July 24th, 2017

Get creative with STEM education

I read with interest on ‘Ministry: STEM transformation plan to be completed soon. ‘(6 July 2017)

The article also stated that ‘a holistic and inclusive plan is drawn and drafted by a special committee  from the Education Ministry,  the Higher Education Ministry and Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, a combination of experts which focus  on eight core areas: policy, teaching and learning, facilities, career awareness programmes, strategic partnerships, research and data, commercialization and innovation.’

With only 47% of students opting for the science stream, the target is still away from the 60:40 ratio of science to arts courses in universities.
My feeling says, we will still be behind as most advanced countries had already started ‘transforming’ 10-15 years ago.

In recommending on improving K–12 science and mathematics education, providing additional training for teachers in these areas, and increasing the number of students entering college for STEM-related degrees must be our priority.

Authorizing funding for STEM initiatives from kindergarten through graduate school are very much needed to support proposals to increase the quality of STEM education.

We must also be accountable in providing the ‘assessment’ results as we need to be ‘transparent’ in reporting the ‘assessment reports’. Even the advanced countries performed poorly in the use of higher-level problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in both real and simulated laboratory settings.  A report from NAEP considers being “proficient” levels of achievement.

In improving student learning, curriculum must become more relevant, and our teaching must concentrate more on creative and real-world problem solving. To improve in STEM maybe we should do what working scientists and mathematicians really do.

We should consider the type of activities that can increase student engagement, raise motivation, focus on relevant issues, and, most importantly, develop creativity. Meaning, we must add ‘ARTS” as arts create creativity.

Discovery is the main objective of both art and science. Both scientists and artists work creatively toward a product. Research shows that creativity can be taught. Integrating arts-related topics and skills into STEM courses, by adding the A for arts to become STEAM should be well thought of.

Integrating arts-related skills and activities into STEM courses is one very effective way to enhance student interest and achievement. As there are only so many hours in the school day, one consequence of increasing instruction in the STEM areas has been to decrease teaching time in stand-alone arts classes.

Tight budgets and high-stakes testing in reading and mathematics have furthered this ‘dream’ trend.

A combination of study and application of the scientific, technical, and mathematical principles embodied in the STEM subjects require skills that can be significantly enhanced by training in arts-related areas.

Our current school culture places heavy emphasis on convergent thinking, the one type of thinking that is measured in standardized tests because there is only one answer, making it easy to grade while reinforcing the need for test reliability and consistency.

Though divergent thinking, works best with poorly defined problems that have multifaceted solutions, this is the type of thinking that is typical of artistic activities.

It is time for our policy-makers to recognize that the excessive emphasis on high-stakes testing is robbing our teachers of the time and support they need to make those STEM to STEAM adaptations.

When policy-makers and school administrators encourage realigning the arts with the STEM areas, they put trust back in their teachers’ ability to conduct more exciting, creative, and successful learning experiences for their students.

Bersediakah atlet penuhi sasaran Sukan SEA 2017?

Tidak ketinggalan dan kerap juga kita membaca di akhbar dan media, ‘jika kita menang, pujian melambung melepasi langit, jika gagal, membisu tidak terkata’.

Tidak terlepas hasrat kita menjuarai Olimpik, Piala Dunia atau apa saja jenis acara yang dipertandingkan dan akhirnya kenyataan terakhir adalah sebagai pemanas badan, memberi pendedahan dan menimba pengalaman dan akhir sekali “kita akan bersedia di Sukan SEA.”

Dan kini, sukan SEA akan hadir tidak lama lagi, tidak pula kedengaran semangat dan kata-kata kita akan ‘libas semua acara yang dipertandingkan kerana dengan sokongan padu penyokong tempatan pastinya pasukan kita akan membuat pasukan lain menggigit gigi mereka sendiri.”

Yang pasti ‘Sukaneka Setiakawan’ memang benar di tulis sebelum ini. Memang kontinjen pasukan negara menghayati ‘semangat kesukanan dan perpaduan’ yang dihasratkan dalam penganjuran sukan sejak dari Sukan SEAP sehinggalah ke Sukan SEA.

