THE death of E. Premkumar recently after failing his SPM examination is a dreadful episode. This is not the first time such a tragedy has occurred. Failure in an examination should not cause a student to end his life.
By Dr S. Nathesan, Muar, Johor
AFTER much clamouring from various parties, the Education Ministry (MOE) is doing a total review of the education system by holding a nationwide dialogue for feedback.
REVELATION: In a candid interview with P. Selvarani, former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who is now Malaysia's special envoy for infrastructure to India and South Asia, claims former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad played a role in his shocking defeat to a political novice at the last general election in 2008
In a speedy response to revelations contained in an interview given by the former MIC chief published in the New Sunday Times, Dr Mahathir said he was 'very unhappy' when Samy kept removing capable leaders such as former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam and the late Tan Sri M. G. Pandithan who had "the potential to take over from him (Samy)."
Dr Mahathir also refuted claims that he played a role in Samy's shocking defeat in the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat in the 2008 General Election.
"In 2008, it is not only Samy who lost but a lot of (other) people (also) lost (in the general election)," he said, adding that "it is not because of me," and cited the leadership of his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as one of the reasons for the poor showing by Barisan Nasional.
"I did not tell the people in Sungai Siput not to vote for Samy, but my criticism of the leadership of Pak Lah (Abdullah) affected the thinking of lots of voters and because of that, they did not support Barisan Nasional and along with it, of course, Samy.
"That was the situation. It is not a question of grudge. It is a question concerning the strength of BN (Barisan Nasional) and its component parties," he told reporters at a press conference here on Monday.
Samy claimed that Dr Mahathir had a personal grudge against him as he (Samy) was the only one who voted against the Indian Progressive Front (IPF) from joining Barisan.
However, Dr Mahathir explained that the proposal to bring in the late Pandithan and IPF into Barisan was to strengthen the Indian community's support for Barisan, but Samy was against it.
"We have to have total agreement in Barisan before we can admit any new party. So, there was nothing I could do about it. As a result, I think MIC became weaker," he said.
When asked about the effects of removing leaders of a certain calibre and following in a political party, Dr Mahathir said this would only bring more harm than good as these people usually left with their supporters.
"Everytime he (Samy) sees somebody who has potential, he makes sure they are removed. When you remove the leader, it is not (that) one person who goes off but he takes away his supporters (as well), and as a result, the MIC shrinks," said Dr Mahathir.
Citing his own experience, Dr Mahathir said he had welcomed leaders such as Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzirand Abdullah who had campaigned against him during the days of Semangat 46, and had even appointed them as ministers.
"I want Umno to be strong and I have to accept them, and even gave them positions in the government...you expel them, you also expel their followers and this will weaken the party," he said.
On MIC's position today, Dr Mahathir said it was much stronger now after Samy handed over the party's presidency to his successor, Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, after 31 years.
"Many people are coming back. Some of those who are not happy with Samy are coming back now. I hope MIC will regain its strength in the next general election," he said. - Bernama
Source: The STAR Online Home News Nation Monday April 09, 2012
This article pays tribute to the early Stti lecturers who made the difference by inclucating in their students a deep understanding of a subject that was given scant attention before.
IT WILL be remiss on my part not to mention the three men and a lady (for that would be a more gracious way to describe the only woman), who managed Specialist Teachers Training Institute’s (STTI) Physical Education Department in 1962, which is the subject of this article.
The defining factor in the success of any course is much determined by the quality of its staff. The initial appointments of the staff in STTI consisted of Teoh Teik Lee (Now Datuk) and Lim Hock Han; the first year (1960) of its operation being confined to men teachers.
In 1962, we had Dennis D’Silva who was transferred from MTC Penang and Mohd Nor Che Noh and Mary Ghouse to join the teaching staff.
Lim was later transferred to head the PE department at MTC, in Kuala Lumpur and eventually left to join the Ministry of Education, Singapore.
These were lecturers who made a great impact in our lives.
They were the epitome of men with values of discipline, commitment, proper work ethics and passion for hard work. It was indeed our good fortune to have studied under such dedicated teachers.
They had remained faithful to their calling until their retirement from teaching. Even after retirement, they remained our firm friends.
Today, Teoh continues to remind his former charges the benefits of a healthy body through the sound practice of physical education in life, as epitomised by the well-defined body of an octogenarian. Sadly the others have passed on.
