November 11th, 2012

Tok Guru Peramu adalah Datuk Bahaman?

SETELAH Mat Kilau mendedahkan identitinya, seorang lagi pahlawan, Mat Saman Sulaiman yang menggunakan nama samaran Mat Kelantan turut melakukan perkara sama.

Namun, masyarakat masih tertanya-tanya mengenai identiti sebenar seorang lagi individu yang terkenal di Kuantan dan berilmu tinggi iaitu Tok Guru Peramu.Ada yang beranggapan, Tok Guru Peramu merupakan Datuk Bahaman atau nama sebenarnya, Tengku Abdul Rahman Tuanku Imam Nuh.Walaubagaimanapun Tok Guru Peramu tidak pernah mengakui hakikat tersebut sehingga beliau meninggal dunia pada 23 Julai 1977.

Jika ada yang bertanya, maka akan diherdiknya orang itu meskipun beliau sering bercerita mengenai Tok Gajah, Mat Kilau dan para pejuang lain.

Namun beberapa individu ditemui S2 yakin bahawa Tok Guru Peramu adalah Datuk Bahaman. Salah seorang daripada mereka adalah Guru Tua Silat Terlak, Abdul Rahman Jaafar, 75.

Menurut Abdul Rahman, keyakinannya itu bersandarkan kepada satu peristiwa yang dialami sekitar 1970-an yang mana beliau bertemu dengan Tok Guru Peramu.

"Nenek saya bernama Hawa ada memberitahu bahawa Datuk Bahaman masih hidup. Beliau turut menyerahkan badik yang didakwa pemberian Datuk Bahaman kepadanya.

"Kata nenek, kalau benar orang yang kamu temui itu Bahaman, dia akan tahu nama badik ini iaitu, Khairulzaman," katanya.

Abdul Rahman menambah, apabila kecoh orang mengatakan Tok Guru Peramu itu Datuk Bahaman, beliau membawa badik itu untuk bertemu tok guru tersebut. Ketika itu neneknya sudah meninggal dunia.

Sebaik sahaja melihat badik itu katanya, Tok Guru Peramu mencabutnya dari sarung lalu mencium sebanyak dua atau tiga kali. Diletakkan di bawah pahanya lalu ditanya dari mana Abdul Rahman mendapat badik itu.

"Saya terangkan daripada nenek. Lalu saya tanyakan namanya. Tok Guru Peramu mengajak saya makan dan minum dahulu. Hanya selepas itu baru diberitahu bahawa nama badik itu adalah Khairulzaman seperti diberitahu nenek.

"Pahlawan itu juga mengakui bahawa badik tersebut diberikannya kepada nenek yang menggunakan nama Yang Esah sewaktu awal perkenalan mereka dahulu," ujarnya.

Sementara itu, Guru Tua Seni Silat Cekak Menanti, Mat Salleh Tahar, 76, turut mendakwa bahawa Tok Guru Peramu pernah mengaku padanya bahawa dirinya adalah Datuk Bahaman.

Ditanya bagaimana perkara itu boleh berlaku, beliau menjelaskan Tok Guru Peramu mulanya menyatakan bahawa terpulang kepadanya untuk mempercayai apa yang hendak diberitahu.

Tok Guru Peramu pada mulanya berkata "Akulah Raja Sulaiman," sebelum berhenti seketika dan menyambung "Akulah Datuk Bahaman,".

Dalam pada itu, cucu Mat Kilau, Mohd. Alhamadi Abu Bakar, 46, menceritakan bahawa bapanya, Abu Bakar Awang pernah diarahkan Mat Kilau agar bertemu Tok Guru Peramu ketika pahlawan itu semakin hampir untuk membuat pendedahan mengenai identitinya yang sebenar.

"Apabila tiba di rumah Tok Guru Peramu, ayah yang sememangnya diketahui sebagai menantu Mat Siam memberitahu tok guru mengenai niat Mat Siam untuk 'keluar'.

"Tidak semena-mena, Tok Guru Peramu seakan-akan naik angin dan mengatakan bahawa 'orang di hulu dah nak mati' kepada ayah. Mungkin perkara itu ada kaitan dengan sumpah mereka untuk tidak mendedahkan identiti masing-masing suatu ketika dahulu," katanya.


Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 10/11/2012

Utusan Melayu temu bual Mat Kilau secara eksklusif

AKHBAR Utusan Melayu dan Utusan Malaysia merupakan akhbar pertama di negara ini yang menemui Mat Kilau untuk mendapatkan temu bual secara eksklusif dengannya selepas kemunculan semula pahlawan Melayu itu.

Wawancara eksklusif yang disiarkan di muka hadapan Utusan Malaysia bertarikh 29 Disember 1969 itu bertajuk Sah: Pahlawan Mat Kilau maseh hidup hasil laporan Nordin Mohammad dan Haji Alang Ahmad.

Dalam wawancara itu, Mat Kilau memberitahu, beliau menukarkan namanya kepada Mat Siam kerana dititahkan oleh Almarhum Sultan Abdullah apabila baginda menitahkannya berpindah dari Kampung Tanjung Medang, Pekan ke Kampung Batu Lima, Jalan Maran-Kuantan sekitar 1927.

Beliau yang membahasakan dirinya sebagai Aki memberitahu, baginda bertitah demikian kerana bimbang orang-orang Inggeris yang masih berkuasa di Pahang ketika itu mengetahui dirinya masih hidup.

Dalam pada itu, beliau turut menyingkap semula kisah-kisah hidup dan perjuangannya suatu ketika dahulu.

Menurutnya, dalam peperangan Kuala Lipis-Budu, beliau telah membunuh sepasukan tentera upahan Inggeris terdiri daripada orang-orang Sikh di Kuala Tembeling.

"Perang itu sangat dahsyat. Aki terpaksa menghadapi hujan peluru yang ditembak oleh tentera tersebut," katanya sambil memberitahu bahawa beliau menggunakan sundang dan beberapa senjata lain dalam perang tersebut.



Mat Kelantan (bercermin mata) memegang Mat Kilau bagi mengenal pasti pahlawan itu sewaktu pertemuan semula mereka
di Pusat Latihan Pertanian, Paya Besar, Kuantan pada 6 Februari 1970.


Ditanya mengapa meninggalkan Pahang setelah berpecah dengan Datuk Bahaman, Mat Kilau terdiam seketika sebelum memberitahu beliau sebenarnya telah dihalau oleh pentadbir British, Sir Hugh Clifford.

Clifford katanya bertindak biadab dengan menyifatkan dirinya sebagai 'babi lemak'.

"Sejak itulah Aki merantau dari kampung ke kampung. Akhirnya Aki sampai di Kampung Panar dan Kampung Jambu di Pattani, Siam. Di situ Aki menjadi guru silat," katanya.




Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 10/11/2012

Chu Salleh orang kepercayaan Mat Kilau

SEBAIK tiba di sebuah rumah papan usang di Kampung Semangat, Kuantan, Pengerusi Biro Penyelidikan Silat Negeri Pahang, Mazlan Hashim yang membawa penulis ke situ lantas memberi salam.

Malangnya salam itu tidak bersambut. Lalu kami memutuskan untuk melangkah ke dalam rumah itu yang pintunya luas ternganga.

Di bahagian tengah rumah, terlihat seorang tua berbaring di katil. Bantalnya sudah berkulat manakala, keadaannya jelas tidak bermaya akibat serangan strok pada 2007.

Lelaki itu sebenarnya bukan calang-calang orang. Beliau ialah rakan karib Mat Kilau suatu ketika dahulu iaitu Mat Salleh Tahar, 76, yang juga Guru Tua Seni Silat Cekak Menanti serta mesra dipanggil Chu Salleh.


Penulis menemu ramah Mat Salleh Tahar yang uzur.

Apabila diajak berbicara tentang Mat Kilau, sedaya mungkin Chu Salleh cuba bertutur. Digagahkan kudrat tuanya untuk mengiring menghadap penulis.

"Saya mula berkenalan dengan Mat Kilau yang ketika itu masih menggunakan nama Mat Siam ketika berkursus di Taman Pertanian Negeri Pahang di Kuantan. Orangnya baik tetapi hidup susah. Saya berasa kasihan melihatnya.

