Project Work 101 (explained with babies)

“Project Work is like a baby, it takes 9 months and a lot of hard work to complete.”

Project work. Perhaps one of the most contentious subjects in Singapore, PW is the only subject that every JC1 student has to go through. Casually scrolling through the social media posts of our seniors would tell you that PW is very much like birthing a child. It always starts off slow, and you don’t really know whether you’ve managed to conceive a good idea (or baby?). Then, over time, things start to pick up pace as your elders (or PW teachers) start trying to tell you what eat and not to eat, saying it’s best for your baby (or idea). To make matters worse, you have to start working with your teammates (or partner) to make sure your baby meets its developmental goals and ensure it doesn’t end up being born prematurely or as a miscarriage altogether. Finally comes the big crunch when you have to push really really hard in order to make sure that your baby is born healthy. At the end, the culmination of the PW journey is met with collective jubilation and relief, just like a newborn, as it marks the end of countless and never-ending brainstorming, proposal revisions and draft edits.

Constituting a heavy weightage of 10% of the overall A Level grade, it is undeniably the culprit of the many sleepless nights that all JC students have to suffer. As the official school curriculum begins, many of us J1s are faced with the daunting and unfamiliar prospect of tackling PW. Fear not, we’re here to help you through your motherhood!

Taking into account the experiences of a PW Veteran (mum) who has traversed this journey and lived to tell the story, we hope that we can shed some light on a couple of aspects to take into consideration so that your PW journey can be a smoother one.

Conceiving your baby (Choosing your topic):
As the old adage goes, given that you’ll be working on this subject matter for the rest of the year, do ensure that it is one that you are genuinely interested and passionate about, and not just because it is a “sure A” topic. It is frankly pointless to be fussing over a project which you do not like. Raise a child you would love.

Eating healthy for you little boy (Scoping and working with PW teachers):
Much of that initial spark that we start off with are usually too broad in scope. It is hence imperative to narrow the scope down to a more specific area of interest so that you can better distill your ideas
into that relatively short 3000-word Written Report (WR) and come up with more customised solutions. For example, if you are interested in myopia in Singapore, it would be appropriate to narrow your topic down to investigating myopia prevalent in a specific age group because it would be easier to find a solution that can be more tailored towards the need of that particular topic. Don’t be daunted by countless rejections and redrafting your PW teachers will put you through — afterall, they’ve raised more children than you.

Working with daddy (Conflict and Communication):
Arguably, the “make-or-break” factor of any successful project would be effective communication (or lack thereof). Effective communication is essential for delegating work within the group and ensuring a clear direction of thought. It also allows diverse and sometimes diametrically opposing ideas and feedback to be shared in a dynamic and conducive environment where every member’s opinions are valued and can contribute to the overall improvement of the project.

Given that project work allocations cannot be chosen, it is unlikely that you would get a group with all your ideal groupmates. Some form of conflict is inevitable and will happen at some point during the course of the preparation period. Just like how in any marriage, communication is key, ensure that both sides keep talking, especially when you’re angry at each other.

1. Maintain a positive outlook and stay optimistic!
2. The best way to convince someone is by listening to them , so attempt to understand your groupmates’ viewpoints and recognise that they have as much say as you do.
3. Attempt to persuade your groupmate in a calm manner and try to come to a compromise.
4. Practice good anger management and do not vent your anger or frustration on social media (our ‘mum’ here is speaking from experience)

Is PW necessary?
Sheepishly admitting that she thought PW to be “a useless subject” at first, our ‘mum’ later changed her mind because she thought it built her argumentative skills, especially during the proposal drafting process. Despite feeling overwhelmed by PW, she also had an unexpected takeaway of finding her true friends, whom she could rely on and be supported by, after going through thick and thin together.

Hence, while the rigour of Project Work might not appeal to all of us at first, we must still recognise that PW does indeed imbibe participants with values like responsibility and skills like conflict management, thereby facilitating personal growth.

So embark on your PW journey with an open mind and beautiful thinking, and always remember that when your little boy is finally born, it’ll be well worth it.

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With great power comes great responsibility.

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