English Language review timely

Monday August 8, 2011

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/8/8/focus/9256509&sec=focus
THE Deputy Prime Minister’s and Education Minister’s call for a review of the school English Language curriculum is long overdue, “DPM: Improve English” (The Star, Aug 7).

His concern that Malaysian students cannot master the English language after 13 years of learning it in school has been constantly reiterated by the public and now needs to be taken up at the highest level.

The English curriculum department of the Education Ministry must execute this with great urgency. However, they should not undertake the exercise internally among Ministry officials only.

They must get the help of English Language Teaching (ELT) experts and consultants as well as teachers and members of the public.

Those experienced in ELT must give their input in the most productive and efficacious ways.

Outdated methodologies, teaching tools and books which have not produced results must be discarded and replaced by those that work. English language teachers must be debriefed and given in-house training at the same time that they are executing their lessons in the classroom.

There’s no dishonour in the teachers learning simultaneously with their students if in the end the desired proficiency in English is attained by both groups.

Immediate research can begin by looking at the curriculum and teaching methodologies in countries where the teaching of English as the Second Language (ESL) has achieved outstanding results.

Many European Union countries such as the Netherlands and Germany have successful ESL programmes and their citizens have an almost native-speaker command of English.

In Asia, the Indians and Filipinos speak very good English.

Not so long ago Malaysians were among those who had mastery of their colonial language viz English. Among my peers there was no embarrassment about wanting to excel in English.

It cannot be stressed enough that besides the excellent English teachers that we baby boomers had, we also had the advantage of reinforcement through the other subjects that were taught in English.

By constantly listening, reading and writing in English our reading, comprehension, writing and speaking skills were effectively honed.

What the review team must bear in mind is the creation of a conducive English Language teaching and learning environment where the students can pick up the language in the most spontaneous ways.

For this, it is important to simulate the mother-tongue acquisition environment where learners can be totally immersed in the sounds, vocabulary, structures and grammar of English.

The four basic language skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing must be packaged into a total experience for Malaysian students and their teachers.

Only then can the country boast of having citizens who can use the international language with precision and accuracy.

HALIMAH MOHD SAID,

Kuala Lumpur.

Cabaran dan perubahan dasar pendidikan

04 Ogos 2011, Khamis

http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/info.asp?y=2011&dt=0804&pub=Utusan_Malaysia&sec=Rencana&pg=re_02.htm
PENULIS adalah bekas Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran

ABAD ke-21 akan mengalami perkembangan pesat lagi mencabar dalam bidang ekonomi, politik dan sosial. Perkembangan ini berlaku di seluruh dunia tidak kira sama ada di negara maju atau negara sedang membangun. Ramai penulis berpendapat perubahan itu berkait rapat dengan sistem pendidikan dan perkembangan sistem maklumat.

Alvin Toffler seorang penulis terkenal pernah menyatakan bidang pendidikan di abad ini sangat penting dan mesti berupaya melahirkan pelajar yang kreatif yang mampu menyelesaikan masalah dan boleh berfikir secara kritis.

Ini memberi gambaran bahawa pendidikan tidak lagi berkisar hanya memberikan pengetahuan asas 3M (membaca, menulis dan mengira). Tetapi mestilah boleh melahirkan orang yang berilmu pengetahuan dan mempunyai pelbagai kemahiran bagi menghadapi cabaran di abad ini.

Bagi mencapai hasrat itu pendidikan perlu bersifat dinamik dan holistik yang sentiasa segar serta berubah mengikut keperluan masa dan persekitarannya.

Kini perubahan terus berlaku di mana masyarakat dunia di abad ke-21 telah memasuki zaman baru yang dikenali sebagai knowledge age atau k-ekonomi. Keperluan kepada perubahan baru ini menekankan tentang peri pentingnya maklumat, kreativiti dan inovasi dalam memberi perkhidmatan kepada masyarakat. Perubahan ini juga menekankan perlunya pendekatan berfikir secara kreatif, menyediakan strategi penyelesaian masalah dan turut melibatkan aktiviti ekonomi berbentuk global.

Apa yang menariknya dalam zaman maklumat ini ialah ia sentiasa memberi ruang dan peluang kepada setiap individu untuk mengembangkan bakat, kebolehan dan potensi mereka melalui techology-powered knowledge yang boleh didapati di mana-mana melalui kemudahan ICT.

Seorang lagi penulis terkenal yang mengupas tentang perubahan dan cabaran abad ke-21 ialah Thomas Friedman dalam bukunya The World Is Flat : A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. Menurutnya ekonomi dunia adalah sangat terikat serta terjalin rapat antara satu negara dengan lain dalam suatu bentuk ekosistem ekonomi.

Ini bermakna jika berlaku krisis ekonomi dalam sebuah negara ia akan memberi kesan kepada negara lain. Sebagai contoh, krisis pinjaman perumahan yang baru-baru ini berlaku di Amerika Syarikat maka tempiasnya dirasai negara-negara lain. Keduanya, terdapat kecenderungan bertambah lebar jurang perbezaan ekonomi antara negara maju dan negara sedang membangun.

