26 November 2012

All in the family ( Pt 6 ) – Take a BREAK

It is time to have a BREAK.

In last Sunday’s NST Wan Hulaimi, in his article, ‘All that babble and blah about esteem’ said, “… it has been demonstrated time and again that telling students that they can hone their skills towards greater achievements is better than praising them for scoring all As. ….’

That interesting piece of writing bears no reference to the UPSR results. But it adds up to that pride of achievement.

After continuous record-BREAKING years of being the champion in UPSR examination, Terengganu, according to a local daily, is doing a ‘post-mortem’ on the reasons for the failure to maintain that distinction, the high esteem. From the small samples of pupils attending Almanar tuition classes over the last nineteen years I always wonder how on earth the state could have been proud of its achievement over the years. I have not been able to reconcile the reality with the esteem.  It is about time to have a BREAK forcing a much needed post-mortem.

So it is good to have a BREAK, even in a record-BREAKING dream of self esteem.

One of Pakcik’s grandchildren failed to get all A’s in the recent UPSR examination. I am glad it is not seen as a tragedy in the family breaking the chain of excellence set by her two elder brothers. Isn’t it good to have a BREAK so that we all do not get carried away believing the world is always at our feet?

While two of Pakcik’s grandchildren are right now struggling with their SPM examination two other grandchildren are enjoying themselves because they themselves have just sat for their PMR examination. Never mind what fate has in store for them. As for now they are having a good BREAK with us, armed with their guitars, serenading their grandma from the top of the tree house.

Standing on a tree house
Serenading a grandma
In this part of the world these two city boys have a chance to perform the neck-BREAKING task of picking young coconuts. It is easy when they see a local shinning up a tall coconut palm; or a trained monkey running all the way up to the top. Doing it yourself even on a small tree proved not all that simple without a bit of cheating. 

No, I can't make it

Let's do a bit of cheating

I can do it too


It is  November now, the middle of our special snow-free winter season when monsoon rain ought to be pelting down day and night. But even the monsoon has its BREAK too. We are having sunshine for a change and the steady sea breeze helps children fly their kites on the beach.

It looks tempting from the house

Nice breeze for flying kites

But the sea is still dangerously rough. Tnree  weeks ago a boy who was about to sit for his SPM examination was drowned in the sea not far from here. The strong under-current had drawn him into the deep water beyond. It is a sad story.
Watch that wave

It is fascinating to sit on the soft sand and watch the formation of waves and how they gather speed and strength only to BREAK with huge splashes, unrolling and laying sheets after sheets of beautiful white foams along the vast stretches of sandy beach.

I can sit all day

Only this deep we are allowed 

Roll on to me !

Crawl like a crab coming from the sea

To be sure that all play and no work does not make Jack a dull boy, these two long-and-bushy haired kids  are given small doses of English, Maths, Physics and Chemistry in preparation for their early Form 4 days in January. That is on the assumption that they would be allowed to continue studying at Victoria Institution. For a start they have been warned that they would not be allowed to see their PMR results if they turn up with untrimmed hair as they are today.

Let's play the guitar
And forget the PMR
And will these two young boys have all A’s in their PMR? Their parents did not achieve all A’s before them and their grandparents did not even have such an examination to sit during their time. So what is the fuss? For all the lack of ‘esteem’ we, as a family, have survived better than we deserve. Alhamdulillah.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan  


kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
Yes what's all the fuss. Exams are just hurdles for what they are meant to be. One at a time. If one does well, it's indicative of a likely trend in the subsequent ones. If not, then it's indicative to buck up for the future.

It's so much that city folks miss seeing your pics. A vacation throughout the year. How nice!

Btw, Norman, my eldest g/child got his 5As. Testament to the many hours I had to be involved in ferrying him to tuitions.


Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
In that last pix, I wonder if the boys were singing Achy BREAKy Heart to grandma? Any time is a good time for a BREAK! purrrr....meow!

Al-Manar said...


I like the idea that an examination is just a hurdle that one crosses with ease or one stumbles. Pick yourself up, learn and move ahead.

Al-Manar said...


Are you taking a BREAK with orang utan somewhere now? The two of you are admirably tireless.

MamaTim said...

PakCik, you must be having a great time with these two around. Enjoy your BREAK of silence (but this is hardly it, right.. considering you're always with your students). I love getting my sons back to kampung and nature too. Something we hardly do sadly. A good way to get their faces unstuck from the psp/android gadgets.

*missing Terengganu*

abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Pak Cik,
High time we break this trend of being obsessed with A's in any exams. Life is much more than scoring A's. Well and good if you do, but for those who did not score all A's, it means that somebody just have to settle with less. Sometimes those who accepts having less knows how to appreciate having more. Success is more than getting straight A's.

Haslina said...

Salam Pakcik, I'm glad you take the 'breaking' of record (of another type) by your state pretty well. Yes, when we focus too much on the As and the excellence we tend to forget those lagging behind. UPSR and other public exams for that matter are not 'be all and end all'. We make the students so stressed up at such a young age and by right they should be enjoying themselves playing 'masak masak' and climbing trees.
On another note, I am glad to see your grandsons are enjoying themselves at the 'kampung' and at the same time keeping you and Makcik company. Have a nice time!

Al-Manar said...


You are right to say I need a BREAK. Since early this year my normal pupils are mainly from the home for underprivileged children. During school holidays they are sent back to their homes away from here. So I am left with very few other pupils. It is my first BREAK for so many years. The presence of these two ‘cucus’ is very welcome indeed.

The 'missing Terengganu' bit makes me wonder. Care to tell me, privately if like?

