Some would dread getting posted in rural and faraway places, like the interior parts of Sabah or Sarawak, or even Pahang’s own Jengka areas, mostly because they’ll face a lot of hardships there. But on the other hand, there are some who prefer to get posted to places like that. It’ll give them experience, they say. Plus, there will be added incentives for teachers in the rural areas. Money can be a motivation, definitely.
Now, let’s look at one aspect that I’ve been giving some thought to. And please bear in mind that I’ll be teaching primary school English. Let’s get this party started.
Since urban folks are more exposed to English than the rural folks, then it can be safely assumed that teaching English in urban areas would be easier compared to rural areas. This is because the rural children, given their low exposure to the language, would have a harder time understanding the language. The teacher would be forced to speak the native language more frequently, decreasing the English immersion time the children get. A good teacher would of course do his/her best in trying to help the children understand the language better, and she/he would succeed, but at the end of the day, emphasis will be given towards vocabulary and proficiency rather than other skills.
A teacher teaching in areas where English exposure is high would have a very different situation. Say that the proficiency of the students is not a problem, since they are already able to use the language well. This opens a lot of doors for the teacher to teach the children other things, such as critical thinking skills, learning to learn skills, and the whole bag of chips. To me, these skills are very important and should be taught to the kids who already know how to use language. The teacher can now teach them how to express themselves, teach them to have an opinion and write it down or speak it out, teach them to question ideas while using the appropriate language. Of course, the teacher will have to set some healthy boundaries as to what they could question and how far to take the discussions, teach them learning to learn skills, encourage them to look for the answers by themselves. In the end, the teachers will be a facilitator of the children's learning.
Of course it would be fantastic to help less fortunate children gain an understanding of the country’s second language, but I think changing students’ mentality from swallowing everything given to them and puking it all out in exams to a more inquisitive and critical mentality is also equally important.
From these arguments, you can probably see that I aim to change the thinking of Malaysian students. I want to get Malaysian students to think more critically about things, to appreciate knowledge more, to question more, and not just regurgitate everything that has been said by the teacher or a text book.
And yes, this all starts at primary school, with the teachers playing the leading role. I need to study up if I want to be able to do all that.
Discussions in the comment box are welcome.