Perkembangan yang tidak sihat ini dikatakan akan membawa kepada berlakunya ketegangan sosial, konflik, munculnya kumpulan pelampau dan menjadikan dunia seolah-olah tidak selamat.

Ketiganya, wujudnya isu kepanasan global yang membawa kepada kemarau panjang atau perubahan iklim yang boleh menjejaskan bidang pertanian dan keperluan bahan makanan.

Selain itu pertambahan mendadak penduduk dunia yang seolah-olah tidak dapat dikawal terutama di negara-negara sedang membangun. Keadaan ini menyebabkan bertambahnya kadar kemiskinan dan melebarnya perbezaan dalam strata masyarakat yang boleh membawa kepada berlakunya krisis sosial dan politik.

Menurut Friedman ketiga-tiga isu besar itu sebenarnya boleh dikurangkan atau ditangani melalui transformasi dan perubahan dasar pendidikan. Jelasnya pendidikan turut memainkan peranan penting dan menjadi kunci utama kepada kejayaan ekonomi dan kelestarian dunia dalam abad ke-21 ini.

Perkembangan pendidikan di negara kita juga tidak terlepas daripada keperluan masyarakat serta persekitaran politik, sosial dan ekonomi pada masa tersebut. Ini dapat dibuktikan dengan terbentuknya Dasar Razak 1956, Dasar Rahman Talib 1961 dan Dasar Pendidikan Kebangsaan 1970 semuanya adalah berkait rapat dengan tuntutan dan keperluan negara pada masa itu.

Bagi menangani perubahan dan cabaran baru di peringkat global maka negara juga tidak terlepas dari memperkenalkan dasar-dasar baru dalam pendidikan. Oleh itu baru-baru ini Menteri Pelajaran, Tan Sri Mahyuddin Yassin, mengumumkan pelaksanaan Transformasi Kurikulum yang bertujuan meningkatkan kualiti pengajaran dan pembelajaran berbentuk kreatif dan inovatif serta menarik minat pelajar.

Selain itu, diperkenalkan dasar ‘Satu Murid Satu Sukan’ yang bertujuan meningkatkan minat dan keupayaan pelajar dalam permainan dan sukan supaya lebih aktif. Dasar Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia dan Mengukuhkan Bahasa Inggeris (MBMMBI) pula bagi mengembalikan semula peranan utama bahasa kebangsaan sebagai bahasa ilmu di samping meningkatkan keupayaan pelajar dalam menguasai bahasa Inggeris.

Sementara itu, dasar mengehadkan 12 mata pelajaran dalam peperiksaan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia dan penambahbaikan peperiksaan Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah dan Penilaian Menengah Rendah adalah jelas untuk meningkatkan kualiti pendidikan supaya melahirkan pelajar yang seimbang dan mampu mengembangkan potensi diri. Dengan kata lain dasar ini mengubah persepsi pendidikan supaya tidak hanya berorientasikan peperiksaan tetapi berupaya melahirkan modal insan cemerlang.

Satu lagi dasar baru ialah mewajibkan lulus mata pelajaran Sejarah dalam peperiksaan SPM mulai 2013. Ini bertujuan meningkatkan semangat patriotik dan menanamkan rasa cintakan negara. Usaha menanamkan semangat cintakan tanah air melalui pendidikan khususnya dalam mata pelajaran Sejarah sebenarnya turut menjadi amalan di negara-negara lain di dunia ini.

Cabaran baru dunia sekarang ialah melalui k-ekonomi. Dalam hal ini sebenarnya negara kita bersedia dan bertindak awal. Sejak awal 1980-an apabila bermulanya ledakan teknologi maklumat, sekolah-sekolah kita telah mula memperkenal dan menggunakan peralatan komputer.

Kini penggunaan ICT begitu meluas sekali di mana makmal komputer didirikan di semua sekolah. Guru-guru diberi kemahiran melalui latihan dan penggunaan LCD, laptop dan Internet dan pelajar-pelajar kita mendapat manfaat yang besar.

Kesimpulannya, Malaysia akan bertambah maju jika rakyatnya dapat menguasai teknologi maklumat dan menggunakan kemudahan ICT dalam semua urusan. Sesungguhnya zaman k-ekonomi merupakan perubahan global dan cabaran baru yang perlu kita tangani melalui perubahan dalam dasar pelajaran.

Lagi 3,793 guru sandaran dilantik semula

03 Ogos 2011, Rabu

http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/info.asp?y=2011&dt=0803&pub=Utusan_Malaysia&sec=Muka_Hadapan&pg=mh_03.htm

KUALA LUMPUR 2 Ogos – Seramai 3,793 orang Guru Sandaran Tidak Terlatih (GSTT) daripada baki 7,258 orang yang belum dilantik telah dilantik semula ke jawatan itu berkuat kuasa 1 Julai lalu.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin berkata, keputusan pelantikan itu dibuat menerusi perjumpaan khas antara kementeriannya dengan Ketua Setiausaha Negara, Tan Sri Mohd. Sidek Hassan, Ketua Pengarah Perkhidmatan Awam, Tan Sri Abu Bakar Abdullah dan Kementerian Kewangan pada 30 Jun lalu.

