The Pencil Box: Not your average stationery tool…
WHETHER YOU GO TO college or university, overseas or local institutions, you are bound to come across the same type of people and the same kind of problems students experience around the world like friends, love lives, endless lectures or those assignments that we know are important but keep dragging to the last minute before finally tackling them.
One of the first problems you might be facing is leaving your old classmates behind. This part may be hard for those who are really attached to one another. Making new friends might not be easy and sometimes you can get a bit lonely reminiscing about your old life, but studying in universities or colleges is where most of us get to know people with similar interests, hobbies and ideas.
Next on the list: work assignments. Remember those sleepless nights in secondary school where you were trying to finish your work because it was due the following day? You keep telling yourself there is still time. If you were honest with yourself though, deep down you know you will always leave your assignments to the very last minute.
Later on you will keep telling yourself this is the last time you ever leave your assignment towards the very end but really… who are you kidding?
Finally, there is time management. With all the assignments, lectures, projects and club activities, you will wish there were more than just 24 hours in a day or that you were a vampire from ‘Twilight’, not because they are pretty and sparkle under the sun, but because they never get tired and have absolutely zero need for sleep.
Beyond these problems, it seems that the students from the Y and Z generations are facing another set of problems in the education system.
Among these problems are: lack of space for critical thinking, having lecturers who don’t teach well, high emphasis on grades but with little or no feedback on their actual work, and high textbook prices. Instead of challenging young minds to be independent and stretching their thinking boundaries, our education system emphasises deeply on grades.
Since these issues are not addressed on a formal basis, The Pencil Box (TPB) is a writer’s space to help students get more out of university. It was founded on the concept of having a pool of student-writers to write about things they observe about education while still in the system, how it can be improved and what should one should do to get more out of it in the hopes of generating more discussion among students.
The Pencil Box: a space for critical thinking
Established in 2013 by Esther Ling, the main themes of TPB are self-development, leadership and creativity in learning.
Run by students, TPB team aims to broadcast the concept of hacking one’s education in terms of finding ways one can learn more efficiently, discover information or viewpoints others may have not, and creating your own opportunities as it involves a certain amount of personal responsibility towards one’s own learning – where even if you are not in the ideal system, you still make the most of it.
TPB has been featured on The Ant Daily, Malaysia-Students and ReMag as well as Uncollege, a social movement in the USA to help students hack their education.
TPB has four main writers: Esther Ling, Savier Kong, Nelson David Bessey and Bernice Lim Sen Sen.
Esther Ling, 23
Electrical Power Engineering student at Curtin University on the brink of graduation. Quote – “I like engineering because it makes one think, and to be constantly thinking on your feet to solve problems you didn’t see coming. Of course, it’s frustrating, but when you hit on the solution, the momentary joy makes it worth it.” During her free time Esther enjoys song-writing.
Savier Kong, 19
Chemical engineering student at Swinburne University. “I’m an animal lover so whenever I am free, I volunteer myself with the SSPCA in their adoption event, helping the stay animals to find new owners/homes.” Currently the one and only student member in the Swinburne University Council.
Nelson David Bassey, 23
A proponent of the philosophy that “focus only on your studies” is bad advice for students, David is an author, speaker, trainer and student. He helps students position themselves for success in our fast-changing society today.
While studying at Nilai University, he authored “The New Generation of Leadership” (Westbow Press, 2013). He has spoken at various institutions including Nilai University, INTI IU, Swinburne University of Technology and SMK Sultan Abdul Samad. David is also a B. Eng. Mechanical Engineering student at INTI IU.
Bernice Lim Sen Sen, 25
Engineering student at Curtin University Sarawak. Having lived through an early onset of quarter-life crisis, this science student, turned business owner, turned aspiring Mechanical Engineer has dedicated herself to being a lifelong witness to the college of life and the wonders it has to offer. Armed with a ready arsenal of logic and satirical sense of humour, she aims to bring unique insights to conventional topics of communications, leadership and the secrets of the universe. Enjoys programming and debating.
Tang Lu Wee, 25
Lu Wee teaches young college students and recent college graduates how to break mental barriers and start their own business or projects on her blog. She believes that everyone should be able to spend their life working on things they enjoy and things that are meaningful to them. Whenever she can, she goes around campuses in Malaysia to talk about entrepreneurship as a really cool way to spend time, make money and do things that might change the world. She is always looking to connect with young entrepreneurs or anyone who enjoys starting projects.
Currently, TPB is collaborating on a project where they are cross-publishing articles with education or magazine websites such as ReMag and Malaysia Students.
The TPB has a fortnightly newsletter and for those who are interested may subscribe for free through their website since some of the best articles are only given to subscribers and allows better interaction between the team and the readers.
Currently, TPB is publishing their articles almost every week and are welcoming guest writers who wish to contribute to their newsletter occasionally. So, for those who are worried that their writing may not be good enough, do not sweat as the TPB team are currently developing and reviewing a writers-training project.
To know more about The Pencil Box, feel free to visit their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Pencil-Box/493886050647727 or their website at: http://www.jclathepencilbox.org/