Friday, November 24, 2006

Does Geography have any 'big ideas/concepts' other than space'?

Having started this blog on a rather shaky post on Big Ideas/concepts, I shall attempt to write the 'last' post of this semester about the same topic. After reading Pearlyn's post on Big Ideas, I was struck by a thought that popped into my head. Concepts like 'globalisation' and 'uneven development' and the likes of it, do they really belong exclusively to the subject Geography?

Funnily enough, I did a search in the Internet with Webcrawler and I found a pdf. article that talks about 'enduring understandings' by Wiggins and McTighe. According to these two authors, 'enduring understandings' refer to important ideas and values that will last beyond the classroom. Interestingly, the article mentioned that the 'enduring understanding' in Geography deals with the issue of 'where we live influences how we live'. Why do I say interesting? Obviously when the article talks about 'where', it refers to places and spaces. Geography is viewed as a spatial subject where spaces are seen as 'abstract' containers which are filled with human, cultural, socio-political, natural landscapes.

On the other hand, it is of particular interest that the article has a section on Social Studies (how apt, since we will be taking SS next semester) which states that SS has an 'enduring understanding' of how
People really do see the world in fundamentally different ways. People behave as they do because of the things they believe in and value. People behave as they do for a reason.
Culture is dynamic and powerful. It shapes how we view the world, ourselves, and others.
This brings to my mind an interesting argument that we had in my Honours year during Geography Thought about what Geography is all about. And we had the benefit of having a debate with the Sociology Department about whether Geography or Sociology is important or not. It seems to me that what this article implies that Geography is inherently a spatial subject devoid of humanistic touch, while this is vice versa for SS. There appears a perpetual tension over whether Geography is the 'mother' of all subjects since it encompasses concepts from all disciplines from the sciences to social sciences and humanities or if Geography as a subject is redundant.

I think it is pertinent to consider such theoretical stands as we embark on our teaching career. The Geography syllabus has changed much since our times. What students are learning are far broader and deeper than what we did during our Secondary school days. The concepts of 'industrialisation' in the context of uneven development and 'gloabalisation' have taken prominent place in the Geography syllabus. Yet, such concepts do not appear only in the Geography textbooks. In Social Studies, students are taught the topic of industrialisation in Singapore. Social Studies seem to be more dynamic and vibrant as it even talks about the topic of geopolitics in Singapore-Malaysia ties, the Sri Lanka conflict etc. What I am arguing over here is that the lines can be so blur between Geography and SS that sometimes Geography teachers can have a mini, if not major, identity crisis.

If teachers can have such identity crises, what more can students face? Being amateurs in the academic world, they study such concepts in Geography and Social Studies. How can they not be confused by what Geography is all about? Being amateurs, they cannot be taught the most fundamental concepts of 'space' and 'place' (give and take, 'time' as well). These concepts are too abstract for their understanding. Even academics in the tertiary institutions are embroiled in this never-ending argument about space and place and Geography. If this is so, how can teachers confidently 'define' their subject to their wards? How to then teach Geography to students when they study concepts that are not exclusive to the subject alone? It is possible to say that one is a Chemistry, Biology, Physics and even History teacher in schools because their definitions are very basic and clear to students. What makes a Geography teacher? What makes Geography? Can we just give them the simple definition of "Geo=earth, graphy= study of" and so Geography is the study of the earth? When students think of Earth, is it an Earth which has only natural landscapes on it, or one that is seen from the outer space, or one that encompasses both human and natural elements in it? Can Geography be defined only with concepts like 'globalisation' etc., concepts which seem so far away from our students?

How can one demarcate the boundary between the 2 disciplines of Geography and Social Studies, for the matter? In reality, 'globalisation' does not belong to Geography alone. Other concepts like 'Regionalisation' cannot be claimed by Geography alone. These concepts are readily bandied about in other disciplines as well. In the case of 'regionalisation' and 'uneven development' etc., they can be key concepts in Economics as well. Even the late Edward Said's 'geographical imagination' does not have 'geographical' roots as he was not a Geographer. So what makes Geography? Space? The study of maps alone? Geography has to stay relevant in contemporary times. It cannot just be the subject which studies only maps. The above mentioned concepts belong almost exclusively to in the Economic sphere, which seem to suit to Singapore's pragmatic needs. Hence, perhaps this may shed light on why our Geography syllabus has changed so much since our times. The question, however, is Geography in our syllabus 'holistic' enough to make our students realise that it goes beyond 'regionalisation', 'uneven development' and 'globalisation'?

