2017, Berita Harian, Rencana, Sastera

Jasa, sumbangan Sasterawan Negara dikenang

PROF Emeritus Datuk Shahnon Ahmad. – Foto Zuhainy Zulkiffli

Rencana oleh Dr Ismail Ibrahim

KINI Shahnon Ahmad, sasterawan Negara, sudah meninggalkan dunia ini, kembali ke alam kekal, menghadap Allah SWT. Pemergiannya kita doakan penuh tawakal dan pasrah kepada Allah SWT agar diberikan keberkatan dan kesejahteraan oleh Maha Pencipta.

Ketika meneliti kembali perutusan saya dengan Allahyarham, saya menemui satu tulisan saya yang tersiar di dalam blog saya pada 16 Oktober 2012, yang antara lainnya saya catatkan: ‘Setelah sekian lama tidak kedengaran suaranya, maka akhirnya Shahnon kembali bersuara.

Penantian sepi yang sekian lama dirasakan, tiba-tiba dikejutkan dengan kembalinya sasterawan negara yang ulung itu ke persada persuratan bangsa dan negara seminggu dua ini. Shahnon kini kembali tanpa berselindung atau bersikap apologetik menyuarakan rasa hatinya sebagai seorang budayawan dan sasterawan Melayu Islam yang bimbang melihat perkembangan pincang yang berlaku di dalam dunia Melayu dan Islam di negara kita pada masa kini”.

Ungkapan saya di atas saya hamburkan setelah kira-kira lapan tahun sebelum ini, iaitu pada 13 Jun 2004, saya pernah menulis di dalam kolum tetap saya di akhbar sebagai respon kepada tulisannya seminggu sebelum tulisan saya ini.

Dalam tulisannya itu, Shahnon hampa kerana tidak dapat menulis selama lima tahun disebabkan oleh satu penyakit ganjil yang amat tenat yang menyerangnya, bernama Myasthenia Gravis. Di antara lainnya, Shahnon menulis …”Bahawa keuzurannya yang memakan masa berbulan dan bertahun, asyik keluar masuk hospital, tidak mampu lagi bergerak menyebabkan ‘dia’ akan dibiarkan begitu sahaja. Dia terus jadi kera sumbang. Tidak ada siapa lagi yang sampai hati hendak mendekatinya.

Tidak ada lagi yang punya hati untuk bertanya khabar atau memberi salam, bertegur sapa jauh sekali, malah kalau boleh perlu dijauhkan, kerana orang sakit memang tak berguna lagi…” Saya menyedari kehampaan hatinya yang amat sangat kerana dunia penulisan yang dirampas oleh kesakitannya itu amat menghiris perasaan dan pemikirannya, sakitnya bukan hanya sekadar sakit fizikal, pedih dan bisa pada jasadnya dan kulit serta otot-ototnya, tetapi kepedihan rohani dan jiwanya itu yang lebih menyiksakannya.

Apabila sakit, lalu dia dibiarkan menderita berseorangan, tanpa salam dan kalam terutamanya dari orang yang selama ini menjadi kawan dan penyokongnya, yang sekali gus menunjukkan hati budi rakan-rakan yang mengajaknya berjuang dalam arena parti politik bersama-sama mereka berlandaskan ajaran agamanya sendiri.

Sebab itulah di dalam tulisan yang sama dia menulis “…..Ruparupanya bilamana seorang wakil rakyat jatuh sakit, lama kelamaan dia akan disisih dan dilupakan oleh anggota masyarakat, kawan dan lebih-lebih lagi lawan”.

Penuh syukur, amal bakti

Kini segala-galanya itu sudah ditinggalkan, namun melihat kepada hati budi dan perilaku laku Allahyarham sebagai seorang penulis yang halus jiwa seninya, beliau tentunya sudah mengakhiri hidupnya dengan penuh syukur, penuh amal baktinya kepada Allah SWT.

Hal ini pernah juga dinyatakan oleh Allahyarham di dalam tulisannya yang menyatakan bahawa dengan penyakit yang menimpanya itu, maka dia kembali bebas sebagai seorang manusia seni di kampungnya di Banggol Derdap, ketika beliau meneruskan tulisannya itu dengan berkata bahawa “Saya lebih bertenang di kampung, bercakap dengan bukit bukau, kerbau lembu, ayam itik, jagung, pisang, ular dan lipan bara”.