"Beliau suka bercerita kisah-kisah lama. Katanya, beliau cucu Tok Gajah dan anak kepada Teh Ibrahim sedangkan hakikat sebenar Tok Gajah adalah ayahnya dan Teh Ibrahim merupakan adiknya. Dia buat begitu mungkin kerana mahu sembunyikan identiti sebenar daripada saya," katanya.

Chu Salleh mendakwa, Mat Kilau pernah memberinya peluang untuk menjaga tudung perang yang menjadi antara barangan kesayangan pahlawan itu.

"Saya berminat dengan kain itu. Warnanya hendak dikata hijau tidak hijau, kuning tidak kuning. Apabila ditanya pada Ayah Mat adakah itu kain cindai, jawabnya bukan. Itu adalah tudung perang pemberian Tok Gajah.

"Saya minta untuk membelinya dengan harga RM2, tetapi Ayah Mat beritahu kain itu tidak ternilai harganya. Saya minta cebisannya tetapi Ayah Mat beritahu kain itu tidak boleh dipisahkan. Kalau diceraikan, kita putus dengan guru," ujarnya.

Melihatkan minat Chu Salleh terhadap kain itu selain percaya padanya, Mat Kilau lalu membenarkan rakannya itu menyimpan tudung perang tersebut dan diajar cara pemakaiannya.

"Ayah Mat beritahu, kalau hendak menghadap raja, ekornya dililit tegak ke atas. Kalau hendak berhadapan musuh, lilit di kepala dan ekornya jatuh di dada kamu," katanya.

Tambahnya lagi, setelah Mat Kilau mendedahkan identiti, anak kepada pahlawan itu bernama Omar ada datang menemuinya untuk meminta agar tudung perang itu dikembalikan.

"Namun tudung perang itu tidak diserahkan. Saya hanya mengembalikannya kepada Mat Kilau sendiri apabila menziarahnya selepas itu di rumahnya di Batu 5, Paya Besar," jelasnya.



Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 10/11/2012

Jejak pahlawan Mat Kilau

DALAM usaha mempertahankan agama dan tanah air, bukan sedikit pengorbanan dituntut. Usahkan keringat, malah rembesan darah juga ada kalanya seakan-akan lumrah bagi mereka yang sanggup mati demi kedaulatan bumi tercinta.

Semua itu dibuktikan oleh sejarah. Nama-nama seperti Penghulu Dol Said di Naning, Tok Janggut di Kelantan, Datuk Maharajalela di Perak serta Tunku Muhammad Saad di Kedah seolah-olah tidak pernah gentar dengan maut dalam mendepani asakan penjajah.

Begitu juga di Pahang. Orang Kaya Setia Perkasa Semantan, Datuk Bahaman bersama Orang Kaya Indera Gajah Pahang, Tok Gajah sanggup mengetepikan kesenangan hidup hanya kerana tidak mahu tunduk kepada Inggeris meskipun ditekan habis-habisan agar menyerah kalah.

Sewajarnya, semangat perjuangan wira-wira berkenaan perlu diterapkan ke dalam jiwa anak-anak muda hari ini. Tidaklah nanti ada antara mereka yang terlupa tentang jerih perih kehidupan sekiranya maruah bangsa tergadai.

Berbicara tentang pejuang-pejuang negara, tentunya nama yang tidak terlepas daripada menjadi sebutan adalah Mat
Kilau.


SUSUK tubuh Mat Kilau tidak lama selepas mendedahkan identitinya pada 26 Disember 1969.
Gambar belakang: Kelihatan Bukit Raya yang menjadi tempat Mat Kilau menuntut ilmu dan berjuang bersama bapanya, Tok Gajah.


Kemunculan semula legenda itu pada 26 Disember 1969 menggemparkan tanah air setelah beberapa kali dikatakan meninggal dunia ketika menentang penjajah.

Bermula dari situ, timbul satu persatu rahsia yang tersembunyi. Kisah-kisah lama mula terungkai sehingga mendatangkan rasa takjub orang ramai pada waktu itu.

Bagi merungkai semula cerita-cerita itu, wartawan S2, MOHD. RAFIE AZIMI bersama jurugambar, AMIN FARIJ HASAN menjelajah ke bumi Pahang bagi menjejak kisah pahlawan Melayu, Mat Kilau atau nama sebenarnya, Muhamad. Beliau adalah anak kepada Rasu Abdul Salam (Tok Gajah).



Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 10/11/2012 


Menyambut pencapaian 40 tahun MRSM Seremban

MAKTAB Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) adalah sistem sekolah berasrama penuh yang pertama ditubuhkan oleh Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) pada 1972.

Bermula dengan MRSM Seremban yang ditubuhkan pada 1972, diikuti oleh MRSM Pengkalan Chepa (1973) dan MRSM Kuantan (1974), kini 49 MRSM beroperasi dengan enam daripadanya dikenal pasti sebagai institusi yang menjalankan Program Khas Pendidikan (PKP).

MRSM Seremban pula kini telah berkembang daripada menjalankan pendidikan menengah kepada Program Matrikulasi seperti Matrikulasi UKM, "A" Levels dan International Baccalaureate.

Pada tahun 1974, calon-calon dari MRSM Seremban menduduki Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP) buat kali pertama tetapi Lembaga Peperiksaan menganggap MRSM sebagai pusat peperiksaan persendirian kerana beroperasi secara berasingan daripada sistem Kementerian Pelajaran.

Keyakinan yang diberikan oleh Mara berhasil apabila kumpulan pertama pelajar MRSM itu mendapat keputusan yang amat cemerlang dalam peperiksaan tersebut.

Persatuan Bekas Pelajar MRSM (Ansara) kini terus berusaha mengumpulkan alumni MRSM sejak penubuhannya 40 tahun lalu dalam menggerakkan pelbagai program dan aktiviti.

Ansara Seremban mewakili 1,800 pelajar daripada sejumlah 10 pengambilan tetapi tidak seperti MRSM lain, alumni ini tidak akan ada ahli baharu lagi memandangkan tiada pengambilan pelajar pada peringkat menengah untuk MRSM Seremban selepas ini.

Ansara Seremban kini merancang untuk meneruskan projek-projek sosial tersebut dan menjadikannya program yang berterusan dengan diterajui oleh golongan wanita Batch 80.

Untuk meraikan genap 40 tahun penubuhan MRSM, Ansara Seremban akan mengadakan majlis Makan Malam BIG 40 untuk meraikan detik kehidupan singkat di MRSM Seremban dan mengekalkan silaturrahim antara 1,800 bekas pelajar di sana.

Akan diadakan hari ini di Klana Resort, Seremban antara 8.30 malam dan 12.30 tengah malam, majlis akan diserikan dengan acara bowling sebelah pagi, 'College Homecoming' di MRSM Seremban pada tengah hari dan pameran di Klana Resort pada sebelah petang.

Bekas pelajar MRSM Seremban boleh melayari laman web http://ansaraseremban.wordpress.com atau menghubungi Pengerusi Jawatankuasanya, Dr. Zaidi Mahda di talian 019-3317485 untuk maklumat lanjut.


Utusan Rencana Online Rencana 10/11/2012

Challenges at the end

While teachers in the better classes should count their blessings, those managing the end classes have more on their plate besides putting up with the dismal attitude and apathy of their charges.

WHILE almost every school teacher in the country is relieved that the term has nearly ended and that the school holidays are only a few days away, there are definitely some who are more relieved than the others.

Quite possibly at the top end of this “more-relieved-than-you” list are those who have had to endure a gruelling year of being the form teacher of an “end” class.

Teachers who have never worked anywhere other than high-performance schools with minimal discipline problems may never truly appreciate what the position of “class-teacher to the end class” really means.

In fact, the end-class in their schools may very well be equal to the most advanced class in another school.

The plain truth is no matter which way you look at it, and all else being equal, class teachers of the end classes definitely have more on their plates compared to those of the better academic achievers.

This is a fact that can be verified by most teachers who have in their years of service been class teachers at both ends.

Sometimes the status of a class, or which “end” it belongs to, is pretty obvious by its physical app-earance.

Reason to rejoice

The ambience when you enter to teach students in the first or most advanced class at times can actually cause delight. Chairs and tables are in perfect order and students in crisp neat uniforms.

All the boys have their shirts perfectly tucked in, “correct” hair length, and ties in place. The classroom notice boards are testimonies of the students’ creativity and achievements. The class motto is emblazoned on the smudge-free walls with little messages of inspiration tucked in between.

