Dealing with teen stress and exams
We must set realistic objectives for our children as expecting unachievable goals can lead to severe emotional problems, and even suicide.
NOVEMBER 24 was a very sad day for all parents, students, in fact, for Malaysians.
It was a day that shook me as well. We were shocked by the news of the untimely and tragic end of a 17-year-old boy who was also an up-and-coming actor.
This shocking news was even more painful when the cause of death was the boy’ s inability to deal with his SPM examination stress.
This is a boy who scored straight As in his PMR examinations and 9As one B in his trial examination. That’s an almost perfect score. Yet when he couldn’t answer some questions in the Additional Mathematics paper, it was just too much for him to bear.
When a “bright spark” like him takes his life for a reason like this, it sends waves of disbelief and sadness to society.
Was this tragedy preventable? Is exam stress becoming too much for our students? Are parents and teachers putting undue pressure on their children?
All the above questions spring to mind when we are confronted by the stark dark reality of the situation.
Although such cases are not the norm, yet the loss of one life is already a loss too much to bear.
Collectively, we as a people need to re-evaluate the priorities of education.
Is attaining the perfect score the aim and are we putting too much expectation on the growing shoulders of our next generation?
A great start would be to move away from the results of an examination and focus on the efforts put in by the students.
We need to assure them that true victory is not in getting a perfect score but in trying one’s best.
As long as they strive to do their best, then they have already succeeded, irrelevant of the examination results.
Incidences of suicide are not acts committed spontaneously.
Victims must have been under tremendous stress for a period of time before making the decision.
Parents, besides refraining from placing unrealistic demands on their kids, can also look out for signs that tweens and teens aren’t doing well emotionally by recognising signs of depression.
The Mayo clinic in the United States, from its research on teen depression has listed some traits that parents can identify with, should they suspect that stress is getting to their children.
In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school.
They may also feel misunderstood and may resort to using drugs or alcohol.
Eating and sleeping too much, losing interest in normal activities, and avoiding social interaction are some of the other signs.
Parents must be vigil to pick up on these vibes and changed habits.
They should keep children including teenagers engaged so as to bring them out of the depression.
To all young people reading this article, let me assure you that your parents’ priority will be to keep you safe and happy always.
Talk to your parents and teachers if you are overwhelmed by examination stress or feel depressed.
Believe me, your results mean nothing to your parents if you aren’t happy and healthy. You will always have your parents’ love. Results are inconsequential when it comes to your well being.
Also, harming yourself is a worthless exercise.
Life is full of ups and downs. Remember, they are all temporary and should be used as templates for one’s growth and learning.
Exams are just small yardsticks used to measure your academic achievement – it is not the end-all of your journey in becoming a successful person – and you should always remember that.
Should you need some advice or just someone to listen to, talk to any counsellor in your school.
Students can also inform their teachers or counsellors if they observe schoolmates and friends experiencing emotional difficulties, showing a lack of interest in activities and displaying feelings of worthlessness and guilt.
Doing so, could prevent them from sinking deeper into depression as they could be directed to seek the right help and treatment.
Alternatively, if you want someone outside your circle for some sound advice, contact the Befrienders at 03-7956 8144 (Klang Valley), 04-281 5161 (Penang) or 05-547 7933 (Ipoh). Life is precious and no child should resort to ending his or her life. P.Kamalanathan The STAR Home News Education 20 December 2015
Blueprint demands for teachers
The exercise to transform education will see the cikgu play a more critical role in and out of the classroom.
EDUCATION is the pillar of nation building. Without the implementation of a comprehensive education system a country would be regarded as having failed in carrying out its responsibilities to the people. In view of that, transformation in education needs to be implemented for Malaysians to be able to compete internationally.
To strengthen the education system, the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 was launched by former education minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The bluprint objective is to improve the education system. By doing so, we will be on par with other countries and excel academically at international level.
Mentors and motivators : Teaching is not about imparting textbook knowledge alone as it requires a teacher to engage with students in other activities too. – File photo
In order to transform the country’s education system, there is no denying that the role of teachers is of utmost importance.
This is because teachers are the ones who play an effective part in educating the young.
Hence, the teacher’s role becomes more complex and challenging in realising the blueprint goals.
Commitment and effort to improve the quality of education now become the main responsibility of teachers, in order to produce quality students for the nation’s future. Let me reiterate that teachers, play a significant role.
Teachers need to have an understanding of what transpires through education transformation.
This involves having a clear vision on what needs to be changed towards quality education. It also involves grooming the students to excel not only at national level but at international level too.
Teachers need to equip themselves with holistic pedagogical skills, explore the use of various learning models that utilise technology to inculcate higher-order thinking skills, and enhance students’ learning.
To achieve this, teachers need to challenge themselves to think creatively and critically.
They need innovative ideas which can be transferred to the students when they teach them in the classrooms.
The Education Ministry is making every effort in providing training to help teachers master these skills, in line with the blueprint objectives.
Teachers must be truly committed to mastering Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Za’aba the famous Malay thinker, writer and language expert, had said that “knowledge is the most important foundation that saves people from the shackles of backwardness”.
Education and appreciation of knowledge should always be strengthened so that teachers remain relevant.
Teachers need the courage to explore different models of teaching and learning to diversify the methods and techniques of effective teaching.
According to the Seventh Shift in the blueprint, utilising ICT to improve the quality of teaching in schools must be accepted with a positive mindset by the teachers.
The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) requires all teachers in the classroom to be facilitating and inspiring students to learn in a creative way.
In addition, teachers also need to be able to develop effective learning experiences in this digital era.
They need to equip themselves with the technical know-how of using ICT effectively in their classes.
This also indicates that teachers need to update themselves constantly in their teaching career.
To help the teachers, the ministry has set up a digital library for teaching through its e-Guru video.
I am of the view that teachers need to be role models in portraying values and unity among students.
This has been mentioned in the Third Shift of the blueprint which looks at developing “values-driven Malaysians”.
This shift aims to develop students holistically as today’s generation will face a world of great challenges.
Environmental degradation, the impact of globalisation as well as development conflict are but some of the challenges.
We are all aware that the inculcation of spiritual values is one of the virtues of education.
While people have a passion for worldly advancement, the aspect of spirituality must not be forgotten.
With strong spirituality comes the values of unity and harmony.
The school plays an important role in instilling the value of spirituality which implies that teachers need to be the role model for their students to emulate.
The blueprint is to transform the education system in our country towards achieving Vision 2020.
Concerted efforts are being carried out from 2013 to 2025 to achieve the vision. Although the ministry is tasked with implementing the blueprint, parents and the community have a part to play too.