Wednesday, 29 February 2012

OFA coffee table book, part 15 (teachers' attitude)

I cannot resist giving this entry a sub-title, teacher's attitude, and I shall explain why very soon.

It is D-31 days. Based on my conversations with the OFA president and my co-editor last Saturday, I raised the point that we must have some independent people to do the proofread for the book. Already by Monday, Molly had come back to say that she has a church friend who was qualified enough to help. But one may not be enough. Although both Molly, Hwang and myself can also do the proofread, more eyes will certainly be better.

The OFA president, Rajendren, stepped in yesterday to say that the Penang Free School headmaster had suggested two teachers who could assist us. He duly texted me their mobile numbers and accordingly, I texted them and tried to arrange for a meeting at the school at 3.30pm so as not to inconvenience them from travelling outside the school.

One of the teachers replied to say that he would be at another meeting but never mind, I could update his colleague and she could update him on the proceedings. With that in mind, we agreed to meet up at the school at 1.30pm instead. Rajendren, Hwang, Molly and her friend would also be present.

I felt rather hopeful when I arrived at the school. The others were late so I had a brief talk with the lady teacher, Mabel. Then she dropped me a bombshell. She said that she would not be able to help much as she had just received an order transferring her to another school in nine days' time.

But, I tried to persuade her, we only wanted her help until next Thursday at the most. Technically she would still be a PFS staff. We left the issue at that because soon afterwards, my other OFA friends had arrived.

So it was against this background that the meeting began. Rajendren asked her to reconsider her decision not to help us but she persisted in saying that she couldn't. And she left the meeting soon afterwards. Of the other teacher, Tan had not even bothered to follow up with us.

This, unfortunately, demonstrated the unfortunate state of affairs everywhere, not only at this particular school, my Alma Mater. Like Rajendren told me earlier, let's find out at the meeting whether they were volunteering their services or were being asked by the headmaster to help. I guess that I don't have to give an answer. Their attitude has already answered all our doubts. Teachers with more than 10 years of service to the Penang Free School not showing their loyalty to the institution where they teach.

Anyway at the meeting, we sat down to exchange the latest developments regarding the book. Everything, yes, everything, must be handed over to the layout designers by next Friday. And Everything here means the proof-reading, corrections and a second round of checking to ensure the changes were made correctly.

That doesn't leave us with much time left. I tried to impress on the meeting that at this late stage of the project, we the final proof-readers can only check for spellings, grammar, vocabulary and punctuations. A proof-reader's job is not to be able to do a wholescale correction of passages. That would be the job of a copy editor and I had doubled up as the copy editor. I do appreciate the proof-reader's enthusiasm but everyone must appreciate that there is a style guide that had been adopted right from the very start of the project. We just don't have the luxury of time to veer off-stream and do major changes anymore.

I don't want to step on anyone's toes but that is the reality we face right now....

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