Menetapkan sasaran dan  matlamat memang memberikan sesuatu untuk kita berusaha dan meningkatkan keyakinan diri jika kita berjaya memperolehinya.

Hakikatnya, kita akan dipersalahkan jika gagal mendapatkan sasaran yang telah dinyatakan.

Yang jelas dan pasti, kita akan memberi, mencipta alasan demi alasan kerana ia adalah mudah dinyatakan dari cara untuk mengatasi kegagalan demi kegagalan. Bermula dengan tidak cukup masa untuk persediaan, kecederaan pemain dan atlit, tiada pelepasan dari majikan, tidak cukup sokongan kewangan dan moral; apa saja yang alasan yang diberikan, ianya tetap akan melumpuhkan mana-mana kontinjen.

Secara peribadinya sesiapa saja akan berasa takut, cemas, tidak menentu atau gusar. Ia akan kelihatan lebih mudah dan lebih selamat daripada cuba  melakukan sesuatu atau pun cuba menangani isu yang disuarakan dan perlu dikawal.

Tahap kerisauan dan takut gagal akan meningkat lebih daripada apa yang kita fikir kita boleh lakukan dalam mencapai kejayaan.  Takut pada kegagalan telah membunuh begitu banyak impian sebelum kita berpeluang untuk memulakannya.

Kita mungkin sudah terbiasa dengan kegagalan demi kegagalan dan sering membenarkan ini untuk menghalang kita daripada mengatasi cabaran atau menetapkan matlamat untuk diri kita sendiri. Lagi pun apabila pasukan kita kalah, kita tetap akan beraksi di lain kejohanan.

Ketakutan merampas keyakinan diri kita dan membolehkan kita memberi alasan mengapa kita tidak dapat melakukan sesuatu atau menjadikannya kenyataan.

Atasilah kerisauan dan ketakutan dan berhenti meremehkan diri; kita tahu kemampuan kita lebih dari apa yang kita fikirkan.

Pasukan atau atlit kita tidak cukup kuat atau bagus  "MENGAPA"?  Apakah matlamat dan sasaran tidak bermakna kepada mereka? Jadi mengapa membuat sasaran dan  menetapkannya?

Kita sering mengejar sesuatu kerana orang lain mengharapkan kita.

Apabila kita menetapkan matlamat untuk sebab yang salah dan mengejar perkara yang kita tidak boleh capai; elok sahaja tidak perlu untuk meneruskannya, memberi komitmen untuk mencapainya yang akhirnya membuang banyak masa, tenaga dan wang yang dapat dibelanjakan untuk mengejar sesuatu yang lebih berupaya dicapai.
 
Tidak mungkin kita tidak menetapkan keutamaan.  Mana-mana pasukan maupun atlit sudah tentunya bersedia, mengambil bahagian dalam banyak kejohanan, pendedahan dan pengalaman sudah diperolehi, namun tidakkah ianya mencukupi.

Jika alasan tidak cukup masa diberikan, sekurang-kurangnya jadikan pendedahan dan pengalaman yang diperolehi sesuatu yang cukup penting dan bernilai kepada karier sukan yang dipertandingkan.

Tidak dinafikan apabila kita terlalu memberi perhatian, tenaga dan tumpuan untuk memenangi semua kejuaraan, kita gagal mengenali kemahiran dan kepakaran dalam bidang yang paling memberi kejayaan dan yang paling sesuai untuk kita.

Adalah penting bagi kita untuk mengetahui apa yang kita benar hebat, bersemangat dan paling didorong untuk melakukan dan memberi tumpuan dan menyempurnakan perkara itu. Kita tidak boleh berjaya atau menang kesemuanya dan kita tentu tidak boleh menjuarai segalanya.

Kita juga gemar, mengembar-gemburkan dan mengsensasikan kenyataan. Semakin kita bercakap tentang perkara yang kita mahu lakukan dan gagal melakukannya, semakin banyak kita akan dipertanggungjawabkan dan dipersalahkan.

