Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Wiggles, Sesame Street & Teletubbies

I'm impressed with my students' analysis of how children TV shows, namely Teletubbies, The Wiggles and Sesame Streets, help children acquire language.  As they rightly pointed out, rhyming, repetition, and modelling are three prevalent approaches.  In these three shows, they have activities, such identifying, predicting, and guessing to engage the children.  All the activities are kinaethetic and musical oriented.

What impressed me the most is the students' attempt to connect to article written by Rice (1989), 'Children's Language Acquisition'. They even linked the learning process to Piaget's cognitive learning framework which was discussed in the other module.  For me, this is an enjoyable session as they've started to connect and apply what they've learnt, a skill which I rarely saw last semester.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reflection of the future

            When people ask what I intend to do upon graduating from a B(Ed), my answer often leads to one of the many: a cringe, a raise of the eyebrow, a pregnant pause, and most typically, a “Why ar?”. My answer drew out much cynicism on how Malaysia has not any hope left...and racial discrimination, politics and different ideologies within the government are the main reasons for their cynicism.

            I want to make a difference. That was the essence of my answer. Some intend to do so with students, our future, I choose to do it with teachers. Think about it, if a teacher can have the power to both bore or interest a class of students on a certain subject, think what it can do when they influence and make a huge positive impact in terms of analytical thinking, opinion forming, nation building etc! The potential outcome can be immense!

            Being idealistic has its merits and drawbacks. On one hand it fills a soul with much energy, enthusiasm, passion and motivation. This comes in very helpful and hopeful when it comes to nation building – especially in education. Undoubtedly, we need more of these sorts. However, being idealistic can sometimes cloud reality. And reality is cold, hard, painful, difficult and can be senseless – especially in politics. (Ugh)

They say to fight the system is a mieh~! But sometimes the only way to change the system is to get into the system. Yet for my mother’s well-being, I am not allowed to get involved in politics. Once I’m in, there’s no turning back. Dash.underscore.dash.

On a side note: Thankfully, I, with many other fellow young Malaysians still believe that she can still be salvaged. Despite the energy, enthusiasm, passion and belief we hold and the idealistic views we strongly live by, we are constantly reminded to be realistic, often to prevent disappointment and waste of effort. Most of the times, naysayers are telling us off.

In order to illustrate how many of us are out there thinking alike, both hopeful yet angry when expressing our fight for our beloved land. See what we’re fighting for here.

            I was told to dial down my energy, enthusiasm to fight for Malaysia. Mind you, not to get rid of, not forget about, but dial down for now. Why so? For the very simple reason, I am only one person. Bear with me, it is not about the quantity here (well, not entirely).

I am only one person who has all these energy, enthusiasm etc., just a fresh graduate, with plenty of ideas, but only bootstrapping. Clearly, this is not enough! So, what about postgraduate qualifications? Even after completing a Masters and a phD and some substantial years of teaching experience, it is still insufficient. Throw in about a hundred more like me it is still not solid.

BUT! If there’s thousands, along with YEARS of exposure OUTSIDE Malaysia, and experiences teaching and dealing with anything education related, ONLY THEN it is possible. The reason behind this is that when we have got all these experience, a proper plan can be structured and formed. This can then be presented WITHIN the Ministry of Education and only then we can be heard and be given a chance. Because then we would have not only credentials, but experience and background – we are at most, something!

Being heard is predictable! They would probably love the idea, say that it’s something definitely very good for the country’s future education, and it can shape the young mind’s thinking, changing economic growth in the long term, increasing interest in the teaching profession and maintaining sustainability in education yada yada yada. The problem is, (also predictable) is getting pass the political ideologies within the system, stepping on ministers who have a-hem, years of experience in handling the curriculum (curriculum is a political ideology here too) toes, and of course the racial discrimination.

I am obviously not psychic. Just considering the plausible outcomes and this is me being relatively realistic. What I can say is that at least I have thought about it and that when it happens, it happens! Deal with it one step at a time. And at least it will not be a complete shock when I encounter “unanticipated consequences blah blah blah”.

The good news that remain is I have many years and opportunities to explore and experience. From there, I continue to learn and adjust ideas and plans, but still focussing on the goal. So what if the despite all attempts, it is a dead end? That after all the years, it is what people have been saying: it’s not worth is, it won’t work, it won’t this, it won’t that – essentially realising what people have been so cynical about?

