Tuesday, 27 September 2005

First day of "big school"

Well, I had my first actual class today. It’s broken up into 1 hour of lecture, an hour break, then two hours of what they call workshop, which basically means more lecture with class participation. This is something very new for some of the students, as they are used to listening to lecture, copying down exactly what the professor says, then repeating that verbatim on end of term exams. There is much encouragment on critical thinking and class participation/giving one’s opinion here.

For the first few weeks, we have what is called Action Learning, a 2 hour session Monday afternoons with our course leader. For next week, our assignment is to list our strengths and weaknesses in the areas of our academic, personal and professional life, and come up with some ways to improve the weaknesses. The action part, which is to improve the weaknesses, will take part over the rest of the term, partially in our group of nine and then individually with the course leader. If I can come away from this degree with my serious fear of public speaking down, or at least minimized, I’ll be happy. Wish they had had this at the undergraduate level. I am quick becoming of the mind that British education is far superior to that in the states.

My landlady is quickly “getting on my tits”, as they would say here. Very nice, helpful lady…good cook…BUT absolutely talks me to death, and she’s having man troubles (which means the man she had for an entire week sacked her…means dumped her…and she’s obsessing over it). Called me twice during the day today, while I was at uni. The first time I called her back, thinking it might be something important; the second time, I didn’t even check the message. A closed door means “me time”, which I need plenty of, and when I’m at uni, don’t call;) I shall get the message across or be looking for new accomodations if it all becomes too much:) I don’t have much tolerance for a 40 year old woman looking for a man as her vehicle to babies and happiness.

Anyhoo, back to the fun stuff. My class this morning was International Tourism & Globalization, and the instuctor actually managed to hold my attention for the entire 3 hours. Very interesting stuff. Things I thought I knew a lot about I really don’t. I have to do a project on tourism trends in an international destination and I’ve chosen Belfast, Northern Ireland as it’s 1) a place i’ve been to and have a passion for, 2) it’s a changing and growing destination and 3) a place most people don’t consider going, but should! I’ve been starting to research tourism statistics—who goes there, why, how long do they stay, what is tourism’s impact on the destination, both negative and positive….environmentally, socio-culturally, and economic. I do think it will be a busy semester, but hopefully all new and interesting things to learn. (Remind me of this when I am stressed out and crying on everyone’s shoulders.)

Now that you are entirely bored of hearing about my studies, I’ll be off. Hopefully some more interesting non-school news to follow.


1 comment:

Suzer said...

p.s. The 2nd phone call was to invite me out for drinkies, as Paulette’s friend doesn’t partake and she’d bought an entire bottle. Since I didn’t listen to the voicemail, she sent me a text…which meant by the time I actually arrived, there was only one glass left for me. Ah well, certain losses in setting boundaries, right;)

Commented by Suzer on September 27, 2005 at 3:23 am

Have known for years that British edu. system is superior, even on public school level. Had lunch some time ago with teachers from England who were here to observe the system in Suffolk. Most of us were thiinking it should have been the other way around. Turns out they were interested in the guidance counseling services. They don’t have that there. The luncheon should have been set up with just the counselors instead of English teachers ’cause we started grilling them for some serious info on how to make our system more like theirs. Of course, at that point the board members saw fit to “adjourn”. Yeah, right.

Anyhoo, (you took my phrase:-) was very impressed with the bit about the interactive 2-hour sessions as opposed to the ” listen/take notes/regurgitate method”. Sounds like a teacher’s dream come true . . .getting students to actually understand and apply. Those skills are being leached from the our system. And SOLs are the biggest aiders and abeters in encouraging “rote” learning. And everybody seems happy with that..admiinstrators, parents, students… nobody concerned; but teachers (who, of course, know nothing). Don’t get me started. This is one of the things that 1)drove 1) my pressure up and 2) drove me out of the classroom early. Enough. Also, the bit about public-speaking hit a nerve. . It is a primary fear in many adults. Early on I made it the primary objective for Public-Speaking I. I envisioned it for underclassmen with a companion Public-Speaking II as a more oratorical course for upperclassmen. Didn’t want to teach the second session though and the teacher who finally agreed to do it left the system before it was instituted. Wish I could help you.

Would like to pass your blog on to the English dept. at NRHS. May I?

Commented by burtonrh on October 1, 2005 at 12:57 pm

Feel free…and thanks for the comments:)

What is NRHS?

As far as the public speaking thing goes, it is a combination of preparation and confidence for me. I would seriously consider going to a hypnotist or cognitive behavioral therapist for that (so very American, they say here, as the brit attitude is to buck up and get on with it).

Commented by Suzer on October 3, 2005 at 5:21 am

Yeah, what is NRHS??

Commented by muddiah on October 13, 2005 at 4:49 pm

I do wonder why there is so much stress connected with school, however. I know I had deadlines when I was doing my masters, and working full time, but I don’t remember anyone being that stressed out. Is the coursework that much more demanding there? Perhaps I just don’t recall.

Commented by muddiah on October 25, 2005 at 11:33 am

It’s quite demanding, yes. Within the space of about 10 weeks I have one 5,000 word formal report due, one 2,500 word formal report, three 2,500 word essays, and a 20 minute presentation including a 1,000 word summary, probably half of this due in the next 5 weeks. Granted, I am starting to work on at least 3 of these bits now. Part of the problem is that I never had to do a formal report in my undergrad, so any kind of report was in high school or before, and the level of formality was just not present, as well as the fact that the essay structure here is more formal than what I had before. Four years of writing undergrad English papers did not prepare me, strangely enough. I handed in a draft intro for my Tourism Policy paper and he told me it was not an intro, but an abstract, that I needed to reference, in the paragraph, where I got all my ideas from, and re-write the intro based on more general information, then expand what I thought was the intro into the actual essay. I was always taught that in an essay you tell people what you are going to tell them (intro), then tell them (body), then tell them what you told them (conclusion). I’m sure it will all be fine, but I need to walk away from it at times and remind myself only to worry about and work on one thing at a time. I really feel even more for the other students whose first language is not English—they’re almost in tears and can’t sleep. I’m close to that, but doing better.

Commented by Suzer on October 25, 2005 at 12:01 pm

Now, a re-visit in regards to whether or not this educational system in the UK is really superior. I guess this all depends on what you consider to be superior, by definition. As course rep for the MA ITM program, I had to meet today with the outside examiner for the program. I was told this was simply a feedback session, etc. I arrived curious as to whether or not this would be like a business meeting with the CEO of a corporation or a meeting during which the examiner would be truly interested in how the students were reacting to the course, workload, stresses and wanting to know what critiques I had, opportunities for change, questions, etc. It seemed to be the former, with emphasis being on assessments, dissertation, proper referencing and writing. I’m very, very disappointed. Honestly, although I am quite enjoying aspects of the course and life in England, especially interacting with so many people from so many places, it really bothers me that this seems to be more about what we can do for the uni than what the uni can do for us. That was just one meeting, of course, but I am beginning to feel that some of my classes are more concentrated on the assessment than the actual teaching/learning, which is a shame. It’s always good to be able to write a report, but what will help us in the real world…writing a proper reference paper or having practical knowledge?

Commented by Suzer on November 2, 2005 at 9:33 am