Beliau yang juga Menteri Pelajaran berkata, arahan itu dikeluarkan oleh Ketua Setiausahanya, Datuk Dr. Rosli Mohamed pada 1 Julai lalu.

“Seramai 972 orang daripada kumpulan yang dilantik ini akan mengikuti latihan perguruan selama 18 bulan di institusi pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA) mulai Disember ini.

“Seramai 2,821 yang lain akan mengikuti latihan perguruan di institut pendidikan guru (IPG) untuk sesi pengambilan Januari 2012,” katanya dalam kenyataan yang dikeluarkan di sini hari ini.

Pada bulan Mac lalu, kerajaan telah mengumumkan seramai 13,184 GSTT tahun 2010 akan dilantik semula bagi tahun 2011 dan berikutan itu pada Mei lalu seramai 5,926 orang telah dilantik sebagai GSTT semula dan tinggal baki seramai 7,258.

Menurut Muhyiddin, guru yang memiliki ijazah dan berkursus di IPG, mereka dijadual mengikuti latihan selama 18 bulan dan bagi yang tidak mempunyai ijazah akan mengikuti latihan untuk tempoh 66 bulan iaitu di bawah program ijazah Sarjana Muda Pendidikan.

Beliau menjelaskan, bagi baki GSTT berjumlah 3,465 orang itu, kedudukan mereka akan ditentukan kelak selepas disahkan pematuhan terhadap syarat-syarat yang ditetapkan.

“Daripada jumlah ini mungkin ada di antara mereka yang masih berpeluang untuk dilantik semula atau dipilih mengikuti latihan perguruan selepas selesai semakan semula ke atas maklumat mereka.

“Bagi yang dikenal pasti tidak layak untuk dilantik semula, semakan ke atas rekod mereka dan pengesahan akan dibuat sebelum akhir Ogos ini,” kata beliau.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri seterusnya berkata, penempatan bagi mereka yang dilantik semula itu tidak akan terhad kepada lokasi, sekolah atau pilihan asal.

Katanya, penempatan akan dibuat bagi memenuhi dan menyokong pelaksanaan dasar khususnya dasar baru kementerian seperti Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia dan Memperkukuh Bahasa Inggeris (MBMMBI), Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) dan Penilaian Berasaskan Sekolah (PBS).

“Kerajaan amat prihatin dengan segala keluh-kesah dan permasalahan GSTT, baik yang sering dibangkitkan di dada-dada akhbar dan media elektronik mahupun di setiap pertemuan bersama-sama guru-guru tersebut,” kata Muhyiddin.

ISSUES: Mathematics? No problem

Saturday, July 23, 2011

sarfah@nst.com.my

 

Participants concentrating hard at the International Mathematical Olympiad. Despite its importance, Maths is disliked, particularly by youngsters

Participants concentrating hard at the International Mathematical Olympiad. Despite its importance, Maths is disliked, particularly by youngsters

A professor of Mathematics is determined to make the subject more accessible, writes SHARIFAH ARFAH

IF there is a subject that students the world over dislike, it is likely to be Mathematics.
The love-hate relationship young people have with the lesson is clear from the number of “I Hate Maths pages” created on Facebook — there are at least 30.
One particular page received more than 8,000 “likes” garnering comments that range from “Maths is very difficult, I really hate it!” and “I hate Maths…. I wanna kill those authors…” to “Maths is just a gimmick that certain people use to call themselves intelligent”.

Professor of Mathematics Chandra Kant Raju sympathises with these students and believes they need not feel that Mathematics is a burden.
The Indian national blames the students’ struggle to understand the subject on the belief that “Mathematics (and Science) are universal but (this) originated from the West”.
“This idea is absurd. If Maths and Science are indeed universal, they would have sprung up the same everywhere,” says Raju, who recently presented the paper Decolonising Math and Science Education at the International Conference on Decolonising our Universities organised by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Citizens International.

Raju, who has taught Mathematics for the last 30 years, traces the problem back to the Western philosophy of Mathematics which went through reinterpretation and falsification of history to suit the needs of Westerners.
“Western society was dominated by the church for more than 1,000 years and all knowledge had to be made theologically correct,” says the visiting professor at USM. For example, the Greeks believed that Mathematics incorporated eternal truths, angering the Christian priests at the time.
When the philosophy was eventually accepted during the Crusades, it was “reinterpreted” as soulless to align with the philosophy of the post-crusade Christian theology of reason.

History was also falsified — knowledge originating from the Arabs was attributed to the Greeks.
For example, in Toledo, Spain in the 12th century, the church had financed the mass translations of Arabic books and credited the Greeks with discovering the knowledge.
Raju’s research also showed that Calculus has its origins in India and was used for calculating trigonometric values. While the Europeans used it for navigation, the Indians used it to determine the size of the Earth, 1,000 years earlier than the Europeans. “The Europeans used it but didn’t truly understand it,” says Raju, further explaining his points.
Raju is aware that his views are controversial because the current Mathematics curriculum rooted in Western philosophy is widely accepted.
Yet the Telesio-Galilei Academy of Science Award he won in 2010 for pointing out and correcting a mistake in the theory of relativity (E=mc²) made famous by physicist Albert Einstein proves that Raju “knows his stuff”. “It depends on who you’re talking to. If whatever I say is false, prove it. I’m willing to have a public debate on this. Anything good should be accepted but we need to critically examine what we learn,” says the computer scientist and physicist.
Raju is always on the quest for making Mathematics more accessible.