Seterusnya beliau membisikkan rasa ketenangannya bahawa hal ini sudah menjadikannya seorang insan yang dapat berasakan kehidupan lebih tinggi dan akrab dengan Tuhan ketika beliau menegaskan “Namun pengalaman seumpama ini mematangkan lagi makna kehidupan, kerana dalam kesepian dan keseorangan inilah saya dapat menilai diri dan jiwa saya dengan Yang Maha Esa, mengenal siapa kawan dan siapa lawan saya”.

Hari Selasa tanggal 8 Rabiulakhir 1439 bersamaan 26 Disember 2017 adalah saat berakhirnya hayat seorang sasterawan dan sarjana negara, pejuang bangsa dan agama, ketika Allahyarham Shahnon Ahmad menyahut panggilan Ilahi ke alam baqa’.

Namun sejarah dan zaman penghayatan segala sumbangan akal dan roh, jasmani dan rohaninya, pengucapan dan tulisannya, akan kekal bersemarak di dalam dunia kita ini untuk jangka waktu yang amat lama dan panjang sekali, selagi berputarnya alam, wujudnya bulan dan matahari ciptaan Allah SWT. Al-Fatihah

Sumber diperolehi daripada Berita Harian Online

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2017, Sastera

Penjelasan keturunan Sultan Melaka

Penjelasan keturunan Sultan Melaka Oleh:

Prof Emeritus Wira Dr Mohd Yusoff Hashim

bhsastera@bh.com.my

Selanjutnya di : http://www.bharian.com.my/node/244290

MANUSKRIP alam Melayu yang paling menonjol tentunya Sejarah Melayu atau Sulalatus Salatin, yang menjadi naskhah paling kerap disalin. sehingga kini ada 32 salinannya yang berselerak di seluruh dunia dan masih dibahaskan dalam kalangan sarjana pelbagai bidang, selain diterjemahkan ke bahasa asing, malah diiktiraf oleh Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) pada 2001 sebagai warisan ketara.

Sebuah lagi versi Sulalatus Salatin yang tidak kurang menariknya, iaitu versi Siak yang ditulis Tengku Sa’id Tengku Deris, seorang penyurat daripada keturunan kelima Raja Kecil, iaitu pengasas Kesultanan Siak pada 1723 yang mendakwa, Raja Kecil adalah putera Sultan Mahmud Syah ll, iaitu Sultan Marhum Mangkat Dijulang.

Kesultanan Siak Sri Inderapura wujud antara 1723 hingga 1946 di Siak, sebuah daerah di Riau, pantai timur Sumatera yang kini menjadi sebahagian entiti Republik lndonesia.

Pengasasnya digelar Sultan Abdul Jalil Rahmat Syah (Marhum Buantan). Baginda didakwa oleh penduduk tempatan sebagai putera Sultan Mahmud Syah ll (Marhum Mangkat Dijulang) yang mangkat di Kota Tinggi Johor, pada 1699.

Selepas 1511, iaitu ketika Melaka ditakluk Portugis, kesultanan ini berpindah dan menubuhkan Kesultanan Johor lama sekitar 1520-an yang kemudiannya dikenali sebagai Kesultanan Johor-Riau. Raja Kecil menjadi Sultan selama beberapa tahun, tetapi kemudian menubuhkan pula Kesultanan Siak selepas kecundang berperang dengan kerabat Melayu-Bugis.

Kesultanan Siak keturunan Melaka

Sekiranya benar penduduk tempatan Siak mendakwa bahawa Raja Kecil adalah putera Sultan Mahmud, maka bererti Kesultanan Siak adalah keturunan daripada Kesultanan Melaka.

Ada 12 orang yang memerintah dengan menggunakan gelaran ‘Duli Yang Maha Mulia Aduka Seri Sultan.’ Sultan yang pertama sehingga keenam, iaitu Paduka Seri Sultan Yahya Abdul Jalil Muzaffar Syah, adalah keturunan Melayu-Siak jati.

Namun sejak 1784, Kesultanan Siak mengalami transformasi dengan tampuk pemerintahan berpindah ke dinasti Melayu-Arab, setelah berlaku rampasan kuasa di istana. Tengku Sayyid Ali, putera Syariff Othman, menantu Sultan Alamuddin Ibni Raja Kecil, menduduki takhta Kesultanan Siak yang ketujuh, bergelar Paduka Seri Sultan Sayyid Syariff Ali Abdul Jalil Saifuddin ibni Sayyid Othman.