> The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
An exemplary teacher
Teoh Teik Lee (now Datuk) was appointed senior lecturer to head the Physical Education (PE) Department when STTI opened its doors to its first intake of students – qualified teachers – for specialist training in a number of subjects. Before assuming the post, he was assistant superintendent of PE and had been organising in-service courses for teachers throughout the country.
Thus, he had come to the institute well-informed of the needs of the physical education programmes in schools as well as that of the teachers.
Placed in such a position, he was able to plan wide-ranging programmes of training for PE teachers in schools.
A man of a few words with a rather reticent nature; initially, it did not help to ease an apparent serious atmosphere between lecturer and student.
However, as the months passed by, we realised the value of his firm, yet fair way of doing things. The “serious” atmosphere soon gave way to a friendlier one which contributed to a happier working condition. And, more importantly, we came to understand him better.
In time, he was soon to join us in a number of games – hockey, volleyball, badminton and softball - against visiting sides and in away matches. His participation in our activities and inter-club matches helped to break the ice and endeared us to him especially since he was a player of strength in our teams.
He had earned his colours, so to say, for he was in the teams on merit. And, I think he enjoyed playing with us — and winning!
The PE department seemed to be his second home. He was always seen at the Institute, on week-days often till late at night when there was an inter-club match. Except for the occasional Sunday, week-ends would see him and his two sons and daughter swimming in the pool and the two boys would put us to shame as they lapped the pool. His presence was ever pervasive and it was difficult not to notice his love for his work at the institute.
It can truly be said that through his exemplary ways in running the department, Teoh had imbued in us the values of belief in the subject, commitment and good work ethics which were to be a feature of our career. In his lessons, particularly in swimming and gymnastics, he was ever vigilant with safety foremost in his mind.
Teoh certainly brought out in us the spirit of working together and enjoying the camaraderie of friends.
He was seen as a man of principle, to the point of being rigid which often prevented us from asking a favour of him. To dare was sometimes to be rewarded. Although he said, “No”, to an assignment to be handed up a day later, he did permit us to attend a cricket game in which the world-renowned Gary Sobers and his side played a Malayan team at the Selangor Padang. (now Dataran Merdeka).
Perhaps, it is this ability of seeing things in perspective that he was made, twice, acting principal of the Institute when the principal was on leave prior to retirement.
Teoh is also the founding president of two national organisations. In 1961 he formed the Physical Education Association of Malaya, a professional body, aimed at promoting physical education and sports in the country.
In 1964, at the request of Lord Mountbatten, he established the Life Saving Society of Malaysia to promote water safety and life saving. He has served in these two community-oriented organisations for decades; the former for 15 years and the latter for nearly 50 years.
Even in retirement, his former charges continue to seek him out for advice and to chat over old times.
A natural sportsman
The late Dennis D’Silva, was in his late twenties and closer to our age, had a better lecturer-student relationship with us as he regarded us as his friends. However, we still respected him as our lecturer.
Simply, his demeanour was friendlier, less intimidating and more approachable to our queries in or out of lectures.
He proceeded to Laborough College of Physical Education after completing his teacher training course at Kirkby, England. He began his career as a PE lecturer in MTC before being transferred to STTI in 1962 as one of the three lecturers under whom we were tutored. He was later transferred to MTC, Johor Baru where he retired as the senior lecturer of the PE department there.
D’Silva was a successful sportsman, cricket being his forte, and having represented the country in that sport. He was also strong in hockey and rugger, the two games he enjoyed playing with the STTI college teams.
Likewise, we welcomed him into our teams; with his robust physique he was a great asset, in particular rugger. With his sinewy arm muscles, one could understand his interest in javelin throwing and the crack of the hockey stick as he sent the hockey ball down the line.
He was fond of the out-of-door life in the wilds and was much inclined to hunting.
The PE ‘historian’
Mohd Nor Mod Noh who has since passed on, was definitely ‘one of us’.
Although about half a dozen years older than us, he had started his teaching career late and was in the first batch of STTI students. He, too, was a product of the MTC, Kirkby, and was known to a number of us before coming to the Institute.
Rather gregarious and with his affable and carefree mannerism, Mohd Nor was accepted as one of “us”. He was our friend.
