Thursday, April 30

I Am Hamster

taken from

Don't you just love hamsters?
They're cute, cuddly, clean & well groomed.
They live in a cage that is lovingly bought & ornamented for it.
They run on a treadmill with their all so adorable little legs.

I am a hamster.

Every time I enter my hamster cage, the only thing I do is work on the treadmill.
And just like a hamster treadmill, there is no end to the work.
It just goes on and on and on... and on.
The faster I can run, the faster the treadmill will make me run.

I cannot leave my cage.
There is no way out.
Hamsters need to unplug at a non-work environment.
But there're just these four invisible walls.

I am hamster.
I am 20kgs less.
I am run-out.
I am thinking of some changes.

Thursday, April 16

Wrath of the Seniors

I remember the time when I first entered collage.
One night during orientation week, I was gathered into a room with the other guys in my course.
We were going to be 'introduced' to our seniors.
That was my my first 'ragging' experience.

I was traumatised. I was deeply struck with fear.
The KDPM 'seniors' came in with yelling & aggressive behaviour.
Anyone who did not sit down, shut up or pay attention was threatened.
That night, I learned how to 'respect' my seniors.

A year later, I became a senior. One with a council position too.
One night, I gathered my juniors and I taught them the 'respect' I learned.
What was passed on to me. I passed on to my successors.
Because I did not know any better, I repeated a grave mistake.

The wrath of the seniors exists in many other contexts.
It may not be the same action. For example, ragging.
But it is something that one generation passes on to the other.
That something also causes great pain & discouragement.

From the general Malaysian context...
(Gathered from freshies & veterans of different circumstances.)

When a new teacher arrives at his/her first school.
The school need not be the perfect Putrajaya school.
He/She is hopeful & enthusiastic anyway.
He/She wants to do something great. Make a difference.

Yet their wide eyes narrow as they receive a yoke beyond their ability.
They get the classes that other teachers do not want.
They get the duties that other teachers do not want.
They get... the wrath of the seniors.

When the burdens get too heavy & they reach out for salvation...
They receive little but this unjust justification:
"Our seniors did this to us. Now it's your turn."
Does this mean that seniors can shake legs while juniors break backs?

Teachers spearhead the development of new generations.
Teachers develop strategies that maximise teaching effectiveness.
Teachers set a shining example of conduct & intellect.
Teachers inspire the young to strife for greater heights.

Who will spearhead the development of new teachers?
Who will be their shining examples?
Who will nurture the new teachers & inspire them?
If not the senior teachers?

To every junior teacher all over Malaysia...
I know your pain. Ours is a shared pain.
But we must rise up. We must be brave.
The wrath of the seniors must end... with us.

Wednesday, April 8

Dear Cohort 3

I few weeks ago, I was approached to contribute to a Professional Development lecture that a senior of my course was invited to conduct with my juniors.
I was asked to contribute views that would prepare them for the teaching realities that they may be placed in next year.
I put it in the form of a letter.

I decided to only publish it today so that my juniors will see the information in his lecture first (which took place today).
Have a read & tell me if you agree which my views.

Dear Cohort 3,
Congratulations, Cohort 3. Congratulations on being selected for an exclusive & distinguished overseas twinning scholarship. Furthermore, congratulations on completing 2 exciting & fruitful years overseas. I am sure you will succeed just as well in your final year & make a difference during your short practicum stint. You have every reason to feel good about yourself.
Now, time for the hard truth. The climax is over. The falling action has just begun. When you leave IPGM KBA & wait for your posting letter, the deepest depths of reality will smack you right in the face. While you are a student, you are special. Soon you will finish your studies. After that, you are special no more. You have become just a normal teacher with a degree. After spending so much money on training us to be the best of the best, we are treated just like the rest.

You will be posted just like any other teacher. There is no special programme in this country for you to utilise your expertise. You have to claw your way out of scratch in a system which is more pro-seniority than it is pro-meritocracy. Translation: those who have been there longer will get the rewards before you do. Even when your amount of work in 1 day is 3 or 4 times more than what the seniors do in 1 week.

To make matters worse, after arriving at your school, many of you will receive a bleak vision of your future & the ever growing amount of work you continuously receive will not help much neither. Imagine leaving the big cities that you are used to for somewhere in the interiors of Sarawak, Sabah or Johor. Imagine riding 2-3 hours on a small wooden boat through a dirty brown river or having to wade through waist-high flood waters while carrying all your belongings over your head to get to school. Imagine having no internet access or even no cell-phone coverage. This is the reality of your seniors. It could be yours too.

As if the lack of prospects & less than ideal location is not tough enough, teaching is a continuously frustrating task in Malaysia. Students are hard to handle. They make loud noises, they don’t follow instructions & they lie. They also forget important lessons that you worked so hard on. Furthermore, English proficiency is generally bad everywhere except in cities. Many of you will become discouraged. Many of you will feel like quitting. Many of you will indeed leave the programme.

Why do you want to be a teacher? This is an important question that many of you, like me, have procrastinated in finding an answer. I suggest you find your motivation now. Every morning when I wake up, I foresee & prepare myself for the many difficulties I will have to face on that day. I also see that these difficulties will stretch on for many frustrating years. Every morning, I struggle to be convinced with my own answers.

There is no glory, fortune or ease to be found in this profession. But there is a need. So great is this need that it requires a willing heart to sacrifice itself for the benefit of others. When you go to your school, you will see this need. You see it in the blank stares of your students, their unknowing errors & their reluctance to use the language. At the same time, you will also see into your heart. You see it in the actions you take to meet the need. Or will you even attempt meet the need?

Anyone who told you that teaching is a profession lied. It takes more than a professional to be a teacher. Do you have what it takes to be a teacher? Ask yourself now &, with love in your heart, prepare yourself for your ever approaching future.

Hope for the best & prepare for the worst.

With faith in every one of you,
Yong Jik Kam

Friday, April 3

I Think I Am Addicted To Blogs

For the past 2 weeks, the internet connection at school has been scarce.
And when there is a connection (which has been rare), there seems to be a wall between our provider & several major American websites including yahoo, google, blogger & espn.
With no landline or cellphone reception, there was no way to contact the provider to make a complaint.
During that time, I was confined to hotmail & facebook.
Furthermore, I was unable to blog or read other blogs.

It was then that I suddenly realised how important blogs are to me.
They are a form of release. Recreation.
They are a source of pleasure & motivation to me.
Having none of that for 2 weeks has certainly made me feel really depressed & demoralised at work!
My lack of drive has caught me by surprise! (I'm not usually so low in determination.)

Today, the pipeline burst open with speed & unrestricted access!
I'm back in business, baby!
I read all the blogs I didn't read & left comments at almost all of them.
I checked my yahoo mail & replied a whole lot of important emails.

After being unwillingly held back for too long, today I binge...
My overcompensation is way overdue.
I hope this level of connectivity is here to stay...
lest my zeal be gone one day.

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