Just to write. Sharing my thoughts while thinking what to teach tomorrow.
Where to go if you are not as happy as you want to be..
Many teachers think if they are strict in the classrooms, their objective of teaching can easily be achieved as planned. After many good years as a teacher and lecturer, I think I agree with that to some extent ..serious teaching, creates serious learning and of course excellent results. Just look at MARA science colleges. Their teachers are so serious in teaching and learning processes. My daughter in , one of the cluster schools, is also ‘benefiting’ some from this strict regime of studying/ learning. However she hardly smile after her trial exam nowadays . / surprising indeed!
But some time after failing to spend quality time with my youngest daughter when I visited her once in a while plus she is complaining her school is still giving her so many work and many unnecessary co-curriculum activities when her SPM is just 2 ~ 3 weeks away, I think I better digress from the above first paragraph. I am against forceful method of drilling and practicing kind of work in mathematics and Additional Mathematics at SPM level. These students should be given free time to do what they want especially during the weekends. Moreover cluster schools scooped the best brains in the country. At this time, the students know what they need to do. Ironically, I think many cluster schools are targeting for 100% all A+’s in the SPM subjects. For and foremost, is that the ultimate aim of our national education philosophy? I thought traditionally education is it is to impart some knowledge , up to date content, promote good relevant skills and many common sense into the students’ heads that gradually encourage innovation and creativity from their hands. Imagine a student came out after March 2013 scoring 14 A+ .. but s/he lacks creative thinking , innovation and common sense .. will that be good for the country in the long run? From my observation, their parents are filling up all sorts of forms , adjusting bus , airplane tickets to and fro from their homes to higher institutions months in and months out.
I stop to ponder sometimes, where are the Malaysian true products in the markets? I saw top students who came back from IVY League universities , some of them upon graduation will join Japanese electronic industries etc etc with the basic pay RM3000 plus plus. Is that a great achievement? Their counter parts also got that pay too. Where the hell are Malaysian products as true Malaysian as it can possibly be! Where? I don’t think you can tell me many except .. ‘apam balik’ under the old malay trees in few sleepy towns called Parit Yaani and Sekinchan. Basically none/ very few indeed? Why? So far we teachers basically have just pushed blindly some ideas ..and we did not let our students dictate themselves how they want to learn and work in the learning processes. By having complete control in the classroom , we have killed one important values called ‘their state of happiness’. Rigid education systems, which encourage rote learning with the end goal of taking tests usually stifle creativity and often destroy children’s desire to learn. (Dale Down, 2012).
I prefer to teach when I am happy and my discharge are also happy and less stressful. There are many reasons to this. We explore the topics together. If they can learn slowly, I will follow their pace and vice versa. Why the hurry? Finishing the syllabus… most probably. This is the same answer given by teachers in the primary and secondary schools in the country for the last 55 years. Should university lecturers use that similar excuse when they are handling the cream of the country’s students?
Point 1 – 3
( a) happy mind creates happy environments thus this encourages students to ask more and write more about mathematics. According to Prof Helgesen studies in neuroscience have shown that a happy person has a brain that produces hormones that turbo charged their learning processes, making them stay on task a bit longer and that helps them more motivated in solving problem. (Ngo, Sunday Star 14 Oct 2012).
(b) when my discharge are happy, they are apt to accept new style of learning such as the use of journal writings or WEB 2.0. I may ask them to critic my teaching at any point in time. By getting some strong criticism, at least I know they are mindful of what I am doing in the classes such as the use of poor markers and ‘.. too many jokes’ had so far disturbed their understanding. I should just put all workings onto the power point slides. Don’t write any more?
(c ) now Malaysian universities are taking seriously ‘kemahiran insaniah/ human skills’ as an element to assess their learning process. I think by being happy , we encourage better group discussion and by such we get to know their strength in mathematics individually. If they can not follow the topic called Permutations and Combinations – is it because of their language deficiency or the teachers’ method of explaining the why, the how, the what and etc. behind each sub-topic(s) is poor. This topic is sometimes easy and sometimes it is quite hard to digest. It involves a bit of logic, common sense, a bit of guts to try out your method of solution based on your way of understanding at any type of middle to harder problems. Issues on cognition (brain ) and meta-cognition ( one should control the problem solving steps) pop up easily here. Have you come across MRSM students coming back from their schools telling that they failed Add Maths? In Kota Bharu tuition centres 90% students come from boarding schools. They looked dead worried with their Add Maths score and many more things. Ironically, their counter parts are doing quite well in their old schools without feeling any thing called stress / pressure. Why? MRSM students are learning things in a stressful manner - one shoe fit for all method while the normal schools are taking ‘simple but happier’ ways with their low to average students in learning Add Maths and Physics. Thus this prove that simple schools with simple teachers can produce some effective result too happily.
What is the point of taking brilliant students into cluster school systems and at the end of the day , the students came back with faces that looked much older than their parents? Where is the logic , Mr Minister? From that system, many boarding school students came home and stay in doors 24/7 during their school holidays. They lost their youth and deprived of staying happy as a young wo/man should be. Great results in SPM/STPM/ degrees are no way correlated to some sort of happiness and success. I met my old friend who was a 3rd grader MCE/SPM 1975 and he boasted his firm controls 20 engineers who graduated from overseas. (laugh). He did not even know what the hack java programming is , ERP, MIS and e-commerce but yet he determines what is what in order to service his 20 engineers under him at the end of each month, year and decades.
If the classes, if my students are happy, they can talk naturally and I always encourage them to use their mother language / kelantanese dialogue – as long as they know what they are doing with the syllabus, curriculum , contents, assessment and evaluation issues i.e., solving steps and formulae recommended in a topic called permutations and combinations for example.
By being so strict, we did not let any student to voice up where is the problem in helping them to understand the topic.
In conclusion, we need to change this system of education that calls for excellence from the perception of their own teachers, principals, and politicians only. Let the students spell out what they want at the end of the day. Jobs’ security (may be) with lots of simple common sense to lead a happy nation with so much raw materials –oil, palm oil, rubber, fishes, rice, tapioca, tin, pine apples, guava, papaya, petai , pepper and ikan bilis in this country.
Dale Down (2012). Change system for brighter minds. Sunday Star (M) paper. 14 Oct 2012 Educate.
Edmund Ngo (2012). Making English creative and easy. Sunday Star (M) paper. 14 Oct 2012 Educate.