It’s not the day
Some days are just ordinary, like this particular day. But they do not fail to give varied experiences. Every new day demands a thorough reading of people and their moods. If we plan to make it as unexcitingly even as a day without challenge can be, things that had to happen shall happen. Not a cliché. A day does not dance at your fingertips though, literally, you may feel to have taken control of things that are beyond your competence.
Yesterday was a plain day for me. But it must have been the roughest in someone else’s life. For example, the lady who reportedly got her purse stolen from the furnishing store near my Manahara abode. Though the money she lost must have been as small as the mobile phone that went along, it was a loss after all. It was the toughest moment in the store owner’s life in that such a thing was the first of its type ever since they put the store up in that location. So, while I was finding the motivation to initiate new things cursing the day for being one of the lousiest in the season, relatives of the crashed Tara Air were shedding the most agonizing tears, and the well-known Balen Shah was having a chaotic first meeting of the municipal council he has recently been elected to preside over.
So, while I was fretting and fidgeting about the unpredictable relapse of backache, someone must have been relaxing on their back somewhere on a cozy warm beach. My ‘what a day,’ meaning how bad it was would have signified a distinction from someone’s ‘what a day’ meaning excitement and ecstasy.
It is not the day that has the problem. It is the human being that identifies with a problem. Or the human being is the problem. Or the perceiver, experiencer, sensitizer of the trivial.
Some of your professional initiatives appear to resemble the ones done elsewhere. I never thought that the idea of signature pedagogy was already conceptualized long before I began to use it. My purpose was to ascribe one’s personal innovation in teaching with a specific name, such as ‘signature pedagogy’, meaning a new, organic and unique but transferable approach to teaching. Now that it is already there, I am still not at a disadvantage. I can work to trace a point of departure or a point of convergence. In both ways, I will have the opportunity to claim my own niche.
The idea of signature pedagogy occurred to me two years ago without any chance reading of narratives online or offline while I was planning a unique name for one of my reflective academic writing assignments to MPhil students. I thought I had happened to invent some models and applied them to my classes. Giving a formal assignment to postgraduate scholars not only tested the effectiveness and application of the idea but also helped collect about a dozen truthful narratives from practitioners from different parts of the country. The first group to receive this assignment presented some implicit claims of innovation while the writeups largely read as reiterations of traditional strategies. The second batch did not show any improvement either. I am waiting for the third group to emerge probably with a different set of ideas. I am not pessimistic and tired though. If I do not receive an innovative approach from these dozens of writeups, I will end up with a hypothesis that a unique pedagogical approach is yet to be in the making. If I received one or two, I will have something to delve into and pursue improvement.
And I am wondering if it will ever make a research agenda. But it will surely do. I don’t think anyone has thought the way I have. I will have the collection of this year’s responses and sit to read for traces of innovation. I am sure at least three will emerge. I will also see the possibility of combining more than one to make one.
Itch for writing
I experience a subtle itch each day when I cannot manage time to write at least a page. When I say ‘write,’ I mean on a piece of paper. With my own hand. I still do not believe typing on the computer screen makes writing at all. Writing is the act of a pen, a piece of paper, a hand with three fingers holding the pen and gliding through a white surface. To me what gets left with the ink marks is a craft. Ideas may be there. Thoughts may be there. Ideas worth a penny or a million. Thoughts speaking of philosophy or farting. What matters is that the pen must glide through the white surface.
I am doing the scribbling right now. Just one-half of my mind is urging me to read something worthy so that something worthy gets scripted. Probably a chapter from Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools. Yes, Writing Tools is not so representatively organic as a good topic. But the writing about writing is enough to inspire a little writing. Have I been able to write a new word, give a tweak of style or tell something unheard of? No, I am not a genius, self-proclaimed. But any days have not been without writing. For example, on any fine day, I write one or two short documents of seminal institutional value. I listen to well-labored conversations of post-graduate students. And I read some fragments of their assignments. Isn’t this part of a worthy day passed with texts? And when my fingers glide through a white page these days, I do not have to strike out a single word, unlike in those times when the lines often went dirty with corrections. I am sure regular scribblings have tuned my fingers with the brain. I do not feel old when I behold this youthful calligraphy irrespective of the shallowness of expression at certain points.
Does ‘excessive’ bonding affect collegiality?
The question is paradoxical. The idea of collegiality seems to entail bonding between colleagues. The qualifier ‘excessive’ blurs that bonding into some degree of impossibility. Collegiality is defined in terms of shared or separate purposes under a formal administration. Because purposes are separate, there is a high chance of collision. And because purposes are shared, people tend to emotionalize them to the personal level creating a fleeting, blurry sense of homeliness between or beyond the collegial spheres. Practically, both sides cannot belong long to that sphere, or become one of the many willing to infiltrate it at different times.
Bonding results from expectations of personal affinity and humane care. It results in knowing about others what is not worth knowing. Compromising with someone’s personal expectations might help retain closeness. But the same might compromise productivity and expansion of the creative network with even more competent and goal-focused individuals. Being overly formal in everyday intercourses – I mean discourses – creates a suffocating borderline between personal whims and anticipations. This blurs collegiality by failing the chances of convergence in matters of common interest involving entities out of the formal ecosystem.
Collegiality is thus a compromised necessity. You cannot choose to avoid it. You cannot skip it. You will not escape it. You must keep it going, conditionally. Considering all that collegiality cannot help with, I frequently say, “Do not create a good colleague out of a good friend. Do not drag a good friend to become a good colleague.” A good colleague cannot become a good friend, or the other way round. I remember someone asking me once, “Can you work under the person who is a close friend of yours?’ and myself responding thus: “Considering that I am under him might matter a little, but that he is above me will not. I am OK with his being my boss at his own institution. How he takes friendship along falls in his part of the responsibility.”