September 2nd, 2016

Adakah ini yang dimaksudkan 'pendidikan holistik’?

Isu pendidikan persekolahan menjadi perdebatan umum sejak dari dahulu lagi. Sekumpulan pengkritik menegaskan bahawa pendidikan modal insan harus melibatkan lebih daripada sekadar membentuk mereka menjadi pekerja atau rakyat masa depan.

Pelopor pendidikan progresif  seperti Francis Parker dan John Dewey  dan perintis seperti Maria Montessori dan Rudolf Steiner , antara lain, semua menekankan bahawa pendidikan perlu difahami sebagai seni memupuk dimensi moral , emosi , fizikal, psikologi dan pembangunan rohani  kanak-kanak.

Holisme muncul pada tahun 70-an , apabila ahli dalam bidang sains, falsafah dan sejarah budaya memberi konsep dan perspektif menyeluruh untuk menggambarkan cara untuk memahami pendidikan.

Satu cara pemikiran holistik  adalah bertujuan untuk merangkumi dan mengintegrasikan pelbagai lapisan makna dan pengalaman dan bukannya menentukan kesempitan pemikiran . Setiap kanak-kanak adalah lebih daripada bakal penyumbang ekonomi  dimasa akan datang; kepintaran dan keupayaan setiap orang adalah jauh lebih kompleks daripada keputusan peperiksaan yang diambil.

Pendidikan holistik adalah berdasarkan bagaimana seseorang itu memperolehi  identiti, makna, dan tujuan hidup melalui hubungan masyarakat,  alam semula jadi, dan nilai-nilai rohani seperti kasih sayang dan keamanan.

Pendidikan holistik bertujuan untuk mengajak manusia menghormati kehidupan instrinsik dan cintakan pembelajaran. Ini dilakukan, bukan melalui "kurikulum" akademik yang meluwapkan duniawi  ke dalam pakej pengajaran, tetapi melalui penglibatan secara langsung dengan persekitaran.

Pendidikan holistik memupuk rasa ghairah . Sebagai contoh , apabila Montessori bercakap mengenai pendidikan " kosmik" : ia membuat seseorang itu merasa seperti  menjadi sebahagian daripada keutuhan alam semesta, dan membuat pembelajaran secara semulajadi menjadi terpesona dan teruja.

Tidak ada satu cara terbaik untuk mencapai matlamat ini, terdapat banyak laluan pembelajaran dan seseorang pendidik yang holistik amat menghargai kesemuanya; apa yang sesuai untuk sesetengah kanak-kanak dan orang dewasa, dalam sesetengah keadaan, dalam beberapa konteks sejarah dan sosial , tidak boleh menjadi yang terbaik untuk orang lain.  Seni pendidikan holistik terletak pada responsif kepada gaya pembelajaran yang pelbagai dan keperluan manusia yang sentiasa berubah.

Pendidikan holistik melibatkan keseluruhan diri  seseorang yang termasuklah fzikal, emosi , mental, rohani dan hubungan antara manusia.

Pendidikan konvensional  melibatkan pemikiran mental seperti  lulus peperiksaan , memperolehi kelayakan dan ijazah; perkara-perkara yang melibatkan  akal atau pengetahuan intelektual. Proses pemikiran dijana dan menjadi keutamaan hierarki pembelajaran.

Dalam pembelajaran holistik , tumpuan dialihkan kepada kepentingan  hubung kaitan diri. Jika terdapat satu hierarki dalam pembelajaran holistik , proses itu perlu dipimpin oleh keupayaan diri atau kerohanian diri.

Satu analogi yang baik adalah yang digunakan oleh Proses Hoffman; diri kita disamakan dengan sebuah pedati,  di pandu dan ditarik oleh kuda. Pemilik berada didalam pedati, pemandu berada di bahagian hadapan dengan tampuk kuda di tangannya. Pemilik mewakili diri yang lebih tinggi (semangat); pedati (badan); pemandu (fikiran) dan kuda (emosi).

Sesuatu arahan itu harus ditetapkan oleh  kemahuan dan keinginan semangat pemilik,  dan bukan pemandu, minda. Setiap bahagian kemudian mempunyai fungsi yang jelas dalam memastikan pedati sampai ke destinasi. Dan hampir setiap masalah buatan manusia di dunia boleh dikesan kerana pemandu bebas dari kekangan.  Masa untuk merubah dari tekanan.

Di sinilah perlunya  peralihan untuk memastikan pendidikan holistik berjaya dilaksanakan. Kita tidak boleh dengan mudah menyerapkan teknik holistik kedalam pendidikan tradisional kerana seluruh tumpuan memerlukan peralihan. Untuk model holistik berjaya dilaksanakan, pendidikan perlu difikirkan semula dari asas. Deangan menggunakan analogi Hoffman sekali lagi, kita tidak boleh berpura-pura menganggap bahawa pemandu masih perlu merancang perjalanan, terutamanya jika kita telah ber komunikasi dengan pemilik untuk sekian lama.

