WHEN Moral Education was introduced as a core subject in 1983 in all primary schools, society had mixed feelings about it.
In 1993, the first cohort of non-Muslim students who took Moral Education had to sit the paper for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.
Many parties were unhappy with the way the subject was taught, assessed and evaluated. The curriculum covered aspects on moral thinking, moral feelings and moral actions.
However, in the examination, all answers were based on moral thinking, although questions did cover aspects of how you would feel and what you would do in that given moral dilemma.
But students were drilled to answer questions according to the requirements of the curriculum.
Since the curriculum focused on specific values, what they meant and how they could be applied in daily life, students were asked to memorise the values, their definitions and answer examination questions accordingly.
It was very superficial, and students, parents and individuals were enraged by the system. It was disheartening to see so-called Moral Education expert teachers using creative ways to teach students to memorise values.
Then, Moral Projects were introduced as a component of the Moral Education evaluation for SPM. It was a way to reduce cognitive weightage and instead focus on teaching the values through community service and volunteerism.
Again, because there was a lack of experts in disseminating knowledge about how to conduct the moral community service projects, the focus was more on reports and grading.
The Moral Projects component became a mockery as upper secondary Moral Education students resorted to posing as if they were cleaning the classroom or helping to sustain a clean environment for picture evidence.
Teachers forced weaker students to copy project reports for grading purposes.
There were genuine cases where teachers, trained to conduct Moral Projects, collaborated with other school authorities and community leaders to provide avenues for students to perform community service.
If Moral Education teachers are trained professionally, with support of the Education Ministry, and the state and district education offices, Moral Education would have championed the notion of formative and summative assessment, which is being introduced and evaluated in the Malaysian examination system.
Currently, more than 50 per cent of teachers teaching Moral Education have no formal training in teaching the subject.
This is based on my research titled “Moral Education in the 21st Era in Malaysia: Empowering Moral Education Educators with Appropriate Skills and Values”, conducted from 2013 to last year.
It is indeed a mockery to have teachers teaching a subject that they have little knowledge of or skills, and who use the trial and error method to disseminate the curriculum.
It is more destructive when Islamic Studies teachers teach Moral Education using the religious lesson approach.
If we want to transform the students and the education system, it should start with the basics.
Where Moral Education is concerned, it is vital to train Moral Education educators professionally and equip them with the right knowledge, skills and values. Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan, Senior lecturer, Faculty of Education, University Malaya Kuala Lumpur 26 March 2016 @ 11:00 AM
Teaching profession's no bed of roses
Recently, I had a chat with a friend. According to her, teaching is not a bed of roses anymore. I couldn’t agree more. Being an educator for more than a decade, I can feel the heavy workload that teachers have to bear.
Meeting the daily teaching and learning and behavioural needs of the students makes teaching a stressful job. By and large, a teacher’s job is not confined to teaching and educating.
Teachers are required to equip themselves with the latest teaching methods, knowledge and skills in order to be a role model to students.
The expectations are rather high. For example, teachers are required to practise the 21st century teaching styles where students are given autonomy in class to run the show.
The teacher’s role is only to facilitate them. Teachers need to educate them on Higher Order Thinking Skills questions to make the students think out of the box.
Over time, the teaching perspective has evolved according to the current needs. In a nutshell, the demands of teaching are heavy.
Not forgetting the amount of clerical work that they have to do on a daily basis such as taking attendance, conducting programmes, preparing documentation, getting the students ready for the zone and district level competitions, just to name a few.
We have so many roles to play: caretaker, babysitter, educator, discipline master, entertainer, etc. We also have to put up with some overprotective parents who are critical of our good intentions. Are the students always right?
Shouldn’t we, teachers, have the right to correct their mistakes or reprimand them when they misbehave? Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Yes, teachers moan and groan. We are only human, but we are dedicated to our profession. Like any other job, we have our fair share of sad stories.
Some teachers even bring home their school work, such as marking books and exam papers. So, I disagree when some say teachers have a good life with half a day’s work.
It is not fair. We have our KPI (Key Performance Indicator) to meet, too. After school, we have endless meetings to attend. We have to return to school during school holidays if we are asked to.
At times, short courses are conducted during the school holidays. In addition, we have inspectorates and education district officers who visit the schools often.
They just pop into the classrooms and observe us at work. So, we have to be on our toes all the time. Some teachers are experiencing burnout with the increasing workload.
Burnout saps the joy out of teaching and infuses dread into the job. Some teachers resort to psychiatric treatment when they can’t cope with the stress.
Some even opt for early retirement because of health reasons. Teachers should go for holidays, either locally or abroad, at least once a year with family or friends.
I believe at times we have to go away “into the woods and scream” to help us unwind and relax. Then when we return to work we are rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to teach again.
So teachers, take a step back, meet up with friends over a cup of tea or catch a movie, listen to music, go swimming, exercise deep breathing, or do meditation.
These are some of the ways to overcome stress. Just as life-changing speaker, bestselling author and behavioural science academic Steve Maraboli said: “You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” Sumati Muniandy, Kuala Lumpur The NST Home News Opinion You Write 25 March 2016 @ 11:01 AM