Chicks or kittens?

on Saturday, 16 January 2010

Everyone in this world is born with free will. That's an obvious fact. The not so obvious fact is that whether it is apparent or not, everyone in this world is also born curious. More curious than a cat. A cat's curiosity might get it killed, but the curiosity of a human being leads it to infinite ends. Whatever the ending is, nothing can shake away the nature of us being EXTREMELY curious. Thus, we have the understanding that every child is also having a heightened process of curiosity. This plays out extremely well when learning is concerned. We must never let the curiosity snuff out. You have to keep them guessing. Don't let the students get a grip on your style and behaviour. They might know you're a certain kind of way in your teaching, but they can never guess what's coming in the next class. They know it's going to be something about reading, writing, or even public speaking but they are always dying in agony trying to figure out what you're about to do next. In other words, don't turn them into receptive students who await for you to provide for them. Spoonfeeding becomes the dependent choice of approach.

Let me state the opposite just to make it clear:

You see these little hatch-lings? Mouth wide open, completely defenseless, waiting for momma bird to come home with the worm. This is an example of students who are comfortable with taking what you are giving them. It is not about opportunities here. These chicks have nowhere else to go. They have no one else to turn to. There's only one thing their waiting for. The worm. The feed. They are not observing their surroundings, taking or snatching every opportunity that might be present around them.

I believe that the psyche of an individual is driven a lot by his/her sense of not knowing. When you don't know something, you are just put into a situation where you just feel like exploding inside thinking about it. Here is the practical application of what I'm talking about. You were talking to your buddies about this funny movie that you were watching. "Dei macha, so what's the name of that actress in that movie?" You are suddenly put in the spot of knowledge. You need to know, you must know it because you've seen it before. You must know it because you know that she's famous and has done all the movies that you find are at least of a 4-star rating. At that moment, you just don't know, and then you suddenly feel like a:

The fact that you don't know just puts you off at that moment. You are cracking your head, thinking back from the beginning of the movie where they were showing casting names all the way to the ending credits. Thinking about all the other movies where she acted in, getting all sorts of cues and hints in the dialogue to ensure there's some sorta hint you didn't miss out. You just can't seem to get the name. You know everyone else in the movie. All the way from Billy Crystal to Carrie Fisher. You even know their casting names from from Harry Burns to Sally Albright... you bang your head on the table and swear in a non-English language (my personal preference is Tamil and Cantonese) and head on home to do what all 21st century kids do best - Google.

Meg Ryan. Damn.... I knew it. I knew it was Meg Ryan... I just knew it and I just had to know it. It's not a life changing fact and it's not something that is important in my life... but I just had to immediately find out. I was curious. I am curious.

Everyday, my students are curious. "What is he going to do? Is he going to say that joke again? Is he going to do something funny? What funny thing is he going to do? Is he going to ask me a question?" It is not something that can happen just like that, you have to force on the environment to them. They are curious in nature, but if a lion is caged long enough, he lives to be fed and loses the potential hunter in it. You need to give them enough to get them learning, and you need to leave out a little bit more just to keep them interested. The fine line of such compromise is very dangerous but important if you wanna keep the tigers lurking among the bushes.

It's not easy. It's never easy. It's a downright problem to be able to come up with something new or something that keeps the kids guessing. They are demanding. When they turn from chicks to kittens, they become vicious, hungry, and suddenly ravenous for more opportunities from you. They'll squeeze you out of ideas if you're not careful to pace yourself. Beware! Do not think for one second that they are merciful. Ha ha. They can be bloodsucking and morph into mindless zombies going at you saying "TEaacHHERrrrggghHHH, Me wwaanNNTtt MoooRrReeeE EeNNGGglliSSSHHH WoORrrKKrrghhHH!!!" (sadly, some of them do speak like that normally).

Let's face it, we are all curious. Our students are downright kittens of curiosity. They live and breathe to find out more. They just can't do it if they got their hands tied up, blindfolded and gagged with a pork dumpling (fancy English name for cha siew pau). Let them loose. Let us give them something to work for. Let us keep them guessing.


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