An empowering tool

IT IS yesterday once more... No, I’m not harking back to the yesteryear Carpenters’ song that debuted in my then lifetime. I’m referring to real time yesterday – Malaysia’s Teacher Appreciation Day! Understandably, a muted public celebration this year, given the movement control order (MCO) clamp for the well-being of Malaysia.

Nevertheless, deserving teachers were surely showered with good wishes from your well-wishers – past and present. Honestly, I’m grateful to be remembered... still. You see, students never forget how you made them feel. What better way then than stimulating lessons to engage them!

On that note, I vouch that Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) practitioners can boast possessing an extended and exciting repertoire of language teaching strategies both inspiring and empowering. So, MCO or no, go stand by your window to give yourself a shout-out (there’s no ban on noise making even if you’re shut out!) that emanates from a positive inner core formed through your labour of love.

NiE inspires relational value

Teachers, from the countless quotes on how important you are, I pick one that says it all: A country that fails to value its teachers, fails to value its future (David Puttnam).

Here’s another heavyweight I cannot resist: Teachers have such powers that prime ministers can only dream about.

Thank Plato for this. Fact: Good teachers add overall value to the nation. But you’re only gauged as good as the progress your charges make. NiE enthusiasts know by now how using the newspaper has positively impacted language learning and thinking at all levels.

Newspaper activities can breathe life into lacklustre academic concepts to facilitate real-world application because the newspaper is both content and process in context.

Put this loop concept to good use. Good teaching is founded on ethics – a relationship that values a commitment to work with integrity, dignity, and empathy, to provide quality education without discrimination.

This includes not just imparting academic knowledge but also inculcating invaluable life lessons towards “developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner” (National Education Philosophy).

Carefully crafted NiE activities embody this concept of integration, incorporate foundational principles for excellence in English language teaching, to make learning a meaningful experience.

NiE empowers

A calling – that’s what teaching is. School’s out for now and you’re mandated to avoid the 3Cs: crowded place; confined space; close conversation. Is teaching only a ‘job’ for you? Then it’s “dead-end.”

But if a calling, you are invariably fulfilling the “Acorn Theory” by being the best you’re meant to be.

Rising above the challenges, you feel empowered to continue facilitating growth and development of your charges who are perhaps becoming spiritless with online lessons turned mundane.

Add some soul by throwing in an exciting NiE lesson now and then! The ideas are limitless.

You who have attended our country-wide workshops become attracted to this authentic resource because it empowers you to be creative.

After participating in the workshops you come away brimming with ideas; you’re so inspired that when you read the newspapers with your all-knowing “teacher’s eyes” your brain does a somersault and voilà! You land back on your feet armed with an array of engaging ideas of your own!

NiE add-ons

I am always happy to write on this NiE-dedicated page, having been with the NiE initiative since its inception in 1997 and still counting. During its Penang launch, the then journalist covering my workshop reported me as an “old hand” at NiE.

Could that be the reason our NiE editor – savvy, “overnice” (Wait! Did I just misspell her surname? Gasp!) decided to let this old timer handle this piece?

Yes, wisdom of practice is a gem! I began using the daily as a pedagogical tool in the first flush of the 70s, blissfully unaware then of its formalised term.

Like all flexible and resourceful teachers on the lookout to add a sparkle to their lessons, I witnessed how newspaper activities made my students’ eyes twinkle!

Very early on, I stated how the multi-dimensional features of the newspaper invariably facilitate language-using skills in an authentic context.

The newspaper – in its physical or digital form – is a treasure house of ideas for learning English across subjects and promoting communication in context.

Now, let me slip in some quick add-on boosters before I sidle out: word hunt – expand word knowledge; picture hunt – picture-word/story association; locate snob appeal products; plain folks appeal products; explore geographical themes in stories; chart the Covid-19 curve; signs and symbols; idioms and metaphors; grrrrr... grammar work! Editor says, stop! Have FUN!

The writer is a former teacher educator and university lecturer who is a Star-NiE freelance consultant-trainer.

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