Saturday, March 27, 2010

Catch 22

Catchy but not many catch the drift, literally or meaning wise. It's like you are in a dilemma or having to make a life-altering decision that can either make or break you. In either case, you are not very certain whether you want to make it or you want to be broken because, when you look at the options, even though you may get broken, you want it to be that way, because the sadist in you may some how enjoy it. The only repercussion from that breakage is that it affects the people who are in close proximity to you. Catch 22 is such an enigma that you tend to think that you cannot have both catches which means you cannot have two of everything. And I do mean everything! Perhaps, you are only meant to catch only one or nothing at all! Catch what I'm saying?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


We cannot run from the fact that one of the reasons why we all go to school, apart from studying and making new friends, is to eventually sit for exams. Some exams are more important than others especially the ones that determine our future. However, having said that, some students still delay revising their subjects until the very last minute. No amount of encouragement from their teachers would sway them from their couldn't-care-less attitude. These are the group of students who wait until the very last minute to do their revision, if any can be done at all, considering the tension that is building up due to the impending examinations. Not only because of the tension but also because there is really not enough time to read up on all the lessons taught in class. Nothing that has been taught in, let's say, one and a half years, can logically be crammed into one night of studying, no matter how intensive. So, especially to my students, my advice is, to start your revision when your teacher tells you to do so because, one thing is sure, the teacher only has the students interest in mind.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blood Is Thicker.....

Why do people have family gatherings? Some do it to see how we have all progressed. Some do it to figure out much wealth each one of us have accumulated, and to compare the differences! I, on the other hand, get together with my family just to catch up with old times, to gossip and to just be with them. My get togethers are usually stress-free because we don't talk about things that cause us stress. Anyone who starts talking about distressing things will immediately be isolated, his topic crushed to nothing until he surrenders and join in our topic of conversation. Conversations usually centres around our favourite foods which we prepare separately and bring to share. In fact the food that we bring can be topics of conversations in itself which sometimes can be endless once started. We try not to bring up distressing topics because what is the purpose of family gatherings than to be with the family. Of course with laughter there is also sadness; for the quarrels we once had, for the mistakes we made and for the loved ones we lost. But the once thing we hope not to lose is our family.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Teacher's Greatest Gift

Nothing gives a teacher that feel good factor than to see his children do well, per se. And I say this in general, even though I am actually referring to the recent SPM examination results which saw quite a few of my children achieving personal goals of their own. And when I say children, I am referring to my students, who to me, are like my own children; one because of our obvious age differences and two because that is how I treat them. Like my own children. My only regret, if you can call it that is, some of my children do not see that bond that I am trying to make with them, to the extent of making my presence in class to teach them as something of a nuisance. I always think that these children who do not appreciate their teachers as elderly people, would usually treat the elders in their homes in the same manner; those elders being their parents. I pity their parents who lack the appreciation of their own children. I, on the other hand, can at least take heart in the one or two children in my school who are appreciative of me, even though they are just a fraction of the hundreds in school. They make my day!

To Boldly Go....

Teachers who have just graduated should go to schools where they are posted to, especially to rural areas. They should not, therefore, use the influence of people they know to avoid from being posted to these schools since this where their services and expertise are required the most. Being young professionals, they should take it as a challenge to go to these rural schools and see how they can best implement or adapt all those knowledge about teaching techniques that they have acquired during their three-year stint in universities. Being posted to a rural school can without doubt be very distressing. People always say that there is a first time for everything and if young teachers do not give it a try, then who will. You cannot expect teachers who are on the verge of retiring to be posted to rural areas. They themselves may have had their own share of experience in teaching students in rural areas. So, it is only fair that newly appointed teachers accept their appointments with an open heart, even though a bit heavy, and stick to what you were taught to do, that is to teach.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Gherkin Analogy Part II

Still on the subject of 'master teachers' whose purpose of being allocated to various institutions is to help teacher trainees who will be teaching English Language in local schools, with their English. This, according to one imaginative person who has seen too much of Alice in Wonderland, will improve the English Language of these teacher trainees who, at the end of their training, will be posted to local schools where a majority of the students would not have English Language as their mother tongue. Imagine this scenario! A dedicated teacher with full mastery of English Language, thanks to the 'master teacher' and the Alice in Wonderland fan, now face to face with not less than one hundred of these local students! This teacher happily thought, with the particular skill bestowed upon him, he would be able to impart similar knowledge to the students. But to his dismay, he found it impossible to accomplish this because, unlike him, the 'master teacher' and the Alice in Wonderland fan, these students do not have basic command of English Language. In a nutshell, every one starts by building their own Wonderland, thanks to Alice and her 'fan'.

