Friday, April 13, 2012

Malaysian Education: Need for Change?

I've recently become a part of the Parent Support Group of my children's school. Parent Support Group is another name for the PTA or the PIBG, the group of parents who work with the school on behalf of all the other parents.
We are having the kick-off meeting on Saturday and one of the items on the agenda is "Delivery of School Lessons", so I took this opportunity to ask my own kids what they thought about the lesson delivery in their current school compared to what they have experienced in Saudi and Dubai.

"Over here, only the teachers are allowed to talk. They never ask your opinion. In Dubai, we were the ones doing most of the talking. There were more discussions".
"Homework was fun! I was so excited to do my homework when I was in school in Saudi/Dubai. Homework here feels like a chore.. it's all writing and more writing"
"You know that's not really true ... you did get a few assignments to make movies and diagrams"
"yeah, that's true ... but for subjects like Math, they gave us assignments like 'Build your own Amusement Park' and you were taught how to keep track of cost and revenue and how to calculate your profit and loss, how to estimate how many workers, rides, and food stalls you need. That was FUN. Over here it's all exercises."
"Yeah and there was that enterprise week where I got to create my own island resort and wore a suit and I gave a presentation"
"And remember that Rainforest concert? We got to sing or act out what we learnt about the rainforest in class, to the whole school! And we made an aboriginal masks during art. That was fun."
"Why can't they do these things over here?"

Having experienced 'Malaysian Schooling' for roughly 6 months now, I think I now know why.
This has probably been said before, but our education system is too exam oriented. Worse, it is geared to reward students who can answer questions in a fixed format. Interprate the question differently or answer it a little differently, or perhaps use different or the wrong or unfamiliar word, and you lose points. So students have no choice but to learn how to interprate the question and how to answer the questions in a specific way, to maximize the points you receive.
Compound that with a public that sizes up schools based on exam results alone, you get schools that are forced to spend more time training students on how to answer questions to maximize points, instead of teaching them how to learn and apply the knowledge. Teachers have no time to make learning fun, because they are too restricted by this system.
Our children are being taught how to swallow facts and figures whole and spew it out in neat little packages that conform to the examiners format. They are being judged on how well they do that. The judges are the local 'good schools', the colleges, the universities, the employers.

In my opinion, our students need to learn more about how to GAIN AND APPLY knowledge than how to RETAIN knowledge.

In this day an age, what you are learning today is probably obsolete yesterday. The advent of technology has made it easy for you to extract information. There is really no need for us to test our students on how much they know and can remember, because that skill is no longer required. What is more important is to test them on their skill in getting information, on mining data, on deducting facts and figures and how logically and creatively they can apply that knowledge.

Want to know when the Portugese invaded Melaka? Just google it. Want to know why? Wiki. Want to know what the Melakans could've done to prevent the invasion? Now, *that* is something worth spending time pondering, discussing and concluding about.

You think questions like that is waaay to advanced for our young students? Think again.
At 11 years old, the students in Ilham's Year 7 class in Jumeirah College Dubai were talking about the Battle of Hastings (go wiki it). They were asked, why do you think the Normans won, taking into account not only the size of the battling forces, but also the demographic of the forces, the tools and weapons they had, the geography of the area and other extenuating circumstances. They were also asked, what could the Engish have done to win it?
With this one question (eh, two), they were not only able to apply their power of deduction and assumption, they also applied their skill in clear and persuasive writing.
Budak darjah lima hokay.
Now, don't you dare say Mat Salleh kids are better than Malaysian kids. I think Malaysian kids were just never given the opportunity.

And that's only the subject of Sejarah (History). I am sure there are many other ways where we could encourage our students to be creative in applying the knowledge that they have learnt in all the other subjects.

Unfortunately, the local 'good schools', universities, colleges and employers do not look at or for these skills when they are evaluating applicants. The first thing they look at are the results on paper. That is such a shame. Perhaps that is why you find that most successful people in the world nowadays are those that did not do so well in school or go to the best schools. Perhaps these organizations need to stop looking at only the exam results and look deeper into the applicants' skills instead, if they want truly the best people in their institution.