Three years ago he devised a course, Calculus Without Limits, which was first implemented in 2009 at the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India.
He chose Calculus — the Mathematics that calculate the rate of change — as it is considered “the line dividing men and boys” in Mathematics.
The five-day course attempts to make Calculus easier to understand by treating it as a practical solution instead of “a metaphysical subject”.
Raju believes that the module also makes the application of Calculus in other subjects such as Physics simpler.
Last year, he tested it on four groups of USM students: those pursuing postgraduate Mathematics, undergraduate Pure Mathematics, undergraduate Applied Mathematics and undergraduate non-Mathematics programme (such as those who major in Media and Communications).
“The idea is that, by the end of the course, even non-Maths groups can do random problems from the Calculus tests,” says Raju.
There was a marked improvement in students’ results. All the groups achieved at least an 80 per cent pass rate in the final test.
Raju is happy with the results and views the module as his personal contribution towards “decolonising” the subject.
The success has spurred him on to compile teaching and learning materials on the course into a textbook and teaching manual.
The book Euclid & Jesus — an explanation of the facts and fallacies of Western-imposed Mathematics in layman’s terms — will be his 12th publication.
Raju’s dream is to see the project being taught in educational institutions but it remains to be seen when this will happen.
One of the obstacles is that the public has little say in curriculum development.
“Parents and students, and even scientists and engineers, are rarely consulted on what sort of Maths to teach. Decisions on the Maths curriculum are left solely to ‘experts’. But who are the experts? They were all trained in the Western module of Mathematics,” he says.
“Only after they have ‘unlearned’ what they know will they accept the new method,” he says.

 

Closing gender gap

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

By Roy See Wei Zhi
news@nst.com.my

Vocational curriculum in secondary schools to get more boys into varsities

KUALA LUMPUR: Two ministries are working together to redress the gender imbalance in universities, which is now at 65:35 in favour of female students.
Both the Higher Education and Education Ministries said yesterday a plausible solution was to introduce a vocational-technicalbased curriculum in secondary schools.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin said university students were “supplied” by secondary schools and it made sense for attempts to address the phenomenon of women dominating university ranks to begin there.

“It is not that the ministry is against women excelling in their studies, but we believe skill sets for both sexes would need to develop in tandem for the nation to progress healthily,” he told the New Straits Times.
Records show that male students used to outnumber females. In 1990, a milestone was reached when females made up 50 per cent of undergraduates. From then on, female students began to gradually exceed the males, pushing the ratio to 63:37 by 2005, when the gender ratio at primary schools was 50:50.
Yesterday, educationists told the NST that the restructuringwas timely, although the imbalance was not actually ominous.

Tay l o r ’s University School of Education Dean Prof Malachi Edwin Vethamani said a degree did not automatically guarantee success in life.
“Men still have other avenues to generate income, such as setting up businesses or entering other types of skill-based employment.” He said despite more women enrolling in universities, the effects of men losing out in the workforcewere not immediately apparent.
“Obtaining a degree is just one of the many ways for career advancement.” Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said yesterday his ministry and the Higher Education Ministry were already hard at work formulating the necessary changes to the current curriculum. He said a panel involving both ministries was pursuing the review, but he could not be drawn into discussing timelines.

Expanding on the disparity, Wee said it was generally believed that boys would be more interested in hands-on learning, rather than reading from textbooks.
“We believe that younger men would be inclined to advance their interests in a particular field in university if they are exposed to them in the form of technical training during their secondary school years.” Wee noted that universities in most parts of the world were receiving more female applicants.
He said the private sector would need to be involved in any re-think.
One example would be for companies from the relevant sectors to help expose and train both high school and university students.
“Certification from renowned industries given to universities will carry weight for graduates when they seek employment later.” Vocational studies is a form of activity- based education, with trainees taught skills specific to a certain sector or industry. Trainees who have graduated from vocational education often directly develop expertise in a specialised field of technique or technology.
Commenting on this development, Parent Action Group for Education (Page) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim agreed that the vocational curriculum could help woo more boys to enrol in universities.

But she warned that the boys, along with the public, should not be made to believe that they are less intelligent than their female counterparts.
“Vocational training offered at schools and universities should not be looked upon as learning mere manual labour.” Noor Azimah said the training must offer more and allow students to grow beyond what was expected of them.
“For example, a vocational trainee or apprentice in plumbing should not graduate to become just a household plumber.
“The graduate must be equipped with the necessary business skills so that they can start their own enterprise, for example.” Noor Azimah said the training should extend to the level where students not only learnt how to mend broken pipes, but build and design entire piping systems for skyscrapers.
“The new curriculum’s content must be substantial to accommodate room for growth. If not, it would just appear to be ‘dumbing down’ the males. ”

‘Curriculum should stress patriotism’

Monday, July 18, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR:The Education Ministry should emphasise patriotism in the national education system in order to produce world-class human capital that is loyal and willing to sacrifice for the nation.