However, it was different when it came to lectures. He was able to command our respect with his lively delivery and, putting aside friendship, we had great admiration for his efforts especially in leading us in the study of the history of physical education.
Well built and active, he had played rugger for his state and naturally became a valuable player in the STTI team which at that time was of some repute. He was quite adept at shot putt and the discus throw and lectured us in Athletics as well.
All credit to Mohd Nor for his determination in bettering himself in the field. After finishing at STTI, he took it upon himself to secure his PhD in a local university and for a time, even extended his services to Brunei. He was one of the earlier pioneers in blazing the trail for a degree programme in PE.
The ‘lady lecturer’
The late Mrs Mary Ghouse was much involved with the women in their activities such as dance and educational gymnastics in which the men were not involved.
Her only contact with us was by way of activities for the whole class during our camping trips where both the men and women worked together.
Although Ghouse did not conduct any lectures for the men, she was always friendly towards us and we found in her a sincere and helpful person whenever we were in need of assistance.
We were fortunate to have lecturers who were par excellence in their work, imparting in us a deep knowledge of the subject, and we left the institute with much hope and vision for the future of physical education in our schools.
By Ho Chee EngSource: The STAR Online Home Education Sunday, April 09, 2012
Time and again we come across people at work who seem to have similar streaks and characteristics of other annoying colleagues.
WHILE the following is probably true of other professions and people in general, every once in a while in your teaching career, you do come across someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to someone else you know, or work with.
Many times, the similarities are not just based on the way they look, but on certain character traits that strikingly remind you of another person you know. In fact, of several other people you know.
You may have never believed in stereotypes or classifying people into categories by their unique or character traits or “trademarks”, but sometimes you may find it unavoidable.
And if you have been a teacher long enough, you will know that stereotypes do exist at least to a certain extent, because you seem to be bumping into the same kind of people in the six different schools you’ve been.
What is worse, you bump into them during meetings or courses with teachers from schools in different states in the country and this strengthens your belief in this whole stereotype thing. In fact you may be wondering if you are a stereotype yourself and how others are viewing you.
One of the first on the list of teacher stereotypes would definitely have to be the teacher who knows it all, or rather appears to know it all.
Well even if she doesn’t know quite everything about everything, she makes it a point to let you know that she certainly knows more than you.
Mention a certain news article you read recently about global warming and she’ll tell you about the melting of glaciers, rising sea levels, climate changes and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) findings on the subject.
Ms know-it all
Talk about the impending changes in the curriculum, and she knows all about it already.
In fact, if you heard her right, she was the one that the decision makers consulted before there was even any talk of change.
Pretty soon it begins to seem as if “smarter-than-you teacher” has first-hand and complete information about everything that’s happening in the world, country and staffroom.
At times, she makes you feel that she knows more about you than you yourself do.
On the positive side, you can always count on her to provide significant information you may need from time to time, like when the principal will return from his China trip, who is in line for promotion, and how to get the measurements of ingredients right on a frozen cheese cake (only yours will never turn out quite as good as hers).
A close relative of “smarter-than-you teacher” is of course the better-than-you teacher who is always a notch or two higher than you on any scale and who takes great pains to demonstrate it.
This is the kind of person you should avoid when you are especially pleased with a certain outcome of your lesson or feel proud about a good review you’ve received from your students.
Don’t ever mention this in the presence of “better-than-you” because chances are that your joy of achievement will be diluted by her reference to the numerous, wonderful compliments she’s received about her teaching and the many cards and gifts of appreciation lavished upon her by eternally grateful students.
Nothing anyone has ever experienced compares to hers.
Talk about how you thought you got a really good deal with the fish you bought at the local market, and she’ll tell you how she managed to get fresher fish of a higher quality at a cheaper price elsewhere.
If you talk about how you got only four hours of sleep the previous night trying to finish grading students’ exercises, she’ll let you know that she only had three. And if you complain about how you had to come to school despite the bad headache, guess who is in school despite a migraine, back-ache and bad tummy?
“Better-than-you”, however is still possibly preferable to the “perennial-pessimist”, the one who is always negative and has nothing good to say about anything or anyone.
She is constantly telling you about how terrible the school administration, canteen, hall, field, toilet and staffroom are, and how she herself is victimised.
