Missions accomplished

You know how it goes, you spend months sitting on your backside in the same office, staring vaguely at a point just in front of your monitor, talking to the same three people about the same three things, and then all of sudden you end up renting a flat on the other side of the world and taking more taxes than an impecunious baron bent on pursuing an unprofitable military operation overseas.

I’m sorry, that should have said “taxis”. Anyway, since I rode in from Changi I’ve managed to find a flat to live in and met everyone I’m going to be working with. It’s been quite a good introduction to Singapore, as it happens, having a reason to drive from east (where the venue that hosted ICET is) to west (where affordable condos and LSL are) every day, although it would have been nice maybe to do it without having to man our stand at the same time.

The expo/conference was good, though. I met a whole bunch of people there: some exhibitors who are doing really interesting technological things (lagless video over IP! serious!) and attendees, who were remarkable to someone from the UK for being almost entirely teaching professionals, with hard questions about the value of what we do and how our partnership with IDA would benefit them. It was refeshing, after BETT, to be spending time talking with people who actually stand in front of students, rather than people who just buy the kit, or pay for it.

And of course it was an honour to meet Permanent Secretary for Education LG(NS) Lim Chuan Poh, even if only briefly, and even if it was only to answer some questions about Racing Academy. There was a lot more media attention on the event than I think people expected, and gratifyingly we caught an item on Channel News Asia’s ticker describing the partnership between “IDA and Britain’s Futurelab”, followed later by an interview with the CEO of IDA talking about what we’ll be doing over the next two years (in which he mentioned by name one of my objectives for the next six months, so no pressure). I missed the interview, unfortunately, because I was at the

Changi Village hotel, the venue for the official conference dinner, where I met the rest of my team from the IDA, who taught me as much Singlish as they thought I could handle. For once in my dissolute life I left early, despite the easy availability of booze, recognising that the relationship between me and my new climate is something we both need to work on before it can truly be called postive.

Obviously my talk on Friday was sparsely attended and lacking in questions, it being Friday evening on the last day of the conference, but the workshop on Wednesday was really interesting, to me at least if not the participants. Two things stood out: the emphasis of teachers present on issues around addiction to games and the ethics represented by games, and the consensual, equal and I suppose just plain adult nature of the group discussions. I was expecting some kind of UK-style ego fight, where a dominant figure needs to give the rest some space, or a member who’s too cool to take part needs to be encouraged to take part, but there was nothing. Refreshing.

Obviously, the rest of the week was taken up by me staring open-mouthed at everything and thinking “but…how can everything be exactly like England and yet confuse me utterly?”

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