Apabila kita terus gagal dalam memenuhi matlamat dan sasaran yang kita tetapkan, kita menjadi tidak bermoral dan kadang kehilangan keyakinan dan kepercayaan diri dan akhirnya gagal mencapai matlamat sama sekali.

Kita harus dan perlu belajar kurang  bercakap dan menumpukan usaha dan  tenaga untuk melakukan sesuatu daripada membicarakannya. Biarkan hasil keputusan menunjukkan kejayaan dan banyak bertindak dari bercakap lebih dari sepatutnya.

Memang benar sesuatu yang bernilai dihajati bukanlah  mudah. Sesetengah matlamat dan sasaran memerlukan keringat yang tiada akhirnya.

Kita hidup dalam era yang mendahagai kejayaan dan kepuasan.  Tiada kejayaan hadir dalam sekelip mata. Perlukah dipersoalkan ketekunan, dedikasi dan disiplin yang diperlukan dalam memenuhi matlamat atau mengubah sasaran kita. Kita  perlu bersedia untuk menghadapinya.

Beyond the call of duty

I AM a 15-year-old student and I feel compelled to express my feelings about the people who shaped my education.

Today, all everyone talks about is technology, health and exercise, job prospects and social media. While that is all very important, I think it’s time someone mentioned the people who are responsible for our success.

There are so many professions in the world today, such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and these are all very highly regarded. However, to me, the most important profession in the world – one that is overlooked and doesn’t get the respect it deserves – is teaching.


So many of my teachers went beyond the call of duty, to ensure each and every child’s success, both the weak and the strong. My Music teacher used to stay up all night helping us with our compositions although he had a family to take care of.

People often don’t realise that without the lessons, without the education, no one would learn anything – there would be no growth, no progress, no doctors, no lawyers, no anything at all. When you really think about it, teachers are the foundation of our future generation and they should be appreciated and never forgotten. They say a doctor saves a person’s life but, more than that, a teacher starts a student’s life – how else could we get to where we are today? Without teachers, there would be no transfer of knowledge or new theories, and the world would be stuck.

Being a student, I know that most children nowadays constantly complain about how unfair their teachers are, or how mean and biased they may be, thinking sometimes that we know more than them. However, what we don’t realise is the number of hours of work they put into helping us so that we can have a good life. Of course, they get paid for their work, but their pay is meagre.

They don’t need to care for us or worry about our success; what do we matter to them? Their lives are already sorted out, yet they still go to such lengths to ensure our success and sometimes this is not acknowledged, which is unfair. We neglect the people who serve us with pride and dignity and, because we don’t care enough to know them, we take them for granted and they become forgotten. There are exceptions, but they are not who I’m writing about.

So many of my teachers went beyond the call of duty, to ensure each and every child’s success, both the weak and the strong. My Music teacher used to stay up all night helping us with our compositions although he had a family to take care of.

My Geography teacher used to stay back till late for any student who needed help, to make sure that we could stand on our own two feet, and she spent hours talking to students who had problems.

My Biology teacher often gave up her break time to help me understand what I failed to at first. None of them needed to go to such lengths, yet they did.

I notice that nowadays the respect students once had for teachers has disappeared, as they are too caught up in their own lives, although there are the rare few who take the time to acknowledge their teachers’ efforts.

Many believe that their success is all the result of their own efforts, which I find appalling because without the basic foundation our teachers have given us, we would all be struggling. If teachers didn’t share their knowledge and skills with us, we’d know nothing.

A real hero is someone who does the right thing when it isn’t easy. It isn’t always easy to yell at your students when they aren’t putting in the effort, or to put on a smile each day when you know of all the horrible things your students say about you.

To date, I have never seen a single teacher give up on their students, no matter how harsh or hurtful they may be.

My teachers did not limit their lessons to the classroom but also taught me life lessons. I was taught by my teachers to always believe in myself, never give up, that we are all unique in our own ways so to always be myself even if it doesn’t fit into society’s expectations.

