May 20th, 2015

Huge gap in students’ arithmetic ability at Year One

I READ with disappointment our Malaysian schools’ dismal performance in the global school maths and science tests despite the large budget allocated by the Education Ministry and the many plans initiated to achieve the level of education of developed countries, “Big money but little progress in education” (The Star, March 14). I therefore want to share my observations as a volunteer at a community-based tuition centre for underprivileged children.

Some of the children I teach are in Year Two and Three but they do not know the answers to simple sums like 5+6, or 11–2. They have to count with their fingers and sometimes still get it wrong. These are normal children, perhaps poor and even a bit slow in their studies, but they do not have learning disabilities. They perform quite well in the language of their preference and respond well to coaching.

I believe this weakness is due to insufficient drilling of simple arithmetic in Year One or perhaps even kindergarten. My children were all right doing simple sums by Year One, probably because they had sufficient drilling when they were in kindergarten. The first problem that arises is that there is a big gap in students’ arithmetic ability as they enter Year One. Some students are already very good at simple additions while others are not. This could be due to their kindergarten experience as well as their family environment.

As such, the normal addition and subtraction exercises given to Year One students, which are sufficient for an average child, are not enough for those who are weaker in maths.

They need more exercises in simple addition and subtraction before they can spontaneously give the right answers.

My second observation is that some children in the tuition centre who are already in Year Four do not know the multiplication tables. In this case, I am inclined to think the problem is due to the teacher’s failure to ensure their students mastered the tables. When I was in school, our teacher always said she was going to test us on the multiplication tables and we would go home and memorise it in a frenzy.

Woe betide the person who did not know the times table back then. The student would have to stand up in class or get hit with a ruler or, worse, both and such actions were not viewed as abuse. Furthermore, the “tests” on the multiplication tables continued several times over a few months so that even the most unmotivated student learnt it by heart.

As such, one does not need to be smart to master the times table.

One just needs discipline or incentive to memorise it, and with sufficient exercises the times table will be at our finger tips.

The Education Ministry has big and ambitious plans to overhaul the education system but I fear there is a big gap at school level in terms of executing these plans. The problems I have just illustrated need to be addressed in the early years of primary school.

As the child grows older, the lag in maths competency will only grow bigger and the child might even develop a dislike or even fear for a subject that he/she does not do well in. This vicious cycle will persist later in life, resulting in our nation’s overall poor performance in international maths tests.

It just takes a few very weak students to pull down our country’s average maths score based on the principle of averages. I hope the officials will get down to the classrooms to see the actual situation.

One will not understand it unless one has firsthand experience. S.L.Lim Penang The STAR Home News Opinion Letters May 19, 2015

Role of teachers in character building

TEACHERS’S Day is celebrated on May 16 every year as a mark of appreciation of their contributions in teaching and educating students who are our nation’s invaluable assets.

Teachers should be recognised and appreciated at all times, those who are serving and those who had served, particularly those who had left a legacy and deep impression on us.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Builders of knowledge and character” which aptly describes the role of teachers.

Teaching is a very noble profession that is imperative for nation building.

I share the view that those who aspire to join the teaching profession must not only love teaching but also love children and see them through their education.

Teachers have the opportunity to educate and mould the students into future leaders.

They can also play an important role in encouraging school-going children of all races to interact and mingle with one another to promote inter-racial understanding and accelerate the process of social cohesion, integration and unity.

Character development is an important objective of our education system and we need to approach it systematically.

For such programmes to be successful, a total approach, where opportunities for character development permeate different aspects of the school curriculum and environment is needed.

Every experience a child goes through, be it in classroom lessons, the various relationships, the disciplinary measures and co-curricular activities, will each have an impact on the development of a child’s character, values and disposition.

That is why I believe that to start this critical nation-building process of developing the next generation of leaders we need to instil a character-based culture following a systematic and proven methodology of character first.

Parents have to be a collaborative partners in the task of balancing the academic skills of students with the need for character training.

The success of our education system is judged not only by the academic achievements of our students but also the quality of the people the education system produces – their knowledge, their integrity, their character; their attitude, their ability to be team-players, and their sense of responsibility and commitment to the nation and the community they belong.

Indeed, the character, attitudes and values of our young are essential aspects we have to mould and nurture.

While it is important that our students perform well at important national examinations and win accolades in international competitions, of equal importance is their holistic development.

We have to ensure that their whole personality is balanced so that our students’ development takes into account the moral, cognitive, physical, social and aesthetic aspects.

Teachers determine the educational experience of each child. They play a pivotal role in building the character of the students.

They are not only important role models. They can also open the door to a world of discovery and learning through engaging and meaningful discussions and thoughtful reflection following a child’s experience.

Such experiences should lead to positive learning. Thus, the teacher plays a critical role to shape and reinforce the proper learning outcomes. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye Trustee 1 Malaysia Foundation The STAR Home News Opinion Letters May 18, 2015

Teachers are living guides

IN view of Teachers Day yesterday, I am compelled to write this for all my teachers who made me what I am today.