The teacher’s table has a very nice fake-lace tablecloth and there is even a little vase of silk gardenias at the corner. The floor looks clean and the waste paper baskets have been emptied. Everyone stands up promptly to greet you when you enter with looks of such earnest expectation that at that very moment, you are convinced that you are truly fulfilling your life’s calling.

If you have had the good fortune to be the class teacher of this class for the year you have even more reason to rejoice. You never have to worry about your class being given the lowest marks when the “class cleanliness” patrol team makes its rounds.

You never have to cringe with embarrassment during school assemblies when the name of your class keeps popping up for various “achievements” like “untidiest class of the week”, “class that hasn’t settled it’s magazine fund”, “class that hasn’t submitted parental consent form”, “class that left all its lights and fans on after school”, “class where cigarette stubs were found” and the list goes on.

Oh no! You never have to worry about these things at all.

If you are the class teacher of the first class, then all you have to worry about is how to disguise your feeling of smugness and fake a modest smile when you go up to receive trophies for achievement on behalf of your class.

A different turn

If you have been designated class teacher of the end class however, things take an entirely different turn.

One of the first things you would have to learn is to take deep breaths or focus on how to maintain an air of calm each time you have to face your students.

In fact, there may be times when you were walking towards the class you hope certain students who generally give you a rough time during the lesson have not turned up in school that day.

But no such luck, because even as you enter the class you see one of them standing on his desk with a broom in his hand trying to touch the ceiling fan. (He tells you later that he was trying to make it go faster, the weather being so hot and all).

His friend the other student who makes you wonder why you signed up for retirement at 60 (instead of sensibly sticking to 55), is surrounded by a group of admiring classmates as he demonstrates the right way to make a cockroach (the one he caught from the overflowing dustbin) go up and down your arm!

Nobody stands up when you enter. In fact, they haven’t even noticed that you have entered the classroom.

After several vain attempts to awaken the monitor who is sprawled over his desk deep in sleep, you give up and ask them if they had had any problems with the previous day’s homework.

All of them shake their heads even though they have no idea what you are talking about.

You proceed with the day’s lessons. You tell them to take out exercise book 1.

They begin to dig deeply into their bags and some of them manage to find the book.

It’s a bit tattered to be sure and much thinner than any exercise book has a right to be, but well, when you are in the end class, you have to be grateful for the little things in life.

Like the fact that they do have an exercise book for your subject even if some of the pages have been used for History notes (you don’t teach History) and others for song lyrics!

If you are the form teacher of this particular class, your ordeal doesn’t end when you leave the class. 

Class ordeal

Apart from having to send the many letters to parents regarding their children missing school or other discipline problems, which can take up a large amount of your time considering the number of classes you have, you may have to single-handedly be responsible for the cleanliness and order of your classroom.

The duty roster seems to have vanished from the notice board and nobody admits to it being their turn to sweep the floor or arrange the desks.

At times you wonder how they can sit and continue animated conversations with each other in the midst of what looks like a rubbish dump instead of a classroom

Other problems include general untidiness, usually too-long hair (for boys) and too short skirts (for girls).

It is at times, almost impossible to collect completed student forms when you need them and often you end up doing the job for them just to meet deadlines.

The thing about your class that actually fills you with the most dismay sometimes is their apathetic nature and careless attitude towards life in general.

It is this, rather than the lack of academic achievement that teachers of these classes are generally concerned about.

This sometimes leads to frustration which makes us feel unfulfilled and almost envious of teachers of classes who seem to be reaping glorious academic harvests.

Sometime we wonder whether our students’ attitudes are the way they are because they belong to classes at the end, or whether they are in the end classes because of their attitudes. The cycle seems to be vicious.

We sigh with relief knowing that usually the school policy shifts from teachers at both ends in alternate years, and chances are that you will be having a more “advanced” class next year.

However, we can’t seem to shake off the uneasy feeling about whether we could have done something more to instil some sense of pride and self-esteem among such students to make a change.

Next year we tell ourselves, there is always next year!




TEACHER TALK BY MALLIKA VASUGI  The STAR Online Opinion Sunday November 11, 2012

A more tech-savvy civil service

Following years of turmoil, civil servants in Iraq are not equipped with adequate knowledge to use computers and social media sites, but all this is set to change with more IT lessons for them.

