No More Lives
And the saga of the Candy Crush madness that came too late continues. X number of weeks, countless lives and several power-ups later, I find myself at the thick of the same maze that downed me like a teenage girl holding her first girly mag. I never could put my finger on it, much less wrap my head around this almost child-like fascination over a mobile game. One thing I do know is this has got me ensconced in a time warp with its impish mechanics and wildly colorful jelly beans. It may very well be the anti-prosaic, carefully calculated verbal feedback that just leaves you tethered to this obsession, brittle as glass. “Delicious!” “Tasty!” “Sweet!” “Candy Crush!” It is as saccharine as the name suggests, though some levels like the one I’m stuck in could be devilishly difficult.
At the moment, this contraption has tasked me with the objective of clearing all the jellies. Oh but wait, while at that I should do that within the amount of moves allowed. Oh wait, there’s more! It would be better if you could also reach the target of 60000. Don’t feel compelled to do it, but it would be more splendid and you’re guaranteed to get the much coveted three stars if you do so.Competitive achiever that I am, I caved in and fell hook, line and sinker. Challenge accepted! Bring it on! Why, oh why did I have to say that?
There are times when I’d get so close, but I inevitably end up running out of moves. A sly window would then appear and ask me if I’d like more moves. Ummm, thanks but no thanks. I could, of course, ask my Facebook friends to gift me with lives but a) I’ve caught on with the trend a little too late, and my Facebook community might already have moved on b) the idea of panhandling is just beneath me. The idea of groveling with real world friends and Facebook acquaintances for in-game handouts is uncomfortable and a little too aggressive for my taste.
But if I may go back to Candy Crush’s clever ploy of leveling, it does seem like Candy Crush has tapped in on the concept of holistic assessment by allowing a good mix of formal and informal assessments. To date, I’ve gotten scores of 156660 and 138380 which normally should be more than enough for me to progress to the next level, but my skills level has been deemed to be insufficient for me to be bumped up since I’ve failed to clear all the jellies which is ultimately is of crucial importance over a bunch of numbers which when you actually come to think about are rather easy to hit. As long as you keep on moving the pieces over horizontally or vertically, you should be set. Rather basic. The challenge lies on the strategizing which apparently I have yet to master.
It’s getting frustrating to be almost there and for your grades to be overlooked ad passed on as though it were of paltry significance, but that’s what education is about. Does it really matter that they know the technicalities of grammar and that they know the nuances and the forms of the five conditionals (yes, there are five!), the fourteen verb tenses, the true and the periphrastic modals and Chomsky’s mathematical phrase markers, the hallmark of transformational generative grammar? (This is just about the only mathematical formula I truly and unequivocally understand, I must admit.)
The minute I start talking about grammar, I cannot help but notice my students’ eyes start glazing over. The what grammar? Isn’t there just one? Isn’t learning the 12 tenses dreary enough as it is? Now you have to add two more? Conditionals? You mean I can’t put will in the If- clause? But it does sound right! Welcome to my world.
As I start grading assignments and exams, I do have to challenge myself to go beyond the results of the exams. Is it enough for me to take the results of the formal assessments at face value and say that student A is proficient in the language? If I do so, am I not just compounding the problem of the deteriorating English communication skills of Filipinos?
Are those discrete facts all I wish for my students to remember from my classes? Frankly, they don’t seem to remember some things to the end of the training duration. Quantitative assessment in the form of grades and marks are good, but the way I see it, qualitative assessment in the form of bite-sized “assessments”, if I may call them so, such as topical tests, free writing, role play and communicative games and various range of assessments from questioning, providing feedback, peer- and self-assessment is just as important because it provides the learner with more opportunities to experience success and build his/her confidence and desire to learn. It turns them into independent learners with a keen awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. It also helps the learner formulate steps to improve his/her learning.
At times, I feel there’s a need to de-emphasize these formal assessments because they do not accurately paint the whole picture of the teaching/learning process. Numbers do lie as evidenced by the sheer volume of ESL learners who flock to the Philippines to learn English because their stringent educational system with its heavy emphasis on preparing them for the national tests which will basically chart the course of the rest of their lives from their qualifying for a spot at university, their choice of university, their job eligibility and even their chances of landing a suitable mate.
So perhaps getting stuck in this Candy Crush level isn’t so bad after all. I am learning things entirely immaterial to Candy Crush strategizing. Allow me to keep saying this and pretending that getting stuck in level 33 for weeks is not as embarrassing as some tout it to be for the purpose of my sanity. Let me bathe in this luxurious, sugar-coated world of jellies, hard candies, lozenges, lemon drops and that delectable yet elusive chocolate-covered candy. This may very well be the addiction talking because right now no amount of lost lives is going to deter me from clicking Retry again and again. The downside, though, is I do have to wait for my lives to regenerate because there’s no way I’m forking any amount of money to purchase extra moves and special abilities.
But come on, I have been stuck at this level for a very, very long time. Don’t I get any sort of immunity or consideration at least? Well, I do have the option of playing with gummy bears and matching their colors instead of eating them, though I reckon it’d probably result in sour tears. Anyone else with me?