I AM observing the current public criticisms thrown at the DidikTV KPM teacher who conducted a science lesson on the human reproductive system. As a science communicator and advocate, I think we have all gone off on a tangent on this issue.
The flaw was not her proficiency in English. We do not need Queen’s English to teach Math and Science or any other subjects or even to secure a job and excel in it. Having said this, any medium of instruction has to be devoid of misinterpretation and also be easily comprehensible.
My disappointment stems from the way the lesson was conducted, the involvement of the teacher, her enthusiasm and presentation style and even content and accuracy.
She should not take the blame fully as even if she is an excellent teacher, standing in front of a camera can be daunting, what more when the content is meant to be viewed by the entire nation. This could have been her first science communication stint.
I have seen how very competent and accomplished scientists find it difficult to explain their research when the camera is focused on them. I conduct training for scientists to communicate their research, so I know for sure that it takes a lot of practice before they are at ease and can speak naturally in a storytelling manner.
The Education Ministry should have invested some funds to train the teachers. This return of investment would go a long way in making science exciting, part of our culture and lifestyle and in inspiring students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
The content has to be interactive, animated, made relevant to everyday life and, more importantly, science-based and presented in a storytelling manner. I do not see any of these elements incorporated in that teaching session.
One glaring non-factual information given was that man and woman must be married to be able to have a child. While I see this as being morally correct, it is scientifically flawed.
This type of pseudo-science should have no place in our curriculum.
Our cultural and religious values should be part of the teachers’ teaching plan where they can be imparted during the appropriate lesson.
In order to inculcate interest and passion towards STEM, let us look at the content and presentation style and not merely medium of instruction. I am very surprised that the language caught everyone’s attention and not the delivery of the subject.
Science and Math are extremely fascinating even though many perceive these subjects as complicated and boring. I hope they can be made fun-filled, exciting and relevant.
DR MAHALETCHUMY ARUJANAN , Executive director Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre Monash University Sunway Campus , Petaling Jaya