Thinking and Education

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Continuous Education

Health and Backwardness

One factor contributing to lower educational achievement among Malay children compared to Chinese children is poorer health of the children. Reports by schools about absenteeism in schools tend to high light greater incidence among children in “Kebangsaan Schools”.

Malay culture of eating by use of the hand is compounded by the fact that they generally sit on the floor. Both create the environment for bacteria and micro-organisms to infect the food. Most reports of food poisoning occur mostly in “kebangsaan” schools.

This will lead to higher absenteeism and lack of vitality and alertness. Both contribute to reduction in learning time and deficiency in attentive power resulting in less learning and poor retention.

Living in proximity with a higher number of siblings in expanded households will inevitably lead to more interaction and therefore more opportunity for spread of infections.

A simple first step to improve educational achievement among Malay children is to get all teachers in school to introduce a health regime for the children in the school and the home. This can be achieved at zero costs.

Filed under: Uncategorized

DO we agree?

Education reform in Malaysia starts with agreement that we are building a country for ALL its citizens and not for one particular race, culture and religion.

Education reform involves school organization and its management. School curriculum from subjects and textbooks to syllabus creation, teacher training and teacher education will impact the interactions and discourse within the school system. Either we are doing education reform to promote a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious country or promoting the interests of the dominant group will determine what happens throughout the education system. If we choose to the later then Malaysia as a nation will disintegrate.

The first line of fissure is the separation of Sabah and Sarawak. This has happened before when Singapore broke away from Malaysia. Why would Sarawakians and Sabahans, majority of whom are not Malays or Muslims want to allow the dominant race, the Malays to control their resources, their lives, their culture and their religion? Why be subservient to the Malay Peninsula shouting “Ketuanan Melayu?”

The continued marginalization of the Chinese and the Indians and the reduction of them to become “second class” citizens or the refusal to treat all citizens equally after more than 60 years of Independence is not acceptable for any self-respecting person or ethnic group. As it is we see massive migration of the young and capable nons to Singapore, Australia and elsewhere. The figures are huge. More will leave if we are creating a nation of “Ketuanan Melayu”.

The original objective of affirmative action has morphed into a culture of entitlement and reinforced the narrative that this country belong to one “race” with all others as “pendatang”.

Apparently the pre-May 9 election promise of Malaysia for all Malaysians is now threatened or if not cast aside!

The reform of the education system must begin with this conscious decision by all! No bluffing and no hedging.

What sort of country do we want to create?

Filed under: Uncategorized

Teacher to Head Teacher

All Head Teachers start as teachers. As teachers they have a natural tendency to be wary of their HM. This is a given.

Most teachers put their heads down and do what others do. They tend to support their friends and colleagues even when they know that their friends are wrong because they expect their friends to do the same for them. Anyone who support the HM is not looked upon favorably by the staff.

So when the teacher is promoted to become a Headmaster he/she will tend to think like a teacher. They will not think like an educational administrator. Herein lies the problem.

In all instances the newly promoted teacher/headmaster will be posted to another school. The change in location will help the teacher/headmaster to start acting like a Head Teacher.

It is likely that the new Headmasters will be assembled by the Education Department and for an orientation program. Everything is then learn as you go along.

Now, how to be a Headmaster?

Filed under: Uncategorized

“Evaluating” Teacher Performance

Terms like “evaluation” implies a huge element of subjectivity which in turn leads to  endless disagreements. Normally educational administrators break down the interaction that goes on between the teacher and the students and the class into blocks like, preparation, delivery, use of teaching aids, student participation, class management etc, marks or points are given and then added up to make the result of the “evaluation.” If there are 10 parameters set for the exercise then there are 10 possible points of disagreements.

An alternative way of “evaluating” teacher performance is the “objective” way. We can count the number of times the teacher misses class, the number of minutes late for class, the number of homework set and marked, the number of student homes visited, the number of parents met by the teacher, the number of study trips taken by the teacher with students, or the number of meetings or training attended by the teacher. We count everything that can be counted of activities performed by the teacher that has an impact on student performance.

