Message Board

RANDTS will last a thousand years.

- Albert

an educational debut

I'm kicking of my RANDTS debut with a couple of thoughts on education...

My Econ professor mentioned in class a couple of weeks ago that the purpose of College isn't to equip students with knowledge, but to help students learn the process of learning so they can go out into the workforce and fit in wherever there is a need simply because they are quick learners. Maybe in establishing a goal for our education system that should be our goal. Not to provide the most information but to teach kids to learn the process of learning.

Starting off on the language foot
I think our education system produces jacks of all trades but masters of none. With the Math and Science in English project, we are now teaching 7 year-olds in Standard One English, Malay, Math, Science, Moral and for some Mandarin or Tamil. Seems to me to be a little intensive if compared with places like America and England. Their kids get a designated period of naptime. We drill ours like military soldiers. Maybe we should cut down on the math and science, and possibly even moral because this many different subjects system ain't working. I remember entering Form 1 to meet kids who couldn't speak English at all. 6 years in primary school and they couldn't speak English. Why? Too great an emphasis on knowledge. Primary school needs to emphasise language, be it Malay, English, Mandarin or Tamil. Why? Language is the basis for knowledge. If we aren't producing competent communicators then how are we going to communicate any knowledge to them? If we attempt to feed them knowledge even before they learn the medium of knowledge, we are basically teaching them nuts. The key objective of primary education needs to be to teach children the medium of learning: language.

Initially I ended this section with the previous sentence but have come back to add on just a little bit more. I expect people to ask, "How do we teach people language? We've been trying to teach English for generations with no success." We are pretty successful in teaching Malay, Chinese and Tamil. The subject we are really failing in teaching is English. And English is not being taught, not just to the Malays but to the Chinese and Indians as well. I am going to give what is going to sound like an oversimplified answer to this problem. We don't make our kids read enough. Maybe I should restate that as, we don't make our kids read enough of the right stuff. Books are ridiculously expensive in Malaysia because no one buys them and too few good local writers are out there to provide us with meaty local children stories. We end up giving our kids cheap local junk which tell stories of rambutans, elephants, chickens and the kancil which are shallow and uninspiring. There are a million and one good childrens books that will help kids from The Giving Tree to Roald Dahl to The Chronicals of Narnia.

These books need to be made readily available in schools; incorporated into the school syllabus; made cheaply available in bookstores, and freely available in libraries. I read recently in The Star about a Brit complaining about the lack of libraries in Malaysia. I grinned when I saw that article, because I work in a library now and countless parents come in each day to get books for their kids. That would definitely be a culture shock for foreigners in Malaysia. "Malaysians don't read?!?!" Haha.. And if kids are anything like me and had no interest in reading fiction at primary school age, then interestingly, your problem is a lot easier. If they don't dig fiction, chances are they dig non-fiction. With the elementary depth and style of writing in our newspapers these days, just give them a copy of The Star or even better, a FREE copy of The Sun from McDonald's and, if they were anything like me, they'd stay glued to the sports section all day long.

The key thrust of education is to teach people the process of learning. How do we do that? Well, we start by teaching them the medium of education: language. If we can't even get that right, then nothing that we teach them after that will be of any use.

0 mad rant(s):

Got something to say? Please leave a comment! Your feedback and opinions are extremely valuable to us here at RANDTS. You also might want to take a look at the comments that other readers have left.

If you leave a comment, please check back to this post often, as we will get back to you as soon as we can. Thanks for dropping by!


Copyright 2006 | Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly.
Modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds | Edited by Maverick.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.