Friday, March 07, 2008

Life Purpose and Future Directions

Last night, it was odd that Edmund made us do our incomplete "homework" together to answer the question using Matthew 6:19-34; and 22:34-40. It was timely as we just had round of sharing on our future directions.

AS I struggled to ponder upon what should I do next yr, I was reminded that I need to "seek ye first HIs kingdom". I am wedged between two realms, unable to find a comfortable equilibrium and conscious of the struggles of wanting to be a better dad. Whether be it to apply for the Science and Tech school OR to take one to two year to spend more time with the kids as I seek for opportunities to deepen my practise, either as a consultant with psychometric profiling or to work with institutions on Project Based Learning or the Creative Problem Solving Thinking Skills model- of which I am very very keen to facilitate action research.

Choice A)
My experience with some of the earlier future schools gave me some deep personal insights. That many of the schools that were initially selected were based on their existing programmes. I was disappointed that some of these school leaders lacked the vision of what to them is a future school. It was even more painful to have them describe how they thought technology would change their schools, without much thoughts on how their new curriculum would distinguish them from the rest. In fact, with my work as curriculum partner supporting schools on the TLLM ignite PBL cluster, I am increasingly clearer that it would be quite a arduous journey for schools to truly rise to the awakening of what it means for engaged learning to take place. One of the saddest questions I hear principals ask is "Would we be able to measure the effectiveness of the programme by comparing these classes results with the rest?" In my heart, I wish most honestly to ask them- "Would you rather your students enjoy the process of learning and thereby change the way they would learn in the future OR would you rather gain immediate gratification by seeing a 10% increase in test scores and then get more classes to use PBL just because it works?"

At times, it even irks me to hear of so-and-so boasting of how they have transformed their schools with their knowledge of curriculum design. My sense is that the heart of true curriculum innovation would require the school leader or the teacher to boldly create a learning experience that is not just solely based on single pedagogical approach but to customise the experience to reap the best means to help the child enjoy learning. Yes, I am unashamed to say that it is my deepest desire to run a school of my own- somewhat independently- so that I could work work with a selected group of teachers- of diverse interest, passions, personality and learning style types- with just a common goal to change the way learning works. Its a school of fun-where kids chart their own learning, have the autonomy to plan for how they want lessons to take place (who says UbD is good only for teachers??), teachers to be well skilled as faciltators so that deeper discussion and debates could take place on a daily basis. Who says Project Work needs be a subject in silos? It was somewhat funny to answer a call few days back when a teacher called to ask "Should PW have a grade for in the report book?" I am just wondering if this teacher lives in age of isolation- in this day and age, i wish teachers are great networkers- to tap on the communities of eager folks willing to share ideas and knowledge on the web or jut be linking up and talking. One of the deepest questions I wish to raise to the C2015 taskforce is "would we dare to challenge the notion that Structures ie. exams Drives Behaviour?" The heart of matter is it takes more then just knowledge to make transformations. Michael Fullen inspired me to believe that purposeful and courageous leadership is the heart of change. I want to build a school where the behaviour changes structures. Wrong, behaviour puts new structures in place.

Ms Ho questioned about my point that the curriculum of 2015 may arrive to level where students are ready to co-create this learning experience iwth their teachers. I believe it is possible to a large extent. If the school leader is ready to foster the right learning culture in all teachers and students. It is only with lack of passion and knowledge that many are not ready to embrace the power of co-creation-where new meaning is synthesized- that to me is true learning. During one of the Innolab meetings, DGE once commented on my point that schools lack the courage to change the education system. She said "What stopping them?" Huh.. my personal take- lack of vision and courage. NOw that the education landscape is transforming- with strong senior leadership who dares make the difference- do I still choose to abandon that dream which I publicly declared back in 2002-on my wedding?

Choice B)
Torn on the far end of my inner world, God allowed me to come to realisation that I am not such a superman afterall. (yes, 2N1's A1 size poster of Super Yeo still stands tall) In December last year, I realised that much as I love my work so much and I love my family so much, which I do love more? Action speaks louder then words, I believe its near impossible to balance both. It was ironic that as the staff welfare champion last yr, on one hand, I encouraged colleagues to go home early to spend time on own or with family, yet on the other hand, I am the culprit that frequently works til 9pm. What is work life balance? Or could it be more of work life integration-of either bringing the work home to do? Recently a principal friend shared that many of her Pri 1 parents flustered to resign from their jobs just to be a better parent. She opined (much as I hate this word) by the time the child reaches P1, it may just be a tad too late. As an educator at heart, I knew the truth in this and it sure has disturbed me quite a bi, sufficiently enough to get me make some serious actions.

Next, Vanessa told me that I really ought to spend more time teaching Joshua since he listens to me more and enjoys the "classes" we do together. She made this comment last night- "Her life purpose is that to be a helper to people" So real. Little does she realise her pivotal role in helping her man make the many life changing decisions. How she "forced" me to resign from BMG- the first job I held, which could bring in as much as $8k with commisions- but to what cost-she asked, and how we prayed together for the Zoo Curator post which I spend some good 2yr that I truly loved, and her green light for me to take my Masters and her courage when we had to abort the second child. Last Sunday, I jokingly said that I ought to resign and be a better dad and explore taking up the couple of offers. I was shocked when she said "GO ahead". I guess she knew how my perspectives have changed, and she knows where my heart and my gifts are. This is the most practical woman I ever knew and yet, here she is ready to nudge me to take the big plunge. To resign or take 1 or 2 years no pay leave or .... heaven knows.

I am clear that unless I make parenting my primary focus and career or professional development my second (rather then the other way round) life will just go on til the day, I realised that I am but the absent dad.

Where should I go from here? I promised wabbit that I will stick til the end of the year. I have many unrealised hopes that I have in CPDD. For sure, i wanna see that the TLLM schools would do well in their research projects. And for sure, I wish to build my community of practice from the 200 or so teachers I trained in creativity tools and to get them onto the next phase of creativity tools in CPS. Anyway, I am so indebted to the great learning in CPDD I just want to give back.

Finally in response to Edmund's question, I wrote: 1) To entrust EVERYTHING to God- my family, my career, my passion, my life 2) To immerse in a life being a child of God Upped the game,I have, all right.


Carol said...

I can understand your concerns & thoughts. These are pretty similar to the considerations I had when my elder daughter was born, when I was contemplating whether to stay home or remain in the workforce.

Recently we sms-ed. I also shared just now through your Facebook account that God allows us to go through pain for a reason.

For me, I have heartaches when I am away from my kids for a long time - and "long" to me is less than 1 day! I miss them when I leave home, I miss them in the middle of the day, and I can't wait to get home after work. But I don't lose track that God has a purpose for me at work, and that I am a conduit for His blessings at work.

I had a bible study yesterday, and my pastor shared this verse with us: "...He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:26-27. God has predetermined plans for us, and it's for us to seek Him to find out what He has planned for us. Stay close to Him & He will guide your path. He is whispering to you through the experiences & feelings that you are going through, and through the people He has placed in your path. God Bless!

John Yeo said...

THanks Carol. I guess this trip to Denmark is making things clarity. Good to incubate ideas in a lovely country. At least I know that I would be speaking to a very respectable lady on this issue over beer on Wed. Ha3