Perubahan sikap terhadap pengajaran dan pembelajaran memberi inspirasi kepada  keluarga dirumah, warga pendidik di sekolah-sekolah awam dan alternatif. Walaupun tidak banyak sekolah awam memberi komitmen kepada prinsip-prinsip holistik, namun  ramai guru berusaha keras untuk menyerapkan idea ini sebagai amalan.

Dengan memupuk kerjasama dan berkoloborasi  (bukan untuk bersaing di dalam kelas), guru membantu golongan muda merasa berada bersama. Dengan menggunakan pengalaman kehidupan sebenar, peristiwa-peristiwa semasa, seni dramatik dan sumber pengetahuan lain menggantikan buku teks, guru boleh menyalakan cinta terhadap pembelajaran.

Dengan menggalakkan refleksi dan sesi soal-jawab dan bukannya hafalan  "fakta yang pasif," pendidik menyemarakkan "api  kecerdasan" yang melebihi  kemahiran menyelesaikan masalah yang abstrak. Bagi menampung perbezaan dan dengan tidak melabelkan kanak-kanak, sebagai contoh, sebagai "pembelajaran kurang upaya" atau "hiperaktif," pendidik menghadiahkan keunikan yang terkandung dalam semangat dan jiwa  setiap kanak-kanak.

Azizi Ahmad adalah seorang pendidik. GPS Bestari Rencana 2 September 2016

Merdeka, but we’re still not free

SEPTEMBER 2 ― Malaysia has been independent from British colonial rule for 59 years, but we still lack freedom in other areas of life.

We are not free from racial politics.

As an ordinary citizen who was born after Merdeka, I didn’t choose the race-based political system that has been in place for almost six decades since independence.

The idea of creating a government based on race, instead of ideology (conservative/ liberal), just doesn’t make sense, as if we’re supposed to have certain exclusive rights by virtue of our skin colour. Perhaps the formation of political parties based on ethnicity was necessary back then during the pre-Merdeka years, but the conditions during the transition from British colonialism to independence no longer apply now.


Implicitly, we recognise that racial politics don’t work anymore, but some of us still hold secret prejudices about those of other races. We hear of discrimination against Malays in some private companies, as well as discrimination against non-Malays at government-linked corporations (GLCs).

My ethnic Chinese friend told me that in the private company he works at, the Chinese dominate middle and top management. The Malays are only department admins.

But he also told me that he had failed to get an entry level position in the communications department at a GLC, despite having 1.5 years' experience in the field. The job went to a Malay fresh graduate instead who couldn't speak good English.

Then there is the continuation of race-based affirmative action policies that fail to address the impoverished non-Bumiputera. In terms of education, even though Malaysia supposedly abolished racial quotas for entry to public universities in 2002, we still hear reports of non-Malay students not getting their desired courses despite scoring perfect marks in their exams.

As ordinary citizens, if we truly want Malaysia to move beyond race-based governance, we must be prepared to acknowledge and eradicate our prejudices, shed our privileges and embrace equal rights for everyone. The poor need help, but the upper middle class and the wealthy don’t need privileges.

Political parties themselves still cling on to old beliefs that “rural” and “unsophisticated urban” voters, in Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s words, want the “comfort” associated with Umno’s racism.

I refuse to believe that most Malaysians, “rural” (as if they’re a homogenous group) or not, will automatically vote for a candidate just because she comes from a party that's exclusive for their ethnic group. I believe that voters care about things like health care, public transport, and human rights, and would actually be interested in a candidate’s stand on various issues (beyond corruption).

We are also not free in our religious practices.

Christians here aren’t allowed to call their god “Allah”, even though fellow believers in the Arab world are free to do so. The authorities occasionally seize the Malay translation of the Bible and other Christian religious materials. Muslim women get arrested for not wearing a tudung or for wearing so-called “tight” clothes during Ramadan, while some Muslims are labelled “deviant“ just because of their liberal beliefs.

We need to liberate ourselves from narrow-mindedness and learn to trust those of other faiths. Genuine goodwill won’t come from ad hoc interfaith dialogues or walks, but only from years of mingling, going to school together, and living in the same community so that we’ll be truly comfortable with each other.

Unfortunately, this will only be more difficult as our communities become more segregated and our children no longer have friends of other races.

We are not free either in saying what we want.

A senior citizen gets arrested just for sharing a picture, in a WhatsApp group, that supposedly insults the prime minister. A music video lampooning religion gets Namewee handcuffed, while a Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) senior official with a “Datuk Seri” title who’s accused of corruption gets to cover his face and have his hands free. How can offending someone be treated as a more serious crime than stealing millions from the people? Offending someone should not even be criminalised at all.

The point about freedom of speech is not so much that we want people to go around saying stupid racist things; it’s about giving such people the liberty to say what they want so that this same freedom extends to others who have articulate ideas that will help society progress. We can’t draw the line between them because what’s offensive to one person may not be offensive to another.

