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Why Career Planning Is Time Wasted

Posted in all posts, planning by coleman yee on January 30, 2007

We teachers have this tendency to encourage our students to do long-term planning, partly because that’s what we’ve been encouraged to do ourselves when we were younger, and even in every stage of our career.

For myself, even though I don’t ask my students explicitly to plan, I’d sometimes ask  rather unthinkingly, things like, “so what are you going to do after you graduate?”

The student who hasn’t made any plans yet would normally be a little embarressed that they don’t have any plans to speak of, and thus be pressured to start thinking and making plans.

But after reading this article, “Why Career Planning Is Time Wasted“, I’m brought to realize that long-term career planning is overrated, probably useless, and often results in less-than-happy situations if followed.

The next time I ask a student about their plans, I’ll remember to add that it’s really not necessary to plan so far ahead, and that they’ll probably be happier off without the planning.

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Creating Great Schools

Posted in all posts, books, education, innovation, management, policy by coleman yee on January 24, 2007

Educators know that there is something deeply wrong with the school and educational systems, and that there’s definitely a need for change. And yes, changes have been made, but real, positive results, if any at all, are barely visible. In fact, resistance is rife, or if not resistance, neglect or grudging compliance, perhaps until management gives up.

Creating Great Schools: Six Critical Systems at the Heart of Educational Innovation by Phillip C. Schlechty is a book that addresses the issue.

Creating Great Schools
But what is wrong? What, exactly, is the problem?

I often hear educators complain about “students nowadays”, who, unlike in the good ol’ days, have less respect for teachers and have little self-discipline. The implication would often be that the fault lies with the students (and their parents and the society), and there’s little the teacher can do.

What educators often miss is that there’s a need for a paradigm shift – a shift from compliance and attendance to engagement. According to Schlechty,

the present system is designed to produce compliance and attendance. What we need are schools that ensure that most students learn at high levels […]. To achieve this, schools must be redesigned to nurture commitment and attention.

Because schools are really complex social organizations, when implementing systemic changes (“educational innovations”), social systems within the organization need to be managed and changed as well, without which the effort in systemic change is almost sure to fail. Schlechty identifies 6 critical social systems:

  • Recruitment and induction systems
  • Knowledge transmission systems
  • Power and authority systems
  • Evaluation systems
  • Directional systems
  • Boundary systems

Schlechty explains in detail how each of the 6 critical systems affect the dynamics of the school system, and some key questions to be addressed by the management.

While this book deals only with the American school system, the same problems often exist in other educational systems elsewhere. And Schlechty certainly seems to have a clear grasp of the problems in educational systems.

An important book for those interested in educational and change management.

Read Your Feeds

Posted in all posts, kids, rss by coleman yee on January 20, 2007

I can almost see this coming.

My colleague and I have been extolling the benefits of RSS feeds* as a useful technology for learning. Since some of the lecturers we evangelize to are parents as well, this might become an unintended side-effect, especially in kiasu Singapore.

Where Do You Think You're Going, Mister!?

[* Basically, RSS feeds allow you to draw out content like articles or blog posts from different sites, and aggregate or put them together in one place (the RSS aggregator) so you can read the new content at that one place, without having to visit all those sites to check if there’s new content. This means that if I subscribe to the RSS feeds of a hundred websites (a realistic figure), with some sites about science, art, politics, etc., whenever a new article appears on one of those hundred sites, that same new article would also appear in my RSS aggregator as well. An RSS aggregator is a little like an email program – it can be web-based or a program which you install on your computer.]

Web Standards Group Meeting

Posted in all posts, web by coleman yee on January 17, 2007

The first meeting of Singapore’s Web Standards Group finally happened today at Raffles Girls’ School.

Lucian started the meeting with an introductory presentation on web standards, while I did an introduction to web accessibility (“how to bluff your way through web accessibility”), and Nick Pan presented on the U21 Global site. Nick also showed a very nice representation of web standards by Natalie Jost called “web standards in a nutshell“.

A great session overall, finally getting to meet people I’ve encounted online for a long time (like Jimmy and Ivan Lian), and meeting other really cool people like Herryanto and Manar Hussain.

And those of you who were there, let me know what you think of my presentation!

Update:

I won’t be posting my PowerPoint slides, since they don’t work on their own (without a human presenter). But here’s one of the slides which the audience liked:

the good-evil continuum
(click to enlarge)

And here’s the DVD example I stole from Douglas Bowman.

Here are some others who blogged about the event:

“The Future of Learning” Manifesto

Posted in all posts, education, future, learning, stories, teaching by coleman yee on January 6, 2007

think:lab has a thought-provoking manifesto on “The Future of Learning”.

Since I’m an Educational Technologist, I’ll just quote his point on the use of technology:

9.  It Ain’t About the Technology.  It’s About the Story.

Laptops?  (Yawn)
Blogging? (Yawn)
PowerPoint? (Snore)
Multi-Media Center with a Starbucks ‘coffee house’ espresso shot in the backside? (Daring?  21st century school?  Yawn.)

How about we stop talking all giddy-like about the technology.  For us, it’s not about the box.  Not even about the iPod in pink or black.   And it’s definitely not about the email (psst:  we don’t email ‘cept when old people need help).

It’s about the conversation.   The ricochet of words.  The energy.  The fact that its happening right here right now and it ain’t coming back.

Definitely worth reading and pondering over if you’re an educator.