Sunday, June 27, 2010

Informative Speech: "The Causes of Homelessness"

Hi Form 6 students! I have chosen this video for two of your MUET components, namely MUET 1 - Listening and MUET 2 - Speaking. For your listening task, I shall post some questions based on this video for you to respond to. Those questions will be posted to your e-mails later. For your speaking task, I would like you to identify all the strengths present in this speaker's presentation and also weaknesses, if there are any. I shall expect your responses to the tasks in the week begining July 5th 2010. Happy listening!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Favourite Book

One of the late author's many books!

No, this book has nothing to do with The Prince of Persia, though I am happy that Sidney Sheldon thought of the title much earlier before the aforementioned film came out earlier this month.
Sands of Time by Sidney Sheldon is one of my favourite books by this author which tells about the plight of a group of four women who come from totally different backgrounds. They have to put aside their differences to survive and stay alive. Set in Spain in 1976, this book describes the turmoils of Graciela, who harbours a mysterious secret; Teresa, who eventually betrays her new found friends; Lucia from Sicily who is wanted for murder and Megan who, after living for many years in a monastery, eventually finds out that she is the heiress to a multi-million dollar conglomerate.
Sheldon couldn't have made this book more interesting with four diverse characters to make the story spellbinding. Of course, my favourite character from the novel is Megan. It is nice to dream about an existence void of wealth and later to fall into the lap of luxury. One can only dream. But then again, that is the master that Sheldon is. He lets you dream through his characters!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Welcome Back To School

First day of school after the break!

After two weeks holiday, everyone including teachers and students, return to school with spirits anew. Well, at least a handful of them revived their spirits to face the next second half of the year, with a few more months of toil. I say toil because as you know, whether you are a teacher or a student, your task is never done, even though people seem to think you have all the time to lie under the sun. Not that it is a suitable time anyway, because it is terribly hot nowadays.
Well, back to the subject of the first day of school, I would say that if I were a student, I would like to hear my teachers welcome me back to school, listen to them lifting my spirits and giving me meaningful advise. Very little of that actually happened today in the hall during assembly. What the students got were lashings of warnings and tons of reprimands from one teacher to another, much to their boredom and, not surprisingly, disgust.
I mean, it is only the first day and already you are being verbally scolded from all sides. I could only stand so much because after one of the teacher's speeches, I started to switch off. And I am a teacher!!! You can imagine how the students reacted!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

cat stevens

Somethings are easier said in a song, especially a song that encompasses everything that you want to say. It doesn't really matter if the song is an old one. Since a song is supposed to be universal, it's main function is to entertain and at the same time, educate.

Sometimes it also takes a good listening to the lyrics of a song to get you to understand yourself and the people who matters most around. The answers and justifications you seek are all around you, but when it happens to be in a song, it seems to have more impact. A song, in this case a video, leaves an even deeper impression because you can hear how the singer expresses every single sentence in the song and at the same time you can see his facial expression with the articulation of every single word.

And once a while, you come across a song that says vividly want you cannot say, mostly because of your own ego. To people who matter most to me, thank you for being a part of me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day

Is there really anything special about this day? This blogger begins to wonder.

Every year we come to the second last Sunday of June and people begin to remember their fathers! The date is so specific that people actually wait for this particular day to wish their fathers and fathers every where 'Happy Fathers day' and to express their love! It is rather sad to think that expressions of love to a father is now confined to one particular day of the year when you really have 364 more days to do so!

I suppose people don't bother to express their love to their fathers the other 364 days maybe because fathers themselves don't display expressions of love to their children. I guess it all has to do with this macho stuff! A father usually suppresses his feelings of love towards his children. He doesn't really sit down and chat his children, let alone hug them, especially not in public. A father seldom makes time to do little things with his children, like reading stories or helping them with their homework. I guess, men in general avoid close proximity for fear of people's contemptuous glances and to avoid being marked as effeminate by the society they live in.

I mean, while we are on the subject of Father's Day, let us ponder why we actually have this day in the first place. Like I said, there is nothing really special or significant about this day when you compare it to Mother's Day! Let's just think about how our society celebrate Mother's Day. First of all, there are so many special programmes like movies lined-up by the television stations to let people know about the plights of all mothers all over the world. At national level, we even organise Mother's Day extravaganzas by having dinner shows at hotels dedicated to mothers, where famous singers croon to mothers all over the country. In fact there are even awards for 'Mother of the Year' (Ibu Mithali) which the government organizes. So special is a Mother's Day.

And then there is Father's Day. Sigh!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friend or Friendlier

The Eyes are two of a human's organs that doesn't grow any bigger since infant to adulthood. That is why they leave a lasting impression!

