Blogathon #43: Clubs and Societies

Hie guys! As you can see, Ti’s not here, so I’ll be here to cover her until the end of Blogathon. Since we’ve already covered the topic of Uniformed Societies, I thought why not continue with the theme and start covering Clubs and Societies.

In Malaysia, every subject had a Club or Society attached to them. This, I think, was so that students who loved the subjects and excelled in them would have an additional place to practise them, and it also afforded students like me who had crushes on seniors a chance to mingle with them and to exchange knowledge.

These classes often went outside the textbook, teaching us in a more relaxing manner, or helping us learn that there were other ways to learn the subject minus just being in class. For many, it was another chance to socialize, but again, it just seemed like a “Un-Uniformed” society, as we weren’t as stringent, nor did we have to wear our uniforms to these meetings.

If the Uniformed Societies taught us to be disciplined (though some may complain that they weren’t THAT disciplined after all, I should know cause I’m one of them :p) the CS taught us how to have fun with school subjects, and it taught us how to enjoy the subject without the teacher.

And hey, Alternative Ed’s not just about learning in the books.

The next post might be a bit delayed as I’m walking home (think about 10 minutes) but it should be about Self-Access Learning. What’s that? Now that, you’d have to wait for the next post!

JA!

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Blogathon: Will I or Will I Not Be Here?

It’s O-Week at my college, and right now they have an Adventure Quest planned. My original joint blogger is nowhere to be seen, so I thought I’d have Naoko cover for the next 3 hours to wrap up.

I’m not sure if I’m going on Adventure Quest yet. I’ll wait for Naoko. But if you see her posting instead of me, it means I’ve left and she is now in control till the end.

Thank you so much for your support and keep them coming!

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Blogathon: #42 – The Show

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Thank you Naoko for covering for me for the part hour!

I was just at a meeting for our college dorm – there’s a Dancefest happening soon and they want as many people in it as possible. They showed videos of the previous Dancefest entries (theirs and another college’s); I kept mentally comparing it to what we did in our Up With People adventures.

The show is a key part of the Up With People experience. Even during the WorldSmart days it was still consistently there – we worked hard on getting all the songs and the dances and the other things we did right. Cast P in Denver was even more immersive and strenuous – we had to learn about 10-15 different songs and 5-7 dances in two weeks. At least on WorldSmart we had 18 weeks to work kinks out.

The WorldSmart Celebration performance and the Cast P performance were very different. The WorldSmart one was smaller, not quite as polished; it was mainly a bunch of kids having fun. It was a lot simpler, and also a lot more abstract in places – we had quite a number of interpretive dances, and a good amount of acting.

The Cast P one was a lot more musical – more songs, with the dances accompanying the songs – there were only two songs that were just dances, and one of them was only performed by 4 people. Even “Go Daddy-O”, which is just that line over and over again, had some singing. Cast P didn’t have any acting or pantomime, unlike the WorldSmart show. Of course, Cast P also had involvement from outside performers, which WorldSmart didn’t have – so the WorldSmart celebrations felt more intimate in a way.

I noticed a stark difference between the WorldSmart Celebration and the Cast P show in terms of rehearsal. The WorldSmart crew weren’t too hung up on being “perfect”. We just did our best, laughed when we goofed, relaxed a bit more. We didn’t hang everything on the show; some nights were not as good as others, but we let those go. In contrast, the Cast P crew seemed to be very concerned with making the show perfect – even though the main teaching crew (such as Michael Bowerman, who handled vocals) emphasized that he’d rather see energetic flaws than stoic perfection. Still, there were people so preoccupied with making everything correct that it affected the energy a little.

Energy is the one thing that brings all the shows together. It can make or break a show. It’s the force that keeps all the performers moving, motivated, motivating the audience. Our job there was to inspire the audience, to show them different cultures, to share the world; we needed energy to do that.

Some people may question the need for a musical element in Up With People. Why hang on to the past? What’s the point? Well, as is often said, music is the universal language; just the tone of voice and the keys of the music can say a lot about mood and meaning. What more the words and the dances!

