Thinking and Education

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Continuous 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, , ,

General Intelligence Measure – Are We Up or Down?

The unwritten and painful objective for educational administrators is for them to improve the general intelligence of the population. The stark truth is that our education is falling behind. The officials in the MOE have hoodwinked the Minister of Education and everybody else about the great heat and noise of a transformation plan they had put out.
For those who are in on the secret IQ tests measure intelligence. But going by popular sentiments examinations results is the key tool for measuring the general intelligence or abilities of our children. Accepted wisdom is that if exam results are improving then the level of intelligence is rising and vice versa. This accounts for the considerable excitement and trepidation whenever exam results are coming out.
Recently the Director General of education announced that there has been a decline of the Grade Point Average(GPA) in the SPM exam results from 5.04 to 5.08 but assured us that this is nothing to worry about as the decline is only 0.04 and not 0.05! He had promised to explain. I doubt if any parent or the Minister understood what is so earth-shaking about the 0.01 in GPA drop. Anyway we are still waiting. For the moment, please understand that after four years of toil and effort by 400,000 officials and teachers, the general level of intelligence of our kids are down.
I can’t help but think this because the MoE is not presenting us GPA scores going back a few years which I am sure they have. Is this the indication?
Let me repeat. The education system is not going to improve! All parents in Malaysia should be very afraid. Putting your children in our schools is not healthy for their future!
It may sound alarmist but really the problem is very serious and not likely to be changed much less “transformed”. We need to shout a little bit louder and do some scare mongering to give the MOE  officials and teachers a wake-up kick!
The reason is simple. In any system where performance of the people in charge is not measured, the universal rule is that the bad will always drive out the good. There are slackers, incompetents and irresponsible officials in every organization. Where there is no appropriate action taken to identify, improve or remove these elements the rest of the officials will learn that copying the worse will be in their best interests.
As it is the noble teaching profession has three tiers of blinders to protect itself. Firstly educationists have succeeded in getting everybody to believe that examination results (especially bad ones) is a function of student weakness. Failing students with their parents would hold their heads in shame and trod off to do some self flagellation. Have you heard of anyone coming to bang the table and demand an answer from the teachers why you highly paid professionals do not have the ability to get my son to score 35 marks so that he can pass the damn examination?
Secondly the teachers professional code of conduct will silence anyone who dare criticize a  fellow teacher. The delinquent, incompetent, and lazy teachers can rely on fellow teachers to shield them from any light to shine on them. Conscientious head teachers could not betray their colleagues. So a cloak of silence prevails. Mediocrity and irresponsibility thrive in the dark corridors of the school.
Thirdly the system is so structured that you just cannot assign responsibility to any one teacher. Every student in school would most probably be “handled” by more than 30 teachers by the time he/she gets to UPSR . So who is responsible for the poor results in mathematics or english? The secondary school teacher will point to the primary school. The Form 5 teacher will point to the Form 4 teacher and the Form 4 teacher will point to the Form 3 etc. The most conscientious teachers will go home wondering the extent of his/her responsibility. But for most, “What can I do with all the accumulated gaps in knowledge and skills among the students?” is a rhetorical question left unanswered.
To cap it all, the less than wonderful teachers are further shielded by our high socio-cultural tolerance for looking the other way. I speculate that we are afraid to point out who these people are for fear that it may turn out to be a reflection of ourselves!
It is difficult to fight against the trend. Bad money drives out good. Bad people drive out good people. And so our education system is flushed with seriously under performing teachers (and officials). And that is why we all should be very very afraid.

Filed under: education, GPA, school

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