Nota Bene

I have been in OU for going on three years now, most of which were spent in relative solitude and independence. This is the first time that I have gotten the rather serendipitous opportunity to interact with classmates on a more personal level outside the  DFs and collaborative projects.

As such, it is rare for me to find someone who matches my level of sense of urgency For this reason, I mostly repudiate group projects as it most often leaves me with an acrid burning taste in my mouth.

This term, the balmy breeze has blown and rewarded me with favorable skies when I had the chance to meet two charming ladies whom I had the chance to work with for our lego-like projects.

My sincerest gratitude to these two ladies, Klaud and Fritzie, for providing me with the warmth of your acquaintance.

Klaud, you have been a joy to work with. You’re the only other person I’ve worked with in OU who has matched my laser focus and punctilious ways.I admire your dedication and your drive. I wish you the best as you continue your journey in OU.

Fritzie, thank you for regaling us with your amusing anecdotes. You truly have the gift of gab. All along, I thought I had it hard juggling a demanding full-time job and being a student at OU until it dawned on me that you have a 24×7 job as a mother and wife. I am in awe of you for successfully managing being a wife, a full-time mother and an OU student. Hats off to you for even taking on 12 units. On days when I felt like throwing in the towel, I remind myself of you. Graduation is just around the corner for you. May you continue to inspire people around you as you have me.

Thank you for putting up with my overbearing ways and for helping keep me sane with your mere presence. I am sorry that I sometimes had you jumping on hoops for our lego projects, but I truly had fun working with you. Onwards to the sablay! I shall cherish this acquaintance and virtual friendship that I’ve found in you well after graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insert Knife. Twist Gently to the Left.

A few months ago, my best friend from college married to money and gathered all her girl friends to a bachelorette pyjama party at one of the poshest hotels in the swanky side of town. It was to be a grand party. Its only shortcoming was that I was not invited.

Ah, just like me to take that omission too personally, as a girlfriend of mine pointed out. Actually, neither our other friend from college nor I was invited, so it’s not as if I were singled out. I felt singled out, however—singled out, left out, and knifed in the back.

I , normally, have a remarkably passionate reaction to such as I am socially tone-deaf; but in this case, I am a Geiger counter.

For a while I dripped my furiously hurt feelings onto the shoulders of some of the lucky invitees, people I thought of as close friends. Seeing me in pain, they unanimously distanced themselves. They were powerless, they explained. Not in charge of the guest list. Felt bad themselves, but these things happen. We can’t all be invited everywhere, now can we? Take it like a grown-up.

You would think that being excluded would be an experience that disappears as we age. When we get older and wiser, we are more thoughtful and inclusive, right? Not always, it is a grade-school agony that recurs throughout life. Apparently, that ostracism continues into adulthood and has some familiar emotional pangs. Being left out is an emotional drama that occurs in three stages (much like the five stages of grief): discovery, distress, and if you’re lucky enough to make it through, detachment. These psychological rhythms prevail whether you are reeling from the whispers of a group of girls at recess or excluded from a lunch out with your colleagues at work.

A few Facebook messages and innocuous comments to FB posts later, decided to ignore the slight. A pyjama party is just a pyjama party, and not a vote on my self-worth, I figured. It was a relief to try obliviousness on for size.

That obliviousness did not come too easily two weeks ago as I faced that once-in-a-lifetime chance of being part of my dream company.

See, for a while now, I’d been contemplating on changing my work environment. It was that nagging feeling I’d been brushing off for quite a few months now. A great chunk of me did not want to shake the boat. Though I crave for the challenge, I feel like I would probably be biting off more than I can chew if I made the switch. New challenges might not be too ideal since I am hoping to wrap up my senior year in OU this year.

I took it as a sign from heaven and a fortuitous event when my dream company reached out to me on Linkedin for a possible employment opportunity. The first round of interviews went rather well. The final blow came when I sat with the hiring manager. She said I sounded like a drunk Brit and that they were looking for someone with a more standard Received Pronunciation.

I’d never felt more singled out and demeaned until that point.. I’ve been working with multinational client, but mot primarily UK and Aussies, for almost a decade now, and I’ve never been made to feel odd.

This reminded me of a long-standing discussion I’ve been having with our clients. A number of them have been coming up to me complaining about the American accent of the people I’d hired. They wanted them to sound more like Union Jacks.