I…go elsewhere to make a difference! In students, in people’s lives, other people who welcome the effort, and I still can feel warm and squishy on the inside. Who knows, I might end up finding much satisfaction from teaching a small class, knowing that I’ve tried my all! In the end of the day, what I’ve gained is the extensive background which practically make me in demand wherever I go!

With the many qualifications I intend to accomplish, throughout the many places I intend to expose myself to in the many years to come, and the many people I will meet and learn from, I am set for a very comfortable life – financially (none of this nonsense about teachers being underpaid. If you’re good, people are willing to pay.), emotionally and intellectually.

            For now, I ought to study and have fun! I was initially told to study hard but it turned to an “Er, for you, don’t study so hard ar, have more fun and tone down the energy and everything. Just give your dream and goal time, this is something that cannot be rushed or compressed. Only after all the adventures you get, we plan and talk.” I was glad that I was not discouraged and demotivated, but talked to sensibly. I am prepared to be both disheartened and excited in the future, and accept that this is the kind of hurdle I will have to face to get to where I want from where I am.

Lecturers and personal tutor, prepare to have plenty of talks with me. I am going to need it.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chinese Independent High School

On the 16th of November, the school of Education Nottingham went to our first school visitation to Hua Hin High School. It is Chinese independent School in Klang Valley that accommodates 2700 students.. The school is establish by teachers, parents and students. Therefore, this school is considered as a community school. The school has been offered to be apart of the government school but decline because they want to maintain their Mandarin medium.
First thing I saw when I entered the compound was the tall building of this school! It was like a skyscraper. The 9 building storeys school consists of all you need facilities. They have lab languages, science labs, a huge cafeteria, a complete facilitated library with movie rooms, escalator, a public hall, counseling centre, observatory, the biggest telescope in educational field and English Language Centre (ELC).
The school believes in instilling “Mulitple Intelligence” in their students. Therefore, the students are required to master 3 major languages of Mandarin (their mother tongue), English (globalized language), and Bahasa Malaysia (the national language). Therefore, to encourage the students to speak English. The school utilized a WHOLE FLOOR to make this language center. It was my first time to see this situation. The teachers in this programmes are supported by the British Council. This environment is very condusive to encourage students to learn ! Full packed facilities with multimedia and well-planned activities. There is also tea-time. That will be a great way for students to converse in English.
Other than that, the school has a Hin Hua Astronomy Centre. It has various information about the stars and professors of Astronomy. Other than that, on the highest floor there is a 16 inches MEADE telescope! It is the biggest telescope in the educational field! The student even mentioned that their telescope is similar to the ones in Langakawi. That to me, was very fascinating. An independent school that works very hard to complete their facilities. Nothing is stopping them !
The students in this school are very lucky. As a visitor, I was very excited about the facilities in the schoo, so the students must utilize them to the maximum. I am proud to see their strength to do good. We need more of these motivating environment. I am excited to go on other school visitations to be exposed to more school environments.


under or low ?

Underachievement and low achievement, what does these words mean? Underachievement is where the student has the capability of passing but he/she is lacking on interest. While low achievement is a small amount of people achieving minimum skill to pass the subject; this situation usually occurs to boys other than girls.
Why are boys not passing examinations? Or achieving very low minimum grades in school compared to girls that are excelling? This is because of the type of learning styles that are not interesting enough for boys to cope in class. The subjects offered are more towards literacy, while boys are more capable in application subjects like mathematics. It is stated that this method is highly gendered because only girls can adapt and absorb to these kind of learning, boys have a lower attention span.
Other than that, the percentages of female teachers are very high in school until there’s a label of ‘feminism’ in school. It is assumed that female teachers are instilling feministic values during lessons. With the lack of male role model in their lives, these male students have less respect towards their female teachers. Although there are no concrete evidence, but it is clear that this field of studies are more favorable towards female, while males are driven to pursue science streams to become doctors or engineers.
     To overcome this gender issue, an international comparative test was held. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is done to collect and assess differences in academic performances. According to page 130 from the Education Textbook, the mean of boys and girls performances in 2001 is somehow similar according to states. This gives the perception that, although boys are not doing as well as girls but they are catching up because the gap of mean is very low.


Experiences in visiting school...

I had visited Hin Hua High School at 16th November 2011. This is the first time I went to another Chinese Independent School. Through my experiences in my secondary school, I felt that Hin Hua High School is much better than my secondary school. Actually, the syllabus of Chinese Independent School is almost the same but why I thought Hin Hua High School is much better than my secondary school is because of the organization of their school.

