Tuesday 27 December 2011

Incredible India: Up Against the Koenig Imperative

Boot camp revamp
I had a major falling out with my trainer this morning on a number of issues regarding the delivery of the curriculum leading to a certification I am in interested.
When it comes to boot camp training, it can be difficult to balance the issues of time, complete coverage, teaching, explanation and preparation for tests.
Much as I will like to attain my certifications as soon as possible, my learning methodology has never been by rote, accepted views or concepts have to have undergirding logic and I need to know that I am extending my body of knowledge.
The burden of history
For someone who has been in the ICT profession for 23 years, one can safely say a good deal of the concepts we take for granted today have their foundations in fundamentally primitive things we did decades.
People new to the field may have no need for the history of how, why and what things are today, maybe that is an advantage or disadvantage but it is impossible to expect those who have experience to just become sponges of new thinking without referencing knowledge they already have or activities that have practical affinity with the topic under discussion.
Intensive versus effective
Again, the curriculum is delivered in 6 8-hour days and sometimes Sundays, the danger of saturation looms, the trainer wanting to cover the requisite material, the trainee wanting to pace the absorption so that the quality becomes of greater significance than the quality.
In other words, there might be a case for 5 hours of effective training over 8 hours of intensive training, each trainee knows what they can handle before they begin to wilt and that is only just human.
Delivery prowess
Then, there are amazing differences between the two trainers I have had, the Microsoft Official Curriculum is tied to Powerpoint slides that were followed quite closely and made the taking of notes less easy especially in a one-on-one teaching setup.
The better delivery method with regards to the Powerpoint slides should have been having the slides offered as notes to trainees to annotate thereby helping link discussion with concept and reference.
In the case of my CCNA trainer, she is no less than prodigious, in the 4 days of my training already, she has not one referenced a note, she fills the board with point after point with literal total recall, in the probably 500 sentences she has written on the board, she has only once asked if one point had been written and that point was probably the least significant of the lot.
Rhyme without reason
Things began to reach a head yesterday when first certain definitions appeared to challenge the conventional use of language, English being the medium but meanings appearing to indicate the opposite.
I could not absorb the idea that Least Feasible Distance could go on to mean Best Option, regardless of tone, context, syntax or semantics, this was an exceptional anomaly and I felt quite uncomfortable with this.
I dare say English is not really the same between what is spoken and written in America and what the English speak especially when there is a purist determination in one’s mode of expression – that is just a fact.
English usage and meaning
I have worried that I might get caught out with American usage and Americanisms and a typical example I give is our pants are never exposed whilst Americans wear theirs openly. Alright, pants are underwear in England but trousers in America if viewed from an English perspective just as a negative is always a negative on our side of the pond no matter how many you string together whereas in America the mathematical double negative take precedent to yield a positive or the affirmative.
Another usage of Active and Passive which had the implication of opposites in the class seemed to be given a much more acceptable reading when explained in another context from other material I reviewed.
Just as we have English and US English dictionaries, I am beginning to think whilst allowances can be made for similarity and difference, there might be a case for clearly differentiating the material and not assuming English is really the same around the globe.
However, it was when a formula was written on the board that combined two unrelated units that I had had enough. I was not in class to jettison my engineering background and there had to be a reason why that formula was the accepted code.
Oranges and apples
At this point, I was impervious to the illogical and scientifically incorrect; I could not imagine that all the engineering in Cisco had produced a dimensional and mathematical inexactitude without reason.
That reason was not forthcoming, I was to absorb this by law and learn it by rote – for a person who was first precocious, then inquisitive, interrogative, curious, questioning, researching and challenging assumptions no matter how widely held, this was one of those moments where without reason there could be no progress.
Yesterday, I got up, closed my book, slammed the lid of my netbook and was ready to walk out of the course, she was able to placate me but I was far from satisfied.
Now, I know
On returning to my hotel, that was the first topic I researched and then I saw the extensive formula that got condensed to what was written on the board, the engineering and mathematical proof was evident – that for me is what you call the impartation of knowledge and the fulfilment of understanding – the why and how was there to see.
So, in the morning I took my discovery to my trainer and she acknowledged she knew this but it was beyond the scope of the course I was on. Whilst that was appreciated, I felt a conflict brewing because I was not just going to take everything as gospel but will require clear detail where assumptions are made that seem to challenge the concepts of language or science as predicated from my “wealth” of experience.
By the time we had exchanged a few good views about the material it was time for my trainer to say she could no more continue the training and I felt we had reached an irreconcilable impasse.
I then had a meeting with the officials and technical manager where generally what they seemed to be concerned with was the method (The Koenig Imperative – course material delivered within constrained time-frames leading to certification).
In some ways, I acquiesced and we agreed to continue the course because the curriculum is really an abridged version of the more serious engineering concepts that I will find more interesting and aligned to my engineering background.
Patching up
I can understand my trainer’s frustrations though I cannot say she fully appreciates that I cannot extend my knowledge of these concepts just by faith without seeking the fundamental reasons for why and how such conclusions were arrived at – it is just the bane of my kind of background, that I have become a somewhat difficult and impossible trainee after her having delivered this curriculum to well over 500 trainees is unfortunate.
I am not a robot, God help my intellect and we both need a healthy dose of patience with each other.
We appeared to patch things up and continue with the training, an interestingly eventful day. 

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