A story retold …

I remember the day I first attended school.   The school was not a big one.  Not like the modern and state-of-the-art buildings that you have today.  But to those staying in the surrounding areas,  it is called and known as a school.  A place where the village kids went to sharpen their skills and knowledge and to blend additional know-hows into their still fresh memory banks.  The school was located at the perimeter of a small rural town.

I remember,  though it is more than 70 years ago,  that the ‘academic’  structure is a wooden building with rooms just enough to accommodate  5 class rooms,  and a teachers’ corner.  The interior of the building is very airy and bright.  There are windows everywhere and there are no partitions in between the class rooms.  In other words,  even at that time the building designers then had put into practice ‘the open office concept’.

The school building was located by the side of the road … just a few yards to the roadside.  There was no danger of children being involved in car accidents,  as vehicles such as cars and motor cycles are hard to come by then.  In front of the school building was a large area .. the assembly ground and next to it was some sort of a playing field.  And behind the school building was an area where the teachers’ quarters were built.

Now,  my first day at school … I was very excited.  There were about a dozen kids like me.  All, with the exception of me and a couple other kids,  were  holding tightly to their fathers’ or  mothers’ hands.  Most of them looked worried.  Some would be hiding behind their parents.  As for me,  I was very relaxed and happy.  I have been waiting impatiently for this day  to come.

It was the beginning of the Japanese occupation of our country.  I could see trucks upon trucks carrying troops  –  Japanese troops –  passing by our school.  I personally did not pay much attention to the sounds  the convoy created.  My attention was more on the happenings at school.  I wanted to know then who would be my class mates,  and who would be my class teacher.  I wanted to know too how many books would I get to bring home.  And what about the ‘papan batu’ or slates.  Those days,  the slates took the place of the exercise books of today.

All in all,  it was an exciting occasion to a certain degree. Now let’s see what happened on the first day … that is after the student registration and distribution of books.

We were divided into groups and taken ot our respective class rooms.  We were then shown to our tables.  Just imagine me having a table of my own.  It was indeed a great day.  We were asked to sit down … and sit down quietly we did.  Our class teacher was an elderly man … I believe he was around 40 years of age.  He was very pleasant looking and always smiling.  He introduced himself to us.  And he called us by our names from the name list he was holding.  I believe this was how he would know us.  Much later he began giving instructions to us and explaining the things we would be learning.

It was a day full of excitement.  We were excited and at the same time began to make friends.  We began to talk,  first to the kid next, and it went on until we know everyone in the  class. The atmosphere was noisy,  but it was in a controlled way.

Day one ended without any untoward incident.  To my surprise,  no one cried,  not even when the parents left them at school in the morning.  The bell rang for the end of school for the day.  There was a loud commotion when everyone began running for the exit.  After that,  it was all quiet and peaceful.

In my next post,  I would be relating my experience … my learning experience in the good old days.

I started school at the beginning of the Japanese occupation,   through the 14 days the country was run by the communists,  then when the British Military Administration took over from the surrendering Japanese authority.

I am proud to say that I went through three eras of education in our country.  I left school in 1951 after completing my primary and secondary education.

My coming posts will tell of my experiences.  I will try to give some sort of comparison to what we have today … in terms of education, that is.

Advertisements

Education … the basics

The hot topic today is education.  It is a subject close to everyone’s heart … especially to those with school going children.  Everyone is talking about it … the fisher folks along the beaches,  the paddy planters,  the vegetable farmers,  the cattle breeders,  the teachers,  the clerks and of course the political persons.

A lot of questions are asked around this topic because there are so many unanswered.

While  going through some materials received from visitors to my blogs/websites,  I came across a few  on the subject of education.   Some of these have been published in my earlier blogs a few years back,  but I feel the contents are still relevant.

Here’s one sent to me around 2009.

“CHOOSING A SCHOOL

remember the time when,  for the first time,   I had to send my  child to school.    I was faced with a very difficult decision.    I had to choose a good school  for him.    I must find  a school with the best performance in terms of academic achievements.    I must find a school where the environment was the most suitable for a growing  child.     I must find a school where the security of my child is guaranteed,   because  I didn’t want to feel worried every time he was in school.     And then I have to find a school not too far from the house where we were staying.   It was a  tough job.

I remember,    my husband and I would spend sleepless nights thinking about this.    We would make a checklist.   We would make a list of the possible schools of our choice.   We would make an in-depth study of each school.   We would look at the teaching community,   the student population  and  of course the management of the school itself.   We would discuss at length  the pros and cons.   We would look at things from all angles.    We have  to be very careful about the choice,    because once we make our decision we must stick by it.    Changing school half way will be bad for the child.

Then on the day we registered the child,    we  kept our fingers crossed.    We were  hoping we would be given the school of our choice.