National Union of the Teaching Profession president Hashim Adnan said the patriotic spirit should be infused into the curriculum and co-curriculum to improve the quality of the national education system.

He said the ministry should also ensure that the curriculum remained relevant for the next 15 to 20 years.
“The national education system is very wide.

“So, all efforts to improve the system must be seen from various aspects,” Hashim said yesterday.

He was responding to the ministry’s proposal for a total review of the national education system.
Hashim said changes to the national education system must be done courageously and not hastily after an indepth and careful study of the system.

He said the quality of teachers, students and school equipment must also be taken into consideration.

Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad chairman and former director-general of Education Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said the time had come for the government to draw up a new policy to improve the national education system so as to be in tandem with the technological developments taking place in the world. — Bernama

What keeps us going

Sunday July 17, 2011

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2011/7/17/education/9080355&sec=education

TEACHER TALK
By MALLIKA VASUGI

Teachers face a myriad of challenges that may demotivate them, but there is one reason they persevere and strive to do the best they can.

The thing about being a teacher is that no matter how reluctantly you may have become one in the first place, it eventually becomes so much a part of you that you couldn’t imagine what life would have been like otherwise.

This of course does not mean that most of us go into the profession reluctantly. In fact, many of the teachers that I have met became teachers because they wanted to. But the reasons that make them stay on despite the many factors urging them to leave do not just revolve around job security or a lack of alternatives.

An MRSM Beseri teacher cheering as her school is announced upper secondary champion in the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds state challenge in Perlis. — G.C. Tan/ The Star

Rather, it is because teaching has seeped so deeply into their being that they themselves may not realise it.

And that primarily is why, despite all the complaints, the paperwork, the unfulfilled promises, the lack of transparency and a myriad other reasons pointing us in other directions, most of us still hold on to our jobs and give it the best we are able to.

At this point, there will doubtless be some sceptical eyebrows raised and cynical sniggers with stories of how utterly incompetent and uncommitted certain teachers were; and that given half the chance, most teachers would quit and move on to something else — that is, if they had something else.

While that may be true for some, it does not represent the majority.

When all is said and done, when the cards are on the table and we know exactly what is or isn’t in store for us, there is something else that keeps us here as teachers. And this something else is not about the remuneration or the prospects of promotion which are few and far between.

Not about the money

Those of us in national schools will from time to time come across people who find it is their duty to remind us how much those in the private sector are making and how it is no point giving so much of ourselves when the rewards go to people less deserving.

The irony here is if you open your mouth to air any grievances you may have about the increasing work-load, the endless and redundant paperwork or deficiencies in the curriculum, the very same people will now remind you how fortunate you are to have a “half-day” job and so many holidays in between.

Ultimately though, it is not about the rewards or lack of them. Neither is it about the relative ‘stability’ of a government job. As for half-day jobs and holidays, we teachers know that died out long ago with the dinosaurs. Also, it is not just about the money.

What is it then that keeps most of us going, and what keeps the balance? What are the redeeming factors of the teaching profession that continue to recharge our sometimes depleted spirits and fill us with fresh hope each day?

For most of us who have been around for some time, the answer lies in the unique bond we have with our students. It is a link that is exclusive to the teaching profession, whether all of us teachers acknowledge its presence or not.

It is this factor above all others that makes teachers who they are. It defines them. It is also this that gets to you eventually and becomes part of you — sometimes, without you even realising it.

This is what causes you to feel your students’ successes and failures as if it were your own.

This is also what makes you wait on the side with bated breath and racing pulse, for the judges to pronounce their verdict on your team’s performance in school competitions.

And even when we know for sure that the students we teach have no way of making the minimum grade in an examination, it doesn’t prevent us from hoping against hope that they will make it.

But it doesn’t take away the pang of dismay when results are announced and they have not made it. It also doesn’t stop the inevitable question that rises in our own minds about whether we could have made it better for them in some way. That’s the thing about being a teacher.

Even after you’ve just come out from the most notorious class of students vowing to everyone within hearing range that from that moment on you have “washed your hands off them” and that you didn’t care whether they all quit school or got arrested, by the following week, you enter the class once again with renewed hope and possibly a revised strategy for getting their attention.

Shared success

The slightest indication of a student’s improvement never fails to evoke a feeling of accomplishment and pleasure. Call us easy pushovers, soppy, mushy or overly sentimental, we don’t really care, because we are the ones who get to experience this exquisite feeling of having been part of the journey.

Yes, we sometimes have unfair workloads. We sometimes have people over us who use us for their own professional agenda. And yes, we sometimes have to face students who seem to specialise in making our lives miserable!

Occasionally, we also have to work with colleagues who profess that they don’t do anything beyond the bare minimum because “What’s the point? We’re not going to get anything anyway.”

If you scratch the surface of that comment, you may not be surprised to find that it comes from those who never did more than the minimum to begin with. Yet the heart of a real teacher perseveres, even when the odds are against us.