Also how does one tell a student that he/she studies Geography and hence he/she can explain some 'geographical' phenomena to the layman when 1) sub-discipline specialists like geologists, hydrologists, transport specialists (notice even ST do not call Profs. Paul Barter and Ragu geographers), ecologists are often interviewed in newspapers and not geographers when events of geographical importance had occured and 2) Social Studies serve only to confuse them even more?

WebQuest and its learning points

Alright, after 5 days of craziness, the Coastal Management WebQuest is finally up and running.

I can finally take a deep breath and take a short break before I run off to settle the up and coming GESL Camp with the Deyi students.

This WebQuest was actually conceptualised way before the deadline. Yingqian and me had a rough idea of what we wanted to do- focusing on Coastal Management strategies and their effectiveness. We foolishly thought that WebQuest will be far more simple than the last ICT package that we had to do. But no... when we started proper, we realised that it was really plenty of hard work in searching for suitable websites and thinking of challenging scenarios for students to play around with. We wanted to create a scenario which may be relevant to the students' daily lives; which was why we thought of getting them to imagine themselves to be in the role of residents living near a coastal area. Better than getting them to be government officials, environmentalists etc. I think these roles are being over-used to the point that it scream boring to students.

Another reason why we focused on this topic was also because we wanted students to realise that coastal management is extremely important to Singapore. This may not be impact upon their lives directly, but we wanted to drive home the point that coastal management structures are here in Singapore and they play an important role in protecting our beaches like East Coast Park etc. I think this is really essential and necessary so that students will realise that this is relevant to their lives, and with their grasp of such geographical knowledge, they would be able to do something about it in the near future by creating awareness their friends and family members. If not, at the very least they are able to take something concrete back home. Hopefully with this WebQuest, students will see Geography in a different light and accord it with as much respect as they give to other more 'pragmatic' subjects like the Sciences.

The purpose of this WebQuest also serves to stretch the students' thinking skills and creativity. They will be asked to evaluate the effectiveness of coastal protection measures. Thereafter, they are to design a pamphlet or website to convince other residents of their solutions. In a way, the WebQuest activity has plenty of 'teachable' moments. By getting students to vote for the best solutions, they would have subconsciously picked up the ideals and importance of having public participation in policy-making as well as the importance of having fair and democratic decision-making processes. Politics with a small 'p', not with a capital 'P'. I know this is somehow idealistic of me to think that it may be possible for them to pick up or at least have some basic understanding of the importance of such ideals in the running of a society. But, one must have hope right? In a way, this is NE, in a very subtle way. Then again, there is the constraint of them having such ideals in schools but rapidly realising that such ideals are almost impossible in reality leading to the rapid descend towards apathy. But if we do not take the risk, we will never move forward, right?

Another one of my life'sphilosophy. Heh.

Let's talk about the technical stuff now. Making a website may seem deceptively simple. Usually I will tend to think, 'Oh, just make lor'. But after this experience (and a very good learning experience too), I realised that making a website can be very tedious. Geocities is simple to use. But I realised that Dreamweaver is definitely the most user-friendly programme to use. Alas, time was not on our side, or I would confidently suggest using the latter. Firstly, it was tedious when Geocities do not have grids, which means that the task of aligning bullet points and links was an extremely difficult one for me. Secondly, the Yahoo server can be quite cranky at times. I gave up making the site on FireFox after a few first tries. IE was much better. But, there were trouble saving the work at times, which wasted us quite a bit of time transferring our stuff from Word to Geocities and vice versa. Well, in terms of functions and features, Dreamweaver definitely had more and much advanced ones. Flash anyone?? It would also be much easier to do everything offline and then transferring the file to a server. I was put off by the jargon in Dreamweaver. What's the difference between 'html' and 'xhtml'? It was the fear of technology and the frightening thought of losing my work if I saved the file under the wrong code that made me and Yingqian chose Geocities.

I did not have the confidence to do it on Dreamweaver. I did not have the confidence to tell her that I will be able to do it with the mentioned software. There were many learning points during this steep learning journey. 1) I finally understood the fears that many of the older generation griped about with new technology. 2) I realised that in my course of teaching, I need to be very aware and confident of what I am going to impart to my students. If I do not appear to be confident to them, how are they going to buy in my ideas? Being a teacher is just like a salesman job, except that we sell ideas and not merchandise. 3) Building up of resources and thinking of captivating activities for students to do is no easy task. The younger generation are always more dynamic and more technology in-sync than a majority of us. (I feel so old now) It really requires a lot of effort from the teachers to stay at the same pace as them, if not stay a step ahead of them. The classroom environment is everchanging. Humans are everchanging. But humans also have a tendency to remain in their comfortable niches.