Teachers are living saints, besides our parents. They make us a better person. They teach us to live a better life. They instil values that we never forget. They inspire us at all times. They may look tough, but it is all for one reason, which is to bring out the best in us.

Teachers make a better world. They teach their pupils as if they were their own children. They spend every breath, sweat and blood to make us better. They prepare the children of today for a brighter tomorrow.

These are countless traits that make teachers great. I’ve borrowed 15 unique traits or behaviours that are observed in great educators over the years:

TEACHERS can say everything without saying anything at all. Experienced teachers have perfected the use of facial expressions, and can say anything to a student with just a glance. With an eyebrow lift, a student or an entire class understands whether to “be quiet”, “be good” or it could even mean “great work”;

TEACHERS don’t accept failure. They try every day, at every class, with every angle and strategy to help students learn, understand and ultimately succeed;

TEACHERS care. Teachers love every student in their class, irrespective of whether they are clean, good-looking, poor or rich, or from different religions or backgrounds. In fact, the ones who are hard to love become their special students;

TEACHERS are fabulous communicators. They love to talk and listen to students, other teachers and parents. They choose their words wisely, carefully and can say anything with a smile yet still be firm, stern and positive;

TEACHERS are agile and adaptable. They can change a lesson or an entire class in a moment’s notice, which comes in handy with fire drills or unplanned interruptions. They can turn any moment with a positive swing. They are audible, loud and clear;

TEACHERS are positive. They know their work is challenging, but they’ve accepted the task and know that they can be amazing teachers because their attitude is great and no one can tell them they can’t do something. Teachers remain that way, all the way. As the saying goes, once a teacher, always a teacher;

TEACHERS work hard. They don’t show up and sit behind a desk. They stand all day, talk all day, think all day, interact all day, educate all day, impart knowledge all day and learn all day. The corporate world may not get it, but teachers are busy people. Returning emails and phone calls is a luxury that our days may not afford, but a teacher’s job is never done;

TEACHERS know how to take charge. Teachers have no problem being the centre of attention while making students learn, laugh and scream out of joy and sometimes pain, too. They can also be the boss by using just a small movement or sound;

TEACHERS are creative. They can help students learn something in a million different ways, at any time and in any place. The hallway, the playground, and even the lunchroom are places where important lessons and connections take place;

TEACHERS are humble. They don’t teach to be praised but to make a difference. They never claim credit from their success stories. They remain quiet and almost unseen. There are thousands of success stories out there, but rarely do we hear of a teacher who boasts that he was the teacher of the successful man;

TEACHERS are always thinking about teaching. They plan, research and think about lessons all of the time. They never wait for a blackboard or whiteboard. They always do it now;

TEACHERS are resourceful. They know how to make the most of a lesson with little money, supplies and time. They don’t use laptops or note pads. They will use any available resources to impart knowledge and make sure their students excel;

TEACHERS are organised. They sometimes plan lessons a year in advance. The room is organised, the desk is in order, and the plan is clear for the day because they’ve made sure of it. They also organise school assemblies, sports events and all the wonderful activities that take place in school;

TEACHERS stick together. No one understands or relates to the activities of a classroom like another teacher. When teachers feel frustrated or challenged, they know that talking to another teacher is comforting and helpful. That’s why the staff room is always abuzz with chatter and discussions among teachers; and,

TEACHERS don’t take their profession lightly.

They’ve been trained in a field with no big pay and no great tangible rewards. The emotional rewards of teaching are unexplainable. The satisfaction of teaching is immense. These unsurpassed feelings make up for everything else. The joys of teaching can be so overwhelming that they know it’s one of the greatest professions on earth.
Ravindran Rahman Kutty Kuala Lumpur The NST Letters to the Editors 20 May 2015

Artikel Jangan Takut Untuk Sekat ~ Honororium

Alhamudillah, rezeki untuk penulisan di Sinar Harian bertarikh 23.03.2015.

Media sosial telah mengubah kehidupan sosial kita dengan mendadak.  Ia telah, untuk sebahagian besarnya banyak mempengaruhi  kehendak dan kuasa minda rakyat. Ia juga turut  membawa cara-cara baru untuk menyinggung perasaan, menghina, menggusarkan, menyerang, mengganggu dan menyakiti orang lain.

Itulah sebabnya medium media sosial seperti Twitter dan Facebook telah memperkenalkan fungsi-fungsi seperti "Halang atau Sekat (Block)", "Buang Kawan (unfriend)", "Membisu (Mute) " dan sebagainya. Pada asasnya, ia adalah supaya anda boleh mempunyai pengalaman media sosial yang menyeronokkan.

Rujuk : Jangan Takut Untuk Sekat Sinar Harian Terabiz 23.03.2015