SMILING shyly, Wassan Saleh admitted that she, like many of her colleagues, had never used a computer — a vast problem across Iraq’s bureaucracy that officials are now trying to remedy.

Her participation in information technology (IT) classes at a college in the nation’s capital of Baghdad is part of efforts by university professors to help modernise Iraq’s civil service.

The system routinely frustrates — to put it mildly — Iraqis, with its Byzantine rules and paper-based system that has remained largely unchanged for decades.

“This is the first time in my life that I am using a computer,” said Saleh, an official in the Commerce Ministry, as her introductory class at Baghdad Technical College drew to an end.

“I have a computer at my home, but I had no idea how it worked,” said the 35-year-old.

“Now, I will use everything I have learnt. It’s really a great experience and I can pass on the knowledge I’ve gained to my family and neighbours.”

Internet penetration in Iraq is by far the lowest in the region — it was only 1.1% in 2010, according to the International Telecommunication Union.

While mobile phone usage has sky-rocketed since the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, use of computers has not expanded at nearly the same rate.

With that in mind, the IT classes for civil servants are designed to be simple.

There is no jargon, no cryptic technical language, and initial lessons are devoted to basic operations and use of simple programmes such as Microsoft’s Word or Excel software.

Shortly afterwards, students are introduced to the Internet, and different social media services such as Twitter and Facebook. Using such services have been added in recent years as mandatory courses that students at the college must take.

The lessons are the brainchild of Harith Fuad Jawad, the head of the college’s IT department. He started the courses in December 2008 after reading a newspaper article that lamented Iraqis’ “technological illiteracy”.

In the article, an unnamed professor recalled how, when teaching students to use computers, “I asked them to drag the mouse up — one of them grabbed the mouse and held it up in the air, over the computer!”

The students take lessons for three hours a day over a 10-day period in a small room with 30 computers. Those in authority in the various ministries decide on whom to send for the courses as they are relatively cheap, even by Iraqi standards — about 50,000 dinars (RM131). The fees are borne by the government.

“We learnt to use several programmes like Word and Excel, and we went on the Internet,” said Abdul Jalil Hanoun, a 55-year-old civil servant in the Justice Ministry.

“We learnt things we did not even know existed,” he added.

The lack of advancement in Iraq in the field of computers comes as a direct result of 30 years of war and sanctions: the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War; Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the international response the following year, along with the resulting economic embargo; and the 2003 invasion.

“Until 1980, Iraq was the most advanced country in the Middle East when it came to technology,” Jawad said.

“But the war with Iran changed all that, and today, in the technology race, we are lagging far behind.”

Saddam’s regime clamped down on freedom of expression, which extended to use of the Internet, but while the shackles on Iraqis’ use of the web were lifted in 2003, the government has not promoted the use of computers.

There is a backlog of paperwork and government employees do not have the option of doing their work online.

Soldiers in the United States who were stationed in Iraq from the invasion until their withdrawal in December, were often surprised to learn that orders from town police chiefs could take days to get to individual police stations because they were not conveyed by e-mail, but by paper.

At home, meanwhile, Internet subscriptions remain expensive, and connection speeds trail behind the rest of the region, let alone the rest of the world.

The course at Baghdad Technical College, however, has made small inroads into that lack of digitisation. In the first five months of this year, 547 government officials took their first steps in a Computer Science programme, according to figures provided by the college.

Other Baghdad colleges have since started similar programmes. Najwa Abdulridha, 27, one of those who were in the programme, proudly declared that she had now learnt to send e-mails, after recently completing the course. — AFP




MOHAMAD ALI HARISSI  The STAR Online Home Education Sunday November 11, 2012

Telling tales to teach

Lessons can be fun if teachers impart their knowledge in an exciting manner with both traditional and modern learning tools.

IF YOU were to ask me to explain how I teach, I would tell you I am a storyteller. That’s how I teach. This approach suits itself well to the subjects that I teach.

I enjoy relating my teaching to real life situations. I feel as if I have to nourish my students with information. I know that it is “old school”.

Well, yes, I am from the old school. But on the other hand my stories do force my students to think critically about what I teach, and relate it to the real world!

It does work for me, and I am a happy teacher!

Recently, one of my students told me: “You do have an interesting way of teaching us. You tell us stories. At times we don’t think that we’re learning, yet we do!”

