a little east of reality

Friday, April 07, 2006

sleep deprivation for a good cause

It's been a sparse week for my blog. That's because I've had about nine hours sleep in three days. I promised I would look over an assignment for Silent Bob, but with me having been in Adelaide for two weeks, I didn't get an early start on that as I'd hoped. The English really needed some work. I also made the mistake of not reading his essay topic first up. I thought he was writing about asbestos, but in fact he was writing about ethical practice, responsiblity and liability in engineering, using asbestos as a case study. So a lot of stuff I initially thought was useful actually didn't address the questions that made up the topic.

We talked about the questions and what they were really asking and he spent the second-to-last night before it was due writing the answers more fully. Meanwhile I edited what he'd already written for correctness. The next night I edited those answers while he made sure all his referencing was done. I ended up taking out a lot of the part he'd written earlier that week that was less on topic. He couldn't afford any superfluous stuff, having finished with a 3000 word essay for a 1200 word assignment. Basically my part in all this was to fix the English and then help to pull out the non-crucial stuff so as to get it under the word limit. He of course had all the research and writing to do and got even less sleep this week than I did.

By the end of the exercise I realised that English is not his only academic problem. He has all the usual study faults of the average kid straight out of high school: not much sense of how to structure an essay, no idea what a theoretical framework is, relies too heavily on internet research, barely passable referencing skills. This led to the following conversation:
chosha: next time you have assignment, I'll take you to the library and teach you how to find good information.
silent bob: Okay.
chosha: Actually let me just explain something. I'm happy to help you and the offer's there, and I'm actually pretty good at this stuff, but it's always up to you. Some people don't like help. You can say 'no' and that's okay. I won't mind.
silent bob: /shaking his head/ I will never say 'no', because I know this will be help to me.
chosha: Okay then. But we have to start a lot earlier next time.
silent bob: /nodding and looking as worn out as I felt/ Yes, I think so, too.
I think we're both going to sleep very, very well tonight.