Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An EE of An EE

4.0 Results and Findings:


It is uncanny how similar the growth curve of my Extended Essay is to the growth curve of an average human being.

But then again, why should I be surprised? To me, my Extended Essay has taken an almost human quality. Even though this sweet child of mine has given me sleepless nights, played with my mental state and won my hate and love in equal measure…I cannot deny that she has found a place in my heart.

5.0 Evaluation:

5.1 Birth
It all began months ago, when she first popped into my head – and into my life – as an adorable little Research Question. She was barely a thesis statement and a hastily-put-together list of research objectives then, but to me she was my world. Proudly I showed her to Miss Melor, who agreed to be my EE advisor (for the rest of this blog post, Miss Melor will be referred to as “the Godmother” for dramatic purposes). 

But like any new father, I was nervous. Horror stories abound from seniors and teachers about EE’s which have gone bad; RQ’s which had to be changed halfway, EE’s which have gone down the dark path of plagiarism. But I was determined that she was not going to be one of those EE’s.

5.2 First procrastination phase
That determination though, did not last long. It is this point of the story of which I am most embarrassed: I became a negligent parent.

I don’t know whether it was my other assignments or my responsibilities as a student rep, but I ignored her. I left her in my laptop, alone and overlooked. Referring to Diagram 1, this part of the story is the nearly horizontal part of the graph slightly above the number ‘0’ number of words.

The deadline for your first check-up came and went, but still I did not send her to the Godmother to be inspected. I was a man on the run, ready to bolt at the sight of the Godmother. At one point I got pretty good at escaping her. The key to escape, I learned, was not to run, but to hide. I never did get caught – or so I thought.

5.3 First growth spurt
But one day I got a letter from the Godmother, my full name and class neatly typed out on the front. In it was a memo:

“…due to your poor and bad commitment, you will now handle your IB exam registration directly with the Head of Academic Affairs…”

To the Godmother I sent a text:

“Teacher, I am sorry…can you extend the deadline to next week please?”

To which the reply (in true Godmother fashion):

“I don’t want excuses. I want a first draft.”

This leads me to believe that EE advisors must have been trained in the art of psycho-ing their advisees…

The weekend after that marked the first growth spurt in Diagram 1, as I did not leave my laptop for two days to shower my EE with the attention she so lacked. With the words I fed her, she grew from slightly above 0 words to 3000 words in a matter of 48 hours.

5.4 Second procrastination phase
Unfortunately, this was not to be the feel-good part of the story yet. The Sem 3 examinations rolled along, and once again my EE went unheeded. I promised myself that I would once again shower her with attention once the holidays began. But procrastination, my arch-nemesis, reared its ugly head as per usual. I did look at her, and fed her the words she was so hungry for – but they were far from enough.

As it was then, she had no citations whatsoever yet. This sweet child of mine was heading down the dark road to plagiarism – it was going to be a potentially hazardous puberty indeed.

5.5 Second growth spurt
The second growth spurt was brought about by mother (a.k.a. my second EE advisor) who persuaded (read: forced) me to work on my EE towards the end of the Sem 3 holidays. So when Sem 4 began my EE had exceeded 4000 words. In other words, she was overweight. Still I fed her more words as the deadline approached. Eventually she would approach 6000 words. It was at this point that I had to submit to the painful truth – she was obese.

5.6 A painful weight-loss programme
When I submitted her to turnitin.com (which checks for plagiarism) it felt like watching my baby been checked for drugs. But my faith in her was justified – my baby was clean. Only 10% of her content was ‘un-original’ – something which could easily be solved via citations.

Her weight problem, though, was still a big issue. She could not be submitted while exceeding 4000 words… I had to do it – I had to put her through a weight-reduction program. I knew it was going to hurt me as much as it hurt her.

Deleting months of hard work at the click of the backspace button was not easy, but I knew I had to do it. It was her health, after all, which was at stake.  Eventually she was down to the ideal size. And after her citations were included (after a sleepless night), this sweet child of mine was absolutely stunning.

5.7 Submission
The day she came out into the world (from the printer) was a day I will remember for quite a while. The feeling when I sent her in to the Godmother was like that of flying. My baby has left me, and regardless of how many points she wins, to me at least she will always be beautiful.

6.0 Conclusion
ARGHH!!! Who am I kidding?? The only reason that I am writing this 999 word post (graph included) is because I have nothing else to do! I miss that sweet child of mine :’(((((((((((((

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Listening for Faith in A202

“Salman’s Room”

For us A202 will always be that, although you no longer stay there. Somehow part of your immense personality still lingers in a room now half-empty.

The night after I learnt of your departure, I sat on your empty bed. I don’t know what I was trying to achieve. An answer to why you left, perhaps? Perspective? Maybe a way to get over my guilt?

Because I am guilty. We were best friends in Sem 2, but drifted apart in Sem 3. We climbed roofs together, sat together in a corridor eating ice cream (and subsequently got told off together by the counselor who was passing by), got into all kinds of s***. Good times :D

So I should have known better. I recognized the signs, but I didn’t put them together. I knew things were going wrong, but I should also have known that they were falling apart.

On that night I sat on your folded mattress, on an empty bed, in a room right next to mine. I stare at the wall beside your corral, once covered with memos you wrote to yourself. Stuff like “There is no right or wrong, just right now”. But right now that wall is bare.  

I should have done something – anything – to ease your burden. Because behind that now-bare wall of A202 is my room. Where I stood by doing nothing, while you were silently (and not silently) crying for help. Behind that wall I stood by idly as you sank deeper into a personal hell. Of that I am guilty.

Sitting on what was once your bed I see the things you must have seen in your darkest hours. The ancient ceiling fan, the modest locker, the ordinary yellow door. Things you must have seen differently then than I do now. And again I question: where was I?

I couldn’t have advised you – mainly because I didn’t know what to say, or how to. I still don’t. But looking back I realize I could have provided something more precious than any piece of advice: a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on. But where was I?

Now I sit in a room half-empty, trying to listen to someone no longer present. I am too late. I am sorry; I did not help you reach for the faith you needed so much.

After that night, we finally met you in the corridors of our college. Your decision was final, we did not attempt to shake it. We know how stubborn (read: principled) you are. We are just glad you have not given up. By yourself you seem to have rediscovered faith in yourself. And although you are now “living outside the lines, [where] its nerve-wracking and disturbing, no road in front of you”, somehow you inspire in us a belief that you will make it somehow. I don’t know how; but God willing, you just will.

On that night I did not yet know all of this. And on an empty bed, and just a little too late, I sat a while longer; listening for faith in room A202...