What standards will be applied to differentiate a novice from an expert? The present undergraduate, graduate, master, Professor / Doctor system is ultimately misleading. When someone claims “I am a Dr” you must then ask “of what?”, biology, philosophy, humanities etc. being a professor doesn’t suddenly give you a status to talk on every subject. Consider the martial arts and their more gradual system of grading; starting at the basic level and progressing to 1st Dan (the black belt) which, contrary to popular belief, is the where the basic level of training ends and you start to master your skills in earnest.
The difference in professional Go players is also worth noting, it is measured in a similar system from the lowest Kyu grade to the highest Dan grade, however, an even more interesting in this system is the concept that each grade difference between players is considered an extra stone handicap to the weaker player so that they can play a master on an equal footing.
All these systems correctly understand that there is a continuum of ability at knowledge at work here. You start at nothing and then progress over a lifetime to mastery, where systems differ is in how to measure how far along the continuum you have progressed so others can gauge your skill/knowledge/ability/suitability. As things stand standardized tests like GCSE’s, BAC SATs or A-Levels are created to give us a grade of our ability in each subject.
However, many people question how accurate this methodology is and whether it misrepresents or marginalizes students, it certainly only measures academic ability and knowledge, not practical application or personal experience. A much larger range of levels must be devised for the community that reflects the levels of knowledge, experience and usage of a subject, so the level will be a blend of a number of factors. This will be extensively investigated in a future entry.
So I have a test in 13 days for my French. Which has put me immediately into panic mode. I think perhaps I should have skipped this one as my level isn’t to a standard where I can truly benefit from the grade I’ll receive.
However, it’s a good exercise in desperation. If I can revise an hour every week day evening (including tonight) and 2 or 3 hours every weekend that will give me around 17-20 hours of preparation time. Also I’d expect with that much work to substantially improve my French.
As part of that exercise I’m going to write a paragraph each day into my Blog. If you’re French or you speak better French than I do, which isn’t too difficult, please correct me. I’ll owe you one!
This amount of study on top of work and projects I am in the middle of will probably be a challenge but I’m actually really looking forward to setting myself something difficult. Here’s to me getting a B1 level in two weeks time!
Oh on that note I thought I’d mention some good websites I have found for studying French
- A fun site where you listen to music in French, Spanish, German etc. Then you have to fill in the blanks appearing in the subtitles as you listen to the song. Very good for improving your listening skills
- Far from perfect but with lots of good repetitive exercises that clearly reinforce your ability to remember conjugations and vocabulary. Well worth the very small charge for a subscription (also available in Spanish, German etc).
What balance of time will there be between duties, research, training and leisure?
It should be as much as possible a balance between work and pleasure with exercise simply being considered as part of a daily routine. Regular sabbaticals and times of relaxation and mindfulness should punctuate the working day, week and year and these should be considered as mandatory as physical exercise.
Consistent over-workers should be closely observed to ensure they aren’t destroying themselves out of some perceived obligation; However, some people are workaholics and passionate about what they do, as long as it isn’t detrimental to their performance and health making people relax should be seen as a guideline not an enforcible standard. Work can remain a static amount but shifted between personal research, training and duties.
Study time should also be factored in outside of normal working hours. Regularly, say, every 2 years, members should take at least a month long holiday travelling and absorbing other cultures. Or a quiet retreat to friends and family, a long sojourn in a private retreat. The vacation or retreat would be subsidized by the community and the only rule is that the holiday must recorded and a journal be written of things learnt, This will then be placed into the communities library / wiki / openstreetmap e.t.c. Every map and experience will in this way help add to the whole.