Project Work, a Noob’s EDucation


Perfect abbreviation.

At the end of the Promos, everyone experienced a brief period of release and euphoria. On the average, this brief period lasted for approximately 60 hours at NJC.

Then on to Project Work.

Truth be told, PW is little more than an attempted ripoff of the IB’s own project programme at ACSI.

Insult to injury, I suppose.

Well, as with all ripoffs, it is doomed to failure. Save perhaps the stated path to the Dark Side, which actually seems to be functioning better, most probably due to IB’s Theory of Knowledge paper being too astonishingly easy.

I suppose any JC student in recent years will have heard untold numbers of swearing and curses at PW, a fair multitude having been contributed by none other than himself.

The more civic-minded tutors will limit themselves to grumbling and complaining.

So, no one likes PW. Perhaps we ought to consider why it was even implemented……

The accepted story runs that the MOE received unfavourable feedback from local universities that JC students were fairing poorly compared to their Poly counterparts in modules that require extensive teamwork.

The MOE’s solution: teach them how to work in groups at JC.

Hence PW was born.

Or stillborn. (More on this in a later post.)

A common complaint by students is the utter stupidity of jamming this PW into an already overloaded 2 years of education. The workload is tremendous when combined with the endless tutorials we are expected to keep abreast of.

Maybe it is because I am not an avid gamer, that I find time quite sufficient for all such purposes. Besides, modern corporate culture is no stranger to hectic schedules and piles of paperwork. One may think of PW as little more than a preview of what is more to come.

Honestly, I like the concept of PW.

Just as, or even more, honestly, I loathe its current form.

PW, in its complete stage, exists in submission as the PI, GPP, EoM, InR, WR and OP. I have a sincere belief that any system exceeding 6 acronyms yet does not generate 6-digit benefits in actual monetary value should be 6 feet under.

This is pushing the limit.

I can well understand the rationale behind the Written Report and the Oral Presentation. They are, after all, integral to any form of corporate or academic work.

The others are nonsense.

PI = spamming of ideas presumably for guidance, but we all know that the best ideas usually occur when you are neck-deep in the assignment, not before.

GPP = some form of progress report that serves to inform the tutor, so why the hell is drafting necessary?

EoM = assessing whatever research that has been gathered, this is the epitome of idiocy when we are expected to translate a bullet point in the WR into an essay just for this

InR = stupidly enough, candidates have declare their own mistakes in the course of the project and suggest solutions; so I am graded on what I screwed?

All the 4 above are dumb enough on their own. The real problem however, lie in those incredibly short-sighted deadlines for draft after draft. The only thing those bloody deadlines have ever done for me is to screw up the carefully planned schedule my team worked out early on in the Project.

Yeah, that would be some ‘Insight and Reflection’.

As VP for NJC SGS, I am incredibly busy. Kudos to my President for shouldering a good deal of the work, but trust me, there is plenty to go round.

No, I refer not to some nonsense petty inefficient affair like spending 4 hours painting a bloody banner.

Straightening records, confirming testimonial details, talking to half-a-dozen external bodies all at once over just as many separate collaborations including joint trainings, competitions, loaning of games and CIP plans……

I saw no need for all that PI/EoM/InR nonsense.

I wonder, 2359, have you ever heard of the Millennium Challenge?

For the uninitiated, this was a multi-million dollar war game by the Pentagon, where Blue Team (representing the USA) had access to all the wonderful computing and analyzing abilities, both machine and human, whilst Red Team (representing a rogue Islamist state) had limited information gathering and evaluation technology.

The spy satellite versus the telescope.

Within a few days of confrontation Blue Team was thoroughly defeated.

Reason: they spent too much time looking forward, generating preliminary scenarios, possible responses, reflecting on what they have done, and generally holding non-stop meetings.

Anyone who has read my page above ‘Neatness Costs’ will know my attitude towards such bullshit.

PW seems snared in an identical trap.

Of course, trumping that is the ultimate idiocy of all……

Trashing the whole of PW.

MOE just cannot bear to admit their own mistakes. You see, I can bet anything that by scrapping the subject, they lay the blame on ‘students not being able to adapt to including this new area of learning’ or something equally silly, such as ‘the system is inherently flawed and we conclude teamwork skills cannot be taught’.

Translation: Not our fault.

Meanwhile, tweaking the system will leave much less room for wriggle.

If Tharman had the guts or sense, he might institute the following:

Scrap the PI, GPP, EoM and InR. Replace them with monthly Progress Reports submitted separately by the individuals and groups. No drafts for these Progress Reports, nor are they assessed. Tutors will dispense comments and advice based on the Progress Reports.

The final grading process depends solely on the Written Report and the Oral Presentation.

The Progress Reports have the added benefit of making our lives easier towards the end as we try to track our own work for writing the WR. Rather than forcing the individuals to look out for themselves in the PI, EoM and InR, the Progress Reports tie in the team even more strongly since each monthly submission is a joint effort.

PW was a great idea. But along the way, it got too caught up in its cumbersome procedures and lost its essence. Having more guidelines give people greater assurance that what they do is correct, that I cannot deny.

What they can definitely be correct about is that there will reach a critical mass of rules where the next one is a death sentence.

Think MTG: seasoned players are well aware that encumbering any win condition with too many options will simply result in no wins. Similarly, for each backup plan inserted, the main plan is compromised further.

Ironically, I suppose the PW idea came from the agenda of a long, long, long meeting.


This country prided itself on doing more with less; payback time.

Posted on October 17, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Screw PW and its insane deadlines.

  2. Ironically, out of the 6 components, PI, EoM and InR are INDIVIDUAL work. Group effort graded based on individual work will give a perfect idea of teamwork and unity, no? Furthermore, the OP has 1 component out of 3 based on the group’s effort. This means that we have:
    1 Compilation skills grade (GPP)
    3 Individual work grade (PI EoM InR)
    1 Speech skills grade (OP)
    and the group grades? One.

  3. I really agree with your take on PW.

    Research experiments have been done, and in one experiment 24 hours of autonomy (i.e. self-direction) is more productive than 3 years of “guided” work. Watch the video if you want.

    Scrap all the needless little intermediates. Give the question – Alternatives, or Amalgamation (for this year). Leave the students on their own, with progress reports to for the teacher mentors for tracking. Submit written report + oral presentation. Chances are, not only will the students be more motivated and driven to do the work, the projects themselves will be more meaningful too… While we still learn the same (if not more) skills compared to what we do now for PW.

    I’m hoping they do something about this soon… A new education minister in the future, perhaps?

  4. Having a insane time right now catching up with deadlines, revision and homework

  5. While enduring the torture of PW, one way i kept myself sane was to make excellent use of humanities greatest invention – vulgarities. If PW had a face, I’d slap it so many times every single day ’till it looks like Mr Bean (the brand).

  6. PW will be much easier if everyone knew how to tweak and fake results rather than painstakingly lumber through the consolidation of survey/interview results. No one cares whether or not you actually carried out the pilot project–all the judges want to see is the way the group can present their ideas, and their rationale behind it. Simple

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