I know changing the school system would be an arduous long-winded process that will probably take years of writing and presenting working papers, cabinet debates, minister slanderings, illicit videos, handbag purchases and what not. So, I am not hoping much.
I do hope that we, as parents, could do little-little things within our own school, or even within our own household, to make not just learning, but the the application of knowledge, more fun and exciting for our children.

Insya-Allah!

4 comments:

  1. Actually Elisa, employers do look for candidates that are analytical, creative in solving problems, have great communication and leadership skills etc. I remember being very frustrated when interviewing graduates who meets the academic criteria but are so lacking in even carrying a proper, intelligent conversation. There was a huge discrepancy between all those As and being a productive employee, a catalyst for change and a great team player. I hope the Msians education changes so we can produce future generations who are ready to tackle the challenges of a global economy.

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    1. Saya ingin berbagi cerita kepada anda bahwa saya ini IBU PUSPITA seorang TKI dari malaysia dan secara tidak sengaja saya buka internet dan saya melihat komentar ibu hayati yg dari honkong tentan MBAH KABOIREN yg telah membantu dia menjadi sukses dan akhirnya juga saya mencoba menghubungi beliau dan alhamdulillah beliau mau membantu saya untuk memberikan nomor toto 6D dan alhamdulillah itu betul-betul terbukti tembus,kini saya sangat berterimakasih banyak kepada MBAH KABOIRENG dan jika anda ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH KABOIRENG di 085-260-482-111,saya juga tidak lupa mengucap syukur kepada ALLAH karna melalui MBAH KABOIRENG saya juga sudah bisa sesukses ini dan jangan mudah percaya kepada MBAH yg lain selain MBAH KABOIRENG karna saya juga pernah mengalami yg namanya dibohongin sama para normal yg lain,ini bukan rekayasa dari saya melainkan ini kisah nyata dari seorang TKI,jangan ada percaya klau ada yg memakai pesan ini klau bukan atas nama saya krna itu cuma bohan dan ini resmi saya yg menulis.Untuk yg punya rum erimakasih atas tumpangannya. KLIK _ GHOB _ 2D 3D _ 4D _ 6D _ DISINI












      Saya ingin berbagi cerita kepada anda bahwa saya ini IBU PUSPITA seorang TKI dari malaysia dan secara tidak sengaja saya buka internet dan saya melihat komentar ibu hayati yg dari honkong tentan MBAH KABOIREN yg telah membantu dia menjadi sukses dan akhirnya juga saya mencoba menghubungi beliau dan alhamdulillah beliau mau membantu saya untuk memberikan nomor toto 6D dan alhamdulillah itu betul-betul terbukti tembus,kini saya sangat berterimakasih banyak kepada MBAH KABOIRENG dan jika anda ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH KABOIRENG di 085-260-482-111,saya juga tidak lupa mengucap syukur kepada ALLAH karna melalui MBAH KABOIRENG saya juga sudah bisa sesukses ini dan jangan mudah percaya kepada MBAH yg lain selain MBAH KABOIRENG karna saya juga pernah mengalami yg namanya dibohongin sama para normal yg lain,ini bukan rekayasa dari saya melainkan ini kisah nyata dari seorang TKI,janan ada percaya klau ada yg memakai pesan ini klau bukan atas nama saya krna itu cuma bohon dan ini resmi saya yg menulis.Untuk yg punya rum erimakasih atas tumpangannya. KLIK _ GHOB _ 2D 3D _ 4D _ 6D _ DISINI

      Delete
  2. When we decided to send our children to SK we know we have to do some additional work at home. Especially the creative part. Once I asked my girls to draw their dream room and present the concept to us. That was fun and should include the $$ part next.

    Starting this year no more exam for Tahun 1 & 2. They hv a diff ways of evaluating the children. I am always open to changes but I am sure there will be some who will later question the implementation.

    You would be surprise on the kiasuness of some parents.

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  3. I totally agree with you on this. Malaysian education system is based on the system called 'spoon fed' and 'lack of thinking'. when I was a substitute teacher, i applied my own teaching method. I brought radio to the class and we play games, i also let them go out to the school compound and ask them to explain what they've seen etc. The kids love it but u guess what? The teachers start complaining because they said i was disrupting the other classes!

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