The Nasese continuous lightning

It was about 1 – 3 am, Monday 6th December, 2010 that I saw a continuous lightning coming from the Southeastern skies of Suva, Fiji.  It was a very warm night and apart from the clouds at the SE horizon, the sky above was relatively clear . This was the first time for me to witness such an event, so I picked up my camera, went out of the house and recorded the video below.

This odd event probably went on  for more than an hour as I was still able to see the flashes when I went to bed at about 3am.  The strangeness of this event has forced me to visit the recording in Vimeo 6 months after I had uploaded it there.

This continuous lightning event is unique for a number of reasons. First, it consisted of continuous flashes which went on unceasingly for more than an hour.  This means that there were a lot of electrical charges being built up in the  clouds of SE skies.  Secondly, there were no accompanying thunder. Since it is impossible to have lightning without thunder, it is therefore very likely that these lightning bolts were very far away.

A few searches in Google has taught me that this type of continuous lightning is not that uncommon at all. It has been observed in other parts of the world, and the most famous of these continuous lightning events, dubbed as the Maracaibo Beacon, has been for centuries used as a navigational aid by the fishermen of Maracaibo Lake, Venezuela, South America.

Theories that matter: stories of independence from the classroom in Oceania

Reading the postings in the MOOC Week 4 discussion forum makes me think about my students and their learning stories. I am sharing their stories here:

Story 1 by Anshul Kartik (Fiji)

Many people believe that Pacific Island cultures and traditions do not allow individuals to think independently. However I do not believe so as I, being a Pacific Islander, like many others I can think independently. For instance, my Granny tells us not to watch the moon at night when there is an eclipse or cut fingernails at night and even does not allow us girls to stay out at night with our hair loosely hanging. I follow all those norms as it is part of my Indian culture and because I do not want to hurt my Granny’s feelings but that does not make me a dependent thinker. I know these are superstitious belifs and does not affect us in any way.

Story 2 by ‘Elenoa Kauvaka (Tonga)

I began to wonder why we continue to do certain things in certain ways if they are not necessarily the best for everyone. My culture values respect, considerate of others, being humble and dedicated. I could clearly see these as great guidance for independent thinking. New, well-thought out ideas will likely to impact people’s lives if they are channeled well and having the foundations of the Tongan culture in place, independent thinkers will make a difference in people’s lives.

After revising these ideas in my head, and looking at the practical approaches suggested in this course, I now realised that I do not have to forsake my culture to adopt independent thinking. Rather, I, as a teacher have to incorporate approaches such as group work and student-centered activities. I, as a teacher should create environments conducive to learning but still culturally appropriate. I, as a teacher should encourage independent thinking by asking high level questions while maintaining the appropriate behaviour of the students. I, as a teacher should promote humility without humiliating the students, promote the advantages of having the ability to express their opinions by guiding them to know how to channel ideas and thoughts in the right way. This is how I reconcile my love for Pacific Island cultures and traditions with my desire to promote independent thinking.

I disagree with the argument that we are not independent thinkers. I believe it is there except that some people are introverted while the others are extroverted. Some have parents that are more ‘liberal’ than the others. In our hierarchial societies, people grow up in different social levels. So, if I were born an American I would have thought of Pacific Islanders as they are stereotypically labelled ‘do what you are told’ type of people.

Story 3 by Rafida Rafiq (Fiji)

I’ve given a lot of thoughts about my life. I tried to search for that one moment when I had been independent, independent in my thinking. This has made me realised that I have been a dependent thinker. Dependent in every single way on my environment to provide for me. The irony of the situation, however, is that I had enjoyed it. I am now asking myself whether I am going to continue my life like a leech was, living off others’ thoughts and views.

My parents would always tell me: “Listen to the teacher, she knows more…if you disobey, you’ll be sorry”. My teacher always had a solution to a problem. She ALWAYS made sense, so there was never any need to ask or clarify. The lecture focussed on thinking “outside the box”. Does this mean that my parents and teachers failed to help me “think outside the box”. Why am I not able to question anything? Why wasn’t I able to make sense of the world based on my own observations and experiences? Asking myself these questions I struck upon the answer when I recalled something else from the lecture: “We teachers do too much for our students”. Was this how I had become dependent?

I never had the courage to participate in class for the fear of being wrong/punished or to avoid humiliation. Being spoonfed was always better. I never tried to look at things from another perspective. I never had time to think. I always gave an excuse of lack of resources/materials to disagree . I still had that attitude in high school and even at university. At university I started relying on the internet or on others work to help me through. But now I realize how predictable I was and how much I’ve lost by accepting others’ views. I now realize that independent thinking is making judgements, for the good of everyone and me. Am I independent enough to apply my knowledge in my classroom?