I must say that I was taken aback by that compliment, because there are days when I wonder if I have managed to impart my knowledge to them. When they tell me such things, I am both pleased and relieved. At least my students are thinking!

I believe there are teachers like me, who tell stories in the classroom to put a point across. At times, we manage to reach the students and get them engaged, but at times, we are so involved in telling the story, that we may go off tangent altogether!

Many a time, teachers like me find it difficult to strike a balance between teaching and using new tools of technology.

Here are some tips on how teachers can use the storytelling method to get a point or message across.

First, lecture (or tell stories) about the given topic. Then, ask students to work on, and answer the exercises from their textbooks. What a smart approach!

The teacher could find articles in a newspaper or magazine, which to me is “traditional” way of engaging in assignments.

It may seem simple and straightforward, yet information is being absorbed and learning is taking place!

Old and new

We are talking about getting students to use “old school” technology (books, paper and writing instruments) to learn!

The teacher should then get the students to participate in an electronic discussion forum — getting students to use the Internet to search for more information on the topic discussed, or getting them to prepare a presentation on a topic using SmartArt.

How about using Facebook? It is easily accessible and it is a free social learning platform. The majority of students are already familiar withFacebook, hence learning can be immediately focused on the topic or subject. Educational technology is a tool, which should be used to enhance learning.

Traditional teaching methods are also tools. Tools are most effective when they are used for the purpose that they were designed for, and by people who know how to use them.

A good teacher would, when given a topic to teach, find ways to teach it using the toolbox of traditional teaching methods and technology tools that are now available.

The important thing to understand is that a teacher doesn’t need to always use technology to help students learn.

Instead, a teacher should use the method that is best suited for the intended outcome, and a method that makes learning happen.

Integration of technology can certainly make learning happen as it can assist in reaching a wider scope of information.

It is important to understand that we all struggle trying to strike a balance between our own teaching styles and using technology to help students learn.

Just make sure that you do not become a slave to technology! It should instead be used to enhance learning.

Here are a some websites to help parents and teachers get free and easy access to some information where children can learn and develop cognitively.

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http://www.starfall.com— 
Initiated in September 2002, this website started out as a free public service to teach children to read with phonics. The systematic phonics approach is perfect for preschoolers, kindergarten and lower primary schoolchildren and those with special needs. The website is an educational alternative to other entertainment choices for children.


http://www.poptropica.com — A unique online experience for children to enjoy during their free time, Poptropica was developed by Family Education Network (FEN), the makers of Funbrain.com. For over a decade, children, teachers, librarians, and parents have enthusiastically turned to Funbrain for its interactive learning games, online books and comics.


http://www.seussville.com/#games — This is the official home of Dr. Seuss on the Web. It is the place for children of all ages to play and learn with Dr. Seuss’s whimsical books and classic characters. The Cat in the HatGreen Eggs and Ham, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and all of the Dr. Seuss books leap to life through interactive games and activities that will enrich each child’s reading experience.


http://www.lil-fingers.com — Lil’ Fingers is a storybook site for toddlers with educational games, storybooks and printable coloring pages. The Free toddler stories, activities and holiday sections are designed with bright colors and big buttons for little fingers.


http://www.pestworldforkids.org — The website explores pest ecology as the intersection between human-created habitats and animal needs for food and shelter. The site is designed for students in primary schools. It also offers interactive learning games that could make learning fun.



DR TERMIT KAUR  is a senior lecturer at the School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Her main interest in research is in the area of ICT in Education and the use of Peer Coaching in Technology Integration in Teaching and Learning. Her most recent achievement is a Gold Medal in the Malaysian Technology Expo 2011, for creating a courseware using the SmartBoard. She is currently working on the development of an Interactive Teaching and Learning Lab at USM. The STAR Online Home Education Sunday November 11, 2012

Of English teachers then and now

WHENEVER the issues relating to the falling standards of English are addressed, there is a tendency to make a comparison between the present and past teachers.

While the teachers of the past are glorified and given accolades, the present teachers are often primarily castigated for students’ low language proficiency levels.

Are the current teachers to be blamed for the lack of proficiency among students? It is true some teachers should not be selected in the first place even to teach any subject in English. However, there are also a number of hardworking and dedicated teachers.

