THERE has been a positive change among pupils at SJK (T) Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, over the last 14 months, thanks to an initiative that has included the school in a pilot programme.
School attendance improved tremendously last year under the i-Think programme and it even astonished headmaster A. Damootharan.
In fact, Damootharan who has been at the school for about two years is beaming with pride that there is so much enthusiasm among the pupils. Teachers too are eager and excited over the progress of their pupils while parents have expressed their delight over the implementation of the i-Think programme.
“Previously, attendance on Mondays and Fridays would dip below 90% but now it exceeds the mark. Since the programme involves drawing, colouring and discussions – the pupils are enthusiastic about attending class.
“There is a lot of activity in the classroom. Previously, pupils talked too much and were noisy ... now the discussions are more focused and beneficial,” said Damootharan who has never seen such a marked improvement in his 15 years as a school head. He praised the i-Think programme, which utilises eight thinking maps, as a tool which helps the pupils in putting their thoughts together to come up with sentences and essays. It also provides better understanding of the subjects they are learning.
“Being a pilot school, we are proud to be the role model for the over 500 Tamil schools which would implement the i-Think programme by 2014. Our teachers have put in extra effort to make this programme a success,” he said.
He said many parents have expressed delight that their children were benefiting from the programme, adding that the pupils have become more confident in expressing themselves.
Science teacher M. Rajesvary is thrilled at the progress achieved by her pupils over the last seven months.
“I am confident that many of the pupils who usually obtain an “E” for various subjects would progress at least to a “C” as they find that the maps are an effective way of learning. Even the weak are now learning something and enjoying the lessons.
“I was filled with emotion when I recently watched a slow learner in my class who is unable to write in a straight line, standing up and shouting out the correct answer.
“The pupil who suffers from poor hand and eye coordination, has shown improvements,” said Rajesvary who has been teaching for 20 years.
Bahasa Malaysia teacher Norhayati Mohd Salleh said allowing the pupils to discuss specific topics have encouraged them to share their views and ideas with each other, thus broadening their knowledge.
“Even the quiet pupils have become more vocal. They are ready to give answers and eager to explain the maps that they have created,” said Norhayati who has been teaching for 24 years.
Teacher K. Sridewi Nair said not only were the thinking maps useful in teaching pupils, she also used them as a study tool for the degree course that she is pursuing.
“By doing the maps, the pupils can visualise and grasp the topics better and are able to provide lots of examples. This is an excellent programme and should be continued,” said Sridewi who has been teaching for eight years.
English teacher N. Deeba Malar said some of her pupils who could not read or write despite being in school for several years are already learning the rudiments of the English language.
“With the maps, they are learning more than before because they share ideas with fellow pupils and also obtain information from books and the Internet,” she said.
R. Sethambaram who heads the school’s parent-teacher association said there was a “big difference” in his two children. .
“When I first heard about the i-Think programme, I was worried that it was additional to the curriculum but later when I spoke to the headmaster, teachers and my children, I realised that it complements the present system.
“I am happy about the innovative teaching method as I feel it is important to adapt to changes to prepare the youngsters for the many new challenges they have to face in the future,” he said.
M. Vimala said that her children used to cry when she made them do their homework but now they are excited.
“They are also neater and more organised in their school work and other activities,” she said.
Parent M. Ammudawaly said the thinking maps had helped her children remember what they learnt in school. They are also happy to include their own ideas into their school work, while R. Kanagaletchumy said her children had become more independent and were coming up with creative ideas.
“I hope the programme will be continued as it lays the foundation for lifelong learning and makes pupils more innovative,” she said.
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