As the saying goes, 'If Mohammad doesn't go to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammad.' If students do not respond to our teaching techniques, then we must respond and change to capture their heart and soul. Sounds easy, but as illustrated in this WebQuest journey, this is not easy. It would seem unfair that teachers have to do the bulk of the adaption to students' needs. Why not students? Do we really need to treat them as our clients and potential customers in order to do our jobs? I will be highly disturbed the majority has this perception. Majority i.e. the official view. Are we to molly coddle our students and to serve them like kings and queens in school when in reality, the world does not care a hoot about them at all? However, from a macro point of view, the world is everchanging too. Technology is always advancing and the young are sold by such new ways of doing things. So does that mean that students are always right and teachers should always adapt to their cultures and habits in order to reach out and teach them?

Take for example, the use of powerpoint. Students are increasingly visual and virtual learners because of advances in technology. (Hell, I have just started to learn how to use an iPod nanno, which I am sure many teenagers are totally adept in using it) I am rapidly realising that the powerpoint could be (or already is) the upgraded blackboard/whiteboard where we just teach from there. Can the web be one day be the virtual blackboard? It would seem so, judging on how reliant and desperate we are in terms of having to do assignments in NIE that are ICT-related. Yes, the web and technology can be used to create a student-centred learning environment. But I fear the day when we go to school pondering, 'What's next after the Web?' for students to really 'enjoy' their learning. Telecommunications? Teaching through MSN? Webcast? Podcast?

Good luck to us all in our teaching careers.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Jolted out of my comfort zone

'Teaching caused my breakdown'

I know the previous post was supposed to be the last for the Micro-teaching series, but I was quite troubled by the 'mosquito incident'. In a way that was a very poignant example of how sometimes teachers can lose control of themselves in front of their students. This comes in the midst of all the pressures that teachers face in schools. On top of having to produce students with good academic results, teachers have to deal with class management issues as well. And not to mention that teachers may sometimes be emotionally affected by events outside of their work life.

I know that teachers do have to maintain a sense of professionalism. Admittedly, I was not in tiptop condition on Monday as I should never have done that in the first place (have yet to recover emotionally from weekend blues actually, I was really feeling quite drained). Ironically, it is also the pressure of 'acting' professional that teachers may suffer from emotional breakdowns. It is really not easy to block all our worries and troubles even if it was easy to say so to others. This no doubt will have a great impact on the students especially if teachers act irrationally in front of students. Even worse, if teachers do something irrational to students.

Never say never. I was still shocked and highly disturbed by my reaction towards Latifah. Her misbehaviour may be minor, but it really drove home the point that if teachers were on the verge of a breakdown, even a minor event of misbehaviour by a student could set her/him loose. In a way, that was really a terrible experience and feeling. As most would agree, it is better to learn from our mistakes in NIE. And I must say I am really grateful that I committed this grave mistake on Monday for it jolted me from my so-called 'comfort zone' and forced me to face this very real and frightening issue.

It is very important, I think, for us to be very honest with ourselves at all times. We need to constantly question ourselves every morning if we are in the right state of mind to face our students. We need to also to be aware that recognising our inability to deal with work issues is not a failure on our part. But rather, it is the first step of saving our career. For many of us (and even for me), we may somehow have the mentality that recognising our weaknesses and going for counselling (or even taking a short break during school term) is a sign of of our vulnerability. In fact, to me, this is a sign of strength because we are courageous enough to save ourselves from plunging further into our problems. It would be a vicious cycle when we are emotionally unstable and drained and could not handle our students. And one day, we will break. Students will suffer as well. This is a lose-lose situation that we must avoid. Unfortunately, I could not avoid that on Monday.

I think it would be good for teachers to know where they can seek help when they are feeling down, wouldn't it? I think MOE does provide counselling services to teachers? I wonder what services or resources are available for us to utilise when we need them.

Nevertheless, I am really humbled by my experience on Monday.

"God is the only one who can help you see your humble circumstance from His viewpoint-a high position. It is a high position because of what God is going to teach you in this place. He does not intend you to stay there; it is merely a stopping place to learn some important things you would not learn otherwise. Press into God and trust Him for the outcome to your circumstances."