Apparently the 2 methods above are focused on process.

Suppose we have a teacher who hardly goes to class. At the end of the year all his students do very well. While another teacher gets very high marks in his evaluation and his students perform worse than the teacher who does not go to class? Which teacher is the better teacher? And this brings on another way of evaluating a teacher – by results!

How can we do this? Or can we do this?

Filed under: Uncategorized

Malaysia – Education Reformation 2.0

Once again, another round of “reformation” of another part of our educational system.

10 new strategies for producing excellence in higher education? A load of words. Make no impression on me at all. You think the people in the ivory towers would read, understand and implement all the 10 baskets of words?

I think there is a better chance of success for transforming our education system, the civil service and everything else if we just keep things simple. Lets whittle it down to four.

First item – Honesty.

Be totally HONEST! If there is something wrong, don’t blame others. If someone is responsible name that someone! We cannot allow wrong doers to hide away. If a group of people, a department is at fault, cast a spotlight on the whole group. The leader must put up his hand. Tell everybody what went wrong. Punish the negligent, retrain the inefficient and get rid of the lazy or useless ones. If need be the chief must be replaced!

Only by doing this can we get everybody to wake up.

Second item – No Religion at Work

This is a sensitive topic. Intentions and objectives are good but more often religious practices have interfered in negative ways in our working environment. Prayers have become compulsory for all. Unscrupulous people and charlatans have always found refuge in religion. Success and achievements in work and life is the result of hard work and continuous application. There is a person or persons who is/are responsible. Don’t blame God!

Third item – Meritocracy

Only qualified people should hold the position. The best must be put in place. It is not cruel. It is good. Save lives. Nurses, doctors, medical personnel..or those who think that 1 drop is 10 milligrams will kill you at best or make you suffer for the rest of your life. Roofs will stay intact. Machines will be properly calibrated, people will not be paid twice for doing nothing,  I can go on. Really people are not stupid. They will live up to your expectations. Expect the best, you get the best. Expect to fail people will help you fail. So no more concessions.

Fourth item – Master the Language of Knowledge – English

Anyone who says the Language of Knowledge is Arabic, is a fool. It is not Mandarin. It is not Malay. Not Tamil, Telegu or Malayalam. Just be honest. English. We started on the same English-level as Singapore. The chauvinists in Singapore was cut down to size by the no nonsense PM. The language of 90% of the people, the root of their culture, of their identity…Mandarin …was contained. English or perish! Pragmatism won.

Unfortunately we in Malaysia, succumbed to the threats of the chauvinists. The chauvinists have labelled the Malays as incapable of learning English. No need pass. Communication only okay lah. A few words, some gestures and head shaking became the English for us. But its ok, they have a natural affinity for Arabic! What an irony. And the result has been disastrous. If anything, this must be rectified immediately.

Fast Forward These 4 Steps

Don’t waste time. Just carry out the 4 measures now. You will see results in a month.

Filed under: Achieving Excellence, education

Parents, Beware!

There are vested interests in any institution. Schools are no different. Those who stand to benefit from schools are the administrators and the teachers. School principals in Malaysia have formed 2 organizations to protect themselves; the Headmasters’ Association for Primary Schools and the Principals’ Association for Secondary Schools. The teachers are protected by the different Teacher Unions, among which the NUT is most prominent. But generally there is an unwritten code of ethics which prevents teachers from speaking up against misconduct and dereliction of duty by fellow teachers.
What has hastened the crippling of our schools is that the predominant culture of the majority is not to be a “traitor” to your own race. While one does not want to “betray” the race, the other does not want to be accused of being “racists”. We have now got to the stage where bad practices have proliferated and entrenched itself.
Head teachers and teachers are responsible for the failure or success of the students. They have been trained for the job. They are being paid for the job. Their salary is also increasing automatically every year on the assumption that they are becoming more and more proficient, more knowledgeable, more skilful to carry out their duties.
Can parents ask the teachers why their children are not doing well? Can parents ask the English teacher why my daughter’s English homework is not marked? Can parent ask the Headmaster, why the Science teacher is not doing any experiment the whole year round? Can we ask the Headmaster what is the Grade Point Average of the school in the public examination?
If you send your children to one of the “better” schools, the head teacher and his/her team will tell you how “lucky” or “privileged” you and your child are to attend such an excellent school. Just remember, when your son/daughter is doing well, it is because of US and our great sacrifice! 5 “A”s? Come and thank us.
If your son/daughter fail, well you had better take him/her out. Our good school and good teachers cannot teach “bad” students, we only teach the clever ones. Take your child out before our good name is spoilt!