We have had almost six decades of self-determination to decide how we want to steer the country. We’ve made progress in some areas, but we lack (and even regress) in others.

Independence is not just freedom from colonialism; it’s liberty in thought. And we still have a long way to go before truly embracing such freedom.

Include school-based assessment in structure

FROM Sept 5 to 8, more than 450,000 Year Six pupils nationwide will sit the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah. The 12-year-olds will get their first taste of a public examination held under strict procedures.

The schools would have prepared them for it since Year Five. They will sit six papers in national schools and eight in vernacular schools.

The English Language paper has been categorised into two components — Reading Comprehension and Writing.

These will be graded separately for national and vernacular schools.

From this year, national schoolchildren will need to score six As and vernacular schoolchildren will need to score eight As to achieve excellence.

This will become the ultimate UPSR clarion call in every primary school. But why do we put such undue stress on 12-year-old children by making them sit six to eight papers over four consecutive days?

The word “examination” conjures fear and anxiety in pupils. Examinations rob them of the joy of schooling and learning. It is even more stressful when conducted under a central marking system.

Public examinations involve memorisation and rote learning


The UPSR examination should be made into a school-based assessment.

The examination gauges how Year Six pupils have progressed since Year One and is just a measurement of their development in the primary years.

The objective of primary school education is to teach pupils to master the 3Rs: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.

Whether they score all As or all Es is irrelevant as they still go on to Form One.

Children who get top scores can enrol in residential and premier secondary schools but most are placed in regular schools. So why is there a need for a 100 per cent centralised assessment?

A centralised examination not only creates pressure and high expectations from parents and society, but has also driven some pupils to suicide.

Though the number of pupils in the country who commit suicide because of poor examinations results is not high, it is still a cause for concern.

It is hoped that the Education Ministry will change the UPSR structure to be more child-friendly and implement a system of 40 per cent school-based assessment and 60 per cent centralised examination.

There have been many calls to do away with the centralised examination. The present UPSR structure takes pre-eminence in primary schools.

The whole system is geared towards achieving excellence in the examination. The results are used to gauge, assess and evaluate the standard and performance of primary schools.

Headmaster and teacher appraisals are largely determined by the exam results. So, to get good appraisals, Year Six teachers will, from the beginning of the academic year in January, put pupils through a stringent and comprehensive schedule of extra classes, “how-to-answer-question” workshops, motivational seminars and mock examinations.

In some schools, Year Six children are excluded from all co-curricular activities and competitions. Some schools go overboard and utilise weekends and holidays to conduct extra classes in the morning, afternoon and night.

Pupils just want to have fun but they are caught between the teachers’ and parents’ expectations. We must realise that public examinations involve memorisation and rote learning, and children endowed with good mental and intellectual capabilities have an edge over others.

Examinations only measure the intelligent quotient of a person. There is no fun in being a child these days.

The 100 per cent centralised assessment in UPSR has broken many a young child’s heart.

Not a silver bullet for education problems

IT was reported recently that 33,000 Form Five students in Sarawak will receive laptops to help them prepare for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination.

The laptops are part of a pledge Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made during the Sarawak election campaign.

While I am happy for the students and teachers, my immediate thought was the failure of the Smart School and Chromebook projects.

Similar projects elsewhere, such as one in the Los Angeles public school system three years ago, failed miserably.

The Los Angeles Times labelled the mega-technology project “ill-conceived and half-baked”. What were the issues?

There was poor planning in upgrading schools’ Internet access and teachers who reluctant or not trained to use and integrate the technology into the classroom.

Similar projects in Kenya and Peru have also failed to deliver. I am a strong proponent of technology but I’m also fully aware that technology is not a silver bullet for problems in education.

Success depends very much on what the teachers and students can do with technology.

I’m always reminded of the axiom, “A fool with a tool is still a fool”.

Teachers need to be trained so that computers can be used for innovative pedagogical approaches that engage and enrich students’ learning experience.

In addition, the computers should only be used for the creation of learning resources. I look at technology as part and parcel of the academic ecosystem.

The other components are Internet connectivity, cybersecurity, maintenance, applications (software), curriculum, students, teachers and administrators.

It boils down to the state of readiness of the whole ecosystem. If any of the components are not ready, a technology project of this size and scope is bound to fail.

Having access to technology and state-of-the-art devices will not guarantee a positive impact on students’ learning. New technology often looks promising but when introduced to schools, the net effect can be negative.

Schools need to develop a solid plan that allows them to move forward and leverage technology as a tool to improve the teaching and learning process.

As taxpayers, we need to ask who will ultimately benefit from the project and whether resources invested in the project could have been better spent. Profesor Dr Abd Karim Alias, Director, Centre for Development of Academic Excellence and Students Development, Universiti Sains Malaysia NST Opinion You Write 2 September2016 @ 11:00 AM