She’ll tell that all’s bad with the world and especially the education system, and that there’s no hope left for the next generation of students. According to “perennial-pessimist”, everything about school in general is doomed to end in failure.
Spending more time than necessary in her presence makes you feel depressed and you come away feeling a little drained of both energy and enthusiasm.
Then of course there will always be the “over-zealous and stickler-for-rules” teacher who makes flexibility sound like a bad word. This is the one who follows the letter to the dot and can sometimes make life miserable for others who aren’t overly obsessed with formalities.
She is also super-efficient, completely disciplined in her personal habits and could at times be a health and fitness fanatic.
So take care not to munch those oil-dripping curry puffs in front of her. Her work and everything else about her is always up to the mark. Hers is the record book you wouldn’t want to place yours next to when you send it in to the principal’s room for weekly checking.
There is however a tendency to be examination-obsessed which results in a loss of soul and passion in the teaching-learning experience in her classes.
On the other extreme is the laid-back, carefree and almost bohemian teacher whom you have never known to get worked up over deadlines or duties no matter how ridiculous they maybe.
Nothing perturbs or rattles her and she works at her own pace, in her own unconventional manner (which some of course equate to not working at all). Surprisingly though, she does manage to finish her work at the eleventh hour.
She is the nightmare of all principals and school administrators but turns out to be a good friend and listener and someone you could tell the most horrible thing about yourself to without the feeling of being judged.
On the bright side, you would rather have her company than the others and, you are always secretly (and shamefully) relieved that there will always be someone who turns in their work later than you when deadlines are imposed.
There probably is no end to stereotypes when you come to think about it, and most of us are probably in the overlapping zones of several types ourselves. Still it is a little amazing sometimes that people are not so very different from each other after all, and quite possibly the things we dislike most in someone else could be a reflection of ourselves that we see in them.
Teacher Talk By MALLIKA VASUGI
Source: The STAR Home Education Sunday April 08, 2012
I READ with interest the article under the heading “ Thinking out of the box” by Mallika Vasugi (StarEducate, March 25) and yes, I concur with her thoughts and would like to add my views on the subject of reading, reflecting and responding. After all isn’t that what reading of literary texts is all about?
The problem arises when teachers start “grooming” students to answer comprehension questions according to exam requirements.
That, to me, takes away the joy of reading literature texts, and we wonder why students don’t read!
How about “talking” and “doing” things about what has been read?
This requires the teacher to gently and progressively guide students through literal level of understanding to evaluation and appreciation of both the content and structure of the text. It also means that the teacher has her heart in the right place because she values students’ holistic engagement with the text at the cognitive, affective, and psycho-motor levels for a rewarding learning experience.
Such treatment of a text ensures that students’ higher order thinking skills (HOTS) are engaged apart from their usual lower order thinking skills (LOTS) which we give them lots of when we use only the basic 4Ws of literal comprehension line of questioning. Even the basic 4Ws (who, where, what and why) can be made challenging if we choose to do so.
After all, the Ministry is perhaps already asking teachers to give students more of the HOTS than lots of LOTS when they are told to teach CCTS (critical and creative thinking skills). The fact that we are still talking about it means there is a problem.
During my reading workshops with teachers I note that only a few teachers will venture into formulating “why” and “how” questions. Many are content to stop at the 4Ws.
If students are not guided to think of what is contained in their own “box” first, how can we expect them to stretch and think “out of the box?” It is also frightening when teachers think that no more than one answer is acceptable all the time!
They don’t realise they are curtailing thinking – their own and that of their students. How can such a teacher grow? Leave alone her students. This is what happens if you teach only for exams; you are not educating, you are not helping them develop skills to handle any reading texts they may come across, you are only “grooming candidates” for exams – exams which unfortunately are restrictive and don’t measure formative learning.
Some teachers are not even aware of the reading comprehension taxonomies that are available to them. I often recommend Barrett’s reading comprehension taxonomy with its five categories and sub-skills under each category to gently and progressively guide students to stretch their thinking modalities.
Teachers must know that good readers use a variety of reasoning abilities, their previous knowledge and experience, to derive meaning from the text. Creating a rich learning context is important for a rich learning experience.
Teachers must also know that low or high level questions will in turn merit low or high levels of thinking, and by extension, limit or facilitate student achievement. I also often wonder why teachers cannot tweak their reading comprehension activities to make them more engaging.
