MOHANDAS Karamchand Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi brought changes to his country and led India to independence. He brought the attention of other nations through his non-violent stance which later inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
He believed in himself and walked the talk. He jolted the whole world with his philosophy.
He once said: A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
Gandhi believed in himself and did not wait for anyone and found solutions to problems.
As a teacher, I think that all educators should realise the depth of the words of this great leader and start believing in themselves – that they can do a lot more for their students in the classroom.
The changes in the nation’s curriculum is taking a toll on all educators from primary school to tertiary level.
Some critics say that the ministry should have taken more time to prepare, evaluate and carry out trial runs before implementing a new curriculum.
For instance, Singapore and the United Kingdom spend at least five years of continual assessments before running a new curriculum for schools.
Lesson in progress: Teachers make an impact in the way they impart knowledge to their students. – File photo
Does that happen in Malaysia? Have we really taken time to carry out proper research before coming up with a new curriculum for schools across the country?
With the constant changes to the education system, the big question among Malaysians is what can be done?
Nothing comes out of pointing fingers. We need to stop the blame game and ask ourselves: How can we help?
Teachers are the most vital “component” in any education system. As Gandhi said, teachers have a big role to play in nurturing and imparting knowledge to the younger generation.
I am of the view that local teachers must be trained and properly informed about the workings of a new or modified curriculum. What is needed is the continued professional development to empower teachers with the latest information and different ways of classroom teaching.
Changes will only happen when there is commitment from every teacher. When the teacher sets the standards, the students will be motivated to study and excel. If the quality of teaching is poor, students lose interest in their studies and are unlikely to challenge themselves further. The learning outcomes of students are a factor in determining if an education system has been beneficial or otherwise in the long run.
Countries like Finland are said to have one of the best education models, and among the top nations in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings.
Singapore is also said to have a sound education system and top students.
We can’t say the same of the Malaysian education system as we have a low Pisa ranking since our students have had poor scores.
Is our education model inferior?
I think that an education system works best when the curriculum focuses on fewer subjects. Homework and time in the classroom should be limited and there should be more teachers.
The teacher while imparting knowledge should only guide, not spoonfeed students, to get information on their own.
We must embrace change but what is ultimately important is for teachers to be well trained in their field of expertise, and to understand the curriculum.
From my observation as a teacher, I believe there will be numerous changes to both our primary and secondary school curriculum in years to come.
There is no time, our students are not performing well at tertiary level which is a reflection of their weak primary and secondary school education
What can teachers do to overcome these conflicts?
Teachers need to believe in themselves and focus on teaching. There are many structures and elements to be looked into such as different learning strategies that suit students.
The input of the teacher is very crucial as it will facilitate successful classroom learning.
Teachers, for instance, need to focus on a given topic and then prepare worksheets according to each student’s ability. They must have a lesson plan and while the curriculum may not be satisfactory to many parties, the fact is teaching has to go on and students must continue learning.
I urge teachers to upgrade their skills and knowledge on their own. They have to find solutions and with easy access to the Internet, there are indeed many routes to get information about methods of teaching and learning in the classroom. Teachers, you can make the difference!