In this age of globalisation, I think it is crucial to be receptive and adaptable especially in the classroom and in th workplace. Though English is a lingua franca and one of the world’s global languages, there are different varieties of the English language. We must tune our ears into a whole gamut of ways of using English.

People who’ve learned other languages are good at doing that, but some native speakers of English generally are monolingual and not very good at tuning in to language variation.

Exclusion is a part of life in any group. Human beings are pack animals, and it is in the nature of the pack to create cohesiveness by establishing a common enemy. Exclusion leaves a pack member vulnerable to attack and renders that pack member hapless and unable to benefit from the strength and collaboration that being part of the pack brings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Legacy of Change

“Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it” noted Albert Einstein a long time ago. This adage rings even more true in today’s world than it did when Einstein first uttered it. Knowledge is quickly replacing cheap labor and physical resources as the driver for economic growth. Economic development is now increasingly more linked to a nation’s ability to acquire and apply knowledge.

Forty years ago, the Philippines (I heard) was an economic powerhouse and was the second most progressive country in Asia vying behind Japan. It was also right about that time, after the Korean War, when the Philippines was the envy of South Korea for being the land of opportunities and immense natural resources. Fast forward to the present and Korea is lightyears ahead in terms of technology while the Philippines has collapsed into the economic basket case it is known as today. In the IT industry nowadays, India secures the top spot in graduating more and more  “hard” engineering and comp sci /IT majors each year.

As I was going through the UNESCO report on the state of adult learning and education and the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education, it occurred to me that the economic and social development of the Philippines could also be hinged on knowledge and education.

I believe that this is the issue for us today — Knowledge Management tools can be inherited easily from more advanced nations, but those in the Global South (and Middle), including the Philippines, may not as easily inherit the skills needed to use them. For one, Internet is already widely available here (despite its dismal state). However, the use of the Internet as a crucible in the gathering and refining of knowledge is lost in the majority of its users here. This is evident in the relative stagnancy of many of the topic-based forums in the Philippines, at least compared to social networking, entertainment, and e-commerce sites. In comparison, CoPs and CoIs of varying sizes and complexities are very active in North American and European nations. Another example is SEARCA, which has a very robust structure that can be emulated. In general, Knowledge Management — both as a management tool and as an avenue for research and development — can be severely impacted by lack of technological utilization. While there is a link between lack of ICT systems and poverty, there might also be a link between this same poverty and the improper/inefficient use of existing systems. When it comes to statistics, the Philippines prides itself on being able to closely follow the world’s technological times — but we are not exactly sure if the technology that we currently have is being put to productive use. Our “little learning” may be driving us to rest on our laurels.

With the advancements of technology which  has allowed us access to information right at our fingertips, learning is hardly a question of accessibility anymore. And yet when I look at supposed CoPs on FB, there’s hardly any exchange of knowledge or mentoring going on. Rather it’s a venue to gripe about one’s job, compare salaries and a HR’s treasure find.

Modern technology has taken over every fibre of the world we live in today, and so much so that it dictates the job market. It has eliminated the demand for routine manual jobs in manufacturing industries as such tasks like counting, packing, etc. are mostly done by robots. The rule doesn’t even apply to manual jobs only; routine cognitive tasks have likewise been ripe candidates for computerising.

It then becomes imperative for the educational system to top be flexible enough to adjust to the changes in the labor demand and focus on equipping people with 21st century skills: critical thinking, problem solving, team work, knowledge management and digital literacy.

Even the best educational systems might not suffice in such a rapidly changing world. The key to any persons’s success is that no matter what level we find ourselves in life or at any organisation, we can accept change. Those who cannot become obsolete in the organisation. This implies we have to study throughout our whole lives, and we can never be too old to learn. Anyone who is not open to learning is slamming down the gates on their own future.

References:

UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning [UIL]. (2009). Global report on adult learning and education, pp. 43-116. Hamburg: UIL. http://www.unesco.org/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/INSTITUTES/UIL/confintea/pdf/GRA LE/grale_en.pdf

UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines [NatCom] (2008). The Development and state of the art of adult learning and education. Available at http://www.unesco.org/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/INSTITUTES/UIL/confintea/pdf/Nati onal_Reports/Asia%20-%20Pacific/Philippines.pdf