25 August 2010

Obsession With Ranking- Episode 2

This is the second article in the Obsession With Ranking in which I want to give my opinions to make our country as the best in the world. There may be some scepticism and questions regarding my ability as a 20 years old to give ideas on matters like this. Well, I'm part of Malaysia, hence I'm entitled to give opinions and ideas about the place that I will be living in for the rest of my life. I know one of my friends would ask why blog is so serious (yeah, you are the one Lee!) but this is the kind of things that I know how to write. I am funny (as somebody said before) but it is not something I know how to write. So here I am writing about serious stuffs again.

The notion that our education systems are stuck and prohibit the growth of creativity cannot be further from the truth. Now,  I have some ideas (based on research and original thoughts) to give to Ministry of Education. I was a student in a national daily school before, hence I think it is very thoughtful if the Ministry takes opinions and give details analysis from the products of the systems.

  1. Create a town in each school- this may sound absurd but it does work when you want students to get involve in something. The town in each school will be run by students themselves. They will have their own polls to elect junior ministers in schools, journalists to report in their school flyers, news anchor in school broadcasting stations, social workers to do charity and businessmen to get money to run the whole thing. Isn't that interesting? Compared to the dull activities in extra-curricular activities, running their own town would be much more interesting. The schools administers would not have to keep nagging in assemblies for them to come to the activities (they always do) because all students are involved and they will feel being a part of an institution. Running a town as it goes on would require many students with different abilities. Isn't it more effective if the students really want to be part of it rather than forcing them to do the never ending kawad kaki. In the process, the students will develop leadership qualities, creative thinking and generate extra incomes to the schools.
  2. Flourish innovation competition at schools- we probably have heard many competitions that promote creativity and ideas; Intel, Minds etc. but many of the students do not have full access to do them. Therefore, schools therefore should give space to students to participate by encouraging them with full support. I recalled my experience in Si2 when my teacher, Mr Sapli stayed in the bengkel even on holidays to see how we do our project. It paid off, we won at national level!
  3. Widen the emphasise on science and mathematics to literature, humanities subjects, languages, sports, music and arts- Without this, we will stuck forever in the creativity trap. Our system's goal is like to make ALL students to become university professors and doctors. The emphasise on academic is good, but we need some space from all of that. Not all of the students want that, even the brightest. We were not exposed on what economics is like, how arts influenced history and how literature change our minds. We were put with the notion that science students are always the brightest, without knowing our interests in life. Then, all bright students do sciences subjects to prove they are smart and no other choice in schools because they have to be with the less academically-able students if they want to do Economics.
  4. More project-based work rather than textbooks-based homework- This is another thing that must be done right now to our systems. SPM must be there to stay, but reduce the number of subjects and contents to have more real-world applications. Project-based works are the solutions to get students participate in lessons and proven to be more effective. For example, in Sejarah, why didn't we reduce the contents or have the options for students to choose which topics they want to learn (Sejarah Bijih Timah or Sejarah Negeri). Of course the syllabus must have core topics, but give freedom to students to develop their interests. Why do we need to know all the facts for SPM only and after that, forgetting who Ibn Sina was. Thus, the solution is to get students participate in lessons by doing projects. We should move from 'Apakah sumbangan tamadun Islam kepada dunia?' to 'Sumbangan Tamadun Islam Kepada Dunia: Satu Kajian'. From there, the students will develop research skills, communicative writing and experiences they will never forget. By doing research, they will never forget things they have researched for. Then, problem arises when we want to teach more. Remember, sometimes less is more. The more you teach, the more we think we have to remember and end up remember nothing. By doing this, they will develop interests (which is the most important ) and retain the facts that they did research about until they die. 
Ministry of Education must remember that there is no alternatives to these. It is make or break situation, otherwise we will sink further into the trap. Our education system does not need evolution, but a total revolution.-The Chukai Insider

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