Filed under: education, GPA, schools, Teaching, , ,

Education – Your Child At Risk

Most children start their intellectual life with a handicap. From the day they are born they are taught what is right. They are then told to do what is right. This sounds very noble and good.

Unfortunately the child is never told that what is right is open to question and doubt.

In fact whenever the child asks why, the parents and all significant others try to find all kinds of “reasons” to justify what they say, do or belief about the world. The child is taught to “rationalize”. Its like a continuous debating exercise where the family encourage the young child to look at all the facts( this is for most educated and knowledgeable parents) and select, arrange or twist the facts to support what they say is right.

The child’s young brain is being taken through a process of being “hard wired.” The neural pathways are laid down. Thinking means justifying what you feel, say or do. This goes on subtly, through gentle persuasion and finally through authoritarian dictation. Some people call this child abuse or indoctrination. But most of us call this education.

The children are never told that what the family think is right may not be the same as what other families think is right. They are never told that there are all kinds of people in the world who do things differently. They are never told that they have the option or choice to select and choose for themselves.

In an ideal parent dominated world the child will not be capable of seeing the other side. Aware of other possibilities or world view.

What saves almost all children from this intellectual disadvantage is that the child is surrounded by a very diverse environment. People do things differently. Even when they come from the same community. Very often there is disagreement between the older and the younger generation. The parents may tell it different from the grand parents. The child will become aware of the difference between “mummy” and the maid. When the child meet children from other families, they will notice differences. When they go home they will ask their parents to resolve the differences. The parents then go on to repeat the “rationalization” process. But the child will be hit by the differences at the very next meeting with their friends.

This interaction forces the child to question. All the explanations to justify or rationalize does not hold up in the face of all the differences which the child encounters daily.

Obviously another mode of explanation is necessary. Another mental path must be opened up.

This mental path is to tell the child that everything is open to question. We have to hard-wire our children’s mind so that they are free and able to questions anything. In the old days we have difficulties in getting simple answers. We need to look for a teacher. The teacher’s knowledge maybe deficient. We have difficulty verifying. We have to read a book. The book maybe hard to find or not available. But today the world has changed. We have the internet. We can find answers to anything if we know how to ask questions.

This constant questioning will contribute to the intellectual development of the children.

Filed under: brain, education, thinking, , ,

Training Leaders in School

One of the main characteristic of a leader is the ability to speak up in public. Generally we might find that the people who are knowledgeable and thoughtful tend to be a little withdrawn. If possible educators should encourage and train every child to speak in public. Fear of public speaking is the no. 1 fear of almost everyone. When it happens that the brave ones to speak are also not so capable, then we are likely to have poor leaders. Every opportunity must be given to every child to speak up. In a situation where everybody can speak up without fear the speakers with little or no substance will be found out. We will then be left with leaders of knowledge and ability.

Looking around our country today, we find that there is a dearth of good leaders. When people who have no substance take over important positions in the country, we are opening ourselves to disaster. The greater danger is that some people think that one or two bad leaders are ok. Its like saying that a small leak in the dyke is ok. As in chess, the slightest weakness will cause the collapse of the kingdom.

What may compound the problem is if we have a preferential system. In the old days when the rulers’ sons succeed the rulers, sooner or later the bloodline will produce a dud. Nobody will criticise. The rot will set in. In a society practicing any kind of discrimination, there will be a tendency for a weak link to remain in the system as no one will want to appear to be a traitor to the in-group. The weak link will perpetuate itself. If the practice is all over the system then the impact is exponential.