Also, it is a great community activity; the whole town comes together to see something they’ve probably never seen and will never see again, and they get to share in the magic for once. We saw this very strongly during the WorldSmart tour; it was the smallest cities, like Murou, that gave the biggest support. They were still not jaded from constant similar entertainment, unlike bigger cities like Tokyo or LA; performances like these were like magic to them, and everyone craved magic. We all do.

If you’re ever in an Up With People host city, please come by to watch! We love audiences and we get such a buzz from being there. Be responsive too – applaud, laugh, clap along. Interactive audiences are the best audiences. And the best thing? We’re still down-to-earth, so you won’t need to go through bodyguards to get photos or autographs! 😉

The show, the rehearsals, even the backstage Huddle (my most FAVOURITE part of the whole program); all of them are so much fun, so energizing, and such good bonding activities. Do come by and share your support!

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Blogathon: #41- Uniformed Societies, pt 2

So, what does the Uniformed Societies offer for alternative education that the schools don’t provide? Here’s where the quote from the previous post comes into play:

It offers the skills you may need in one point or another in our lives. And not only that, it gives you the opportunity to actually practise those skills in a safe environment rather than simply learning about it from a textbook.

I was a Brownie when I was in primary school (Grade School for the Americans, I believe) and then I went on to be a Girl Guide in lower secondary (Junior High) and finally joined the Rangers when I was a senior. Being in those societies (especially later when I became a monitor and joined in the English Language societies, though no sports) taught me a lot of useful things, most of which I practise by instinct now rather than the book they taught us from.

I know that my friends from the Red Crescent Society and the St. John’s Ambulance learnt the skills to save lives (first aid). I know that my friends in the Scouts learnt how to do some pretty nifty knots, how to make things from scratch (they were ingenious in my secondary school when it came to making game stalls) and we learnt, especially during the Sports Day, how to work as a team.

None of these skills could be taught. It also did something most educational systems find difficult to do; bring us together regardless of race and religion. It taught us that beyond being an A student and by extension, the rat-race there were avenues for us to explore on how we could become better human beings.

And the best thing of all?

We chose what we wanted to be. What we wanted to commit to. (Although yes, we HAD to join the Uniformed Societies, but in the end we could do what we wanted to do).

And that made the learning process bearable and fun.

Blogathon: #40- Uniformed Societies

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
B. F. Skinner (1904 – 1990), New Scientist, May 21, 1964

This, I think, sums up the main nature of education. It’s what left in your head after the learning’s done.

Hello all. My name’s Naoko and I’ll be your blogger on this blog for the next two posts as ED has to be away for a bit.

Alternative education, as mentioned before, basically means anything and everything you don’t quite learn the conventional way, that of being in the classroom. In Malaysia, as an initiative to promote students to be all-rounders, there’s a certain activity that is set aside and called “Extra-curricular activities” to promote this.

One of the components is called “Uniformed Societies.” Basically these are societies that have their own uniforms, such as the Rangers, Scouts, and even the St. John’s Ambulance and the like. You can see where I’m going, no? If not, then stay tuned for the next post about how these societies (approved by most governments, no less) actually help to promote alternative education and hopefully provide you with a different view of alternative education.

See you in 30 minutes!

Blogathon: #39 – United Planet Writing & Photo Contest

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United Planet, which organizes various “quests”, or volunteering activities around the world, is organizing a Writing & Photo Contest to commemorate United Planet Day on September 21st 2006.

Winners will get a free two-week Quest on any of their short-term locations worldwide. Closing date is August 25th 2006 so hurry! Enter now!

Also, I may need a guest blogger for the next two posts. If you’re interested, email me at divabat@gmail.com NOW. You’ll need to get a WP.Com account, which is free.

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Blogathon: #38 – Education, Politics, and Blogs

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This is an intriguing thing I’ve observed about blogs that deal with education in some form:

  • Unschoolers tend to be very liberal, sometimes radically so
  • Homeschoolers tend to be middle-conservative, often Christian (which informs their beliefs on education)
  • Many general education bloggers are on the conservative side
  • There aren’t a lot of education blogs that are liberal or nonpolitical (this one’s non-political, perhaps more towards the liberal side)

Why is this? Are conservatives generally more interested in education? Are educationalists generally more conservative? Where are the other political voices in education? Where are the non-political education bloggers?

Any ideas? It’s hard enough as it is to find people who deal with alternative education.

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