Archive for the ‘job’ Category

My second A-level GP experience

November 3, 2014

Paper 1 was ok. Many of the questions could be seriously considered as options, so it was a matter of making the most strategic choice. I chose the film question because the question demands were most reasonable and I had lots of examples to offer as illustrative evidence. Ironically there was a question about arms expenditure which I did think for a fraction of a second of doing, but seriously the film question was too good to pass up. I think I knocked it out of the park. Hopefully.

As expected, Paper 2 was a real rush for time. It’s not that the topic or the questions were hard or anything, but if you really want quality answers, students need time to think, to plan, to structure. All this rushing for time is going to produce poor, unconsidered answers. And there’re too many Type 1 questions for the paper’s own good. This year the obsession was on parallels, contrasts, and inter-paragraph links. Probably to fit the larger thematic argument that the ICT and Gutenberg revolutions are comparative. Are they getting rid of literary devices, or is it that each year there’s going to be a theme? Oh boy.


Exam Eve Thoughts

February 19, 2014

My Study of War exam is 11 hours away, but I can’t get to sleep.

No it’s not due to nerves. I feel good, quietly calm. I think I know my stuff. It’s the contemplation and the anticipation that is hard to bear.

Met up with SarahHOPS and WY today and we had a nice catchup. It always feels good to see your former students doing very well in the world. And it got me reflecting on the irony that I’m meeting up with more of my former charges than ever when I’m not in school this year. I’ve bumped into quite a few of them on campus too.

Trimester Three starts a week after the exams end. Gotta start thinking about what modules I want to take and then get working on the readings. They’ve already started uploading the finalised syllabi. It’s a ticking clock on a runaway train. Oh my.

But I haven’t felt this quiet peace, this comforting sync, in a while now. I want to savor it as much as I can, while I can. Keep the mental reserves healthy in the assets column while I can, to cash them out when I need them later.

Okay will stop here for now. Need to force myself to get to sleep or I won’t be at Ops One during the exam.

post-packing thoughts

December 9, 2013

So, the table’s cleared, the boxes moved back home, the card returned. Only one reference to go, and then I’m finally done.

This week marks the halfway point of Trimester 2, before a 3-week hiatus for Christmas. Time’s just zoomed by. I’m enjoying my modules; the Study of War and International Law are both very different in very different ways but each gives me its own meaning. The reading load is not too bad so far; I’ve been enjoying the much needed downtime from work; not sure if I’ll still say that come the first quarter of next year. Have to start thinking about the term papers too.

I realise I haven’t been blogging much lately; that’s because there isn’t anything terribly significant to say at the moment. But one thing I can guarantee – being an adult full-time student is going to be a whole new experience for me.

Thoughts upon ending Trimester One

October 24, 2013

Sat for my second and last – for now – exam today.

I actually had fun writing about asymmetric warfare between guerillas versus conventional armies. It’s been a long time since I sat for an exam, but I really enjoyed doing the question, not so much because I had brilliant, earth-shattering ideas, but because it gave me a chance to think through the ideas, instead of being all frazzled sweating the details. I even got the chance to choose my phrasing for rhetorical effect, as opposed to the madness of writing down as much as you can remember or understand. And yes, my handwriting has gotten REALLY bad. So I do empathize a little with my charges. Even though it’s been fifteen years since my last written exam.

Even though it was grueling, I can safely say I survived these 12 weeks. So what are my takeaways from this experience?

Firstly, I’m thankful for good lecturers who make time and try to make learning as meaningful as possible, given the constraints of adult education and all. Of course there were hiccups, but good people at the helm make you want to do your best as a student.

Next, I’m thankful for good classmates, especially those in my syndicate, who were a tightly knit bunch and came through always when needed. Whether it was sharing stuff on Dropbox, or giving me a ride to the MRT after class, or just saying hi in the library or along the corridors, it was good to feel solidarity with the people you’re learning new things with, because in one way or another, everyone grapples with the same issues, and it was good to feel you’re not in your own boat suffering alone. Especially important since you can’t really talk about stuff to people at work, who aren’t in the frame, so to speak, although working while studying meant I was always rushing and couldn’t spend more time just chilling with my classmates. I look forward to getting to know more people next trimester, now that I’m finally going to be a full-time student, and more fun times doing group assignments and projects together.

Thirdly, I learnt that we need to do the smart things, not just the right things. I should have prioritised getting started on the term papers sooner, instead of obsessing about getting through the weekly reading load. Rookie mistake, and no matter what people said to me, I suppose it was my way of trying to get a handle on things, what with having to juggle work as well. I realised it’s so important to reflect and not just read read read, that we need to devote some time to actually think about and think through the ideas, the concepts, and the context behind all of them. That’s why I don’t agree with the idea of high-stake exams at the Masters level, because what kind of reflection, synthesis or consolidation can we do with a ticking clock over our heads?