Sultan Yahya terpaksa berkelana ke Terengganu dan mangkat di Dungun (bergelar Marhum Dungun). Seramai enam orang Sultan Siak dari dinasti Melayu-Arab memerintah diakhiri dengan Paduka Seri Sultan Sayyid Syariff Kasim ll Abdul Jalil Saifuddin (Marhum Rumbai). Perubahan dinasti ini juga membawa perubahan ke atas sistem dan tatacara pemerintahan Siak, tetapi tanpa mengubah asasi sistem induk pribuminya.

Dapat disimpulkan, pengarangnya Tengku Sa’id menggunakan manuskrip ini untuk memperkukuh dakwaan Raja Kecil adalah sebenarnya putera Sultan Mahmud Syah ll yang berketurunan Melaka dan kedua, Kesultanan Siak merujuk kepada Kesultanan Melaka sebagai sumber daulat dan kuasa untuk membina kedaulatannya sebagai sebuah penguasa baharu pada awal abad ke-18 di barat Selat Melaka.

Pengaruh luar, terutama yang berteraskan Arab-lslam berjaya mempengaruhi sistem dan institusi tempatan. Dalam konteks kerajaan tradisional Siak, peringkat tertinggi institusi kesultanannya berubah dari dinasti raja Melayu-lslam kepada dinasti raja Melayu-Arab-lslam.

Usaha Islamisasi institusi peribumi

Majlis tertinggi peribumi yang membantu pemerintahan dan pentadbiran sultan yang sebelumnya dikenali sebagai ‘Majlis/Dewan Tunggulmanah’ dirasonalisasikan dengan prinsip syariah lslam, dengan melantik kadi dan ulama menduduki Majlis ini, dalam usaha mengislamisasikan institusi peribumi.

Kedudukan geografi Siak juga yang bahagian perbatasan hulunya, termasuk ke dalam lingkungan alam Minangkabau menyebabkan terjadinya sintesis di antara hukum adat Temenggung dengan hukum adat Minangkabau di dalam prinsip pentadbiran Siak.

Raja Kecil yang sentiasa berpetualangan dan berpengalaman dalam politik di Riau mewarisi sistem ketemenggungan yang dicernakan dengan sistem Kedatuan dan adat Minangkabau. Maka tergabunglah unsur-unsur Melayu Temenggung-Perpatih-lslam. Di sinilah keistimewaan dan indahnya kaedah berkerajaan di Siak pada era Kesultanannya.

Selanjutnya di : http://www.bharian.com.my/node/244290

2013, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Forum, Masalah Pelajar, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Subjek, Surat

EDUCATION: Act fast to arrest decline in English

03 January 2013 | last updated at 10:58PM

By Datuk Jaspal S. Korotana, Klang, Selangor | letters@nstp.com.my

OF late, we have been harping on the declining standard of English. We are looking at ways to improve the level of English, the last straw being “let’s import English teachers from India”.

I am reminded of my English teacher in Form 3 (in 1969), who once told me in frustration: “I looking very angry they all don’t know talking English”. Mind you, this was in 1969 and we are still harping on the issue. Of course, my English teacher then was just a normal teacher who was told to teach English, just like what is happening in some schools today.

We do not seem to be interested in taking the standard of English to a higher level. We need to make drastic changes or resign to the fact that our children are not going to be able to compete internationally, or worse still, be looked down or frowned upon when they speak to good English-speaking individuals.

We have many good English teachers, but we need to take care of them first. We must show them that they are appreciated.

All aspiring English teachers have to go through a selection process by an independent panel. The selected ones should be placed in a different category, with better salary scale.

With this, more quality English teachers can be produced. They will be proud to be English teachers as they will be looked upon with high regard by their students and others. This will give them more reasons to improve themselves.

In the same vein, we are encouraging the use of Bahasa Malaysia for correspondence in government departments. I had written letters in English and was told to rewrite them in Bahasa Malaysia.

To walk the talk, let’s be sincere about wanting to improve the standard of English. Our prime minister and his deputy can speak good English. So, let’s put it into practice, too. All letters to government departments can be in Bahasa Malaysia or English. The replies should be in the language used by the sender. In this way, people will take the effort to improve their language skills. The standard of both languages can be improved. Let’s not have more instances of “You wait; wait, I looking how helping you” or “Can you talking bagus English, as my teacher no teaching I talk like you”.

