goodbye week 2, bring it on week 3 (and Friedman rush)

Another week just flew by. Wow. Time really does fly.

The highlight of last week was really the return and debrief of the Block Test papers.  While some were pretty subdued, others seem to take it well in their stride.  I must say despite having had 3 different people (on average) share the work, standards have been pretty uniform.  Am reading through all the essays myself too, to get a sense of what they lack and then devise ways of how to get them to improve. Was surprised to find SVA errors – had thought they would be banished over here already. Precisely because they do not appear often, they become harder to detect because they are sprinkled sparingly among the 2 or 3 pages.  I guess that’s the challenge – to read closely AND quickly. 

Another surprising find was the unnecessary use of the definite article; now this is frankly scary.  One wonders how much drill and practice they actually had from P1-6; not a lot, most likely.

Then comes what is arguably the greatest challenge of all – how to get them to think through and construct well-thought-out arguments that answer the question, instead of focusing on indirect inessentials or, worse, embedding narratives into their arguments.  The lack of examples can also be plausibly worrying.  Observing that some choose to write in an informal, conversational, journalistic style, I’m reminded of how much influence the media and the views it purports has on the minds of all of us, especially impressionable adolescents.  It’s scary when you think about just how much we take for granted as received wisdom, instead of seriously asking ourselves what is the agenda behind the supposedly objective propagation of certain ‘normative’ views by the media.  I’m not gonna quote examples here at this time, because I still have essays to read and I don’t think I’ll be able to do a good job of it without my brain fully engaged on the issue. But I’m sure there’re lots of sites and blogs out there that one could refer to to get a deeper and better insight into the issues.

On another note, I did a little impulse buying on Friday and Saturday. I was at Kino on Friday, having originally decided to pick up Updike’s Terrorist and check out Friedman’s Longitudes and Attitudes to see if it was really worth buying, when I picked up The Lexus and the Olive Tree and really got into it after a few pages. So, when it was time to meet AC for dinner, I – get this – actually grabbed not only Lexus and Longitudes, but decided to make a go of it as well and get The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century too.  (As of today, I’m close to halfway through Lexus; it’s been a battle to concentrate on getting through the essay and just ploughing through the entire book.)  Needless to say, this Friedman rush set me back close to a hundred bucks, but that’s not all.  On Saturday, while WS browsed at Popular Orchard for assessment books, I went over to the bargains section (the whole place is going at 20% by the way, a storewide firehouse sale as it is closing at year’s end) and picked up Chris Cleave’s Incendiary for $8. Not too bad a deal actually. Celebrated WS’ birthday and the dinner set me back a little bit, but it was worth it because the food was great.  Too bad I didn’t have a go at everything and actually got a little sick just looking at the obscene amounts of food available.  Then again, I really should have passed on the gamberoni bistro for lunch had I known I was going to a buffet in three hours’ time.  Oh well.  I plan to go there again, though, and this time, be well-prepared for a gastronomic experience.

Okay, I’m gonna stop here and get back to my essay-reading. Tomorrow the mentors are taking the noobs (YS, LL, SL and myself, most probably) to lunch, so that’ll be a highlight. I just hope it won’t be a buffet though.


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