Apart from my mother and grandmother, all the success I achieve in my future will be dedicated to my teachers.

Students at polytechnics mistreated

POLYTECHNICS are usually viewed as a good option for students from low-income families to pursue higher education. At least that’s the general impression. What’s not known are the struggles and injustice students face in pursuit of their education.

Firstly, classes are frequently cancelled at very short notice. Students sometimes travel from faraway places just to attend one class. Suddenly, they arrive to an empty classroom and news that class has been cancelled.

Other times, students wait for hours in the classroom but lecturers never inform them the class is cancelled. When they ask the lecturer why they were not given earlier notice, they are often scolded.

Secondly, when an issue arises among the students, the management often point fingers at one another. Meeting the person in charge involves a whole day of running around the campus after being told to go here and there.

The person in charge also repeatedly refuses to meet students, claiming that they have too much work. This happens even when students are desperate for help.

Thirdly, the staff and management often behave rudely to students. They scold or raise their voices at students who ask questions or require assistance at their departments. Some lecturers also like to deliberately humiliate students irrespective of the efforts they put into their studies.

Lecturers embarrass them in the classroom for being unable to answer questions or if they ask for further explanations when they don’t understand something.

Students who approach these lecturers for clarification are given unsatisfactory answers, for example, being told to go and read books or being accused of not paying attention in class. As a result, the students are afraid to approach or even ask lecturers for anything.

The behaviour of the staff and management displays a lack of professionalism. For students who are already struggling, it dampens their motivation to continue studying at the polytechnic. Often, they are told to face it quietly or leave, which violates their rights as students as well as human beings.

Students want to appeal to the relevant authorities to check on what’s going on in polytechnics. They have no intention of tarnishing the image of polytechnics and appreciate the opportunity given to them but they, with humble hearts, are asking for a better environment, especially in terms of treatment. With no voice to speak and no ear listening, students – especially from minority groups – are unable to do anything but stay silent.

This subtle form of bullying and blatant discrimination pushes these students to the brink of emotional distress, forcing them to leave their studies halfway.

This certainly is not the case for most polytechnics as there are good ones out there. But it’s not right to ignore the bad apples who spoil the institute’s name, forcing many students to leave because of mistreatment.

Just think of the plight of their families and the bleak future that awaits them. All humans deserve respect and fair treatment. Hopefully, the relevant authorities will take strict action on the irresponsible individuals involved.

Concerned Family Member Klang The STAR Opinion Letters July 24, 2017

Ratu raket smash emas Malaysia, gagal pertahan emas hoki, Singapura hos berjaya, gagal juara

Singapura hos berjaya, gagal juara

EDISI ketujuh ini berlangsung dari 1 hingga 8 September 1973 dengan mempertandingkan 16 jenis sukan.

Dirasmikan oleh Presiden Benjamin Sheares di Stadium Nasional, ini merupakan kali pertama Singapura menjadi tuan rumah Sukan SEAP.


Glory Barnabas (tengah) memintas Tham Tham (Burma) untuk menjuarai acara 200 meter wanita

Bekas atlet pemenang beberapa pingat emas acara pecut olahraga, Canagasabai Kunalan diberi penghormatan sebagai penyala obor Sukan SEAP.

Sebanyak 1,790 atlet dan pegawai menyertainya dengan tuan rumah muncul kontinjen terbesar, menampilkan 454 atlet.


Namun Thailand kekal mengungguli temasya ini dengan kelebihan dua pingat emas sedangkan tuan rumah mengumpul 45 emas keseluruhan daripada kesemua jenis sukan yang disertainya.

Hoki: Malaysia gagal pertahan emas

Singapura mengejutkan juara bertahan, Malaysia untuk menggondol emas hoki lelaki yang baru kali kedua dipertandingkan dalam Sukan SEAP selepas 1971.


Glory Barnabas

Atlet wanita serba boleh, Gladys Chai mengalungkan Malaysia dengan dua emas menerusi acara lompat tinggi dan pentatlon, masing-masing dengan catatan 1.65 meter dan 3,278 mata.