Enough is enough. Let’s not just say things for the sake of saying. Most of us are in the position to make changes now. Let’s move fast or our children will be the laughing stock in future.

Read more: EDUCATION: Act fast to arrest decline in English – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/education-act-fast-to-arrest-decline-in-english-1.195072?cache=03D163D03edding-pred-1.1176%2F%3FpFpentwa%3Fpage%3D0%3Fpage%3D0#ixzz2Gs6LsZMA

2012, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Forum, Pembangunan Sekolah, PPSMI, Program, Rencana, Subjek, Surat

A subject most sensitive

Sunday December 30, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/12/30/nation/12505508&sec=nation

PAGE VIEWS
By NOOR AZIMAH ABDUL RAHIM
pagemalaysia@gmail.com

Parents want choices for their children.

Non-tradeable services such as house cleaning or hair cutting have little room for productivity improvements and market expansion but sophisticated financial, consulting, health and environmental services do contribute to productivity growth. Stuck in the Middle’, The World Bank, Nov 2012

THE 13th general election looms ahead. Parents who are still fence-sitters at this late stage will decide eventually on which way to vote based on the more critical issues raised by both sides of the political divide particularly on a subject most sensitive the education of their very own children.

While there are claims that politics does not interfere with education, we parents, know it does and we do not like it.

The recently released TIMSS 2011 (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) result is a case in point.

Not surprisingly, the results are again appalling, the Education Ministry having done little to analyse the reasons and therefore arrest the decline. It keeps mum while the opposition and critics have a field day.

The preliminary report of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB) offers some explanation in that of a misalignment of the national examinations which tests content knowledge and its recall while TIMSS assesses the application of knowledge in solving problems and the ability to reason in working through problems.

Nonetheless, the decision by the ministry to benchmark the national examinations to the international assessments and to be top third by 2025 is commendable. How this is to be achieved, however, still remains a mystery.

The fact remains that drastic measures have to be taken by the ministry if we want to spur students’ interest in science, to meet the national target of 100 research scientists and engineers per 10,000 working population and to achieve success in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, aerospace, automation and green technology, where RM600mil has been budgeted by the government in these areas.

We suggest that Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) retain PPSMI post-abolition to complement its IGCSE programme where interviews into Form 1 are conducted strictly in English. Sekolah Menengah Sains (SMS) should do the same.

These elite schools should also offer only science streams at higher secondary or else drop the Sains’ label.

Likewise, day schools that can transform into science centres of learning, shall adopt the Sains’ tag.

Meanwhile, parents can suggest that their Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) work with their respective school administrations to encourage students to participate in the annual International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) on higher order thinking skills (HOTS) where the questions are set by the University of New South Wales.

Funding for ICAS

These can be conducted in any school, beginning with Year 3 through to Form 6 in English, Science, Mathematics, writing and computer skills for a nominal fee and which in the end comes along with a comprehensive analysis of each student’s results indicating strengths and weaknesses.

For some years now, cluster schools whose niche is English, utilise its funding to pay for the fees charged for the English assessment. High performance schools should do so as well.

The MEB comprises 268 pages and is a good read, although somewhat apologetic’ in acknowledging the many mistakes which have been made in the past and its many motherhood statements to put things right’ in the next 13 years.

The opposition coalition reacted by promising an alternative blueprint for the people to see by the end of October which has now been delayed until the end of the year. It is a mammoth task.

Parents with school-going children will be looking out very closely for this. Whether or not the respective blueprints are to be part of the election manifesto will indicate the degree of politicking education has a bearing.

If this is anything to go by, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) did, though, have a day-long education convention last month, themed National Education Reformation’, attended by 200 participants with distinguished speakers ranging from retired directors from the ministry of education and state education departments to tired university professors with one learned academic even boldly suggesting that all national secondary schools be turned into religious schools!

The convention concluded with a six-point resolution called Halatuju Pendidikan Negara recommending, among the more salient, that Bahasa Malaysia be the main medium of instruction in universities while the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) be abolished immediately.

PAS had wanted PPSMI to be abolished in 2009 while DAP wants the policy to remain in secondary schools. How this will be compressed into a single blueprint is anybody’s guess.

