Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Finishing Strong

Blogging is stressful. I do it because I always believed in walking the talk.

It didn't take me too long to realize that students (children) don't do what we say, but do what we do.

For teachers to have the moral authority to preach, they unfortunately will have to practise what they preach.

It turns out that I can sorta write, so writing is not entirely stressful. The reason why blogging for this class is stressful is because there is this pressure to "say something smart".

The problem is that this is the fourth time that I'm teaching this course and the third time I'm writing a blog because of this class. I don't actually read through what I wrote in the past (really don't have that sort of time or energy), but it also means that I risk repeating what I said in the past.

Fortunately for me, something struck me while I was reading the class blogs and it's something that I think is extremely important: finishing strong.

NUS does have its fair share of good and talented students. Yet, one quality that I have found that is often lacking is the tenacity to see something to the end.

It is quite common to find students get excited about something and work very hard at it (especially in CS3216).

The problem with life is that most things that are worth doing, are, well, HARD. While things can look really good at the beginning, things get more dreary and more painful as time goes on. There are also often problems. Sometimes, many, many problems.

And often times, people end up going through motion towards the end, or perhaps they just give up.

Three things I would like to say on this topic of "Finishing Strong":
  1. Life is more often a marathon rather than a sprint and so there's a need to conserve energy for the long haul and also manage morale. People often give up because they under-estimate how long it takes.
  2. Only the paranoid survive. It is easy to get lulled into complacency. The job is never finished until we are past the finishing line. We should not celebrate prematurely and let our guard down. I'm teaching CS1101s for the sixth time (and teaching CS3216 for only the fourth time). I almost have Scheme coming out of my ears and I can probably teach CS1101S backways. Nevertheless, if you ask my tutors, both classes are treated as "fresh enemies" and not a single stone is left upturned to make sure that nothing goes wrong (as best as we can help it).
  3. We don't always do things because it "feels good". To finish strong, sometimes we need to appeal to our conviction that we need to do some things just because "it is right" not because we "feel like it". If you asked me, I'd really rather be on a beach sipping pina colada than writing a blog, but we do what we need to do.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.amazon.com/Only-Paranoid-Survive-Andrew-Grove/dp/0385482582