Patricia Chan dan Elaine Sng menyumbangkan tujuh emas renang wanita sesama mereka untuk tuan rumah, kesemuanya menerusi 100, 200, 400 dan 800 meter gaya bebas, 100 dan 200 meter kuak lentang serta 200 meter rampaian individu.

Namun dalam 100 meter gaya bebas, persaingan sengit mereka terus dirasai walaupun sehingga selepas perlumbaan. Terlalu kecewa kerana kalah 0.12 saat kepada Patricia, Elaine terus berendam di kolam agak lama selepas semua peserta meninggalkannya.


Rangkaian 4 x 400 meter Malaysia yang meraih gangsa.

Sukan SEAP ini menampilkan ‘Trio Gadis Emas Singapura’ - Heather Merican, Glory Barnabas dan Eng Chiew Guay. Heather menjuarai 100 meter bepagar dengan catatan 14.8 saat manakala Chiew Guay sepantas 12.5 dalam 100 meter.

Namun yang paling dikenang ialah Glory apabila pelari veteran yang sebelum ini sudah mengumpul perak 1965, tiga gangsa 1967 dan tiga perak 1969, berjaya mengungguli 200 meter setelah menewaskan pelari Burma, Than Than dengan tipis, 25.6 saat.

Kehandalan pelari pecut Thailand, Anat Ratanapol terus terserlah dengan mencatat hatrik emas dalam 100 meter (10.5 saat), 200 meter (21.3 saat) dan 4x100 meter (40.7 saat) di balapan olahraga Stadium Nasional.


Ratu raket smash emas Malaysia

TIGA sukan raket iaitu badminton, tenis dan pingpong wanita benar-benar menyerlahkan keunggulan Malaysia sebagai penyumbang lima pingat emas dalam Sukan SEAP Singapura 1973.

Sylvia Ng mendahului senarai itu dengan memenangi acara perseorangan dan beregu wanita (berpasangan dengan Rosalind Singha Ang) serta berpasukan wanita.


Pegawai-pegawai Sukan SEAP 1973 merakamkan gambar berlatarbelakangkan obor temasya di Mt. Faber.

Dia dan Rosalind memastikan pencapaian satu-dua dalam perseorangan untuk meninggalkan hanya gangsa sebagai sagu hati mereka kepada pemain Thailand, Thongkam Kingmanee.

Dalam acara beregu pula, mereka menghampakan Thongkam yang kemudian bergandingan dengan Patama Sirisriro dalam perlawanan akhir malah menundukkan negara itu bagi emas berpasukan.


Glory Barnabas

Namun Thailand menebus kegagalan itu dengan menguasai pula podium emas dan perak menerusi beregu campuran yang memaksa mendiang Datuk Punch Gunalan dan Sylvia berpuas hati dengan sebutir gangsa.

Di gelanggang tenis, emas bersejarah Malaysia dihadiahkan oleh beregu wanita, Radhika Menon dan Julie Lim Kheow Suan yang turut menumpaskan pasangan Thailand, Sida Schmidt dan Chalathip Pinthanon.


Sylvia Ng

Inilah satu-satunya emas tenis yang mampu diraih Malaysia dalam sejarah Sukan SEAP/SEA sehingga hari ini.

Radhika yang ketika itu baru berusia 20 tahun, terdahulu pernah menimba pengalaman beraksi dalam Kejohanan Terbuka Remaja Wimbledon 1970 selain bergelar Olahragawati Kebangsaan tahun itu.

Meja pingpong pula menyaksikan Tan Sok Hong muncul juara baharu perseorangan wanita.

Dia merampas emasnya daripada penyandang, Bopha Rattanak dari Khmer (Kemboja) yang kali ini sekadar beroleh gangsa selain menewaskan pemenang perak, Tan Soe Cheng juga rakan senegara lawan.

Sok Hong turut berkongsi gangsa beregu campuran dengan juara perseorangan lelaki, Peong Tah Seng.