Class Wrecker: Satan, like a lion on the prowl, seeks to disrupt boys from gaining knowledge, says my former teacher
LAST month, the nation paid tribute to teachers who tirelessly worked to impart knowledge to our children. Tributes were written by students, gifts presented and those who contributed immensely to the nation's education were honoured.
But above all things, teachers cherish the time when students pay attention in class and learn something to improve their lives. This can be in the form of lessons that help students excel in exams or precious advice, which leads to doing the right thing.
I remember one such advice, or rather, a warning, given by my Bahasa Malaysia teacher when I was in Form 2.
My old BM teacher believed that man has a sworn enemy and his name is Satan -- the devil. She says after the fall from grace, Satan dedicated himself to the destruction of mankind. And what better way to do that than to distract the sons of Adam from studying?
According to her, the devil had three potent devices to disrupt the learning process. I can't remember how she described them, so allow me to exaggerate a bit as I share along:
Hypnotic cane (tongkat pukau)
This lulling device is Satan's favourite tool. You can see its prevalence during hot days when the afternoon session is about to begin.
One whack to the back will "break" the spine and cause students to slump on their desks. The cane's spell then works its way up to the brain, causing a trance-like state, which is hard for teachers to snap them out of.
Every time a teacher calls for attention, the more Satan goes around swinging the lethargic cane. In the end, teachers will blame students for not getting a good night's rest (it's a more logical explanation).
Blabbering lipstick (gincu celoteh)
Ever been in a one-way conversation where there's no stopping the motormouth? Yes, that's the blabbering lipstick, which works even on adults!
The classroom may suddenly degenerate into a noisy, raucous environment. What is even more baffling is that everyone is speaking at once, each trying to drown out the other in their own conversation. Have you tried to interrupt somebody so engrossed in a conversation?
I did. They seem to be able to shut out and ignore your presence. Imagine this when poor teacher is trying to conduct her lessons. This is by far the most potent tool in Satan's sleeve and he always manages to apply it on the sly.
Worse still, says my former teacher, is when the devil experiments with the obnoxious lip balm (gincu celupar). He uses a prototype that causes students to snap and give a provocative reply when teachers attempt to draw them back to the lessons at hand. Thank God, this device is rare and I realise that it is of utmost importance, even for adults, to guard our lips against this dangerous weapon that Satan pours his money into.
Temptress doll (patung goda)
Did I mention that I studied in a boys' school before it became co-ed in 1995?
Well, the only girls during my time were in morning sessions in Form Six. I guess there's nothing more tantalising than studying for five years in a hormone-filled pubescent environment with 40 straight guys and a few aloof, older girls.
Whenever a Form Six girl walked past my class (some of them really pretty), what else could my classmates and I see except poetry in motion? According to teacher, this was where the devil took advantage of our weakness.
The classroom is like a universe and teacher was the centre that pulled all things together. But unfortunately, "poetry in motion" was the temptress doll.
As the pretty comet shot past our universe, it tended to upset the balance of attention and pulled ours along with it, leaving poor old teacher (especially my BM teacher) exasperated in front of the blackboard.
Sorry teacher, it was not because we were being sexist or your class was boring. It's just because we were sidetracked and fell for the charms of the temptress doll.
There we have it, the three weapons of Satan to watch out for. To foil his evil schemes in class, teachers and students have to master the art of connecting right to effectively transfer knowledge. To teachers, I wish you all the best in doing your duties. To students, watch out for the devil's tricks!
New Straits Times Columnist 08 June 2014 Kenny Goh | firstname.lastname@example.org