One example, ask students to formulate questions instead, of graded levels of difficulty. Such skills also teach them that reading is never done in a vacuum; one needs to use a basic mechanism of reference and that context is important.
If teachers care to look, there are many ways to make a reading lesson interactive and innovative but most teachers prefer remaining conventional than being creative.
It still remains a puzzle ... if the Ministry fervently desires that CCTS be effectively taught and practised, then why does the examination body restrict student responses to a single “acceptable” answer in the exam for questions where other answers may be possible or plausible?
Shouldn’t the guide to examiners include “ ... or any other acceptable response”?
That said, I believe teachers with HOTS know that they are teaching for a higher cause than only for exams and it is these teachers who will do well by their students. Trust me, HOTS-students in turn will much appreciate this!
LUCILLE DASS Via e-mail
Source: <a text-decoration:none"="" data-cke-saved-href="http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/4/8/education/11015939&sec=education" href="http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/4/8/education/11015939&sec=education">The STAR Home Education Sunday April 09, 2012
WITH schools in celebration mood after the recently announced 2011 SPM results, a pertinent question to ask is: Are our schools doing enough to help students who are below-average and way-below-average in their studies?
With schools eagerly aspiring to achieve high-performance-school (HPS) status, their main focus seems to be on the “average”, “better-than-average” and “way-above-average” students.
These students are perceived to be the “sure bets” to secure good grades in public exams and therefore bring honour to their school. They are the more treasured students.
Any wonder then that in many schools some classes both at primary and secondary school level are simply left on their own. The teachers are not motivated; neither do they motivate students in these classes.
The students are considered “hopeless” cases since they are lagging too far behind. Why? Because they don’t seem to have language skills; no idea and knowledge of the subjects taught and are undisciplined.Schools are assiduously selective in implementing their improvement programmes. Students are streamed based on their performances in earlier school exams. For classes in examination years (i.e. the UPSR / PMR / SPM classes), the “best” teachers are assigned to the “best” classes while “difficult” teachers get the “difficult” classes. Some “difficult” classes are even deprived of the use of science laboratories and special purposed rooms purportedly due to lack of facilities and or to prevent vandalism.
Schools have done the mathematics and strategise accordingly on how best to secure those high percentage passes and top grades in public exams. The school authorities think that it is alright to “sacrifice” a class or two so long as the best classes are pushed to their limits in their scoring. The perception is that it is no use working on the “hopeless” classes.
Their improvement, if any at all, will have little impact on the overall results which is what really matters to the schools.
The Literacy and Numeracy (LINUS) programme has ensured that students master the very basics in languages and Mathematics. It does not, however, prescribe that students must also master the different subjects for exams.
Students who have begun to lag behind in their earlier years of study, for instance during the level one (Years One to Three) in primary school, will find the going tougher and tougher as they are automatically promoted every year.
By the time they reach secondary school, they are totally lost. And, secondary school teachers complain that they are no longer “salvageable.”
There are supposedly remedial lessons/classes for those who are keen to study but they are in effect half-hearted attempts by the school authorities and do not bring about the desired results.
Schools are more driven by enrichment rather than remedial programmes for there is where the honour and rewards are. Granted that there are students who are not studying and performing for a myriad of reasons, there are also in their midst students who are lost not out not of their own doing nor for want of trying. These are the children, whom the schools MUST help.
Have schools done any survey or possessed any means to separate the wheat from the chaff?
In their pursuit for excellence, perhaps schools need also to give fair consideration to the needs of the below-average performers. No doubt, greater efforts and much hard work are required in this area. But, all children who want to study deserve all the attention and help their schools can give.
Perhaps the Education Ministry should also look at what and how schools are doing for the lowest 20% of their students. What patterns are the grades distributions for this group of students in the various subjects they take? Have they shown any improvement over the years? Or, this is simply the neglected group whose grades distribution is “flat” all through the years concerned; hovering at grades “D-E-F” or have they remained unchanged?
It is time the Education Ministry also assesses and audits schools looking at the other end of their performance curve or graphs. Such assessments and audits are indicative of the true and indiscriminate efforts by schools in educating their charges.
LIONG KAM CHONG Via e-mail
Source: The STAR Online Sunday April 08, 2012