ES2007s Blog Post 6: Looking back at the semester..

As I said in my post about my last lecture, it was fitting that I took up ES2007S during my last semester. It is the best course I have taken during my 4 years at NUS.

Taking this course seemed jinxed as I had first taken it in the 1st semester of my 3rd year, attended a class and had to drop it because of excess workload, almost took it in my 1st sem this year and eventually managed to take it now to complete my ULR requirements. And thank god I persisted!

There are a lot of things I liked about the module and I will try to narrow it down to the top 3 –

1)Learning openness: A big part of my learnings during the course has been thanks to Brad – who was brilliant as a lecturer. Brilliant – not because he lectured/taught multiple concepts, but because he showed us that you have to be a good student if you want to be a good teacher. At every point, I felt like Brad was a student rather than our teacher.

Most importantly, it was great to see the openness and flexibility that was on display. One example that didn’t quite work was Dropbox. Inspired by the peer teaching on collaborative workspaces, Brad readily decided to try Dropbox out for the course. And soon, we realized that was probably not the right move thanks to the rule the lecturer plays in the initial work. It made sense for groups to use amongst themselves but not as the workspace of choice for interactions with the lecturer. It was something that didn’t work but we all learnt a lot about openness. There were a 100 other things that did, by the way, but the process with which we tried this new idea, didn’t quite succeed and then went about fixing it was a great learning.

2)Learning to take feedback: If I had to look back at my university life in general, learning to take myself less seriously has been one of the top learnings. I’ve noticed this to be common among many great men like Warren Buffett, Mark Twain etc. These are/were guys who were always laughing at themselves which made them very open to feedback.

Over the last few weeks, I observed many barriers break among classmates as we gave each other loads of improvement points. While it may not have been easy in the early stages, the environment class was one of candor and honesty and everybody knew that the intent was to help the other. I have always believed giving feedback requires a lot of care as it is easy to ‘find fault’ but takes a lot more effort to present in a way that sounds acceptable. And I think we all got better at both giving and receiving feedback and learnt from each other during the course..

3)It’s all about the people: Brad had a massive part to play in this course as it is a class room teaching course at the end of the day. And it was thanks to his openness, encouragement and flexibility that the class environment was one of a lot of fun and laughter. Leadership is about taking care of the environment and that was definitely taken care of..

Having said that, an equally important part was played by the people. And every one of my classmates were fantastic in adding to the experience. Here’s what I remember from each of them –

Clement: Clear strong points of view, lovely way of summarizing observations and learning and very good leadership and learning ability.

Diana (1): Always a quiet presence, very receptive to feedback and a smile.

Emily: Very genuine presentation style, passionate about her points of view and applying blog feedback by editing blog posts from time to time.

Glenn: Excellent team mate, very good with technology and prompt in getting work done.

Godwin: Lots of warmth, care, genuine-ity and friendship!

Goh Chern/Diana (2): Champion speaker, very honest, open and our ‘little miss sunshine’.

Jasper: Fabulous team mate, excellent design sense and a great person to get stuff done with.

Jie Ren: A heart person, very modest and dependable.

Jolene: A very passionate presenter, always smiling and open.

Joshua: An amazing actor, excellent interviewer and sales person to be.

Kian Leong: Excellent presenter, quiet yet insightful and always very clear about his points of view.

Kun Lin: Great sense of humor, very receptive to feedback and very focused.

Nicole: Very warm and friendly presence, bubbly and easily excitable!

Pei Rong: Passionate conservationist, very persistent with questions and great with work.

Weiying: My star teammate throughout, very dedicated and extremely sweet.

Zhisheng: A great story teller, warm and very straightforward.

It’s all about the people really. Thank you guys for making it special!

Added thanks to a special request from Clement that I could not refuse.

Rohan: Ever having creative ideas, and always willing to share his point of view, so as to help others improve. A clear leader with many abilities for others to emulate. And above all, someone whom I am proud to say I know.

Did I also mention that Clement is very kind with compliments??