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. - James 1:9

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Microteaching: thoughts from the last session

'No magic button' for class discipline

There is this line in the article which may take some by surprise.

"It is quite possible that children behaving badly in the High Street in the evenings are actually behaving OK during the day at school."

I think this holds some truth in the local context as well. It is possible for students to behave badly outside of school. Lack of parental guidance is one very good reason. Sometimes kids start to misuse the freedom that they have because they feel bored and need some excitement in their lives. Also being outside of watchful eyes, they may be more emboldened to commit some acts which may not be necessarily approved by the school authorities. Sometimes, it is not out of sheer rebellion. But out of a sense of curiosity. And once the curiosity has been filled, kids may feel that 'hey, since nothing bad has happened to me, let's do it again!'

I think when we know of such occurances, we should not be too quick to judge the kids. Very often we do not look at our students beyond the identity of a student. I guess, the reverse holds true for teachers as well. We need to be aware that students have a life outside of school and are susceptible to influences beyond the school compound.

And sometimes, we may be taken by surprise by some students whom we thought that they are model students. It is very easy for us to forget that they are still growing up and exploring their comfort zone. Some students may be able to hide their 'other' identity very well in school. I would not say that they are smart or stupid. But I think it is just human nature to adapt to certain ways to survive in a particular environment. Nobody likes to be condemned or hauled to see the DM or school counsellor in front of the whole class. Even if this is done on a one-to-one basis, it will still be very humiliating for the student. We need to realise that what these students do can fall into shades of grey.

I still can recall this incident in my alma mata. She was a very decent, quiet and polite girl. But somehow or rather, she was just not interested in her studies and was constantly playing truant. This came to a head-on when she arrived in school one day with several contraband items. I don't know if I am correct or not, but I guessed that the reason for her doing this is to get herself expelled out of school. Can't think of any other reason. We can't exactly condemn her cos what she felt that she was doing may be more beneficial to her rather than wasting her time in school. Seen from an educator's point of view, we would probably recoil in horror by now. But I am pretty sure, she had her reasons for doing so. Misguided or not, I would not know.

Then, there is the opposite of such students. Students who behave badly in class may behave in a decent manner outside of class. Perhaps, this is a typical rebellious student who tends to go against the authority in his every move. Perhaps, such students feel that they are not shown enough respect in class. But once they are out of school, they can behave decently. No doubt their behaviour may be a little loutish at times, but these may be the same people who have clear principles and will not hesitate to help others in need in public. It is particularly important for teachers to be sincere and take a positive interest in them, rather than being skeptical and mock and question them if we do not want to lose such students.

I think we really cannot judge students for what they are just on the basis of how they behave in school. Yet, it is a tragedy that teachers are so caught up in their work pressures that they tend to forget that it is entirely possible for students to display a set of behaviours in school and another different set outside school. Because students like any other human beings do have multiple identities too. And students (especially those who are street smart) may be even more adept in applying survival skills in order to survive in different environments than teachers.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Microteaching part 2

Gonna pen my thoughts down before I plan my lesson plan for next week. And nope, I shall keep the cards closely to my chest. Since the 'students' are capable of springing surprises, I should spring a couple of surprises on them too. =X

Planning a fieldwork lesson ain't easy. Like the FSP, I am finding it quite tedious to think through all the risk assessments and do a recee around the campus to find something 'teachable' for the students. There is the safety aspect that I have to consider. I also have to put myself through mentally what my 'students' would be capable of when they are in the field. I am referring to the misbehaviours that they will spring on me. After going through all the possible scenarios (which bugged me for the entire weekend and I even dreamt of that), I realised that the issue of trust between the teacher and her students takes centre-stage when one is considering whether to take students for fieldwork or not. This trust issue lies in whether the teacher trusts the students to behave themselves. Like, will they create mischieve with weather measurement tools? If they damage the instruments, who will take the bulk of the responsibility? IMO, the issue of whether the students can learn independently can sometimes be taken for granted or overrided by this TRUST that teachers place a high priority on. This is especially so when my prospective 'students' next week could be springing some nasty surprises on me. Am expecting the opposite too where they don't do anything at all.

