Friday, December 8, 2006

Two Classes

I just completed my two-week stint working as a teaching assistant at the Stanford Uni EPGY expository writing workshop held at HwaChong. Two weeks ago, I had another two-week class teaching folks in prison school website design and Photoshop as part of our GESL community work quota. Our group enjoyed ourselves so much, some of us are thinking of going back for more sessions with them. By most accounts, the two classes were worlds apart; the guys from prison were years behind the academic progress of the counterparts who're not in prison and they'd most probably have trouble finding employment in the future simply because they have served time before. The second group of smart kids would probably go on to the best Ivy League schools in the years to come. But as I thought more about it, I realised that they are probably not that different after all, or rather, they are more alike than different. Both groups were excellent students. The prison folks were among the most humble, teachable, enthusiastic and nicest group of students I've yet encountered. The smart kids were also very quick to pick up new ideas and are very motivated. I'm constantly amazed by their craft. It's just utterly fascinating to me what their minds are capable at the age of 13-15, tackling Stanford undergraduate materials. Still, great teachers are essential for the whole thing to work, and Jessica, Steffi and Raphael completed the equation... So anyway, probably the differences between the two groups that seemed apparent to me did not necessarily pertain to the students themselves. It seems to me now that perhaps the way we view them, and how we predict they might perform on standardised tests, or what they might achieve in the future, might be the real cause for such assessments. Is this a good thing? I'm not sure...

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