It is not always easy to find new friends especially in today's world when everyone is busy with his or her own careers and practically minding their own businesses. However, once in a while, you do meet people, in reality or virtually, who want to be your friend and they seem quite genuine in their intentions. People foster their friendship usually on the basis of similar interests or opinions that they may share, but sometimes friendship is borne out of necessity and also out of dissimilar interests.
Whatever the reason for the friendship, one thing that is always difficult to fathom is when one of the friends wants to take the friendship one step further, from becoming friends to more than friends. There is no hard and fast rule when starting a friendship. You cannot give instructions that your friendship will be totally platonic and it should not go further than that. It is always difficult when one of you instigate that move, and you are caught off guard!
So, when you are put in such a position, what then can you do? It would be impossible for you to stand your ground and be defiant about the personal rule that you have set when you started the friendship, because the unwritten rule was not mutually agreed upon. Can you actually be that adamant by looking at your friend straight in the eyes? Staring into those two limpid pools of dark globes containing mysterious secrets of the heart, which is going all out for yours! Be careful of those pools because one false step and you can fall into them and drown!

Good Luck to My Ex-Students!

Rezza Roslan

Muhammad Asyraf Khaja Mohideen

Shazwi Abdul Razak
Anis Fadzlin Abdul Razak
Every year I go through the same feeling but never has it been this poignant and exciting at the same time. Poignant because some of the students above actually went out of their way to thank me (and, I suppose other teachers too) for all that I have done to enable them to be where they are today. That place in question is where they will be studying for their tertiary education doing their first degrees. And exciting because I get to know, one by one, where they will be going to to further their studies. It is just like receiving one good news after another!
I do not take credit for my students' success, but I feel honoured and privileged when my students actually thank me for what I have done. It is true that a teacher's work is to teach his student merely because he is paid to do so, and no gratification should be elicited from this work. And in fact, a teacher does not actually ask to be appreciated! But when a student comes up to you and articulates a single word 'thank you', it makes years of teaching worth the effort. Even though, a teacher may have taught thousands of students throughout his profession, it does not really take all those thousands of students to express their gratitude. One simple thank you from one student would be enough. One student can actually make up for all those thousands who 'forgot' to say thank you.
All I can say to my ex-students, especially those whom I feature in this blog entry, who have said thank you is, thank you and that your success is reward enough for me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Freeloading Family

The other day I was shopping in a hypermarket when I had the unpleasant experience of bumping into this large group of noisy family who were also there to shop, apparently. The thing that immediately caught my attention about that family was that they we all gathered around the fruits section and filling their hungry gaping dirty mouths with the grapes that were on sale there. The grapes were going at RM8.90 per kilo and had already been put in neat bags of a kilo each. This family even had the audacity to open up the packaging and started plucking the grapes one by one eating to their hearts' content, if they had any heart in them to begin with; and I do mean all of them, including the father, the mother, the daughters and sons, the grandmother and a whole group of gaggling aunties! And to top it all off, they didn't even notice I had taken a picture of them because they were too busy stuffing their faces with the grapes.
I have chanced upon this situation more than once but I have never got used to the idea of people who freeload, especially when it comes in family size unison. I always feel that, where fruit is concerned, if you really want something that is for sale and you can't afford to buy a lot, just buy the little that you can afford. However, in this scenario affordability is not the question. The main question here is the idea of honesty. I suppose this group of family have not had that value ingrained in them for the past few generations judging from the people in the family who participated in the grape-feeding frenzy. If the grandmother does not have an ounce of honesty inside her bone how then can she possibility teach any of it to her children and to her children's children.
I feel that these people are not ready for hypermarkets and they have actually driven all the way from somewhere else, probably Mars, just to have a look at what the hoopla is all about, and to happily take advantage of it! I may be a bit judgemental here, but I have no place for people who are dishonest. I mean, you can come from a very remote place but if you have honesty in your heart, you will be safe where ever you go; whether the place has any hypermarkets or not!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Holiday Exodus

As usual, holidays is the time for people to go back home to their roots to visit their elders and relatives, whatever the underlying reasons may be. I usually prefer to spend my holidays at home, relaxing and pottering around in the small garden or just trying out new recipes in the kitchen. But, once in a while, I get requests from my kids and spouse to travel back to the village and meet our elders there.
Visiting my in-law has always been a journey back to nature where the environment is still filled with fresh air and and abundance of flora and fauna. It is a return to a place where I can simply pluck fruits from the tree and be assured they are clean enough to be eaten. I can pluck any vegetable growing by the small creek or under any of the fruit trees and be confident that it has not been sprayed with any artificial fertilizer or chemical pesticides. In a nutshell, I spend most of my time in the village outside the house than inside it. I think it's just me because I enjoy being with the greenery and filling my lungs with the fresh air, amidst the shrieks of my in-law to come into the house!
Well, there will be many more trips to this village, God willing, as long as the elders are still living there and as long as they still have a hold on the land. I guess that is something that they should hold on to, not for their own sake, but also for the sake of future generations.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rose's Turn - Glee Cast (Lyrics)

I heard this song on the first episode of the second season of Glee, the surprisingly interesting show that has got me glued to the boob tube since last season. I guess I can somehow, in my own rhetorical way, relate to all the characters in the Glee Club and that is the basic reason why the show appeals to me. I think that is why it also appeals to most of its audience, whom among others, are people who have their own aspirations; who find them hard to achieve because other people think that they don't have the ability or are not visually pleasant enough!

