So, a few days ago, I received an email from my Dean, Mr. Kho I Eng regarding a particular post I composed on March 2009. Here was what he said in the email:
I come across an article written in the wordpress “Feb 2009: Data Structure Oral Final Study Examination – The Wildcard Subject” in your name.
In the third paragraph you wrote about my competency in Data Structure. I expect from you the clarification of the statement written in the last sentence of that paragraph, which I quote here “One of my friends also suspected that he doesn’t understand Data Structure at all given that he had answered the question according to what he learnt in the book and Mr. Kho still didn’t get what he meant.”.
My reaction to his email was I’m a little bit flustered to know that my blog is being read by a high-prestige person. After I read my blog that is being pointed out by him once again, I replied his email to explain what I meant in that blog in the following day. Here’s how I wrote:
Dear Mr. Kho,
Sorry for the late answers since I just received this email Thursday, 23 April 2009. Before thanks for reading my blog entitled “The Randomness Thing”. On the post that you mention about the Data Structure OFSE, I quoted one of my friends disappointment from your judgement in marking his/ her explanation regarding the Data Structure OFSE. It was an honest quote that I took directly from my friends’ statement.
There is no intention of me to underestimate your ability in Data Structure and I’m sure you have a great understanding in that particular area since that is your primary major. Once again, I only quote from my friend’s testimonial regarding the previous Data Structure OFSE and I’m sure he/she also doesn’t mean to disrespect you. He/she probably only questioning why you gave hime/her such a low mark eventhough he/she has explain it according to the textbook.
I hope you understand this and if there is further issues to discuss about, I’m ready to meet you at the campus.
Oh yeah, a few friends IM me regarding this matter and thanks for the support although I’m sure Mr. Kho is a wise guy and will clarify things in a diplomatic way. Some of my friends also warned me to be careful that my thesis defense will get stumped by him because of my controversial comments. Anyway, the following day I received another e-mail from him, inviting me to his office to have a talk.
“Wow, looks like I’m in trouble now”, I thought to myself. So, on Friday, April 24th 2009, I went to the campus and met him around 2:00 PM in his office. Mr. Kho I Eng was concerned about the statement that I composed in the blog will defame his reputation. He argued that people outside the SGU will think directly that Mr. Kho I Eng doesn’t have the necessary skill in examining the Data Structure Oral Final Study Examination. He warned me to be careful in composing a statement without fact check as it will lead to a bad prejudice.
From my argument, I replied to Mr. Kho that this blog is not an attempt to defame his ability in Data Structure subject. Rather, it is a portray of situation during the post-Data Structure Oral Final Study Examination. The statements that are presented in the blog are the students’ opinion which have no relationship with Mr.Kho competency. They were just uttering disappointments and wonders on the things that are going around the OFSE.
From the conversation I had with Mr. Kho, he is quite a supportive guy. He doesn’t mind me in criticizing him beacuse that’s how academic works, with debate. He just wanted to clarify that the things I said in the blog was a pure opinion gathering, not a false statement as what he understand in reading the post. The discussion continued in I questioning Mr. Kho what actually happened in the Data Structure OFSE.
He said that the reason that he questioned the students until detail was that he wants to make sure that the students have a clear understanding in the theory presented. He is concerned because the questions were the same as the last year and the students who got late queue can just copy-paste from their friends’ previous answers. For the person who thinks he answered it according to the book, Mr. Kho explained that he only read the passage in the book half-heartedly making his explanation half-baked and Mr. Kho has no other choice than giving them a low mark.
Mr. Kho also thinked that OFSE is a waste of time regarding to the increase of students of Swiss German University from time to time. Imagine how much time should be spent if the students who participate in the OFSE are more than 1000? It will be time-consuming and the objectivity of OFSE will be low. Mr. Kho admitted that it is impossible to be objective during the OFSE for several factors. He then wishes that OFSE should be erased and replace by a comprehensive test regarding the thesis that a particular students are going to write. He said that it will be more effective if a student that is working a Data Mining based thesis are tested about his competency in Data Mining subject.
So, there you go, a full 30 minutes conversation with Mr. Kho I Eng regarding the post that I wrote. It was a nice and nurturing conversation and I thanked Mr. Kho for his wise arguments in replying to a students’ voice. (Additional Note: This is not a full discussion though, since I might’ve forget some of the content of the conversation itself)