Thursday, March 27

The Girl At The Cinema

taken from
Who doesn't love the cinema? It's a wonderful sanctuary where you can sit in complete anonymity & enjoy a good movie in silence together with hundreds of other people. There is beauty in how random it is. You have no idea who is sitting next to you. The person could be a serial killer. The person could save your life in the future. The person could even be your one true love. Sometimes. Just sometimes. In complete darkness. Without saying a word. Without even looking at each other. You make a connection that transcends metaphysical understanding. I don't know which is more heartbreaking. Not being brave enough to risk rejection or watching the person disappear like a wisp of smoke never to be found again.

I woke up at 8am today & I had a strange inkling to load the GSC app on my phone. This I did & I found out that Captain America was released today. "Wonderful!" I thought. I'd always make it a point to take my siblings to the movies every time I'm back from the jungle. It's a tradition which would probably keep us together in the long run. Without even asking them, I bought tickets for the afternoon's 3pm show. It all happened so fast. It was as if I was possessed. Looking back. I think fate was up to her twisted games again.

Saturday, March 22


I'm here to tell you about #TeacherStories. Something I started a few weeks ago in a bid to flood the internet with more meaningful media about teachers & school. Why? Simple. Ask yourself which stories usually get attention from the mass media: teachers complaining about workload, ministers telling teachers off, students getting beaten up, teachers getting beaten up, vandalism/gangsterism/drugs/scandals in schools, & all the other attention grabbing headlines.

Those stories will definitely generate clicks or sell newspapers but they are not necessarily stories which would make our society better or encourage teachers to keep working hard for society. Often times, it demoralises or demonises teachers.

Nobody will deny that education is an important part of civilisation. But why does everybody constantly find pleasure in beating down the key people sweating & bleeding to keep it going?

I am making a stand against that. I am declaring that there are better stories from schools even though they will never see the light of day in the mass media. These stories are simple yet powerful. These stories happen every day but are meaningful to the development of both child & teacher. These stories usually appear on Facebook statuses & then fade forever into the past. I want to make the best of these stories immortal.

Stories which warm the heart.
Stories which energise the spirit.
Stories which make us think again when we complain about petty things.
Stories which make us reflect deeply on our practises & the effects it has on our students.

It does not matter if these stories never get heard. The most important thing is they are told. I want to share teacher stories because when I read about these stories, I feel lifted up. I feel encouraged. Most importantly, I feel that I am not alone. I am hoping that it will do the same for every teacher who reads them.

If you love a teacher & you want him/her to continue changing lives & making a difference, the least you can do is share their stories. Make it known that there are still plenty of good teachers out there.

This week, remember one of the teachers who have made a difference in your life. Reach out & do something nice for him/her!

p/s: If you see #TeacherStories worth sharing, send it to me & I'll gladly put it up!!

Sunday, March 2

Why I Chose NOT To Be An SISC+

What in the world is an SISC+?

I've been trying to find an official definition for SISC+ from 'official' sites but have failed to find any with both 'School Improvement Specialist Coaches' & 'Jurulatih Pakar Pembangunan Sekolah' on Google. If you want a good laugh, try to Google 'SISC+' & click the first link. Anyway, I will try my best to explain it in my own words.

SISC+ is a new post at District Education Offices nationwide for experienced teachers. At this stage, SISC+ have been recruited for BM, BI & Math. Very soon, they will begin recruiting teachers for Science. SISC+ do not teach. They will spend 70% of their time visiting classrooms & coaching teachers of the lowest performing schools in their district. They will observe teachers & help teachers develop on the job. By providing direct mentoring to teachers, it is the aspiration of the ministry that the quality of education in Malaysia will improve.

In theory, this sounds great. I would have appreciated a mentor during my first few years. Even now I admit that I have blind-spots & biases, I could use a coach who is better & has achieved more. I do hope that they implement this properly or it would be another white elephant which cannot be removed because the livelihood of hundreds are dependant on it. Anybody can see that this job can be easily abused by lazy workers, used as a gathering of cronies or used as a dumping ground for unwanted teachers.

I do hope that the teachers who are chosen are credible & proven in their classrooms. I also hope that these teachers, who have been taken away from their students, will truly be empowered to develop other teachers & make a bigger difference in our nation. I'm keeping my mind open on this & I honestly hope to see true positive results & not just inflated statistics.

In Sarawak, the vetting process is very strict & only the better teachers are finally selected. For this, I am grateful. I know several of the teachers chosen to be SISC+ & I can vouch for them any day. I can rest assured that at least in my home state someone in JPN is doing the right thing in appointing the right people into this leadership position. I expect great things from them.

Why No means No

Lately, I have been receiving unofficial/casual questions regarding my interest in this role. I suspect it is because of the many vacancies still currently available. I have thought about this last year when the first call for applications was advertised. Since then, people who know my work or people who have newly discovered my work have encouraged me to apply. I have the same answer then as I have now. It is still a firm NO.

It is not something that I see myself doing at this stage of my life because:

#1 I still have a lot to learn before I am willing to tell others what to do.
I am doing very well here in the jungle & I have made my mark. However, that is not all that I want to be. I don't just want to be a jaguh kampung. I want to at least be a jaguh Sarawak. I may be good at teaching low-performing cooperative rural students but I am completely untested with highly-competent disruptive urban students.
Strange as it may seem, I relish that challenge. I salivate mentally at the thought. I want to be able to turn tides & win hardened hearts in EVERY setting. Until I have tried that, I will not quit teaching. Also, I don't mind if I fail. The important thing is I give it my best & fail with dignity.

#2 There is still a lot that I want to do & have not done.
What I love the most about teaching is how flexible it is. The problems in education are so wide & vast, I have a whole bucket list of challenges I want to get my hands dirty with. I can address any challenge I desire. Inside & outside the classroom. Besides having lots I can choose do, there can be multiple solutions to addressing the same problem. Also, the same challenge can change from year to year, student to student. Infinite variables. Infinite challenges. Infinite possibilities. Perfect for an infinite moron with infinite ambition like me!

#3 No desire for more money, promotions, positions of power, or escapism.
No doubt, some people applied for SISC+ because of the above. Or, because they are jaded with school life & the infinite amount of challenges as well as the infinite amount of work heaped upon those who are able. I do not have such desires.
However, I do have a strong desire for less meddlers & less little Napoleons to handle. Can somebody make it legal for me to shoot these monkeys? You know, as a self-defence from stupid, ego & corruption.

When I say no, I mean it

taken from
I think sums up what I want to say.
I am aware that there are way more vacancies than they are eligible applicants. I am also aware that PPDs are empowered to nominate whoever they want. I support what the SISC+ & SIP+ are doing. I wish them success. For now, I have no desire to join their ranks. I want to teach. Not coach. I am willing to be the ugly dirty smelly sweaty guy who does the cleaning. I want to remember what it is like to be at the bottom of the chain. It will be my biggest asset when I am at the pinnacle.

Force me & you will only force 2 things: You'll force me to lose respect for you & you'll force my resignation. Believe me, you don't want neither.

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