Parents want PPSMI in national schools from Year 1. Parents also want English-medium schools (EMS). Parents also want a non-politician to be the minister of education. We want choices for our children.

Sabah parents want the glory of mission schools to be returned as is provided for in its 20-point agreement, the Federal Constitution and Section 17 of the Education Act.

Sarawak parents are concerned that in spite of the large education budget, its children still fail to read and write, and that differences still cannot be made between language and knowledge learning.

The 11% primary schools and the 9% secondary schools that have opted to do PPSMI in totality (the short-term politicians had wanted so eagerly to abolish) should be given priority to transform into EMS.

Precedent

All national primary and secondary schools should have at least one PPSMI class at every level with a structured plan to gradually increase the number over time.

The government had on three separate occasions placed a technocrat minister to helm education. It has set a precedent. Will the opposition coalition offer to duplicate this move?

Incidentally, the last technocrat minister had seven honorary doctorates in science. He had justified PPSMI in a speech late 2003, “In the 1970s we were able to survive with the use of translated texts.

However, in the 1990s, the profusion and proliferation of knowledge proved to be a daunting challenge to our translation industry; in Chemistry, since the beginning of the 1990s, more than a million articles have appeared in specialised journals every two years (Clark, 1998); between 1978 and 1988, the number of known chemical substances increased from 360,000 to 720,000, reaching 1.7 million in 1998 (Salmi, 2000); in Biology, only in 1977 was the method designed to determine the base sequence of the letters that codify the information in DNA initially, it was possible to determine the sequence of 500 bases per week.

This same method, today perfected and automated, can decipher the three billion bases of the human genome in a few years. Presently, a genome centre can determine a million bases per day (Brunner, 2001); in Mathematics, 100,000 new theorems are created every year (Madison, 1992).

Considered together, it is estimated that knowledge, defined as the disciplinary base published and recorded, took 1,750 years to double in the period between 1A.D. and the year 1,750 A.D. It then doubled in volume, successively, in 150 years, 50 years, and now, every five years. It is estimated that by the year 2020, this knowledge base will double in 73 days.”

All this is found in its lingua franca, English.

The first political coalition to be brave enough to distinguish between language and knowledge will be the progressive government that the people are looking for.

Remember, when PPSMI was introduced in 2003, Barisan Nasional recorded a landslide victory a year later.

Food for thought as we savour the rendang, dim sum or curry that most tickles our fancy on public holidays. Season’s greetings and a Happy New Year.

The writer is chairman of pro-progress Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE), a national education watchdog.

2012, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Forum, Masalah Guru, Masalah Pelajar, Membaca, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Subjek, Surat

READING HABIT: Teachers need to be role models

24 December 2012 | last updated at 11:44PM

 

 
By Alkut, Kota Baru, Kelantan | letters@nstp.com.my 

OUR latest gamble in improving students’ English is to reintroduce English literature as a subject in secondary school. This would be one of the best moves ever.

Quality literature should naturally extract a variety of strong emotions from our young readers — including love, loyalty, empathy, a sense of happiness, rage and more importantly, a passion for reading.

It should also stimulate their aesthetic and emotional development, including soft skills, generally enrich their lives and, along the way, help them to improve their English proficiency.

Here, English teachers need to be role models and become avid readers. Such teachers should be able to pass on the passion to their students. That is, if our English teachers themselves are into reading.

The truth is that few of our English teachers read English literature or English books, for that matter.

This would only be too clear if we were to carry out a survey of the English teachers in the schools, or those undergoing Teaching English as a Second Language courses in colleges or universities on the books they have read. Few would have gone beyond the basic, prescribed literature textbooks.

 In schools, what happens is that the minute the Education Ministry introduces a change, such as a new subject like English Literature and make it an examination paper, publishers will start recruiting writers and churning out revision books for the subject.

Most of the English teachers will then be making a beeline for these short cuts to help their students in the examinations.

Through constant memorisation, drills and writings on plots and characterisations, using these revision books, teachers would be able to make students slog through the books and the exam.

In the process, neither teachers nor students would have experienced the real pleasures and beauty of reading. And, it would have contributed little towards the improvement of their English.

If the ministry is serious about reintroducing English Literature and instilling the reading habit, it should be done right from the start and not just in secondary schools.