In their school, there are a lot of facilities prepared for their students. Students have opportunity to use all of the facilities in school. Other than that, compound of this school is not big enough, space of this school also do not accommodate too many students. So, they build high building to solve this problem and students have the place to practice their activities such as dragon dance, lion dance and martial art. I actually get shocked when they told me there is no field in their school. Before I visited this school, I thought all of the school must have a field but this school do not have but they still can perform well in non-academic field.

Additionally, I found the different between Hin Hua High School and my secondary school was the English Language Centre (ELC). In my secondary school, we just have English society for us to join but in Hin Hua High School, everyone have the opportunity to learn English language and they also provide an environment for students to speak in English. Through this, students are able to communicate with others by using English after they graduated. Besides that, English teacher in this school also need to attend classes before they teach in ELC, they want the teacher become more professional in this field and help students to master in this field.

This school has e-learning and my secondary school also has. Yet, I felt that this school would always use the sources they have. In my secondary school we have this source we called it moodle. Moodle is same as e-learning. We also can submit our work through moodle. The only thing was my secondary school teacher was different from Hin Hua High School teacher because they did not upload new information in moodle but Hin Hua High School teacher will always update the information and also give extra information to the students and prepare some exercises for students before their exam. Actually this is the effective way for students to learn and they also can prepare and do well in their exams.

All of these were my experiences after visiting this Chinese Independent School and it let me realized that different schools have different organization and it will influence how the schools work in a better way. Besides that, although my secondary school has a lot of facilities and compound but we did not have opportunity to use all of the school’s facilities. On the other hand, Hin Hua High School doing much better than my secondary school as they giving students opportunity to use all of the facilities. Anyhow, I’m really enjoyed when visiting this school and it let me realized that although schools’ syllabus was similar but the knowledge that students gained were different.


Potatoes' experience during school visit

I had the privilege to visit one of the top Chinese private independent secondary school as part of our course and had gained much from the visit. The experience was an unusual one but an interesting one at that.

Despite having recently graduated students giving tours around the school and taking the time to answer our questions, somehow I can’t help but feel that it’s too perfect. Too good to be true and duh, of course the students have to say good things about the school! They mentioned how well equipped they are in terms of facilities, how the teachers encourage learner autonomy, how extensive the extra-curricular programmes are (pun non-intended), and how the school focuses on the Multiple Intelligence mode in terms of mastering the 3 main languages i.e. Bahasa, English and Mandarin.

There is however an acknowledgement that the school’s vision and missions are indeed impressive, being detailed and ambitious – placing the students’ welfare and need ahead. Most of their counterparts, i.e. public schools focus on becoming the top schools in their district, and raising academic scores. This school has shifted their priority and so achieving and obtaining a recognition of being one of the top secondary schools is a bonus.

It was all too perfect. Students accessing their eClass portal to do extra assessments and exercises for every single subject outside of classroom hours? Students open to learn and master 3 languages altogether despite being in a vernacular environment? Plus, I had forgotten to ask of the accessibility to all the facilities provided in the school – doesn’t mean that it’s used to the fullest if it’s there. Needless to say, from my personal point of view, it’s all too perfect.

Although it is admirable that some students aspire to achieve what the school intends to in their vision and mission, not all students feel the same way. I find the school very heavily influenced on Chinese culture i.e. it makes the school seemingly exclusive for people who are not from the Chinese community. In this environment, I find it hard to believe that the teachers would not portray any personal opinions about learning other languages especially English. What teachers feel and say in front of students can greatly affect the thinking of students.

I am most impressed that the school management takes another stand in developing the students’ academic and non-academic welfare. Providing teachers with many training courses, and putting monetary resources into infrastructural development to accommodate the increasing intake of the students and also the comfort of the staffs.

Also, I believe the school has made it clear to the students’ the benefits of participating extra-curriculum activities, which is very commendable. Regardless of the picture perfect image that was attempted to illustrate, the teachers seem to know very well the advantages to being exposed to more training courses, being reflective in their lessons as well as trying to be more student-centered in their lessons.

It’s a slow and step-by-step approach, but credits must be given to the teachers for trying to execute and the management for considering this as an important factor in an education instituteI hope that more public schools take on the role of Hin Hua Private Chinese Independent High School at Klang.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A caring teacher touches hearts

I found a video on how a teacher changes his/her students future. I realized that a teacher can change someone's lives to become the opposite to what they are in the past. This video is beautiful, I was touched. ENJOY ! :)
Impact of a Caring Teacher