Thinking and Education

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Continuous Education

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 Generally we might find that the people who are knowledgeable and thoughtful tend to be a little withdrawn.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

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