Love for literature books and reading needs to be nurtured. It should begin at home where fun, colourful books are read as bed-time stories when children are small, and carried on into preschool, primary and secondary schools under the supervision of English teachers trained in the skills and techniques of reading.

I still remember the days when our English teacher would read out the stories of “Pin Shu” in her softs voice, which at times would modulate, her face a picture of emotion, hands waving frantically and the air filled with loud screeches. Then, a long silence.

She lived her stories. We were only in Standard Four and we loved her, gathered under the shade of a merbau tree, straining our ears, feeling the breeze in our hair, her voice firing our imagination.

At other times, it was acting out small parts of a story or silent reading in class when everyone was immersed in their books.

We grew to love reading, going on our own into Enid Blyton, Biggles, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and later on, more serious literature.

Admittedly, it would be more difficult now to woo the younger generation with such simple and wholesome bait as most are addicted to their handphones, laptops, blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

To support literature and the reading habit, reading classes should be reintroduced in the timetable where group or leisure reading is done. The classes should never be a free period.

During classes, teachers should themselves be reading or identifying the reading levels of the students, selecting books, gauging, probing and recording the progress made by students.

However, serious, continuous, comprehensive evaluation and grading should only begin in the secondary school.

For the purpose, every school library should first be stocked with graded reading books for all levels — from primary to secondary.

Teachers should persuade, cajole, coax and make students read books rather than leave them untouched on the shelves. A book well read is worth a thousand stacked on the racks collecting dust.

Libraries should also be provided with a special, well-equipped room with the Internet, where movies, videos and CDs can be shown.

The impact of these devices on our young is incredible as seen from the sale of Harry Potter books after the movie was shown.

Classes should be given easy access to the room and an occasional audio, movie or video of interest, especially literary adaptations, be arranged for viewing.

But first and foremost, we would have to persuade our English teachers to read in English.

.

Few of our English teachers actually read English literature like Shakespeare and cannot instil the beauty of reading in students.

Read more: READING HABIT: Teachers need to be role models – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/reading-habit-teachers-need-to-be-role-models-1.190770#ixzz2FwAuGWM3

2012, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Forum, ICT/Teknologi, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Subjek, Surat

Of Facebook, debating and being inspired!

Sunday December 23, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/12/23/education/12379400&sec=education

By THANBEER KAUR SEKHON

FACEBOOK is one word that needs no introduction. Ask students to group past and present tense verbs and you are likely to get blank stares but mention “Facebook” and they are all ears. That’s the power of Facebook.

The story I am about to tell however, is not about using Facebook in the classroom, but how it helped me to connect, gain inspiration and be proud… so proud in fact, that it moved me to tears.

This is how it all began. Every year, my school students will take part in the district level English Language Debate Competition.

Now, it is quite a daunting task to get teenagers to speak in front of a crowd let alone sacrifice their time for training sessions after school hours. They would rather use the time to chat online, watch the latest music video or attend tuition (the most popular excuse).

From arguing on the advantages of being on a debate team and the importance of learning to articulate arguments, I managed to get some students to join the school’s debate team.

Challenging steps

After the selection process and a few short debate sessions, the biggest challenge was getting all five of them to research, prepare their arguments before the training sessions and attend the training itself!

During the first session, I was shocked at the level of preparation this group of students had done, despite telling them what was needed.

I was hyperventilating and could have literally pulled off every strand of hair on my scalp. As this was their first debate, I guess I could not blame them entirely. So I showed them some debate videos and asked them to watch a few more at home.

A debate requires commitment, perseverance, diligence and time as one needs to do thorough research on the motion.

Extra hands were needed to prepare these students so that they will have what it takes when they get on stage. This heavy responsibility rested on both myself and my fellow colleague’s shoulders.

Sitting alone in the language lab after the team had left, I thought: “how was I to get them ready in three weeks?”

Saved by social media

Then, my mind and thoughts travelled back in time… reminiscing about this particular batch of students; how we almost won against a prestigious school and the determination and maturity that they had demonstrated.

I realised that I was still in touch with them through Facebook. Three of them are currently pursuing law.

So I went home and posted a message via Facebook; requesting them to find some time to help me coach these five newbies.

I didn’t get my hopes up though as I thought they would be busy with their university life.

To my pleasant surprise, all three were happy to help coach the team and do their bit for their alma mater. With dictionaries and laptops, we cracked our heads while working on their arguments.

