Sunday, September 26

The Realities of Teaching In Malaysia

I remember not too long ago, when I was still a young strapping handsome lad with the strange haircuts sitting in a dysfunctional sauna-like lecture hall in an obscure teachers training institute which name I had to mouth to taxi drivers like a child with down syndrome & would eventually give up & say UM.
Back then I was carefree, I've completed most of my courses effortlessly & would continue to glide gracefully through the rest of the degree.

There was one thing the lecturers would resonate in the middle of a lecture even when they were talking about something completely unrelated. I would usually zone in for this little moment & then zone out again as the lecturer went back to reading from powerpoint slide to powerpoint silde.

Students are really good at that. When you talk about something really important that they must know, they are quiet & they look at you as if they're actually listening & nod when you ask if they understood but underneath that thick skull of theirs YOU KNOW the boys are thinking about sex & the girls... who knows what. I'm not a girl.
But when you decide to talk sheet, they lean forward & stare at you with gleaming eyes while licking all the sheet from your hands as if you were the bloody gingerbread man. When you go back on track, they retreat back into their risqué fantasies & such. Bloody baskets.

You're bloody doing it right now. I was about to say something bloody profound & you're probably thinking about how perverted I must have been as a college student.
To tell you the truth. I am STILL perverted.
ALL men are. The 70% who say they aren't, are lying.
I can't help it. The 24hr supply of testosterone from not 1 but 2 healthy sacks made me.
Actually, girls like perverted men. It's a fact.
Anyway, that's a topic for another day.

Back to the lecturers. Instead of waggling their tongues about pedagogies or theories which are subjective & incomplete, they would sometimes say something plainly simply true.
The best one is most definitely this one:
"When you enter the classroom, your degree is useless. What you have learned here & overseas will be useless. You will need to improvise. Furthermore, you will have to use your wits & cunning to outsmart those little innocent-looking uniformed demons who are out there to test you and torment your very existence."
Of course, they didn't say the last bit. I added it for effect. Although, they did give us a few hint hints.
If I do become a teacher trainer one day (which I hope not), I will be as vivid & blunt in my description of the profession & all it's 'challenges'.
Any future teachers want to have me as a lecturer?

Your degree is useless. It's true.
For the first few months. I tried to apply what I've learned from famous imbeciles like Piaget, Vygotsky & Gardner.
Towards the end of a mind bending first year, I decided that Skinner was the king of them all.
Screw student-centred multiplely intelligent classrooms.
Who cares if a student can paint or sing or lead or even speak eloquent English.
All Malaysians care about is something fondly known as exam.

Just say the word & you'll have everyone's attention. Especially the parents. And your principal.
If you can stare into a crystal bowl & accurately forecast the exam papers, many will worship you & pay generously for their children to have a seat in your temple every week. Many will even spread your religion & convert other parents who are sending their children to lesser religions.

The pen & the paper. Reading & writing.
These are the foundations of the Malaysian assessment system & the education system has understandably & expectantly evolved accordingly over the years.
Can you believe that we measure the morality of our students through a written exam?!

There are students with multiple intelligences who will not do well in the education system (due to its favouritism of linguistically intelligent students) but will go on to lead successful lives in the world.
Let me name a few names just to look more intelligent than you are. Like for example, Bill Gates, Einstein, maybe Jimmy Choo & definitely this dude..
However, teachers are helpless. They have to force every student to be linguistically competent so that they can blunder through university and be clerks, typists or teachers like me.
Who needs singers, designers & engineers?

Literacy is important. Everybody needs to know how to read or write.
However, everybody knows that, in order to succeed in this world, there is much more that you need.
Assessment is important. As we can see every year, it is a prime motivator for academic pursuit.
However, we need to consider whether the forms of assessment are appropriate or accurate.

I am somewhat happy that our education ministry is looking into abolishing the UPSR & PMR exams.
At the same time I am alarmed because from my observation of their policies & the past actions they have taken, I have very little faith that they have what it takes to make a real difference.
I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised instead of scoffing at a newspaper one day after reading about a new system that is more absurd than the previous one.

I am a teacher who wants to teach.
Show me that I am doing something good & I will bleed for it.
As I add on the years in experience, I find that my job gets easier & easier.
At the end of the day, I'm teaching my students to be exam literate instead of English literate.
I'm teaching the tips & tricks of examinations instead of the wonders & boundless limits of expression.

