Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal (NC) and the Student from Hell
A few days ago we were divided up into groups: one group on Chromis, the Bar Crusher; another on Skipjack, the 'tug'; and the rest of us in a lifeboat that was the 'tow'. I was in the lifeboat. It was about 10° C, blowing 30 knots with constant rain and snow on the hills. We spent several hours in the lifeboat being towed up and down. I put up with it thinking we'd be rotated and would get a chance at towing from inside the nice warm cabin of Skipjack. Not so.
It is now 0400, I have a heavy cold and cannot sleep, and I'm feeling low. A couple of guys are talking and laughing quietly in a neighboring room. It isn't loud, I can't make out what they are saying, but it is just enough to keep me awake, and it's another small thing conspiring to make things difficult at this time. I chose to do my Coxwains certifcate at AMC in Launceston because they are a university with a good reputation. Hmmmm...
Yesterday morning the class found out there was an Engineering exam today. We had been told the only exam would be in Navigation and we did that last week. No other exam is mentioned in the timetable and everyone was surprised. By the afternoon the exam had moved to Thursday. Whatever. I just want to get to the end of this stupid circus.
Sometimes I think they're a bunch of rejected old mariners who can't get jobs at sea, bumbling around spouting their own ignorant theories of how things work on a boat. Sorry, no, they are not 'theories' there is no theory at all. Their thinking isn't that advanced. Instead it is all rote learning with disconnected parables, memory aids and the occasional incomprehensible 'explanation'. There is no physics, bugger all chemistry and engineering, and a tiny amount of arithmetic to hold it together. There is no real structure and nothing I learned in high school is necessary. It's a course designed by idiots for idiots and is guaranteed to produce unthinking idiots. OK, sorry, that's harsh, but it reflects the way I feel right now and it does encapsulate some key issues.
Yesterday, I started a list of all the teaching mishaps that occur. From little things like there are no whiteboard pens that work to spending an entire lesson in a confused blur jumping from one subject to another with no structure, no teaching aids because the computer is on the blink, and only the class to guide the teacher. In one afternoon I filled a page with mishaps. It is too depressing to continue the list. I must find a way to see this all in a more positive light but it's hard to do that at 0417.
Today Rob gave us his full attention for an Engineering review, as preparation for tomorrow's exam. Rob is knowlegable, concise, clear, patient and a very good teacher. I feel a lot more confident -- I think we all do.
The administration invited six of us to lunch to provide feedback on the course. I sat up for an extra couple of hours last night organizing my list of teaching mishaps into a helpful list of suggestions about how things could be improved. I am quite pleased with what I have come up with. It will make a huge difference if they can address just some of the points on my list.
But AMC are so fucked they can't even organize a review. The main man arrived half an hour late, well after we had got a dialog going with the two admin staff. His first comment was to push back against a suggestion by one of the students to improve the level of organization. I exploded, shouted. I could not help myself. I should not have done it but it seemed obvious that nothing would happen with someone like him in charge so I told him so, told him his attitude was part of the problem, then I got up and left.
The Bottom Line
Just a couple more days to go and I get back to my boat and finish the work I have left undone. By now you probably think I m hating the course and regret doing it. Actually, that's not so. I really enjoyed most of the course and would do it again, although I would not be so blinded by AMCs 'reputation' and would look at other alternatives. I loved being at school again, I enjoyed the students, most of the lecturers were great, the campus facilities are good and I learned what I needed to know as a commercial small boat skipper as opposed to a yachtie.
There are many exceptionally good staff at AMC but something is letting them down. Whether it is poor administration and organization, or a difficult interface with MAST and AMSA, or maybe it's internal politics impacting the ability of the organization to respond. I do not know. But I sure hope they get their act together soon. I know I was the student from hell at times, and I apologize to the staff whose lives I made difficult.
And if anyone from AMC is interested, I still have that list of suggestions...