This brings me to the next point of reiterating what I said in my earlier post about who is going to benefit from fieldwork/fieldtrips. Really, if teachers expects, or rather had experiences with 'terrible' (sorry for the 'Timmism', but I am trying to be politically correct over here) students in the classroom, what would give them the incentive to plan lessons outside the classroom? In a way, this works in a self-prophetic manner. Teachers expecting the worst of the students, thus portraying an unenthusiastic attitude towards them; and the latter behaving in their worst manners as a form of rebellion. A vicious cycle results. Teachers will rely on teacher-talk to teach instead since this is the only thing that they are in control of. Should we blame them totally? Sure, what this institution is attempting to do is to churn out batch after batch of idealistic, enthusiastic teachers who are 'politically correct'. But in reality, teachers do have to conquer and struggle with their fears too. Not an easy thing to do. Writing academic papers in the comfort of one's office is comparatively easy to that. Definitely.

Oh, then there is this whole frustrating struggle with finding topics that are suitable for doing fieldwork within the school compound. Assuming that the teacher has somewhat overcome her trust issue and compromises by trying to plan a mini field work in school (students will be easily managed in school because of the space constraints and supportive environment), what topics can she choose?

1) Weather and climate. Sketching of clouds and predicting the weather is definitely out since that is taken out of the syllabus. No weather instruments can be used for fear of students not being able to take care of them. Not a feasible topic to do in school until the teacher is totally comfortable.
2) Vegetation. Unless the school is in the middle of nowhere in a tropical forest, the probability in attempting to do fieldwork in the school is zilch. You would not want to confuse students by getting them to 'pretend' that some area in the school with trees is a forested area.
3) Weathering and river. Unless your school is near a river (or canal in our case), huh?????
4) Natural resources. What natural resources in our schools? (Please don't tell me that the weather is a natural resource cos we know that natural resources in our syllabus meant something else.)
5) Tourism. Nada.
6) Urban settlement. Ok, if you want students to try to describe the morphology of the school compound. But that will need the extra effort to tie this back to the syllabus which covers the morphology of CBD area in Singapore. Students may get confused and we could be in hot soup. I will give this topic two and a half to three stars on the probability of being able to do some fieldwork in the school compound.
7) Geography of Food. What the hell is that?????????? Er... interview the aunties, uncles and maciks in the school canteen? Hm... sure!!
8) Industrialisation. Not going to waste my energy and saliva...

See? If teachers are really earnest in planning fieldwork, they would have to do it outside the school compound. How many fieldtrips can they organise in a year? Assuming that the school has 4 classes of Sec 1 and 4 classes of Sec 2, 3 classes of Sec 3, 3 classes of Sec 4 and 1 class of Sec 5 (this is considered a small school already), add the number of classes up which will give you 15 classes taking Geography. Take 15 multiply by 40 students in each class which will give us 600 students. If we want to plan fieldtrips for all the topics above... =X Not gonna say anymore.

Yes, this is an extremely pessismistic scenario that I am painting. Alas, that's me, I always like to expect the worst so that I can be ever ready to deal with any scenario that comes my way.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Microteaching part 1

Microteaching has been going on for weeks and I have not made any posts about it. So here is my first attempt at it.

I think it is extremely commendable that all who had already taught took it in their stride whenever there was trouble in class. And I must apologise for being the source of some of the trouble. However, I must say that the past few weeks of microteaching had been very fulfilling. For Mr Yee's part, I learnt alot from him with regards to how to teach particular topics to the class. I dare say, I am more confident now in thinking of ways to teach students. As for Kenneth's part, class management is the main focus. In a way, I am glad that class management issues are the main focus.

To me, my philosophy has always been 'teaching values and attitudes comes first, imparting curriculum knowledge comes second.' For one to be able to manage a class, one has to inculcate in students certain values and attitudes. I could recall back to my relief teaching days back at my alma mata when I persistently talked to one boy after class for weeks and months before he finally responded and even asked me to give him extra lessons. From then on, I realised that nothing else matters but the attitude one holds places the most important part in influencing whether one wants to learn and pay attention in class. In a way, I like Clara's microteaching lesson as she attempted to teach more than just the curriculum knowledge to students.

What struck me after attending some microlessons in Kenneth's part is that nobody had ever attempted to abandon their lesson plans even though the class was disruptive. I think it was a dilemma for most of those who had already taught on whether to carry on with the lesson or to stop lessons totally to make use of certain 'misbehaviours' in class as a learning point for the class? Perhaps if the context took place in an actual setting, those who had already taught may have done it differently?