We persevere even when we get tired and discouraged and when we see all our efforts unappreciated or, even worse, not even acknowledged. And we hurt when the students we are trying so hard to educate do not seem to show any form of appreciation at all.

But that’s the thing about the teacher’s heart. It is tough, it is resilient, it bounces back, ready to begin again no matter how many times we get knocked off the ring.

Perhaps child psychologist and school teacher Haim G. Ginott says it best in the following words: “Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task.”

Kajian komprehensif sistem pendidikan

Ahad , 17 Julai 2011

http://www.bharian.com.my/bharian/articles/Kajiankomprehensifsistempendidikan/Article/index_html
  MUHYIDDIN   bersalaman dengan   seorang pengerusi Kelab UMNO di Surabaya, semalam.

MUHYIDDIN bersalaman dengan seorang pengerusi Kelab UMNO di Surabaya, semalam.

Pasukan khas teliti format Penyata Razak 1956 sebelum laksana perubahan: Muhyiddin

KERAJAAN dijangka meneliti laporan awal keperluan untuk mengkaji secara komprehensif sistem pendidikan negara, selewat-lewatnya akhir tahun ini, kata Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata, pasukan khas yang ditubuhkan awal tahun ini dan diketuai Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran, Datuk Abdul Ghafar Mahmud kini meneliti format Penyata Razak 1956 bagi menghasilkan laporan itu.

“Sebaik siap, laporan itu akan dibentangkan ke Kabinet dan jika mendapat kelulusan Perdana Menteri bagi meneruskan kajian itu, aspek yang akan menjadi tumpuan utama serta jangkaan sama ada akan dilakukan perubahan atau rombakan besar-besaran terhadap sistem pendidikan sedia ada akan diketahui,” katanya kepada wartawan Malaysia pada akhir lawatan rasmi tiga harinya ke sini, semalam.

Terdahulu, beliau mengadakan pertemuan dan berdialog dengan pemimpin Kelab UMNO Indonesia yang turut dihadiri Pengerusi kelab itu, Mohd Feendi Mohd Fauzi Yap.

Beliau yang juga Menteri Pelajaran berkata, Penyata Razak perlu diteliti untuk menentukan sama ada syor dan pengakuan dikemukakan sudah dicapai sepenuhnya.

“Langkah ini diambil selepas menerima pelbagai pandangan umum dan media, sama ada sistem sekarang mencapai matlamat dalam usaha untuk mendidik anak bangsa,” katanya.
Oleh itu, beliau berkata, kajian ini penting bagi memastikan sama ada sistem pendidikan negara dapat memenuhi tuntutan semasa dalam bidang sains, teknologi dan cara penyampaian guru dan sebagainya.

Bagaimanapun, kata Muhyiddin, pelbagai usaha dan tindakan dilakukan secara berperingkat untuk menambah baik kaedah pengajaran dan pembelajaran, selain infrastruktur, inti pati, pendidikan guru dan kurikulum sekolah di negara ini.

Terdahulu, Muhyiddin berkata pemimpin berjawatan dalam kerajaan akan diminta menemui pelajar dan rakyat Malaysia di luar negara secara lebih kerap bagi menjelaskan pelbagai isu semasa.

“Penjelasan perlu diberi kepada pemimpin Kelab UMNO luar negara, mahasiswa dan ahli politik negara asing berhubung situasi terkini negara supaya mendapat gambaran lebih tepat,” katanya.

Sebelum ini, beliau turut mengadakan pertemuan dengan sekumpulan usahawan muda dan tokoh korporat di sini yang berminat membuka operasi syarikat di Malaysia.

Di BALI, Muhyiddin dijangka tiba di sini hari ini bagi menghadiri mesyuarat tidak formal Mesyuarat Menteri-Menteri Pelajaran ASEAN (ASED), Mesyuarat Menteri-Menteri Pelajaran (EMM) ASEAN+3 dan Sidang Kemuncak Mesyuarat Menteri-Menteri Pelajaran Asia Timur (EAS EMM), selama dua hari.

ASEAN + 3 adalah pakatan kerjasama negara anggota ASEAN dan China, Korea Selatan dan Jepun untuk kerjasama serantau.

Muhyiddin akan turut hadir pada Majlis Makan Malam Kerja ASED Tidak Formal yang antara lainnya turut membincangkan pendidikan sebagai bidang utama teras komuniti sosiobudaya serta cadangan pembangunan rangka kerja bagi pemindahan kredit dalam kalangan penuntut universiti.

Teaching of English: Bring back the fun in learning

Thursday, July 07, 2011

letters@nst.com.my

MALAYSIA has requested for 300 Fulbright scholars from the United States to teach English at selected Malaysian schools starting next year, as disclosed by Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The objective is to improve English proficiency in schools. Muhyiddin stressed that “Learning English will be done in an innovative way where it will be fun and exciting under the programme”.

The government wants to bring fun to learning English by improving existing programmes to motivate students to speak and interact in English.
Selected Fulbright scholars will go through an orientation programme for several weeks to adapt and equip themselves to local culture, customs and traditions.

A classic case of the successful implementation of a similar programme was in Terengganu where students greatly improved their command of English and are eager to learn and interact in the language.

