Tuesday, April 03, 2007

In our department each student is assigned to an "academic adviser" and said adviser is supposed to obviously advise students on academic matters. Only that none of us advisers really know much about how to advise students.

Firstly, regulations, pre-requisites, credit limits and credit transfers, minors allowed and free electives that can double count as minors etc. LITERALLY change every year. To keep oneself up-to-date with what is going on is an on-going process that requires the diligent reading of many pages of documents written in obscure jargons (which also change every year).

Secondly, isn't it supposed to be the programme office and the registry's job to "advise" students on how many more credits they need to take in whatever category in order to graduate? We are supposed to teach and churn out research output and compete for RGC grants, not add up the number of credits students need this term.

Thirdly, students seem to think it is a waste of time also. They never give the impression of anything other than that they are going through the motions when they come to see us. Feelings are usually mutual.

Granted all this, for whatever reason, each adviser is given a budget of HKD 500 per term to have lunch with advisees, to get to know them better, I was told. I have never utilised this fund before. Yes, it sounds as much hassle as it really is, which is why I have no sound explanation of why, this term, I have decided to lunch with these 24 advisees of mine.

So I emailed them, setting aside two days for them to choose. Twelve replied, only eleven could make it to either of these dates, and the rest didn't bother their arses. Bit rude of them, can't say my feelings were hurt, but I reckon it is common decency to reply even if they didn't want to waste time having lunch with me when they could be sleeping or playing mahjong or reading Hegel or Bourdieu whatever.

Today, I had lunch with two (nine tomorrow). Surprisingly pleasant girls, surprisingly confident and relaxed, surprisingly..., sane. Well they are sane, no doubt about it, but the kind of hostel culture in operation in our uni seems to be insane. From what they said, it sounded as if not sleeping is the thing that everybody in the hostels do and if you sleep when nobody else sleeps (i.e. night time), they you will be ostracized. What do they do when not sleeping? They CHAT. Is what they do. No parties, just sweet red bean soup and CHATTING. Is it any wonder that 9:30 am classes are only ever half full? Is it any wonder that 8:30 am classes are never even a quarter full, on a good day? Is it any wonder that 2:30pm classes are only ever three-quarters full, since this is when students catch up on their sleep?

I told them my thoughts, and they shrugged, and said, well, that's how it is.

Hmmmmmmmm. I said.


Tonight was the awards presentation ceremony for this year's teaching and research excellence awards at the university where I work. As a receipient of one of the teaching awards, I was under tremendous pressure to attend, even though I've got tickets to see a film at the Cultural Centre at 7pm. The organizers of the event promised I would be able to get out by 6pm latest so that I wouldn't miss my film.

It was all very strange. Maybe I am too much of a cynic. One other receipient was so emotional she was literally in tears. And there was me, sitting next to a senior management person, fellow partner in crime, cracking lame jokes and muttering inappropriate remarks under our breaths. To make it all seem better.

I had to dash after yet another group photo taking session, with a massive bouquet of lovely smelling flowers in hand. But by the time I got to my car it was already 6:40pm and there was no way I could get to TST by 7pm. Yes, yet ANOTHER HKIFF film I've bought tickets for, and did not fucking get to see. It looks like a good one too, "The Go Master", by a Taiwanese director.

So here I am, at home, half bottle of bargain basement Shiraz downed, in the process of trying to stop my two children from killing one another.

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