It’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog and to be honest, I have been swamped with marking and end of semester deadlines. I find it amusing (well not really) that many students today apply the user-pay mentality to academic pursuits in that they pay fees, so the little people like me (the lecturers) must ‘pass’ them. sigh. It is always interesting to find that one note in your inbox that ‘demands’ mind you – the list of topics that will be appearing in the final exam or one in which the student says ‘sorry all my assignments are late, but i have been very busy this semester’ but could you mark this and return it before the exam so that I know where I went wrong.” Hmmm.. I am tempted to reply “really because I have been sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for your assignment and of course I will drop everything just to mark your script immediately!”  Of course these are the minorities and for the most part, I enjoy my students and being part of their learning experience. But I digress.. this post is not meant to be a rant about that.

Last week I was privileged to have attended the 37th Pacific Circle Consortium Conference held at University of Hawaii’s Manoa Campus <;. What a great week of inspiring presentations. One of the things I most appreciated was the key note addresses. On day one, we had Prof. David Grossman who talked about Global Citizenship and shared the famous shift happens video <;. He talked about shifting movements in education in order to prepare young people for the world of the future. Then on day 2, a wonderful young Teacher who recently graduated from UH, Denise Kim, spoke on “A Time to Blend: Synthesizing Traditional and Progressive Educational Approaches”. Her presentation was inspiring because it took into account inclusive education as also including both digital natives (those born into the technological age) and digital immigrants (those of us born before the digital revolution who have had to learn how to use these tools). She also had some very thought provoking insights into the realities of education and the new-pedagogues for the future given the shifting realities that we live in. Amazing young woman who I hope to be able to bring to USP to address young graduates and post-graduate students.

Amongst the wonderful presentations attended, one that stood out for me was by a good friend and fellow PCC-regular, Laura Ortiz from Mexico who spoke on “Analysis regarding academic knowledge learned by university students during their years at school”. Her research explored the reasons why academic content taught and assumed ‘learned’ at school was rarely retained past exams. This is something that has intrigued me for some time in terms of internalization – are we teaching for exams or are we teaching to pass exams?

My own paper was “The postgraduate experience as liminal space: Pedagogical reflections on the application of assessment for learning at the University of the South Pacific” and in it I look at seven years of Talanoa with PG students on their PG experiences. It seemed to be well received as few had ever considered the PG experience as liminal space so the follow up dialogue was useful and interesting.

All in all PCC 2013 was a wonderful experience as PCC generally is and I would encourage anyone who is not familiar with its operations to try to attend PCC 2014 to get a feel for the collegial mentorship that the group nurtures. For those looking to publish Pacific education related articles, the journal of Pacific-Asian Education is currently managed by a dedicated team at Auckland Uni. Bookmark the website and wait for updates on PCC 2014 which may be held in either Palau or Oregon. Both great places to be!

Here I am at the conference dinner with Jo-Anne Lau Smith from University of Southern Oregon and Frank Pottenger, University of Hawaii. Frank btw is one of the oldest longstanding PCC members – a wonderful curriculum-thinker and encouraging mentor to be around.


 Seated: Jo-Anne Lau-Smith (L) and Frank Pottenger (R), and yours truley, standing 🙂

On another positive note, a proposal to host the 2015 PCC in Fiji is being put together so that should draw more Pacific islander participants (we hope!).

~ Alofas.