As I watched these four teenagers: Puteri Eleni Megat Osman, Roeshan Celestine Gomez, Jeremy Lim and Siti Raihan Rosli, I felt so proud that these students were from my school.

I was even more delighted to see how they had grown intellectually and matured. They were also more committed and prepared. I was moved to tears.

Not only did they come to school for the training sessions but we also communicated via Facebook and the telephone.

You will be amazed at how high a teacher’s phone bill can be and it is not just mindless chatting but calls discussing school events, performances, listening to their arguments at 11pm or giving them tips or any fresh arguments that may have popped into my head at odd hours.

Puteri Eleni also set up our school debate team’s Facebook account and attended all the debate competitions to show her support.

Those former students of mine not only inspired this debate team but they also inspired me to continue this challenging journey of training and teaching others.

And that was how Facebook connected me to these three angels and how it led to me sensing deep satisfaction and gratification from what I do for a living.

True inspiration

To all the former students who have lent a helping hand without expecting anything in return, kudos to all of you and do continue with this generous deed of inspiring your younger friends.

As John Quincy Adams once said, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are a leader.”

Some of you might wonder, after the many hours spent discussing and researching online, did the team win?

We did not, but we did win a few rounds of the competition.

Were there any regrets or was it all a sheer waste of time and effort?

No. It was pure joy on my part as I know real teaching and learning has taken place.

Even though there were only five of them but by bringing them on board the world of debating, they now think, argue, write and read differently.

Winning the competition is really a bonus and only the tip of the iceberg. It is the experience of taking part, doing all you can and giving your best in a competition that really matters.

So we did win after all; in gaining knowledge, learning a new skill and being inspired.

The writer is an English language teacher and the head of the English Language Panel at SMK Bandar Sri Damansara (2). She did her Master’s in Education from Universiti Malaya and has been teaching for over 10 years. Her areas of expertise and interest are debating and the teaching of literature.

2012, Aliran, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Forum, Kurikulum, Pembangunan Sekolah, Sistem, Subjek, Surat

Be quick to decide on issues

Sunday December 23, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/12/23/education/12469484&sec=education

 

THE MALAYSIA Education Blueprint may provide solutions and the answers to matters pertaining to our education system but there are some outstanding issues that need serious and urgent attention.

·Level of BM and English Language (EL) in national type schools

There is a difference in the way Bahasa Malaysia (BM) and the English Language is taught to primary level pupils in national type schools (SJK) compared to other national schools (SK).

I was definitely taken aback. Since pupils in SJK schools will eventually go to national secondary schools and learn the same syllabus as their SK peers, why are these children being discriminated and deprived of what they should learn in primary school?

Are we assuming national type school students are incapable of absorbing what their friends of the same age in national schools are learning?

·New syllabus without textbooks

A new English Language syllabus was introduced in 2010. However, there were no textbooks published or released to go with the new syllabus. Is it not ironic that textbooks have yet to be printed?

When a new syllabus is introduced for government schools, we need a standard reference that is put together in a textbook as it facilitates classroom teaching and learning. Although we are in the digital era, we still need textbooks. Textbooks serve as a guide for teachers to plan and execute lessons.

·Standardised vocabulary list

Many pupils are not interested in reading neither are they interested in building their vocabulary.

Most primary school pupils move on to secondary school not knowing the meanings of simple words, idioms and proverbs. What may seem simple to some children may seem difficult to another. So much time is wasted in just translating words before comprehending a text.

If the national curriculum could provide standardised lists from primary to secondary levels for both Bahasa Malaysia and the English Language, it will certainly be a boost for the students, teachers and parents.

·Thinking skills in English Language

Language learning at present involves mainly four major skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening. What is lacking during English Language lessons is the learning of thinking skills.

Since children these days are exposed to all kinds of reading and learning materials from a young age, introducing thinking skills from primary level will be to their advantage.

Thinking skills involves reasoning, problem-solving, analysing, evaluating and decision-making. Initially when students were learning Science and Mathematics in English, there were elements of thinking skills incorporated into the system.

English Language teaching at present needs to incorporate more knowledge-based context. and the subject (English language) itself should evolve from its linguistic form into a purposeful and meaningful form. This will encourage students to start thinking in English.

I think the above issues need to be given more attention as such improvments would indeed make our education system a better one.

S. SHARMINI Johor Baru