I don't mind extra work as long as it has purpose & fruitfulness.
A purpose to better those little ones sitting in my classroom hoping to learn something useful.
A fruit that will open up their minds & free them to pursue their highest heights.
It's better than filling up endless amounts of paperwork just to please a few inspectors who couldn't careless how poetic your students are under your care.

Welcome to Malaysia.
Surprise me.

Saturday, September 18

I'm Peeing Through The Wrong Hole!

It's been almost a decade since I last had food poisoning.
It's one of the worst agonies a disease can bring.
Last night, I woke up every 30mins to 'pee' sitting down.
I was leaking fluids every 30mins & I was feeling bloody dehydrated.
I felt like puking, I was feverish & I was aching all over.
Plus the interruption of my beauty sleep really made it one of the worst nights in my life.

This is why I'm feeing through the wrong hole.

"One of the hallmarks of many food poisoning incidents is chronic diarrhea and bloating. The ingested chemicals, parasites or bacteria often wreak havoc on a victim's entire digestive tract. Normal digestion becomes virtually impossible as the body's fluid levels and bloodstream change to attack the invading organisms. As the bacteria or parasites die off, they often leave acidic or gaseous wastes in their wake. In cases of moderate to severe food poisoning, victims may begin to wonder if they will ever recover their normal digestive function.
The organisms responsible for most food poisoning incidents tend to draw moisture from surrounding tissues into the intestines. This excess fluid prevents the normal formation of solid body wastes. Medications for diarrhea contain ingredients designed to restore the proper balance of fluids in the digestive tract. Until this balance is restored over time, victims should stay hydrated as much as possible."
~~taken from here.
How can I teach when I need to go & leak every few minutes?
Thank God I don't have to work today.
Actually, I do. I was going to give the students some extra coaching today & tomorrow before the PMR Trials next week but it looks like I may not be able to make it.
There is no cure for food poisoning except rest & lots of fluids.
It's times like these I wish I had someone here to take care of me.
Friends, pray for my good health & recovery.

Saturday, September 11

Pimped Up PC Gaming Experience

For everything I could find at home & a minuscule investment in gaming hardware, I had an awesome time this mid-sem break.
I have spoken very little about my gaming hobby particularly because, with work commitments, I have very little time to play games. I tend to refrain because I can get very obsessed.
Anyways, the chastity belt binding my hands are now off because IT'S HOLIDAY TIME!

I hooked up my laptop via HDMI to a 32" HDTV hooked up to a 5.1 Home Theatre.
I dragged a lazy chair from a dark corner of my house & stole a cushion from a chair somewhere.
I stocked up on gamer food to keep me gaming & I bought myself a Xbox 360 Controller.
Just me in my boxers, banging away on a controller & staring intensely at the screen.
It was awesome!

I played Batman: Arkham Asylum & Mafia 2 with my low-budget system & I had an unbelievably new gaming experience!
The games were really beautiful on the large screen. Occasionally, some of my family members would stop by to watch me play. My grandma even confused the game for a movie.

PC games are usually played with a keyboard & mouse but I decided to play mine with the comfortable Xbox 360 Controller (which is now compatible with most Windows systems) instead. I've always loved the feel of this controller. It's got fat at the right places. Kinda like women (not men & their beer bellies! Ugh!).
Character movements & fights were perfect with the controller. However, when it came to shooting, I had a really hard time because the targeting arrow moved too slowly & it was hard to target moving enemies.
So if I were to play Shooter or Strategy games, I'd go with the traditional keyboard & mouse. If I were playing Adventure, Sports or Racing games, I'd go with the controller.
You should definitely get one if you call yourself a gamer.

I never did understand the power of my laptop until I saw what it was capable of on a HDTV. WOW!
I cranked up the graphics to full & still had smooth gaming! It's a first for me.
If you're a gamer, get a PC.
If you move around a lot (like me) & you don't have deep pockets, this is the laptop to get.
There may not be any left because I was told that there were only 7 in Malaysia.
ASUS N61Ja - Intel i5 M520, 4GB RAM, 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD5730

Selamat Hari Raya to All my Muslim buddies!
Selamat Bercuti to the rest of you &
Selamat Bergaming to me!

Monday, September 6

My Holiday Starts Now!


I'll write about the 4 night PMR lecture I gave my students when I feel like it...
Holiday mah!

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