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Friday, December 3, 2010

Teacher-to-be's Dilemma (Posting)

"Ku tetap akan teruskan apa yang dijuangkan," Lonely Soldier Boy by Hujan.

As a teacher-to-be, you can’t avoid thinking about your future teaching career. The biggest question that would appear in future-teachers’ minds would be “Aku kena posting kat mana ah nanti?” Yes, all of us have thought about where we’ll be posted at least once, even before getting into the Institute. Where we’re going to get posted is a popular question among us, and as the years of teacher training pass, the question appears more and more frequently. There’s even a quiz application in Facebook telling people where they’ll be posted based on the answers that you give (I got someplace in Sarawak, by the by).

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.

Cheers!

12 comments:

phyto hystrix said...

slm,

In rural areas the challenge would certainly be far higher than what city schools have to offer. The first challenge is to build a well endorsed platform of basic English Language-perhaps vocabulary, then grammar. Next will be language skills, here is where their ability to apply their basic knowledge will be put to test, I mean not exam but daily observation. Eg. speaking skills can be observed in class discussion or simple role-plays, the same goes for writing, listening and reading. Yeah, I agree that a shift in our examination system would help most. 'cause children will then be given the utmost freedom to express, as well as to perform well in evaluations. The word 'evaluation' won't be that stressfull then, in fact maybe it can help children enjoy experimenting using the skills taught if it's no longer paper-and-pen test. It is through errors that children learn best. A mixture of humanism and constructivism might work fine, if we give it a room in our current system.

anak pak man said...

Hystrix,
Wslm..
And it should, thru the introduction of KSSR, if it's all it's cracked up to be.. I see it as a very good initiative by the government to allow more freedom for teachers to diversify their methods in teaching.

I mean, it looks great on paper. Let's just see how it plays out. And the ones who'll be playing it out are the teachers. Gone should be the days that a teacher just goes into class and asks the students to fill in the blanks with the correct answers five times a week.

But to me, pen-and-paper testing cannot be avoided when it comes to language teaching. You still have to be able to write in a language well in order to be a more "whole" master of a language. A person who speaks really great but isn't able to put it down on paper would still be incomplete.

And the stress experienced by people during the exams, to me, is good exercise for real life stress that they're going to face out in the real world. Having to complete a task in a pre-determined amount of time is nothing new in this world, and it's not going to change. Deadlines will be deadlines. At least with written examinations, they will be educated how to handle that stress and how to produce good work in a limited amount of time.

Syahira Ismail said...

slm,

let be try to bring forward my opinion. if there's any grammar mistakes or any mistakes..do correct me ok.i'm totally agree with anak pak man.exam and speaking are two different things and when it comes to language we can't avoid it aight.until now,i don't think we have any other ways to evaluate the ability of using language.

when it comes to exam oriented system. i would to say i really don't agree with those who wants this system to be demolished. people in Malaysia are popular with 'pressure'.they will not work hard without pressure. for example, when it comes to pray.

'Aku tidak menciptakan jin dan manusia melainkan utk mereka beribadat kpd Ku '(51:56)

malay version.

Manusia diperintahkan untuk beribadat.Ditetapkan kepada kita waktu beribadat, perintah berpuasa du bulan Ramadhan, menciptakan syurga dan neraka,memerintahkan kita menjauhi maksiat dan sebagainya..buat orang yang belum biasa dengan semua ini mereka menganggap islam memaksa..islam bukan memaksa tetapi itu salah satu cara untuk menggerakkan manusia.manusia xgertak xb'gerak..

the concept is just the same with exam oriented concept.they are trying to trigger students' spirit to study and work hard in order to get a better future.

if there's any mistakes.do correct me..:)

phyto hystrix said...

yup, pen-and-paper evaluation can't simply be abolished. if you say that it's to train them to complete writing tasks within an allocated time, i agree. but what i meant was, i hope to see hollistic evaluation to be given a fair share. otherwise schools will be producing robots. having the knowledge and the knowing when and how to apply it is as equally important. when it's launched, we'll be among the early groups of teachers (insyaAllah)to operate KSSR and i have quite an expectation for it to not only look fine in the blueprint but in real life too. that depends on us too, if we have what it takes to go the extra mile. jeez,that thought scares me. puff!

anak pak man said...

Syahira,
Wslm..
Thanks for the comment..

But what we have to be clear about here is that we aren't for an exam-oriented system, which is an education that caters only for students to ace/pass the exams. Yes, it would be fantastic for anyone to get an A, but we don't want students to go to school only for that reason. We don't want, for example:

Cikgu: Kamu tahu tak yang hampir 3 juta penduduk Amerika Syarikat adalah Muslim?
Student: Masuk priksa tak cikgu?
Cikgu: Tak..
Student: Abes, kenapa cikgu nak cakap kat kami?

We're striving for education for education's sake, not passing exam's sake.

And when we say we don't agree with an exam-oriented system, it doesn't take exams out of the equation. Exams will still be there. However, the way subjects are taught and learned will be changed, putting less emphasis on the exams themselves, and more towards developing the students as people and intellectuals.

And don't be afraid of making mistakes Syahira. As Hystrix mentioned, we learn from our mistakes. =)

Hystrix,
Yeah, exactly. And this exam-oriented thing should not have been an issue in the first place if people (teachers) had followed the NPE, which advocates "developing the potential of individuals in a holostic and integrated manner".

That's why we'll have to wait it out to see if any changes really are going to take place. Because, as we know, Malaysia has the knack of creating something that looks beautiful on paper, but falls short of the mark when it comes to implementation.

wOrLdOfsEcReTwHisPerEr said...

mak aihh...panjang siott!
ceq xbley komen onjg2..
anyway, yeah..u were right!
thats all, till we meet again,
haha.. ;D

anak pak man said...

Wawaa,
Chesh, komen kata panjang jea? tapa2, ur still welcome.. hehe
Thanks for dropping by.. =)

nedd said...

I'm Unisel Teslian, and my new supervisor planning to place us in the urban area for our practicum. new changes made by him bcoz our previous supervisor used to placed us at the rural area. yeah, have to admit, quite challenging for us since we hv to carefully plan the lesson just to make it flawless~ urban students of course, they already hv the language and we need to come up with something new for em.

we have microteaching for each semester (dont noe bout ur system) and every semester we have to crack our head just to create games just to make the lesson fun & interesting.

so, wondering, how bout in IPG, cz i have friend in UPSI and seems that they dont have the microteaching thingy for every semester.

angg0r.creative said...

adik2 dipedalaman jugak ingin belajar, bahkan mereka lebih dahagakan ilmu dr adik2 di bandar.

*berdasarkan pengalaman ke sek0lah pedalaman esp sek org asli..

just think ab0ut it

haryani said...

satu je nak cakap. kalau jadi cikgu, especially jadi cikgu bahasa, tolonglah ajar betul betul. my experience, bila masuk sekolah menengah, cikgu english selalu tak masuk kelas and kalau masuk pon suruh buat kerja sendiri. at that time i was so happy like, "yeay takde kelas!" and then my spm result wasn't so bad as i get A. it was luck i guess. bila saya amik asasi, the tutors did act the same. ada kelas english serupa macam takde. and you know what? i got band 3 for my muet. okay that's really sad because it's my fault too. saya cuma harap lebih ramai cikgu yang memang minat mengajar je yang jadi cikgu. and i hope you are one of them (:

[i.l.y.a] said...

you'll be an interesting teacher. in 10 years, i'll will definitely track you down and send my kids to the school you're teaching. LOL

Hasya said...

I know for sure, you'll be a great teacher someday, InsyaAllah :)