Al-Manar said...


It is true that we appreciate better having something of value if we start from not having it in the first place. But if we go on belittling A's that members of our family do not have, someone will tell us 'sour grapes!'

Zendra-Maria said...

Salam Pakcik,

What makes the east coast so appealing whenever we BREAK away from the concrete jungle that is the Klang Valley?

It is watching dawn BREAKING over the horizon, taking a walk on the beach, feeling the cool water gushing over our feet from the BREAKING of the waves, and then enjoying a hearty Terengganu BREAKfast after.

Just for that I would give it a score similar to 8 A's in PMR.

Al-Manar said...


Did I take it well the fall of my state from grace? That Kelantan came out better than my state adds insult to injury - and I take great pleasure for all the arrogance they have shown over the years.

As a teacher with experience you know better than many the unnecessary stress our children have to go through, with co-curricular on top of it all all. And now that stupid newly introduced examination-free system is sure to add unproductive workload on teachers.

Al-Manar said...


Aren't I happy to see you back after so long. With more extended families added in my part of the world you may be tempted to perform 'hijrah' to Terengganu.

Sad to say, the beaches of Terengganu are E-graded in cleanliness because we have been too busy trying to get A's in UPSR.

You have added of more 'BREAKs' to my collection. I had not thought of them. Thank you.

MamaTim said...

Pakcik, "missing Terengganu"> we travel back to my husband's kampung in Banggol Peradong only twice a year. Should be more often but cannot be because of work and other commitments. We live in Kedah. The 8 hour drive (first to, then fro) is least fav part of the trip. If Raya and certain public hols, traffic expected to be worse. Once it took us 12 hours from KT back to Kedah! Nak nangis pun ada...

Terengganu has one kind of charm absent elsewhere. I do not know how to describe it. Nak kata poetic? nostalgic? yep, kind of..

My other fav place is Penang (just posted about it at http://mamatimsite.blogspot.com/2012/11/my-penang.html)
Penang is very different from Terengganu, chaotic - almost mental! Perhaps too hyped up for some but my attachment to it is more sentimental because of what it describes me as a person - hahaha also "almost mental"!!

naniasda said...

As Salam Pakcik,
Non of my four children are high-achievers with only a few As to decorate their whatever exam's certificates. My children's achievements can never compare to some of my colleagues children who never fail to obtain the maximum As to decorate their certificates. On reading your post this time I am also glad to say that my family lack the 'esteem' too and still survived. I have not read Wan Hulaimi's article yet but I think this apply to my son who was just being awarded the degree of Bachelor of Art and Design (Hons) in Graphic Design Second Class (Upper) last Sunday ... he was a slow learner and I remember when at 5 yrs old after coming back from a trip to KL he drew the Petronas Twin Towers from his imagination almost in detail and I am glad to say that he is now using his skill towards greater achievements :)

Al-Manar said...


Have you not been warned to be weary of East Coast people who are very skilled in employing 'charms'? So you cannot explain what Terengganu has on you!

Al-Manar said...


I am pleased that you truly appreciate the true value of esteem. Your boy is a very good example of developing one's skill to the full instead of forcing him to get A's and get nowhere at the end of it. It is interesting to see statistics on top performers in life and their A's at schools. I am sure someone can tell us where such statistics can be found.

MamaTim said...

heeheee.. too late!! No cure for me, not that I mind..

Anonymous said...

Salam Pak Cik and Mak Cik...
It is good to know that both of you have friends at home. Mak Cik will not be alone. She has at least, somebody she could talk to when you are not around. Mak Cik can get their help while doing her gardening !

I miss you both
with love,

Al-Manar said...


You have not been around quite a while. We are sure all is well with you.

Anonymous said...

Pak Cik,
It is been a long time since we last sat down together and I miss those moments. Life if rather hectic now. Miss you both.

Uncle said...

Salam Pakcik.
I failed 3 subjects miserably....add maths, mod maths and bio! But that was the greatest lesson....to me, it was just another hurdle! Result yang macam tu telah membuatkan saya berusaha lebih gigih lagi untuk menyaingi kawan2 saya yang akan pulang dari luar negara pada waktu itu...result yang macam itu jugalah yang telah membawa saya bertugas di Switzerland, Jepun, Indonesia, China dan Saudi Arabia....alhamdulillah!

Al-Manar said...


I have copied your comment onto my next post which I did soon after your comment was published. I am sure you would prefer to have it there.

Thank you for dropping in

Anonymous said...

Salam Pak Cik

Take a break and pause for reflection. Instead of always moving forward, take a moment to pause and ask ourselves how are we doing. The end of the year is the perfect season to look inward. One thing I learn, achieving straight As does not guarantee future success..

Wishing you and mak cik a restful and ease-filled holiday season!


Al-Manar said...


We must not admit that one sits for an examination and tries his best, which is an A. So getting all A's is an achievement and ought to be recognised as a good performance. But people like you and me who have not known all A's are saying we have achieved in life something which all A's does not make any difference to the satisfacition we feel today. In reality we are proud to catch a bigger fish than a fisherman himself.

I think what is not right is to have such high esteem for excellence at the expense of those who do not achieve it.

It is beautiful up there looking at the snow from a well-heated home. It is equally beautiful to watch the miserable rain outside from a well sheltered house.

Witty Angel said...

the tree house looks so nice!!i wish i have them as well at my home!

Al-Manar said...

This seems to be your first visit here - in a new too. So Welcome and happy new year. I had a look at your blog but failed to determine who you are, whether a student in Cork or someone else altogether. Do you mind sending me a short email please - almanar@pd.jaring.my -?