Studying minus the learning

LATELY, teachers of all subjects have been told that they would have to write reports about each and every student’s aptitude, attitude, etc. If a teacher has eight classes of 45 students each she would have to write 360 reports. |I wonder how many times a year they would have to do this. Soon teachers would become the Sisyphus of the famous myth. Who is going to look at the reports? Are such reports a necessary evil? 

Why does the Education Ministry insist on making teachers waste their effort and time on unproductive work? Teachers would be sapped of energy which should rightly be used in the classroom. As it is, teachers are already overloaded with lots of unnecessary and mindless chores.  

The kad 001 is a case in point. What’s the rationale of filling in those practically useless cards? They are left to sit in the counselling room, collecting dust. The day somebody asked to refer to them would be the day kucing bertanduk. Teachers have yet to see that day. 

The statistics craze is another Malaysian phenomenon. Statistics are capable of easily seducing Malaysians. If a school scores 90% passes in SPM English and 50% out of this 90% scored As, all the parents would insist that they want their kids to study at that school. Such schools would have to extend all their classrooms or the kids would be packed like sardines of about 50 to a class! 

What Malaysians should be concerned with is how well these students who scored As can use the language, both orally and in the written form. It’s frustrating when students with As and Bs can’t understand simple questions in English. And all we look at is statistics! To me they don’t say anything. 

Another preoccupation of Malaysians is examinations. Why do we subject everything to examinations? Why can’t something be taught and learned without the unnecessary pressure of the guillotine hanging overhead?  

In Malaysia , you would not be allowed to proceed to a further stage if you do not pass an examination, whether it is taekwando, judo, the piano, ballet or whatever you are learning. Some people are put off by these examinations and rightly so. Why can’t anything be learnt for its own sake? The joy of learning something is killed instantly when we subject it to an examination. Our society forgets that passion and joy must exist before something can be learnt well. We take all the fun out of learning because we measure everything using the same yardstick.  

Must kids score all the As? Shouldn’t it be more important for a child to make a real effort in whatever he’s trying to master? If his best effort is only a C, so be it.  

We should value his effort and not the grade. The emphasis we put on examinations has caused students to learn without imagination and creativity. So much emphasis is put on examinations that students treat the learning of languages, History, Geography and all other subjects as a process of mugging. That’s why they don’t read. They depend on classroom teaching and tuition. They hardly do any reading on their own. It is the reading that would help them to excel.  

When the pressure of examinations is lifted, fun and joy in classroom learning and teaching take over. Both teachers and students feel happier. The whole Malaysian education system can only be revamped if the society wants it. This isn’t possible as long as our society is obsessed with examinations and statistics. 

YAP LIAN CHINvia e-mail

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