Friday, May 25, 2012

GNIE: Complaint against teacher

I learned something interesting today.

First a little background about my GNIE cohort. During the 1st semester, my cohort was split into 2 classes and we were trained separately, with the exception of Pharmacology which was a mostly online course with a 1-hour weekly in-class review. Let's call the other class group A and my class group B. During the 2nd semester, the 2 classes are lumped together into a big group of 35 students for the theory courses.

During the 1st semester, Group A had S as their nursing theory lecturer. Group B had G as our nursing theory lecturer. My group had a lot of fun during our nursing theory classes. Our lecturer G was not above teasing us or being teased by us. As I've mentioned before, my semester 1 classmates are fun-loving and generally collaborative. During semester 1, I heard rumours that the other group (Group A) was rather competitive. In fact, I have personally heard remarks from Group A students whining about how much tougher their theory class and tests were, and how unfair that my group (Group B) had "much easier" test questions. [Note: Group A had tests set by lecturer S, and Group B had tests set by lecturer G.]

During the 1st week of semester 2, our nursing lecturer H was unavailable. We were taught by the Course Co-ordinator L. In week 2, lecturer H returned to teach us. Since then, I was often questioned by students from both groups (but especially those from Group A) asking me which lecturer I preferred, L or H. Since I see no point in comparing L with H given that it is just a difference in teaching style, I skirted the issue by replying tangentially, "I prefer G. Our class had so much fun laughing and learning from her."

In fact, I was to learn later that I wasn't the only one being asked the above. From what I gather, some of the Group A students went round asking everyone from both groups about our lecturer preference. During lunch break with my Filipino friends today, I learned that some Group A students have a strong preference for L over H. According to my Filipino friends' sources, this group of students in Group A -- let's call them AXE students for short -- preferred lecturer L because they think/feel that they will score better marks under L.

We are now in week 3. I heard from my Filipino friends that in order to turn their wish for better marks into reality, AXE students lodged a formal complaint to the Course Co-ordinator/Lecturer L (who doubled up as the replacement lecturer for us in week 1) about lecturer H -- that they did not want lecturer H to be teaching the class. AXE students lodge the complaint without first warning or consulting the other half of the class about their intentions, namely students from my group (Group B). Neither did AXE students attempt to discuss with lecturer H about their preference for a different teaching approach before going behind her back to her manager (i.e. Course Co-ordinator L).

Now comes the interesting part. I wrote about the ugly side of group loyalty (here) and self-interest (here) before. From what I understand, AXE students consist mainly of Filipinos from Group A. The reactions from my Filipino friends surprised me (although I didn't show it). IT remarked that AXE students were very short-sighted and did not consider the long-term impact of ruining our cohort's relationship with lecturer H, e.g. she may make it harder for us to pass. IT's remark got DL and JC worried. AP was also unhappy about the matter. LP was furious that AXE students did not consult our Group B before lodging a complaint, and thus implicating us in their dissatisfaction when in fact we didn't have any preference for lecturer L or H. PT seemed appalled but in his usual politically-neutral manner said nothing. [IJ wasn't with us for lunch.]

LP remarked, "They should have consulted us before making the complaint. We would have objected and [going by the Filipino culture] they should not have done it. Now it seems as if we are part of the complaint."

I asked my friends how they found out about the matter. LP told me about some stuff they overheard in Tagalog and the leak from a neutral person in Group A. So I said, "Oh no! We have to clarify that we have no issues with H teaching us."

LP added with conviction, "Yes. They [the university management] will launch an investigation. Then we must show our support for H."

I concurred, "Yes, let's show our support for H!"
At that point, I was actually quite happy to gain a fresh insight into the Filipino culture. It is NOT a "majority wins"* culture. It expects its members to come to a consensus before acting as a group. That's why despite LP and IJ's unhappiness with lecturer G regarding AP's issue (click here and here), they did not lodge any complaint -- simply because I had voiced my disagreement! [In addition, this indicates how they automatically count me as one of their own.]
Later, I remarked to AP my observation of Group A: They complained amongst the students about their 1st semester lecturer S. Now they are complaining officially about the 2nd semester lecturer H. I wonder if the problem is with the Group A students themselves -- i.e. they are a rather hard to please lot.


[Addendum on 23-Jun-2012]

IMHO, the above complaint has resulted in adverse effects. Click here for more.


*Note: Singaporeans are trained to accept "majority wins". E.g. If majority of the condominium owners  in an estate voted for re-development, the minority has no recourse to stop the re-development project.


  1. Hey wd! Its gie again, sorry i keep on bugging you.. I hope you dont mind me asking, is the gnie 8,000 or 18,000 cad? Thanks

    1. Hi Gie,

      Did you get the confirmation to enter GNIE? If so, congradulations!

      The estimated cost of the GNIE program is on my blog entry below. Note that the data is for the Sep-2011 cohort, actual cost may vary for different cohorts.

      That said, there are also some pre-course expenses that you have to prepare for. See my other blog entry below.

      In addition, you have to plan for your personal expenses. Hope the above information helps.

      Cheers, WD.