Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Out of the box

Recently I read an article claiming that a well-known professor saying that Chinese vernacular primary schools are teaching students based on memorisation and regurgitation of facts , and are producing “copycat” students. I as a student of the Chinese vernacular schooling system myself felt strongly for this too.

My experiences in an urban primary – memorising full examples of essays whether in Chinese, Malay or English. Students are encouraged, or rather forced to memorise essay structures for all essays, although this did not happen to me it happened to my younger sister who studies in a top class. UPSR trials are way more frequent than other schools, showing an exam-based mentality in the administration.

However, it’s unfair to quote the Chinese schools only, because it involves the whole education system of Malaysia. Don’t tell me that I’m telling lies – I just sat for my SPM Moral paper yesterday which requires me to memorise 32 moral values by heart, word-by-word. Not forgetting the literature component in Malay and English and Chinese idioms. Paper 3 of the Science subjects, Biology, Chemistry and Physics requires us to memorise experiments exactly and write it out in the exam. Ironically the question ask us to “design an experiment”. Moral and Civics are failures of our curriculum – failing to educate students properly on real morality and civic-consciousness. We have an exam-based, memorisation-centred education curriculum.

The effects are widespread, hard-hitting and deadly to our future. I personally observed fellow students tensioned over an increase of “pendapat” (opinion) questions in the exam, as opinions cannot be memorised. Coupled with horror stories of exam markers adhering too much to the marking scheme provided and mark logic answers wrong, this discourages creative thinking in students and future world leaders.

“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire”, as quoted by William Butler Yeats, shows what our education should look like. Young students should be encouraged to explore the world and learn more about it than following by facts on books every time. They should learn how to apply their knowledge in solving real-life problems. Thinking out of the box is necessary to compete in a increasingly challenging world, and we should be nurtured to do this from young. We should not just absorb knowledge, but also integrate them with the environment to gain a deeper understanding on what are we learning.

In conclusion, we must admit that our curriculum is flawed and there is space for more improvements. Decentralising our system from exam-focusing and memorisation, encouraging innovation and creativity, getting students involved in intellectual debates, written, orally or otherwise…

Too much change is required. We need a revolution.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just Another Day

Sun sets and will rise again
I sleep and will rise again
Gearing for tomorrow
Without joy or sorrow
Just another day...

Sitting in my seat
Just another day
Unfamiliar invigilators
Just another day
"Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia"
Just another day
Just another test
Just another day

11 years of education
Just another day
11 months of preparation
Just another day
11 subjects in my examination
Just another day

As I raised my hand
Equipped with my familiar pen
Leaving traces of ink flow
As I show what I know
To exam markers unnamed
17 years of knowledge I gained

As I put my pen cover back in place
It's Just Another Day

Friday, November 13, 2009

Last days

Definitely, my last year in my alma mater, Yu Hua is also my most illustrious one. Being the class monitor of my class 5E is a blessing, albeit sometimes in disguise. If I hadn’t been the class monitor many experiences would have been missed, many lessons not learnt and many camaraderie not gained. Though being in charge makes sweat, blood and bone-cracking complimentary, I am glad to be entrusted this position for 1 year.

Playing host to our graduation party, I am relieved that it went well although the result is far from my estimations. In my plan I never would have thought that there will be a situation in which food supply is too much, no thanks to the organizer for not letting us know beforehand. My worries of not enough funds and food is proved otherwise, and many sleepless hours gone to waste. In fact, we still have some dough in the class coffers and is wondering how to deal with it.

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Graduates gone wild~

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Picture with our Chinese teacher Pn Yong…

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…and with History teacher Pn Noraini (left) and Chemistry teacher Pn Hartini (right).

Over the years I was out of the ordinary as some people say, publishing an arsenal of independent, DIY newsletters through Form 1, 2 and 4 (my most extraordinary achievement to date), even though I risk my own pocket money just for the sake of publishing a new issue. The feeling of the creation of a new issue, or what I call “Hot out of the oven” is unparalleled. One guy quoted me as a “guy with a lot of creative ideas” in my leaf album. Even my term in office has been branded by some as “the craziest monitor”, “one extraordinary monitor”, etc. With impressions like that left in your memories, here’s hoping my deep footsteps won’t be washed away in your beach of memories.

As what was written on our class shirt - “Memories chained in our hearts, are keys to a brand new start”, here’s wishing the best of luck to all graduates who are starting a new chapter of life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Who am I | Who are you

Who am I
To judge people
by how they look

by how they walk
by how they talk

Who am I
To judge others
By their taste
By their race
By their face

Who am I
To discriminate
To prejudge
Without knowing
Without understanding
Without attempting
to know them

Who are you
To judge me
By what you see
By what you hear
By what you think

Who are you
To judge me
Without understanding
Without knowing
Without asking

What you see
is the tip of an iceberg
What you hear
Is the prelude to an epic
What you thought
Is just 1%
Of who I am

Monday, November 2, 2009

One Man Show

Throughout these years, I realise that a lot, if not all of my projects and tasks are done on a one-man power. Being the secretary (more like pengerusi + secretary + office boy) of the Computer Club, editor of my arsenal of DIY publications, even my post as the class monitor.

A one-man show is always inefficient, but what can I say – in most of the situation there is no helping hand, and my dictator complex who wants control on everything doesn’t help at all. Sometimes everything piles up and leave me breathless, especially when dealing with ungrateful clients, co-workers and with the deadline looming above. Humans are selfish creatures, and me with the only big heart cannot make much difference.

So? Someone help me with the class trip already!