ask why do we want to change at all? Why after the work that I have done and established, do I want to fix something that ain't broke! Well I think it is not about fixing something that is broke. And firstly, it ain't even broke! It is about teaching and educating after all, not about teaching the subject, but about teaching the child, no, it is about EDUCATING the child. Because i do feel that if it ain't broke, don't fix it, we'll just make it better!