22 November 2013

With a Sigh (Pt 17) – Shouldn’t schooling life be fun?

( REGRET : I am sorry if the first few lines look odd.  I do not know why and how to correct it!!) 

Hardly a day passes without someone writing in 
the dailies about our education. I seem to get the 
impression that much of the credits come from 
those in authority. People at large, on the other 
hand, seem to express their weariness over the 
current situation. For a start there is no end to the 
issue of PPSMI. Our former PM warned that Malays 
will be left behind in the acquisition of knowledge 
if the government continues to neglect the 
teaching of science and mathematics in the English 
language. I was not surprised to understand that 
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) was all for 
teaching Science and Mathematics in Malay.  If I 
choose to be cynical I would produce a copy of 
DBP’s dictionary to show the number of English 
words which have been butchered to become 
acceptable Malay words. Many of those words do 
not make Bahasa Malayu any richer. 
I am happy to have a home among the rural/semi urban society. My daily preoccupation at Almanar over the last many years has, consequently, brought me close to many children, rural in upbringing, many with inadequacies; and I have opportunities to interact with heir teachers. It is a shame to hear increasing negative remarks from these educators over the current situation in school. Generally they feel that they are no longer fulfilling their duties as teachers. Among other non academic activities, the introduction of PBS system ( whatever that is! ) leaves them with little time for teaching.

I feel sorry for those teachers and, of course, for the school children. In my selfish way I cannot help feeling that the few children who attend Almanar tuition classes are lucky to learn something.

A couple of weeks ago a group of Form 3 children asked if I would introduce Physics during this long holiday, in advance of their class when they go back to school in January 2014. I like the thought of doing that for them. To satisfy them I picked up one of the old Physics books in my possession. This happened to be one I purchased for one of my children in 1986 ( 27 years ago ). I suppose to the gods of education in the ministry this book is positively archaic. To me the title itself , ‘Physics for you’, is friendly and inviting.    

How about learning some Physics the old method?

I cannot help being amused every time I open the page on ‘measuring Heat’ where a pupil is encouraged to complete a simple poem. It is so typical of many societies, Malay no less, that children are humoured to learn from enchantingly simple poems.

Can you work out the rhyme?

                   Little Jack Holmer,
                   Sat in a corner,
                   Feeling so chilly and cool,
                   He said, “ I should eat,
                   And so produce ……
                   The unit of which is …..”


Whatever ‘education blue print’ the gods of education choose to implement, Pakcik will doggedly carry on teaching at Almanar the way he was taught some sixty years ago! Schooling was fun. Of course it was not funny when you got a cane whipped on your palm for your failure to rattle aloud from memory any of the multiplication tables from 2 to 12 for your teacher. Today a child simply needs to press a couple of buttons to get the answer for 2 times 10.   Nor was it funny in those days when, for not putting in a fair share of work, you had to remain another year in whatever class if you failed the end-of-the-year examination. It was even less funny when you would get sacked for failing twice.

But schooling was fun.

I can only draw a sigh, and keep giving lessons to these children the only way I know how. 

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan



kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
Do it your way. I'm all for it.Let them be familiar with English from a young age. If they're good in English they can easily express themselves in Malay but not the other way round. On the other hand,if they are perfect in Malay, they may still find difficulties expressing themselves in English. Mindful of a compulsory pass in the 2016 SPM,some drastic changes ought to have been in place right now relating to English studies. I hope they have!


aliya said...

Dear pakcik,
I am one of the teachers who was initially fine with the implementation of pbs but 8 months down the line, frustrated with the snail-paced online system, I've become a supporter of its abolishment. We teachers can no longer teach as we like to in school, to cater to our students' needs. We were told to hurry and complete all the pbs evidences on students in as early as september, and to mark endless worksheets and complete forms. So I got smarter, dump the textbook and teach minimum syllabus, arranging lessons which allow students to gave fun while still doing pbs. It's hardwork and my students are so fedup with the pbs worksheets they refuse to go for the higher bands.

aliya said...

The only way to upgrade the standard of English is to have more English periods per week. Now with only 5 periods or 200 minutes, teachers only teach a class two or three days each week.. less if there's a public holiday or school activity in that week.

ngasobahseliman said...

Salam dear Pak Almanar,
Your entry prompted me to write something on my blog, especially on the flip-flop decision of our so-called masters on education. I worry if I am also to blame because I was there when 'they' decided to do maths and science in English. How can I ever make it up.....

Anonymous said...

For your info Pakcik, PBS means PANDAI-BODOH, SERUPA..

Al-Manar said...







abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Pakcik,
Perhaps we should propose to place Education under the portfolio of the Prime Minister, so that no serving Politician can use it as a stepping stone to be PM. Otherwise every person who is appointed Education Minister wants to stamp his mark for his successor to erase and replace with a new stamp. Depoliticise education and let the experts to decide on how to go back to the basics and steer their direction without political inteference. I hope TM will soon reconnect you to the world.

Al-Manar said...


I firmly believe your philosophy of knowing English well works better than the other way round. But we will run foul with those who champion Malay language and who fear that Malay will ‘hilang didunia’. When the issue turns political, views may begin to be distorted.

Al-Manar said...

Dear Alia,

I respect and welcome your view, you being a qualified and an urban teacher.

.It has been my conviction that up there, where ‘the gods of education’ are, their claim that ‘views from all sectors are taken into consideration’ is just an eye-wash. They have had their preconceived views which could well have been from one of many so-called international ‘consultants’who know what fee to charge. It is regretfully sad to see a teacher like you being frustrated in a profession of your choice and one you are good at. I may not be wrong, Alia, there are a few who would like to be seen championing the system for their own benefit. In your own blog entries you do not seem to be inhibited to express your views on ‘sensitive’ practices in Islam. Thank you for your comment here.

