WE keep experimenting with students as if they are guinea-pigs. The latest being PT3 as a replacement for PMR with a view to develop students “to think critically and creatively”.
When the results were announced there were many students crying and parents trailing their anger at the Education Ministry.
The new format of Higher-Order Thinking ( HOT) sounds good and “hot” on paper.
But does the creator and innovator of this “HOT monster” realise that it is self-defeating in the sense that the present generation of students, where general knowledge is concerned, are not the same as those who sat for the LCE and Senior Cambridge.
Students of those days were exposed to critical thinking and creativity from day one as exams were subjective and not objective questions.
Students of those days had dictation, precis writing and their reading was wide as they used the Cambridge syallabus.
For example, students who sat for their Higher School Certificate and took Malay Literature, were able to write and argue whether Hang Jebat was a “hero” or “villain” for the exam paper.
But students today, due to rote learning, can’t even write a simple sentence, not to mention a 10 paragraph answer.
Of course, the Education Ministry officials have a standard answer: Since PT3 is still at its embryonic stage, please give it a chance.
What if next year’s PT3 exam is another disaster leaving students crying and parents up in arms? Will it be scrapped?
Even the teachers have difficulty teaching PT3 simply because to be able to “think out of the box”, one must have an inquisitive mind where reading should be a passion and a hobby. If one does not like to read, how can one be critical and creative?
When English medium was used, students at Primary One were able to read and enjoy various comics such as Beano, Dandy, Cowboy and WWII. The girls could read Enid Blyton.
That is why the students of those days, would have had no problem with HOT if they were to sit for it at Form Three.
There is no shortcut to learn “critical thinking”, and the hours taught in school is not enough to develop a crtical thinking student.
The only way is for them to attend an English medium school where their ability to read more is much better.
As it is, many don’t read the English newspapers or Reader’s Digest simply because their grasp of English is poor. Therefore, they are inadvertently denied the chance to explore the frontier of knowledge where creative thinking is concerned.
Just ask the Form Three students what can they make out of the street traffic lights? Not many will say it is about self discipline to stop when it is red. It is about obeying the law; it’s about being good citizens; it’s about harmony; it’s about leadership; it’s about religion; it’s about showing good example to the children in the car, etc.
PT3 is good, if the teachers know how to open the minds of the students. Therefore, teaching must be fun for PT3 to succeed.
Perhaps the ministry should swallow its nationalistic pride by visiting some of the reputable international schools to see how students are taught to be critical and creative, while having fun in school, where the definition of school is as per the Oxford Dictionary. Hassan Talib Gombak Selangor The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 31 December 2014