In Malaysia the educational system may have compounded the problem. First we practice racial discrimination. Malays are first choice. In our effort to provide the best for the Malays the government created the Sekolah Asrama Penuh and later the Maktab Rendah Sains Mara. The best of best bumiputra students are collected in these schools.

Leadership training in schools are done thro a system of appointing students to be monitors of classes, prefects, head boys/girls, presidents, chairpersons and captains of clubs, societies and games. A school will have a limited number of such posts. Obviously there will be only 1 headboy, a very prestigious and coveted position in the school. Since the number of societies are limited, the number of chairman and captains will also be limited.

All other things being equal, if a “smart” student remains in the normal school, where the number of smart students are limited, the chances of him being selected to these leadership positions is great. My guess is that he or she who is smart will at the very least be appointed as class monitor or prefect. Now if the smart student were to be so “lucky” as to be selected to join one of the special schools, his chances of being selected will suddenly shrink as everyone of his peers will be in the running for any of the positions. Only 1 person will be selected from the whole group of smart boys to be the headboy. If there are 1000 students in the smart school his chances are 1 in a 1000. If he stays in a normal school of 1000 students, there could be 200 smart students like him. Therefore his chances of being the headboy will be 1 in 200. So if you want your children to be in the running for important leadership positions then better let him stay put in a normal school.

More importantly there is a downside to the outflow of good students from the normal schools. Assuming all the best have been lobbed off, the people selected to be leaders will be from those of a lower calibre. People with less intellectual capacity are sitting on top. The irony is they could become very good speakers and are skilful at convincing people of their abilities. We should remember that we have been practicing this system since the early days of independence

Turning our attention to the current crop of leaders in the ruling party, we can perhaps see a parallel?
What we note generally is that most of the leaders are not outstanding in a previous profession or hold a professional degree. It will be interesting if someone could do a little research to verify the above.

The greatest irony is that in trying our best to help, we could be doing a greater disservice.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Stupidity Trumps

Our education system is based on the assumption that intelligence is a rare commodity and randomly distributed over the population of the country. We suspect that a minority in the population possess some inert talent or ability. The role of the school system is to identify them, provide the best possible environment for these talents to grow.

The MOE use the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah to identify the smart students.In practice teachers start to “stream” children into “A”, “B”, “C” classes the year they step into school. After UPSR the best performers are sent to special schools like Maktab Science Rendah Mara or Sekolah Asrama Penuh. The State Education Department will sift through the left overs and placed them in special schools called Premier Schools, Controlled Schools and the like. More recent creations are called Cluster Schools or Sekolah Harapan Negara. All the children in these schools must score a string of “A”s.

The rest find themselves in the normal schools. The teachers in these schools proceed to do a final streaming on these not-so-clever-left-behinds and placed them into their very own “A”, “B” and “D” classes. This is testimony that all the teachers have just demonstrated their subscription to the same belief that intelligence is indeed limited to a few.

What cements this belief and accounts for its persistence is that the public examinations results every year seemed to bear this out. The best performing students inevitably come from these schools. The best schools in the country are these schools by far! And not surprisingly too the “best” performing children in the normal schools tend to come from the “A” classes. Apparently MOE sorting and isolation of these students into special schools and classes has preserved the intelligence of these students.

This is heralded as the great success of the system. And since we are in the process of “transforming” our educational system, the MOE had proposed to showcase our world class educational system by collecting all the clever or intelligent students into 40 (20 Primary and 20 Secondary) High Performance Schools in the country. not only the best children but all the best teachers and all the best administrators will be collected and placed together. These HPS, now germinating are already being held as the beacons of achievements by the MOE of their successful contribution to the transformation of the Malaysian Education System.

The irony of this belief seemed to have escaped our “experts”, especially the teachers. When the “best” teachers are selected to teach in the “best” schools, does that not mean that the teachers teaching in the normal schools are “not-so-clever”? Ok, just so everyone gets angry, does it not mean that most of the teachers are “stupid”? MOE stats show they have 415,304 teachers. If we estimate that 60,000 intelligent and clever teachers are pre-selected and safely tucked away in the special schools, then does this mean that there are 355,304 of these not-so-clever teachers running our normal schools?

