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EDUCATION: Parents must change mindset

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

By Liong Kam Chong, Seremban, Negri Sembilan 0 comments

WITH educational transformation being actively effected in different spheres of our school system, perhaps it is also time for parents and the community at large to reflect on and reassess their role in education so that they can continue to be effective contributors.

As the saying goes “sow a thought, reap an act”, our acts are very much determined by our thoughts. Change our thoughts or mindset and we will act or respond differently to a situation, and our role would would accordingly.

There is need for a mindset change among some parents and members of the community on certain aspects of our education system. Unless the mind is transformed, age-old prejudices, biases, favouritism and misconceptions may continue to influence and govern this group’s role.

On the other hand, with better and more informed understanding, parents can guide their children to greater heights in their studies; and the community would be able to help schools realise their potential to the fullest.

FIRST, parents and the community must change their mindset on the real purpose of schooling. They must know the distinction between learning for the sake of knowledge and studying to boost examination grades. The overemphasis hitherto given to examination grades will only be curtailed when they start to genuinely place greater importance on acquiring knowledge and skills and development of character, than on scoring good grades.

When a child is guided to love learning for knowledge’s sake, his or her grades will take care of themselves. If a child is recognised and encouraged for his or her potential and gifted talent, he or she will have no problem succeeding, even excelling, in school.

When parents and the community prioritise learning for knowledge’s sake, they will be more ready and will find it easier to accept the “new” concept and practice of school-based assessments now being promoted in schools.

SECOND, they must accord greater importance and prominence to Bahasa Malaysia (BM). Not that they have not done so. But, somehow, BM seems to be assigned only the importance of a must-pass subject in school. It is not prominent in other spheres of their life.

This has reduced the learning of BM for the sole purposes of passing examinations and for use in their later work and dealings with the government sector.

An interesting observation is: when the English language was in its prime in our education system, many families chose to be English-speaking. The same cannot be said of BM. We do not commonly see the youth of today conversing in BM. Because they are also poor in English, they are only comfortable and choose to interact in exclusive groups and in their own mother tongue.

BM must be accorded its rightful place as a language of integration so that it can truly be the lingua franca among the different races of our citizenry.

I think it is totally unacceptable for any of our people now, 50-odd years after Independence, to still converse in less than good BM, and worse, in pasar BM.

A mindset change in this respect will ensure a new thrust, urgency, vigour and robustness to want to learn BM for reasons of patriotism.

With this understanding, parents and the community will be better able to promote the Education Ministry’s MBMMBI (Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening the Command of the English Language) programmes with greater eagerness, earnestness and sincerity.

THIRD, parents and the community must change their mindset on vocational education. Vocational studies should not be regarded as a “second rate” education, subservient or even inferior to academic studies. The thought that only those who are not “making it” in academic schools should move on to vocational schools is a myth and misleading, and hence must be discarded.

Vocational studies and training open a whole new world of opportunities for students who are gifted in locomotive dexterity, besides being reasonably able in cognitive learning.

Students learned and trained well in vocational studies become the indispensable pillars of our nation-building effort. They are valued assets.

Parents and the community must have a mindset convinced of the vast potential and versatility of vocational education. Only then will the ministry’s ongoing new initiative to upgrade all vocational schools to vocational colleges stand to achieve a good measure of success.

The mindset of parents and the community must change so that they are aligned with the new thinking and approaches initiated by the Education Ministry.

If the thoughts are not in congruence with the acts, we will labour in vain.

When parents and the community move in accord with the ministry, our schools will be better able to deliver the promises of transformation programmes.

“Transforming minds, enabling changes” is the way to go.

Read more: EDUCATION: Parents must change mindset – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/education-parents-must-change-mindset-1.91427#ixzz1wyRIAma5