Call the show what ever you like! You can call it a fantasy or you can even call it an escapism because, in a sense, it is true. The show provides a sense of escapism to those who aspire to be somebody but have not reached the right time and place to be discovered or make an impact, so before achieving those ambitions, all they can do is fantasize. But no ordinary fantasy mind you. A fantasy that is coupled with hard work and determination to achieve that ambition! I hope Glee doesn't lose it's lustre, and continue to provide aspirations to those who wish to aspire! And also perspire!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Exam for Teachers!

This whole week has been exams for teachers and today is the last day. A few days is not really a short span of time when you consider the actual time spent by teachers to read up on the topics that would be coming out in the exams. Even longer, when you consider the fact that some teachers have been taking the same exam year after year without success, apparently because of a quota system that determines how many of us pass and how many of us fail. I mean, if you already know who is going to pass or otherwise, then why allow us to sit for the exam in the first place?

Apart from being unfair, I personally feel that examination can be a daunting experience and from another point of view can be quite discriminating, too. Daunting because, being one who does not have young age and an active medulla oblongata on my side, I have to sit in the same hall with younger colleagues. Discriminating because, well, examination is the time when your heads of departments start discriminating those whom they want to go up the ladder of achievement and those who will remain at the base of the ladder.

But with this particular exam being what it is in the first place, perhaps some people just don't need ladders. They can simply ride a magic carpet and fly off into the sunset enjoying their meteoric rise!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


School holidays is not only for us to take time to relax and unwind, and forget about the grueling 8 hours we teachers endure daily at school, sometimes working for six or seven periods on ends and having to face lots of challenges, namely from the students and the administrators. School holidays, however, is also a time when couples who are in love, make a lifetime and memorable commitment by tying the knot. And nothing is more memorable than attending the wedding of your own ex-student. I personally, get a sense of deep personal satisfaction when I see my ex-student making it in life in all aspects; from education to career and from relationships to matrimony. It cannot be denied that as the years go by, I have and will be attending more and more of my ex-students' weddings. If the rowdy students in school add to the number of grey hair on my head, these ex-students who make it in life make the grey hair much more visible. However, my ex-students' success, makes all the grey hair seem worth while.

A special mention goes to Hafida, my ex-student, who got married a few weeks back. I enjoyed the wonderful reception and the food was very much to my liking. May your bond of marriage lasts a lifetime and may you be bestowed with happiness. Thank you for the invitation!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Green Hobby

There is something about gardening that gives the hobbyist such intense pleasure. When all the plants that you have planted a few weeks ago, start to sprout new shoots and begin to show their usable potential, that is when your face begins to light up. Planting herbs like vietnamese mint and curry leaves doesn't actually help you to reduce your household expenditure, but the accessibility of these herbs in your own garden whenever you want to use them in certain dishes, certainly makes one proud that one has put in the effort to plant them. The fact that these shrubs continuously grow also means that if you do not use them in your own kitchen, you can always offer them to your neighbours or friends at your work place. Another thing about gardening as a hobby, is to see something green growing in your garden and in your own way, you are contributing to help make the world a greener place to live in. It can be a good way to instill among your children that they too can make a difference in the future, no matter how small that contribution may be.

Friday, June 4, 2010

School Holiday

It's that time again! The time when students and teachers alike rejoice because it is the end of a semester! Finally! Time for teachers to sit back and relax and forget about work and especially students who have been a proverbial pain in the neck! I suppose that is why teachers always complain about back aches, painful shoulders and aching necks! We now know for sure the cause of these ailments! I suppose these students are totally oblivious to this to the point that they always wonder why their teachers breathe a long sigh of relief or smile from ear to ear after the end of a lesson with them. It is no wonder that these teachers hasten their pace or even take longer strides to be as far away from these students as possible! And a two-week's absence from these students is sheer bliss! The proverb 'absence makes the heart grows fonder' does not apply in this situation! Happy holidays teachers! You deserve it!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Staff Family Day

Family day is something looked forward to by everyone, especially kids. The excitement is even greater when they know that they are going to the beach and spending the night there. This family day was special because it involved almost all the teachers in my school; including their spouses and children. We had many different types of beach games like beach football and tug-o-war for the adults and telematches for the kids and we even had barbecue for dinner. On top of that, no one went home empty handed because there were prizes galore! Thanks to all my committee members for making this day a success!

Doris Day - Que Sera Sera

Another song chosen for my Form 6 students' listening activity during the semester holidays. For my students reading this blog, please make sure you get the lyrics of this song, then paraphrase this song in prose form in about 150 words using your own words. Remember also that you will be giving an oral presentation of the prose on the 23rd of June 2010 during your MUET 2 slot. Happy listening and happy holidays!