The Gherkin Analogy

All of us sit in utter silence holding our breath and await the outcome of this 'master teacher' programme where at this initial stage, about 300 English teachers from the UK are placed in several institutions to help future teachers with their English Language. With the lack of information in the media, it is assumed that one 'master teacher' is appointed to help and guide, let's say, not less than one hundred teacher trainees. I have the strange feeling that these 'master teachers' must feel exactly like the local teachers when they are placed in local schools. Let us imagine these 'master teachers' as a small cucumber each and the local environment including the teacher trainees as pickling brine. What do you think would happen? The end result would have the cucumber taste like the brine because it is immersed in something that overcomes it. You will never get the pickling brine to taste like the cucumber! Talking about cucumber, how cool is that analogy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In The Midst of Hardship (2)

This is what we at the form 6 teachers' room are feeling right now. An unfortunate incident happened when I reached the room this morning to find that the door had been pried open. That was not the extend of the damage! Two CPUs and a printer were stolen! We had to go through a lot of difficulties to get those things only to be stolen by some heartless thieves. Some of us brought our own monitors to complete the set. One teacher even sponsored a computer table. To say that we all chipped in is understatement. We actually put in a lot of effort to get those things. Still, when the police arrived, I had to make a statement about the robbery to one of the officers, who will be doing all they can. I am skeptical that the stolen equipment will ever be retrieved.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Fruitcake Special - A Resource (Part 2)

videoThis is the second Resource Material for teaching 'The Fruitcake Special'. I used this interesting video for my Set Induction as a prelude to teaching the idea of the effects of perfume on a man. I used this video with my proficient students, who found it interesting, not because of the content of the video, but because of the unthinkable effect that a perfume can have on a man. The fact that the video is in French also garnered some interesting discussion about what was being said in the video. Have fun using this video in your lesson. Be warned that I used it with my group of students whom I am sure is matured enough to accept the content of the video!

The Fruitcake Special - A Resource (Part 1)

I've finally decided to write about what I am most passionate about and that is Resource materials, especially those that I produce myself. This first entry for my Resource collection is for teaching the Literature component 'The Fruitcake Special'. I used this activity for my set induction as a prelude to teaching the short story. Of course, this is for the lower proficiency students, who would find an activity that requires them to merely match pictures related to 'Nice Smell', not too challenging. I always stick my Resource inside my Record book. If you would like a copy of this activity, do leave a comment with your e-mail.

In the Face of Hardship.... where we all are now. Skeptical? On the one hand, funds are being lavishly thrown here and there, but on the other hand people like us are being made to scrimp and save until we scrape the bottom of the barrel. I earlier wrote that a nation's wealth should be common wealth, but as usual this is not true, and if those high and mighty people have their way, it probably never will. We are the people who feel the pinch. We are called for meetings but wait! No mileage claims! We are asked to hold functions, but surprises of surprises! No allocations! However, in a different situation let's give this high-flying school with it's group of extraordinary teachers and even more extraordinary students, oh! a meagre sum of RM750,000.00 because those genius students have proven that they are really genius! Others? What others? Oh! them! Let those daily schools with the mediocre students and overworked teachers die a natural death while we syphon money meant for them to these handpicked schools! He says this is a dog-eat-dog world, and he is the top dog while we are the underdog. Excuse me! If you choose to be a dog, you are welcome to it! At the end of the day, all I can say is let sleeping dogs lie. People like him, don't have anything better to do. After all, you can't teach old dogs new tricks! Tricky I'd say!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

He Had Such Quiet Eyes...

.....until I realised the truth behind them. Gotcha there! No, this is not a review about 'that' poem, but it is a review nonetheless. In a way, all of us have been duped by those pair of quiet eyes, into believing that he would be our champion. We realise only too late to find out that he is not here to give our profession a boost but to make us regret joining this profession. With all the allocation that is going to be pumped in, how many youngsters can actually make football their livelihood? And what is the rational of applauding schools with the creme de la creme of the student community and saying that they have done well in academics, when they are all excellent to begin with? And why lavish them with thousands of ringgit, when they can actually afford being there in the first place? So, to make up for this spending spree by that man with the quiet eyes, the rest of us have to tighten our belts, poor students are deprived of their free food and milk rations, no more free uniforms for the needy and tuition vouchers for students from lower income families, disappear. Alas, we, like the Malay saying goes, are mere cucumbers. If we roll, we get damaged. And if we are rolled, we get damaged too. All this for the man with such quiet eyes....