Whatever it is, every microlesson is a learning session for me. It is very interesting to see how others react to my 'misbehaviours' and those moments were enlightening as I attempted to put myself into the shoes of my future (or past) students. Not to mention that this is a wonderful opportunity for me to learn from others on ways to handle 'difficult' students that I came across during my studying and teaching days.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The life journey of our precioussssss FSP

Taking a short break from writing my reflections for ID... here I present to you:

The life journey of Chinatown FSP

Looking totally stressed up

Flag raising anyone?

Hard at work

New arrival: FSP on impacts of tourism in Chinatown. Comes in VCD format too.

One unique copy that comes with a certain somebody's yucky handwriting

Totally exhausted

Ahh.. making our way to the 'pigeon-hole'

Some stick figure flashing the 'V' sign. Whew! (One of the rare moments when I let someone else handle my precioussssss camera.)

Slotting our preciousssss FSP into The 'Hole'

Take a closer at the time. Beep! It's 6 o'clock on a Friday evening.

Wait!!! Before the precioussssssss is slotted into 'The Hole', say 'Cheese' with the honorable preciousssss!!!

*sobz* Let me take a final shot of my precioussssss......

The camera woman indulging in one of the extremely rare narcissistic moments.
Anyways, I figured that this is nothing compared to having to live with the reputation of being the 'girl who err.. you know in class'.

This is tongue-in-cheek post, by the way. if you have not realised. Nevertheless, I must say that the pictures do not show the intense heated moments that took place behind the scene. A more serious reflective posting will follow soon.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Whew... planning a field studies package is tough

Double post for today since the first post does not fit into this topic.

Honestly speaking, I never knew preparing for a Field Studies package can be so tedious. Whew...
The recee part was alright. But the difficult part comes when we had to think of appropriate activities for the students to do. We found ourselves going back to the objectives of this field studies trip as we planned our questions and activities.

Tourism, being a Human Geography topic, is a tough nut to crack.
1) As contrasted to Physical Geography topics, Human Geography topics lend themselves strongly to interviews and surveys. This was brought up in the last lesson with Mr Yee when we were grappling with the issue of communication and language problems. This, I must acknowledge, that would be a limitation of any fieldwork conducted by students. Conversing in dialect with elderly is something that I can do at ease. However, there is a need to consider that there will be non-Chinese speaking students doing fieldwork too. If you hadn't guessed by now... my group chose Chinatown as a fieldsite. I guess one solution is to make sure that every group must have at least 1 who speaks Chinese. Even then, students may not be able to converse in dialect when they want to interview the elderly in Chinatown about the impacts of tourism. This is perhaps one failing in the field studies package. The only solution that I can think of is to tell the students to look for someone who can speak Chinese and English.

2) Thinking of appropriate activities to be done within a two-hour period is a headache. We originally wanted students to do interviews, landuse mapping, sketch buildings and pedestrian counting. But we rapidly realised that this is overly ambitious for secondary school students. The toss was either to get students do all 4 but teachers will allocate different tasks for them to do and then they will come together to work as a collaborating team; or to cut down on the activities. We wanted to do the former originally. Happily and passionately discussing and planning away when we realised that this was too time consuming for teachers. Not very realistic. So, we dropped the idea and decided to do the latter instead. Didn't want to do interviews initially, but we realised that if we don't do interviews, we would not be able to document any changes over a certain period of time. Sketching buildings and pedestrian counting were activities that we were banking on. But someone pointed out that they did not fit our objectives, and so down into the rubbish chute they go. Landuse mapping was the most viable activity to complement interviews. So we stuck to that.

3) And then there was the safety issue to consider. We picked Pagoda Street and the HDB flats area because there would be no traffic. Students need not cross any roads. But, they would have to look out for pickpockets etc. Bringing students out is not that simple and straightforward after all. Not to mention that we kept reminding ourselves that the ideal teacher:student ratio ought to be 1:20. This means that we had to split the class into 2 groups and do all the logistics in ensuring that all the students can finish their fieldwork in 2 sites. Not going to be easy. a) We need to keep an eye on students, b) on top of that, we have to take note of our time.

We were berating ourselves for choosing a human geog topic as our Field Studies package by the end of our discussion. We were totally drained by then. But it was a good experience though.
I will never ever trivialise a fieldtrip or field studies trip again. As students, we thought that such trips were easy because we did not understand the tedious process of planning a good and educational trip. After this experience, I think I am starting to understand why teachers feel so pissed when students do not appreciate such experiences.

Off to do my FSP stuff!!


How honest should we be in our reflections?

Should we be very honest? And in the process sabotage ourselves?

Or should we hold back somethings that should not even be said in the first place?