The programme was sponsored by the US government which enlisted volunteers to teach English in foreign countries.
The Malaysian government will bear the cost of accommodation and transport, with a budget of RM1.4 million, for the Fulbright programme.

The Education Ministry, however, must bear in mind that there will be some challenges in terms of acceptance from school administrators.

Other challenges will be the scholars’ accent. Our pupils, especially those in rural areas, will have difficulty in understanding what these scholars are saying. This will have an impact on the effectiveness of the programme.
The programme needs to be implemented in stages, allowing everyone to make adjustments before the scholars are brought in.

The ministry should also get local teachers to learn from the Fulbright mentors. The transfer of knowledge will enable the locals to later manage the programme themselves.

The government should be credited for trying to bring fun to learning.

C. SATHASIVAM, Seremban, Negri Sembilan

We’re losing out

THE declining standard of the English language in Malaysia has been voraciously voiced by educationists and parents. The need to arrest this decline has never been more urgent because of the role of English as a global language.

A quarter of the world’s population is fluent or competent in English and this figure is steadily growing. That means more than 1.5 billion people speak the language in the world. No other language can match this growth.

English is an indispensable language in today’s world. Our young people need to be proficient in the language to be competitive in the job market.

According to a recent Malaysian Employers Federation survey, spoken and written skills in English remain the most important trait in prospective employers. Globalisation has changed the nature of jobs making communication skills a valuable asset for today’s worker. With clients based worldwide, local workers have to interact in English.

Communication skills is one of the top desired skills in the corporate sector. The concern that local graduates do not have communication skills is well known and has been the paramount reason for them not getting jobs in the private and corporate sector. Top jobs are only for people who know the English language well.

The decline in English is affecting Malaysia’s global competitiveness. It is important to have a good command of English due to a growing borderless world. We are losing out to our neighbours who seem to have improved their level of English in the last decade.

Thailand, Indonesia and China are making serious and systematic efforts to improve their English language through their education system.

The decline in the English language has been happening for more than two decades. The decline began with the switch in the medium of instruction to Bahasa Malaysia and the conversion of English schools. To expect miracles in the English language standards by teaching 30- to 60-minute English lessons daily in primary and secondary classrooms will not bring back the lost glorious days of yonder.

English should be made a compulsory subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination. The importance and relevance of the language should be highlighted. Students do not pay much attention to English because it is not a compulsory subject.

Those who oppose the use of the English language in our education system are denying the young the opportunity to be global competitors.

SAMUEL YESUIAH, Seremban, Negri Sembilan

Rethinking pedagogy

Sunday July 3, 2011

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2011/7/3/education/9009590&sec=education

By AMINUDDIN MOHSIN
educate@thestar.com.my

An education system that emphasises rote learning rather than understanding has no place in a world that demands students to be equipped with reasoning, analytical and problem-solving skills.

Are education systems across the world still relevant to the needs of our society and future? One expert from the United States (US) is not afraid to say that the system – in the US, at least – is obsolete.

According to Tony Wagner’s book, The Global Achievement Gap, there is a huge chasm that divides what Americans are teaching and testing in their schools versus the actual skills students need to further their studies and pursue their careers.

Wagner is co-director of Change Leadership Group (CLG) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which is a research and development centre charged with helping teams to be effective leaders in schools and districts throughout the US.

To keep up with the pace of information and technology, students must be taught how to process and analyse the information. — File photo

“Wagner points out that the relevant skills needed for the 21st century is no longer taught in classrooms and lecture halls,” said Victoria University vice-chancellor Prof Peter Dawkins.

In his lecture, a part of the Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Speakers series held at Sunway University, Prof Dawkins uses Wagner’s book to discuss the skills required for employment in the new workforce.

“Today, employers are not just looking for ‘domain skills’ and knowledge relevant to their field in a potential employee.

“They are also looking for ‘generic skills’ like problem-solving and teamwork. Focus on these skills is lacking in our education systems,” said Prof Dawkins.

Even when the study is transposed onto the Australian education system, it points to many areas where changes can be made to better prepare students for transitions – from school to college, then to work, said Prof Dawkins.

In the book, Wagner noted that there was no curricula or teaching method in place to teach students how to reason, analyse and write well.

He explained how the American education system was on the verge of crisis as most of the tests it uses for accountability comprise multiple choice assessments, which require more memorising than thinking.

A teacher playing a board game with her students to give them a practical understanding of accounting. —File photo

Different minds

The concern that an overwhelming emphasis on exam grades, which in turn encourages students and teachers alike to get through the syllabus and memorise key points – rather than taking the time to understand concepts – is all too familiar in Malaysia.

So what can be done to narrow the gap between what is taught and and what is needed?

In his lecture, Prof Dawkins drew upon Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future to identify what students need to learn and how to teach them those essential skills.

“Gardner identifies the types of intelligences we should develop, and points to the various different faculties of the mind,” he said.

The “five minds” include the disciplined mind, which is the ability to focus and develop a deep knowledge of at least one subject matter; the synthesising mind, which allows one to process information from various sources to combine it in a way that makes sense; and the creating mind, which puts forth new ideas and fresh ways of thinking.