Your suggestion that there ought to be more time for English may not go well with defenders of Bahasa Melayu.

Salaam to you and family

Al-Manar said...


Waalaikum Salaam to you.

I have just got back my telephone/atreamyx line. Later today I will, insya Allah, see what you have posted in your blog. and leave whatever sarcastic comments I can think of!

So you were tesponsible for the mess in the first instance. Good for you.

Al-Manar said...

Dear Anonymous

Maanusia dilahirkan sama sahaja dan berakhir dengan kematian - serupa sahaja. Tak kira pandai atau bodoh.

Betul sungguh orang yang memikirkan filosofi diatas. Datanglah selalu dan beri buah fikiran yang dilihat dari sudut yang berlainan.

Anonymous said...


You have brought back old memories of how we studied in the only English school in the state of Terengganu in early to mid 1950’s. For our final secondary school examination were stidied General Science, health Science, one Mathematics ( made up of Arithmatics, Algebra and Geometry), English Language and English Literature. Other subjects were Geography, Malay and History, all inn English. It was tough going through the four books we had to study for English Literature; namely, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest, WB Thomas’ Dare to be Free and WH Hudson's Green Mansion. It was tough. But the English we learnt in these subjects helped us through our academic and working life. Of the group of of forty-two boys and girls who sat for the Senior Cambridge School Certificate examination in 1955, ten could not make the grade and no one achieved anything near all A's. I do not remember anyone ever got all A's in those days in Malaya. Despite this lowly performance The group managedb to produce professional in , law, medical, dentistry, engineering, accountancy, agriculture and a number of teachers; most of whom graduated from overseas universities.

How was it possible for this grouop without the luxury of pure science subjects, additional mathematics etc? I am more than convinced that it was English language that helped to pull us through. To us the door to knowledge was through English.

Were we lacking in co-curricular activities. Believe it or not I was in the school rugby and cricket teams. You could not bowl a cricket ball and got kicked and bruised in scrum half. But you stood as a candidate in the general schol election with posters and all for school prefects and you won.

You quite rightly say, schooling was great fun. Yet these clever people are struggling to find a blueprint on how to make successful people of children in school. - when we had it all there 60 years ago and that proved successful And despite the emphasis on English as the medium of instruction we were as much MALAYANS then as we are MALAYSIANS today.

I am sorry to ahve taken so much space.


Al-Manar said...

Dear AHS,

Surprise, sirprise, after a few days I am back on the line.

Are you serious in suggesting that Education should come under PM? You must be quite convinced either education is so important that it should be under PM or PM has a lot of free time! You held senior positions in the government in those days. You must know , I suppose.

Yes we will do the way we were taught. We will not be that wrong as it is now.

Al-Manar said...


Thank you for helping me to elaborate on the group og '55.

All the best

Al-Manar said...

Dear Shakirin Al-Ikram.

Your comments are forthright and are very amusing as well. Generally I try to avoid being political in my blog entries. Outside the blogsphere I talk about politics very freely with friends. For fear of causing embarrassment I regret for not posting your comments. Names mentioned in your comments may not be right to be put in black and white.. Email me and I will be too happy to reply. No doubt political bloggers love to highlight names. Leave that to them, I keep telling myself. Hope you understand.

Pak Idrus said...

PokCik Hassan. Under the present education system the irony is that the Malay is loosing big time. They came out of the system except for a small number knowing only Bahasa Melayu and a limited knowledge whereas the Chinese who went to the Sekolah Kebangsaan Jenis Cina came out with mastering Mandarin [a world language now] and BM and most with English as well. It is the same for Sekolah Tamil. What can one read in BM to increase one's knowledge. There are million of books and research document in English and Mandarin but you cannot say the same on BM. So the only way is to bring back the good old English school and call it Sekolah Kebangsaan Jenis Inggeris like the Sekolah Cina and Tamil. Let the parents choose which school they want their kids to be educated.

Our generation went to an English school and we came out of the system mastering the English Language and BM as well. Not only that we are as patriotic as ever and broad-minded too. And could continue to acquire knowledge from reading in English.

Have a nice day Sir.

atuk said...

Assalamualaikum Al manar

ziarah sini menimba ilmu

terima kasih sudi ke PHD

Al-Manar said...


Although we went to English schools in different parts of Malaya/Malaysia we found English as the main factor which helped us move forward in education without making us lose our identity. We knoow as muc Malay and perhaps more patriotic, irrespect od ethnicity, than the present generation. The few comments above seem unanimous. Why must those in power choose not to see this and form our own judgement and decision instead of going ahead with more experiments ?

Thank you for being forthright in expressing your views.

Al-Manar said...


Waalaikum salaam kepada tuan juga.

Kita sama samalah menimba ilmu. Sekurang kurangnya kita dapat bertukar pandangan. Bersetuju atau tidak itu pun meluaskan pandangan.

sweetie said...

En. Hasan, saya hanyalah seorang emak yang tidak punya kelulusan tinggi... hanya seorang emak yang mahu anak-anaknya jadi itu.. jadi ini bila tamat pengajian nanti... dalam pada itu saya juga 'ingin' anak-anak saya menguasai BI... dan saya tidak mahu anak-anak saya dijadikan mangsa atau golongan yang dipertanggungjawabkan untuk 'Memartabatkan Bahasa Melayu'.

Ya, hari ini kita tidak nampak dimana perlunya PPSMI itu... tapi tunggulah untuk beberapa tahun lagi... kenapa mantan PM kita mahu PPSMI itu di teruskan...

ninotaziz said...

I hope all is well at Al-Manar. The floods look positively terrifying.

I am glad I still make my girls memorize their multiplications. They are NOT ALLOWED a calculator until the very moment the teacher introduces it to class!