Anyway, I felt I really learned things after sharing views with others, in class and outside, and thinking and reflecting about things. The point is not to get an appreciation of the evolution of strategic thought over thirteen weeks, but to get started on appreciating it, long after the module is over. Similarly, I’m glad I started developing an appreciation for the analysis of defense and security policies over those weeks, especially when my initial impression was that the module was too operational and too utilitarian to be meaningful. I’m glad I got the opportunity to change my mind.

And that said, I’m glad I’m starting to not get obsessed over grades anymore. Of course, it would be nice to ace modules, but at this stage of my life, it’s more important chasing knowledge than As, because you can never catch the totality of knowledge even if you catch As. I personally feel I don’t deserve the grades I got for my term papers, because I really should have disciplined myself to use my time more productively and turn in a much higher quality of work. I want to earn the grades I get, not be the fortunate beneficiary of some bell curve policy. So I hope I will do better next trimester, not necessarily in terms of grades, but in terms of being more academically disciplined. I feel that’s the best way I can be a role model for my charges, since I won’t have any next year.

And finally, I’m glad I had my charges alongside me at the start of this journey. Although it was really difficult having to teach and study at the same time, in the end I benefited most from having to fulfill responsibilities at both ends. Having the privilege and luxury of learning again, of being at the back of the class again after such a long time being off the books, made me all the more resolute to do my best when it came time for me to be at the front of the class. I will definitely miss my charges, and while I will not have the privilege of leading them on the charge over the GP hill next year, I think I have done enough to pass the torch on to better hands.

So what happens now? Most immediately, it’s back to wind down work and then back to school for a brand new Trimester Two starting 5 November. The timetable is already out, and course details and reading lists will follow tomorrow, and before we know it, results will be out next month. So I suppose there’s not much time to catch a breath, literally, but it’s important to take time out to pen these things, so that it stands as a record and reflection of what happened when I made the small decision of going back to school this July.

TD: Words that move

September 9, 2013

I don’t believe in Instagramming what’s meant for my eyes only; ’tis an ego that’s mine to savor – alone.

I cannot broadcast gratitude; no, that shall be a wordless communique; or, carried by the ether of instant messaging, one phone to another; nestled.

Enough that enough should be said, or unsaid, wordless.

A quick update

September 1, 2013

Trying to juggle both work and studies is tough. Feeling guilty that I can’t give 100% to both. That no matter how hard I try, I end up shortchanging both. Case in point – I should be working on my assignments already but the marking never stops. Hoping to use the one week break to do something about it.

I don’t regret doing this – I’m still chuffed after the end of class even though it’s so late. I hope the enthusiasm doesn’t die.

I’m so tired!

July 16, 2013

And class hasn’t started yet!

Been marking the BT, and even though I’m being very disciplined for the first in the longest time, I’m so exhausted. It’s been a grueling non-stop insane two week period. How ever am I going to juggle this and my studies at the same time???

I hope I can finish in the next two days so I can at least have the weekend to do my readings. But before that there’s Orientation so I hope it’ll be fun.

I am so not prepared for class.

Gotta up being disciplined with my time

July 14, 2013

So Orientation is later this week, and now that I’m done with the essays, I hope I can polish off the compres before I immerse myself back into the life of a student again.

I admit I’m excited; there’s going to be a whole lot to do, but it feels very motivating at this point. I really hope I can cope in the first six months.

And the highlight of last week was three parties asking to reconnect, three parties who really didn’t do anything for me in the past and whom I don’t want in my life anymore. Old softhearted me would probably see things differently; but now I know better than to give myself and my time to people who only want to make use of me when I meet their needs.

Screw you all. I’m better than this.

It’s times like these you really know it’s the best Job in the world

July 7, 2013

A rather special week this was, what with two class gatherings in the space of three days. I haven’t seen them in a large group since four years ago, and it was great to reconnect with those who turned up and see how everyone’s grown. You feel time passes by so quickly, and how they were once like your current charges are. And you want to tell the latter, don’t grow up so quickly, and things will turn out okay.

It’s times like this you really know it’s the best Job in the world.

Building a cathedral

June 16, 2013

“We don’t want to come to work to build a wall, we want to come to work to build a cathedral.”

– Simon Sinek, Start with Why

I haven’t clicked ‘Accept’ yet, but I believe, deep down in my gut, this is the right decision. It may cost a financial bomb, but as Adama says, “Sometimes you have to roll a hard six.”