Of  course,   the authorities normally would suggest the school nearest to our residence.    Yes,  that is nice.    But not every school nearest to the house would fit the criteria of a good and safe school.    But at least my child would get a school and when the new session started ,   he would be going to start his new life of searching for knowledge in school  ….  and he would me making friends.

Nowadays with so many schools around,    it is quite difficult  for us to make our choice.     And with the addition of private schools,   the task is made even more difficult.    Some of these private schools are good or even better than some of the government schools.    But the only thing that makes us parents  stay away from private schools is the exorbitant  sum of money they charge for each child.     In  some cases,  this is quite justified especially  when looking at the performance of the school and the examination results each year.    These schools are equipped with the most modern teaching  paraphernalia,    a  good set of qualified teachers  and with a good library.     But there are some private schools,    which  frankly do not reach the standards required or promised.      These are the schools,  I would suggest we stay away from.     These schools are more interested in making money,   rather than giving education to our children  …. making education more of a commercial venture.

This is where  as parents we should know our roles  and responsibilities in the education of our children.    If we want to take the easy way out,    of course we would not bother very much about all these,   especially when we have the money to throw around.

This brings me to a remark made by an elderly gentleman,   who has retired from the teaching profession.   He was with it for more than 30 years.     He said that the school or the type of school is not that important.    What is important is the child.   If he goes to school to learn  to  be a useful citizen in later life,  than in whatever school we put him in,  he would do just that,  and he would excel.    It is not really necessary that the best school would produce the best students.    And we as parents have a very big role to play.

The writer would like to remain anonymous.

SATU PANDANGAN UNTUK DIRENUNG BESAMA

Hari ini matlamat utama pembelajaran, tidak kira di peringkat apa juga,  ialah untuk menentukan bahawa kecemerlangan dicapai oleh para pelajar.  Amat diperlukan bahawa mereka mencapai setinggi dan sebaik penghasilan dalam mata pelajaran mereka.  Ini adalah satu hakikat dan ini juga merupakan satu kaedah pengukur prestasi para pelajar.

Untuk tujuan ini pelbagai panduan dan bimbingan direkacipta untuk menambah dan membantu mereka kearah metlamat ini.

Akan tetapi matlamat ini dan juga kaedah-kaedah bantuan pembelajaran yang telah diwujudkan dengan sendirinya menimbulkan satu suasana yang tidak begitu sihat yang biasanya menggaanggu emosi,  kestabilan dan ketenteraman pelajar.

Mungkin kaedah-kaedah ini menghasilkan pelajar yang berjaya mendapatkan keputusan peperiksaan yang amat cemerlang dengan 20A dan seumpamanya,  akan tetapi adakah keadaan ini dapat menentukan mereke lebih bersedia menghadapi peringkat-peringkat pelajaran yang lebih tinggi,  atau adakah mereka lebih bersedia dengan sepenuhnya menghadapi kehidupan di ‘dunia luar’ yang penuh dengan cabaran.

Dasar pendidikan negara antara lain ada memaktubkan bahawa pelajaran hendaklah mempunyai matlamat supaya para pelajar mengikuti atau didedahkan kepada pelajaran yang menyeluruh atau ‘total education’.

Kita perhatikan keadaan sebenar yang berlaku.   Seorang pelajar yang mendapat keputusan peperiksaan 20A umpamanya.  Adakah pelajar ini memahami atau dapat menghayati mata pelajaran yang telah dipelejarinya?  Tidak boleh dinafikan bahawa pelajar ini belajar hanya untuk mengumpul sebanyak mana A yang boleh diperolehinya.

Kerana keputusan peperiksaan ini akan memuaskan hatinya, bahawa dia juga boleh mendapat banyak A.   Memuaskan hati ibu bapanya,  yang berasa gembira bahawa anaknya juga termasuk di dalam golongan pelajar yang cemerlang.   Dan membawa rasa gembira pula kepada guru besarnya,   yang sekolahnya dapat menghasilkan pelejar-pelajar yang cemerlang dan ini sudah tentu meningkatkan krediliti dan kepimpinannya.

Keadaan ini dengan sendirinya membawa kita kepada tafsiran bahawa sistem pembelajaran yang memandu para pelajar adalah untuk mencapai kejayaan dengan mengumpul seberapa banyak A yang boleh, oleh mereka.   Ini pula membawa kita kepada hakikat bahawa kaedah yang digunakan untuk membawa hasil seperti ini adalah kaedah yang akan mencetuskan rasa bimbang,  risau,  trauma,  tertekan dan sebagainya di kalangan para pelajar.

Dengan ini sebagai latarbelakang,  maka difikirkan sudah tiba masanya satu kaedah baru menggunakan konsep pembelajaran yang lebih praktikal dibentuk,   demi untuk mewujudkan masyarakat pelajar yang diberi pendidikan secara menyeluruh.  Kaedah ini dirasakan boleh membantu masyarakat pelajar di semua peringkat pelajaran menyediakan diri menghadapi apa juga cabaran di masa hadapan.