Pages

Saturday, April 25, 2009



...and the Future is Now

The end of every academic term is invariably a bittersweet moment for me. It's a reprieve from a lot of hard work. But it's also the waning moments in a large number of intense relationships. In the previous three months, I've been privileged to have met and worked in depth with as many as 45 to 60 young individuals. Each one is special in his or her own way, each one a character with a whole lifetime worth of experiences shared (in varying degrees, of course), each has a certain knowledge base and fount of wisdom that has been tapped in various classroom sessions, each a face with a unique personality that's been unveiled.

It may be a cliche for me to say that what I learn from these university students is far more than I can ever "teach" because we hear this from teachers all the time; but it's not an exaggeration. (And I'm not just talking about the techy stuff I learn from them every term!) This past term, for example, I supervised 17 teams (of 48 students) in their survey-based research projects on "green topics." The range of topics developed, studied and then presented in terms of detailed written reports and presentations was amazing. The works presented of high quality. The ecological intelligence demonstrated was admirable.

Themes included everything from the attitude of student consumers toward the use of plastic bags to student views on the viability of electric cars. One group argued the case that recycling is wrongly overemphasized and then surveyed fellow students on the topic and expounded on the variety of perspectives, while another group investigated the littering of beaches in Singapore after collecting data from scores of respondent/beach users and critiquing views on the issue. A number of research groups even evaluated various areas of the the national university's "green" policy and procedures, producing highly informed reports that would be of value to real-world policy makers.



From following all these projects, and from reading eight postings of reflective, expository and creative writing in 48 individual blogs (and the subsequent commentary), I can honestly say that I have been in the company of many dynamic and seemingly tireless thinkers, proactive in their curiosity and initiative, highly critical in their observations, novel in their insights. I've seen them weather the combined storm fronts of too many courses and too much homework--- how they have persevered! I've seen them receive and accept direct open criticism. from me and peers --- how they've persevered! Many of these guys, whether from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, here in Singapore or elsewhere, have shown that they are intelligent in their abilities, competent in their methods, honest in their assessments of themselves and others, inspiring in their words and dreams, and forward-looking in their perspectives --- demonstrating the characteristics of future leaders for their respective fields.

These students have also reinforced my belief in the "good of humanity" as I have watched them meet and communicate with one another, bond and build teams amongst themselves, and support each other intellectually and emotionally while facing challenges under duress that might have brought even the most experienced professionals to their knees. And they seemed to achieve it all while still having time to complete Facebook quizzes and communicate with long list of friends!

In short, I've been extremely lucky. While observing things in some areas of the world leaves me begging for answers and feeling a bit listless, interacting with these students has given me a feeling of great satisfaction and renewed hope. If only they ARE the future....



...because the future is now!



The only questions that remains is this: What heights will these guys be allowed to achieve?

8 comments:

Shi Wei said...

Brad,

AWW. Its really nice to see that you enjoyed teaching this module, because you got no idea how much fun we all had this semester. One thing for sure, I will be checkign out this blog once in a while in future to read your amazing posts. ok gtg study, I've got one last paper next weds! Talk soon!

xoxox

mk5t said...

That was a long long post. I got distracted halfway. I have absolutely no idea why, but after taking MKT1003 paper and reading your blog, I realised I quite bad at reading. If you are offering reading classes, let me know alright :D

I only realised how heavy your workload was when you mentioned you had close to 60 students this semester. My goodness. I would go crazy evaluating so many of us. And your evaluations were indepth. (not like some other profs who gave superficial answers) I really appreciate all these Brad. I guess we all learn from one another as we go on. (I love learning and maybe that translates as I love you too :D )

On a side issue, your comment on my post weren't censored!! It just got hidden somewhere in the System. I should have informed you earlier but I thought a few nights of wondering what I did with your comment would make you miss me more. I've replied your questions with a question! Do reply!! :D:D

mk5t said...

That was a long long post. I got distracted halfway. I have absolutely no idea why, but after taking MKT1003 paper and reading your blog, I realised I am quite bad at reading. If you are offering reading classes, let me know alright :D

I had only realised how heavy your workload was when you mentioned you had close to 60 students this semester. My goodness. I would go crazy evaluating so many of us. And your evaluations were indepth. (not like some other profs who gave superficial answers) I really appreciate all these Brad. I guess we all learn from one another as we go on. (I love learning and maybe that translates as I love you too :D )

On a side issue, your comment on my post weren't censored!! It just got hidden somewhere in the System. I should have informed you earlier but I thought a few nights of wondering what I did with your comment would make you miss me more. I've replied your questions with a question! Do reply!! :D:D

Brad Blackstone said...

Hey Moses,

The proverbial wildman of the physics faculty.

I read it. With all the stresses I put you and the others through, you deserve to party. Ad to those stresses the other, damn...Enjoy, man!

Daniel Loke said...

Hey Brad,

Thank you so much again for making ES2007S such a great experience this semester. Honestly, your proactiveness rubbed off on us to get us going forward to knowing other people in the class.

I agree with Moses, your effort in evaluating our work this semester was obvious, and we are all touched by that. Instead of the usual "ok", "good" that leaves us wondering whether the professor really read our work, your comments were truly beneficial to our writing.

I have learnt much from you this sem, you a truly a cool guy to know. Hope to meet up again!

Cheers!

Brad Blackstone said...

Thanks again, guys, for all your comments!

Lyon said...

Hi Brad!

I can still remember your interesting lessons clearly! It feels just like yesterday! I am doing great in US. Just dropping by to say hello! Hope everything is going well for you!

Lyon

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.