kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Boxed into a corner

There is a need for better role models in the teaching profession

IT'S so hard to keep cool. No wonder they feel like boxing someone or other.   After all the agony and trouble that teachers go through to educate children -- including trying to decipher acronyms such as PPSMI and MBMMBI and whatever else the Education Ministry throws at them every now and then -- many parents are accusing  teachers of being incompetent.

Some even have the temerity to suggest today's teachers are lesser beings than teachers of yesteryear. What nonsense, exclaim the teachers. Aren't we doing our core job of teaching while juggling mountains of paperwork? Aren't more students today scoring straight As?


Hello, our children are doing better because we send them for tuition classes, not because of your teaching, the parents punch back. If you do your job well, why would we need to send them for tuition? Our children complain about your teaching, or rather, the lack of it.

Even as the teachers try to ward off the blows from parents, they are assailed by columnists and a special group of analysts peculiar to Malaysia who gather in teh tarik stalls. The profession has lost its lustre, the former write. The profession is as insipid as this tea we are drinking, declare the teh tarik pundits.

If not for the miniscule minority of teachers who actually teach, or who don't play politics or get involved with political parties, the profession would have been toast, explicate the teh tarik pundits.

It's not fair, cry the teachers as they try a bolo punch. Don't make us the punching bag; blame it on the education system. We already have, the parents deliver a cross.

Indubitably, write the columnists, the education system needs a revamp. But the revamp should be left to educationists, parents and teachers. Politicians should stay out. We'll drink to that, chime the teh tarik pundits.

Hurting badly, the education authorities -- the mysterious faceless group that everyone likes to blame -- drone with one voice: but our standards are comparatively high.

Standards have deteriorated, write the columnists. Our schools no longer produce well-rounded, confident, thinking students. Our graduates are hobbled by a lack of soft skills and an inability to converse in English in a globalised world.

Don't talk about the globalised world, decry the teh tarik pundits. They don't even know, or bother to know, what is happening locally, being interested only in high salaries and living a fancy life immediately upon graduation.

That's not our fault, the education authorities jab back. Their parents are not teaching them good values at home. Many students are spoilt: they don't respect teachers or elders; they think they know everything and if our teachers go after them, their parents come after us.

Hey dude, don't drag us into your fight, okay? We want school to be cool, interject the students. In fact school was meant to be cool; if you remove the s, h and l, you'll get cool. But you've made it so boring, we only see the l-o-o in the word school. Like the loo in school, it stinks. If we try to speak up, you say "sh" or shoo us away.

And where are the role models? You tell us not to smoke, yet many teachers smoke; you talk about duty, yet many teachers are interested only in money; you preach about fairness, but tell us honestly, do you treat all students the same? You talk about 1Malaysia, but look at the way some of you behave.

So true! There were many role models in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies but not now, the teh tarik pundits pummel the faceless ones.

That's not true, the empire strikes back. We have many, uh, Luke Skywalkers, Princess Leias, Obi-Wan Kenobis and Yodas in the education service. What can we do if you choose to follow the Darth Vaders? We are doing our best to make it more interesting; in fact a revamp is being done with just that in mind.

Having boxed yourself in a ring, you're running in circles, say the columnists. Break out. Drop the non-educational considerations in your revamp.

Please don't batter us with more flip-flop policies. We'll believe your revamp when we see it, the teh tarik pugilists deliver an uppercut. The fact is, you have lost direction.

Yes, weigh in the parents; please don't play politics with our children's future.

Look, the authorities reassure, we want what is good for your children too. We should all work together, not fight each other.

Hey dude, the students throw a straight right, please tell that to your teachers and headmasters, especially the headmaster and teacher at a certain primary school in Ayer Itam, Penang, who had a fist fight last week.

By the way, how about starting boxing clubs in schools -- both for students and teachers. Then we can all float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. And school would be cool.

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -- Mark Twain

By A Kathirasen  |

The New Straits Times Columnist 07 March 2012
Tags: education, heads, teachers

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