The other faculties of the mind are respectful and ethical thinking, which are critical in developing students who not only welcome and respect different people and opinions, but understand them and work to benefit society at large beyond their own self-interests.

“By developing these faculties, we can produce students that can think creatively, bridge knowledge from different fields and act ethically,” said Prof Dawkins.

Although he conceded that not everything can be taught in classrooms, the classroom should take efforts to adapt to the needs of society.

Prof Dawkins shared that when he was a member of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority board, he chaired a committee tasked with writing out a declaration of educational goals for Australian children.

“I was part of the committee that produced the Melbourne declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.

“One of the goals was developing successful learners by teaching them how to think and draw upon a wide range of different learning to solve problems,” he said.

Meanwhile, trainee teacher Nur Hidayah Shukor was of the opinion that there was nothing lacking with Malaysian students.

“Malaysian students have abundant potential and given the opportunity, they can be as expressive, creative and critical as any student out there.

“They only need to be given a platform to do so — something which could be better incorporated in our schools,” said Nur Hidayah, who is studying at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

During her three months of practical training at SMK Taman Mutiara Rini, Johor, Nur Hidayah said she saw what teaching in non-conventional methods could do to boost the students’ interest and morale.

“You should see how even the weakest students who refused to speak a word of English became confident speakers with the correct methods.

“I used drama to get them to speak and detective work to get them to write reports. Eventually they spoke and wrote English comfortably,” she said.

However, she admitted that as a trainee teacher, she could teach students in creative and interesting ways without worrying about finishing the syllabus in time.

“On the other hand, full-time teachers are often worried about completing the syllabus in time, whereas my only concern was impressing my lecturers,” she said.

Some lessons need not even be taught in the classroom. Here, students are learning the history of kites. — File photo

Changing perceptions

According to veteran educationist and Kirkby College Alumni president Tan Sri Dr Yahaya Ibrahim, it is precisely the teachers’ burden of finishing the syllabus in time that needs to change.

“The concept of finishing the syllabus must change — in fact, the syllabus must be malleable and robust enough that it can fit the needs of any situation.

“Teachers should not succumb to tunnel vision when teaching. If they are looking at the syllabus, they are not looking at their students growth or decline,” said Dr Yahaya.

He added that teachers go through four stages of teaching — they start off “telling” as a new teacher, then they progress to “explaining” as they gain experience.

“After that point they educate – a good teacher educates. And the final transformation is the inspirational teacher who inspires,” he said.

On a different front, UTM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Zaini Ujang says that students learn more outside the classroom.

“That is why we encourage students to partake in summer school programmes, conferences, summits and other events held outside the classroom.

“While out of campus, they are expected to learn not just from the programmes they attend but also through mingling with peers and professors abroad,” he said.

In his 2011 new year address, Prof Zaini highlighted what he expects new academia to look like after changes to conventional academia.

“We want to move from the traditional paradigm of having only professors filling up teaching positions to having policy makers, practitioners and entrepreneurs fill some of those spots.

“We also need to change our outlook on what we use as teaching materials — we cannot narrow it down to just academic journals and books,” said Prof Zaini.

Prof Zaini points out that it is important to learn through experience and that failure is a great teacher.

“We need our students to be versatile enough to be able to gain as much as possible through experience,” he said.

As information and technology moves faster and faster, it becomes ever more important to teach students how to think critically and synthesize information.

“We need to develop inquisitive minds. We can’t have students just jotting down notes from their teachers without pondering over what they have written.

“We are transitioning from traditional learning to e-learning at a fast pace, and we must teach our students how to think,” said Dr Yahaya.

As the adage goes, knowledge is power — but this is assuming the person with knowledge knows how to use it.

This is why how we teach is as important as what we teach. Students must know how to relate to what they learn and implementation of the knowledge learned is as important as understanding it, said Dr Yahaya.

A respectful and ethical mind is developed when students are exposed to various people and opinions from a young age. These children are participating in a play to learn about and showcase Scottish culture. — File photo

A shared view

Many policy makers, education planners, deans of faculty, principals, lecturers and teachers have pointed towards a tectonic shift in pedagogy – the art of teaching – to fit global trends.

During the launch of EzLearn2u at SMK Bandar Utama Damansara 3, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said the “chalk and talk” method of teaching used by teachers in the past no longer fits the students of this generation.

Taylor’s University School of Communication dean Josephine Tan said the advent of new channels of information makes Gen-Y students less likely to be receptive to one-way learning.

“With so many avenues open for them to obtain information, classrooms must adapt,” she said, adding that students must be allowed to use their smartphones, iPads and laptops to access information relevant to their class.

She also said the short period of three to five years in tertiary education was not enough to fully develop the thinking skills of student.

“These thinking skills must be developed from early education,” she added.

Even with all these little initiatives by various education institutions, the question remains, is it enough? Or is nothing short of an overhaul of they way we teach necessary for pedagogy to catch up with the needs of our times?

Dr Yahaya, who has served under various Education Ministers and Prime Ministers, said he has always posed one question to them: “What kind of Malaysian do you want to produce?”

Perhaps it is only after we answer that question can we choose a path to walk down.