Although ESL (English as Second Language) and EFL (English as Foreign Language) are often used interchangeably, there are unique differences between the two.

Is Malaysia an ESL or EFL country?

Generally, most experts agree that the medium of instruction is para-mount in determining ESL or EFL status.

ESL countries are nations where the medium of instruction in education and government is in English, athough English may not be the native language.

On the other hand, EFL countries do not use English as a medium of instruction but English is taught in schools. Malaysia was once considered an ESL country but now leans more towards EFL.

The methods and approaches of teaching English as a second language and foreign language do differ greatly.

It is important to recognise the characteristics and the dichotomy between ESL and EFL before making a comparison between past and present teachers.

In an EFL situation, the language is used in an artificial context. The students’ usage of the language is mainly within the confines of classrooms.

Actual learning

Students are almost exclusively dependent on teachers in learning.

The need to use English outside school is not necessary.

The main goal is to meet academic requirements.

On the other hand, ESL students are more dynamic. Students communicate in English not only in classrooms but also in real life situations – conversation, reading, playing and even in arguments.

Therefore the challenges faced by EFL and ESL teachers are also different.

Compared to ESL teachers, the biggest challenge faced by EFL teachers is in getting students to use the language in a natural context.

In language learning, the actual learning takes place outside the formal setting.

It is like learning how to ride a horse. An instructor can show you all the techniques, but if you don’t want to get on a horse and ride, you learn nothing!

Simply put, if students do not read for leisure and do not use the language outside the classroom, there is very little a teacher can do to improve students’ proficiency.

In this aspect, even teachers in the past have acknowledged teaching limitations. To promote good reading habits, one of my teachers said: “I can give you my best but it is only 40%, you must make effort for the 60%.”

Several studies have shown that students who read extensively also make improvements in other language skills.

Unfortunately, students nowadays tend to read only textbooks.

Should teachers be blamed for students’ poor reading habits?

Teachers can only persuade or motivate students to read.

These efforts are best described by the old maxim: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Students read more when reading materials were available only in print.

The reading habit

Now with electronic and information technology, students have the opportunity to read from almost anywhere.

Sadly, such advancements have not spurred good reading habits among students!

One of the reasons for poor reading habits among students is because these days, they have very little time for leisure.

Comparing schools now and then, students today, especially at secondary school level spend longer hours at school.

One can only wonder how they cope physically and mentally in the classroom.

The system is so taxing that students do not have time for recreational activities in the evening.

School days have become grimmer and the element of fun is conspicuously missing.

Extra classes have now become the panacea to cure all academic ailments.

Even school holidays are not spared. I remember back in the early 70s, my sister had to put herself in the waiting list to borrow Gone with the Wind to be read over the school holidays.

You must have not only an interest to read the classic, but also the physical might to carry the 1,000-odd page novel. I jokingly told her that she should have hired a truck to bring it home!

It must be noted that in those days, students did not read to win prizes. It was for sheer pleasure.

Classic novels by well-known authors were the most borrowed books. During the school holidays, the chances of finding these novels in someone’s possession were far greater than locating them at the school library. There aren’t many graduates who read such books these days.

We are definitely indebted to past teachers for their contributions in raising the standard of English, but it is unfair to compare them with present teachers. Based on the different situations and conditions teachers experience in their respective times, it is difficult to compare teachers across eras.

How do we compare our Malaysian coach, Datuk K. Rajagopal with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson?

Can Ferguson replicate the success he has achieved with Manchester United if he were to manage the Malaysian team? Then again, can Rajagopal produce a world class team if he has top-ranked players?

In addressing the problem, policymakers should not make populist decisions merely to appease the masses.

It is important to focus not only on teachers in finding solutions.

To improve educational policies, teachers, students and parents should be given an avenue to give open and honest feedback and suggestions, not sugar-coat the truth out of fear of offending policymakers.

After all, any change in policy affects them the most.

One pertinent question that demands to be answered is why are our students reluctant to use the English language beyond classrooms unlike past students?



CHRISTOPHER FERNANDEZ  is a language instructor based in Malacca. He conducts job-specific English Language courses for working adults. He also provides language enrichment classes for those in senior and middle management and to other employees in the corporate sector.. Source the STAR Home Education Sunday November 11, 2012