Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bayley III scales of infant development

If this is too long, just scroll to the last paragraph.

I jumped right into volunteering yaya to be a research subject in a study on infant brain development. The study is a sub study of the main study known as GUSTO, which studies prenatal and external factors that influence infant development.

Apart from getting $100 out of each time yaya participates at 6, 12, 18, 24, 36 months, and getting $20 for every survey that I fill in, I get to learn a lot about child psychology, through the test cases. For those interested in how much I have gotten out of this research, I think it's about $500 so far? but the examiners have been encouraging me to continue to participate, possibly due to people dropping out of the research, stating that there will be an unknown "gratuity" sum at the end of the 4 years research participation. I am into the 3rd year now.

Basically, Bayley III has 3 major parts: Cognitive, Language and Motor. The infants/toddlers (depending on how you classify them) go through a 2-hour test, and augmented with a 30 min questionaire that I had to answer. The questionaire looks at Social Emotional and Adaptive Behaviour development. The fast and cooperative ones, like yaya, finished everything in 30 minutes. The examiner said that some took as long as 3 hours. The duration to complete the tests actually shows up in the results as well. Here's yaya's highs and lows:

High 19/19
- Cognitive (toddlers are given items that examine how they explore new toys and experiences, how they solve problems, and their ability to complete puzzles)
- Motor - Gross Motor (toddlers are given items that measure their ability to crawl, make stepping motions, support their own weight, stand and walk without assistance)

Low 2/19
Adaptive Behaviour - Social (getting along with other people, including skills such as using manners, assisting others, and recognising emotions)

Low 6/19
Adaptive Behaviour - Health and Safety (knowledge of physical dangers), Motor (manipulation of objects)

Average 8-12
Language - Receptive Communication (how well the child recognise and understand spoken words)
Language - Express Communication (how well the child communicates with sounds, gestures or words)
Motor - Fine Motor (stacking blocks, drawing simple shapes, placing small objects in a slot)
Social Emotional (assess child's ability to take action to get their needs met, ability to imitate others in play, how the child uses words to communicate)
Adaptive Behaviour - Communication, Functional Pre-Academics, Self-Direction, Leisure, Community Use, Home Living, Self-Care

From the above psychological terms, and grouping, with a bit of common sense, I would like to draw your attention to the big categories like cognitive, motor, language, social emotional, adaptive behaviour, which can be applied to work. Translated to "working" terms:

Your child can tell you these:
cognitive - capacity, intelligence
motor - how fast you learn how to type, assemble a watch, deploy a laptop, clean the toilet
language - team dynamics, communicate, expectations

Your child is observed for these:
social emotional - job satisfaction
adaptive behaviour - worked experience, learning from mistakes, skill sets

Moral of story: Pay attention to what you can control (cognitive, motor, language), and be aware of what you can't control (social emotional, adaptive behaviour) because it's how others observe you.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

the strategic thinker

Yesterday, over lunch, I decided to poll my lunch attendees for their opinion towards whether strategic thinking is a skill that could be taught. Without a doubt, everybody nodded that it was a skill that could be learnt, but needs to be nurtured by someone else to develop the skill.

To me, it's not a skill that could be taught, and is just another way of saying how intelligent you are in bigger game of enemies and environment, until this key statement was made that "you may be strategic, but you may not be always right". That really made me think about all the different competencies in the world, and why certain competencies are given the bias of being one where mastery is expected and taken for granted.

For example, if one's competency is "cooking", the societal norm accepts that one may not necessarily be good. However, if one's competency is "strategic thinking/planning", the societal norm expects that one is good at strategic thinking/planning. It may be argued that there are various levels of competencies, for example, amateur, pro, expert, but assuming the highest level, the bias is still present.

When our political leaders assume positions requiring "strategic thinking" competency, I can just imagine what "courses" they will have to attend to build up this competency if they are lacking in judgement accuracy. I am also assuming that some other higher up management will be thinking that the heart, attitude and passion for the job cannot be taught whereas "strategic thinking" can be taught.

With this scenario of lacking in judgement accuracy as a by product of "strategic thinking" going more wrong than right, shouldn't we then also assess the strategic thinker competency with "judgement"? However, judgement isn't a competency, or shall I rephrase, that nobody really teach you how to judge other than a law degree? It's dangerous to also ignore the "strategic thinking" competency and just go after someone with a high "judgement" competency.

(There are many lawyers in our cabinet as well.)

Another conversation I had yesterday was also on the high number of scholars in our defence ministries and its stat boards, sucking away talent from all other industries (like IT for non defence-related industries, or transport, or healthcare). And we can't answer why there are many ex-military in our cabinet? I am sure they are kidding. If all president scholars join SAF, and president scholars are what the country needs, then naturally they will end up in the cabinet, in a matter of time, so it's a no brainer why there are so many ex-military at the top.

Is it desirable? To me, no. It's a clear imbalance of talent distribution that is detrimental to the overall growth of the nation.

And for that matter, those who distribute the cream of the crop talents to the military, shouldn't be expecting the other industries to produce similar talents at same rate as the military, because there will be insufficient talent seeds at the management level to grow any talents.

Therefore, the cabinet will still continue to have a large proportion of ex-military personnel, who are the strategic thinkers, bright, intelligent, no doubt about that, but may not have been in an environment to test their judgement because they spend their whole life doing table top exercises.