We need innovative teachers

  • Letters
  • Friday, 26 May 2017

EDUCATION is not as simple as everyone thinks. Everyone wants the best from teachers or educators. Those undergoing teachers training need to be competitive, globally aware and empathetic.

Teacher trainees must appreciate and value their education training and be passionate about their intended vocation.

The announcement of the closure of 10 Teacher Education Institutes (IPGs) at last year’s Budget speech by the Prime Minister was a surprise to many but the need to attract the best and brightest minds to the teaching profession is still a priority.

Innovative teachers are in demand with the rise of many modern educational theories on 21st century teaching skills.

Are we sure and confident that newly-trained teachers from IPGs or universities are prepared to teach?

What should the profile of a Malaysian teacher be in the 21st century? The panel of interviewers for teaching programmes must get the best and brightest into the profession that moulds our future thinkers.

Teaching in the 21st century is no longer from a person regarded as “an infallible authority or guide on something”.

Teaching now is facilitating curiosity and critical thinking skills. Teacher trainers have the task of moulding and developing future teachers for the continually changing world in which they will have to face and survive later.

Not many are born to be teachers, and not many are willing to be trained rigorously.

But teachers, unlike most professions, must have empathy, the ability to transfer knowledge and engage better with their classrooms.

In the past, many retrenched professionals applied to become teachers in the Postgraduate Teacher Training Course (KPLI) and Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching (DPLI) programmes as studies said they would perform better rather than school leavers or undergraduates who did not know what they wanted to do next.

Studies have shown that we must quit trying to prepare individuals who are unsuited to being teachers in any case and concentrate more on uncovering the endless teaching ability that must be out there in the workforce today, that is, individuals who may be good at their current job but are dissatisfied. These are the general population we need to draw from.

Teaching/Educating is a vocation of unbelievable fulfilment and boundless learning. It requires perpetual interest and no day is the same. It is not a hum-drum life for an educator.

Malaysia must ensure it remains competitive by encouraging our best and brightest to consider teaching. We need our best minds to inspire the minds of tomorrow.

They must be knowledgeable, skilful and competent; must be early adapters from claiming new advances; continually create imaginative approaches to scholars to comprehend different subject territories.

Today, education may not be for conferring knowledge; it may be in guaranteeing understanding, through investigative studies and teaching students to ask Socratic questions.

If so, we need people with real world skills in our classrooms to develop into a nation of innovators. It is of key importance that students are able to surmise critically and control them when using technology.

Schools and universities are blamed for not providing reliable values and skills concerned in the job market.

But Tony Wagner, a Harvard education specialist argues that the goal of education today should not be to make every child “college ready” but “innovation ready”, that is, ready to add value to whatever they do.

Students have to “invent” their own jobs and emphasise the importance of motivation. Young people who are intrinsically motivated and curious, persistent and willing to take risks will learn new knowledge and skills continuously.

To ensure our nation’s future success, the important question is how do we attract the right teachers so our students are motivated to learn and innovate in the 21st century.


Kuala Lumpur


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