More interesting is that all our educational experts right down to the 415,304 teachers seem to agree that “intelligence” or intelligent students has a peculiar attribute. According to them “intelligence” (clever children) is very fragile and vulnerable. They must be kept apart, away, in a special school (away even from their possibly not so intelligent parents) or in special classes. MOE buys into this completely. This will explain why they will only allow the best teachers and administrators into the same environment. And no resources must be spared.

Conversely they seem to say that “stupidity” is very hardy and robust. It will persist no matter what. Most likely it will grow, multiply, seep, spread and overcome, especially intelligence or intelligent children. Stupidity will persist! So separate schools. And separate classes. You can put any kind of teacher or administrator. You can put all the retarded and stupid teachers. Robust stupidity will flourish on minimal resources! Don’t think for a moment of sending in the clever or intelligent teachers, they will most likely be emasculated by stupidity.

Intelligent students and the ones with a lot of “stupidity” cannot mix! When challenged by the proximity of “stupidity”, “intelligence” would just disintegrate or evaporate! It will not permeate or be absorbed by the “stupid” students. It will just disappear!

But stupidity will spread and permeate into the vacuum left behind by escaping intelligence! The net result is the intelligent kids will become less intelligent or even stupid and the stupid kids will remain stupid. The effect is so deleterious. The intelligent and the stupid students cannot be put together.

The MOE has the best of intentions. Lets look at some hard facts.

The MOE’s website showed that there are 5,255,448 students in 10,091 schools taught by 415,304 teachers in our country.

Add up all the “best” schools in the country:

SM Asram Penuh………………..68
MRSM……………………………..49
Premier/Controlled Schools……50 (est)
High Performance Schools…….40
Total…………………………….207

Let us be generous and round the figure to 300 schools. The MOE determines that all these schools have a population of 1000 students. Based on this we have 300,000 clever/ intelligent students sequestered away. There are 5,255,448 school children in the country. 4,955,448 children are getting the message that they are the stupid ones. The parents of these children would also be getting a message that the children they produce are just not good enough.

Then what about the teachers? Just consider. If we staff these elite schools with 200 teachers each, there will be a total of 200 x 300 = 60,000 “guru cemerlang”. There are 415,304 teachers in the country. So, 355,304 teachers get the message that they are not good enough. Well, they would not get the message if they are dumb!

In summary we have 10,091 schools of which 9791 schools are populated by 4,955,448 dumb students and taught by 355,304 dumb teachers!

Do we get the message or are we really stupid?

Filed under: Uncategorized

Who Do You Want to be Your Friend?

Some people, no quite a large number of people want to mix only with people like themselves. Since the majority of people in Malaysia are Malays, and there are quite a number of individuals and NGOs are quite outspoken about this matter, we will focus this question to the Malays.

It would appear that these people would rather have Malays only in the country. Preferably they also want Malays who follow a specific school of Islam. Just imagine this situation. This country is a country for only Malays. We have succeeded in getting rid of, or making all others disappear. Try to imagine this.
Is this what people like Ibrahim Ali want? You can forget about Ridhuan Tee because he is Chinese only but not Malay.

Just close your eyes and imagine. When you wake up in the morning. The toothpaste and the soap you use. When our children go to school, imagine the school system. What would they be teaching? How would they be teaching? How would they be teaching.

What would working in the government offices be like? What about the streets and the shops? All Arabic signs, or all Jawi only? What language would you hear in public. What phrases most often spoken?
What about the shops?

What about the shops or the supermarkets? Are there different doors or alleyways for males and females?What would they be selling? Look around, how would the people dress? All tudungs and baju kurung? Shorts allowed? Are there cinemas? Any concerts? What about football? Badminton or squash?

And then when you go home. Would you be watching tv? What programs would be showing? Would all the males be in the mosque?

It would be wonderful?

Filed under: Uncategorized,

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