Make subjects more dynamic

Sunday July 8, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/7/8/education/11592026&sec=education

IN response to 
Give science students a break
 by T.J. Phang (StarEducate, July 1), as a former science student I have this to say:

The main reason subjects like History and Moral Studies are compulsory in the upper secondary school syllabus is that students get from them what education itself is supposed to achieve.

I believe that the aim of any national education system is to produce well-balanced and wholesome members of society. This means that students should not just be fed information, but encouraged to explore different areas and branches of knowledge that would help them become well-rounded individuals.

Perhaps some students (though they are in the minority) are sure their future lies in medicine or biochemistry or engineering, and don’t care for the arts and humanities. But it wouldn’t be fair to deny them a holistic education.

I understand that History, as taught in our secondary schools, is considered a boring and utterly useless subject. But can our country be proud of scientific and mathematical geniuses who don’t know what year their country gained independence, the struggles of our forefathers forMerdeka, or the significance of the Federal Constitution?

Perhaps the problem with the subject of History lies in its content, which was supposed to be revised. The method of teaching the subject renders it dull. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore its significance.

So memorising facts and reading dreary History textbooks may not make students better science professionals, but it should make them better citizens, more aware and so we hope, proud of their motherland.

The gripe about Moral Studies though, I can relate to.

How memorising a bunch of words and “vomiting” them out on paper come exam time is supposed to make us more moral and civic-concious is still beyond me.

Moral Studies is definitely a burden, not just for science students but even for those in the arts stream.

However, despite the various calls and pleas for a revision in the teaching and learning of Moral Studies and History, the Education Ministry seems unresponsive.

The sad truth about science subjects taught in secondary school though is that despite the fact that we consider these to be important and “relevant to careers in medicine and engineering”, it is a paltry amount of subject matter compared to what aspiring science students face in pre-university courses.

It seems that even these subjects need some level of revision on their subject matter.

With regards to science students switching to the seemingly less stressful arts stream, perhaps the problem is not in the number of subjects students have to cope with but with the manner in which they are being taught and the trepidation and difficulty associated with it.

I believe that when it comes to an education system befitting a well-developed nation, the country is in dire need of a complete reform of the system.

SAMANTHA HO YUET CHING