Start of as human and graduate as robots.
As I wish my cousin good luck for his SPM that commenced last Wednesday, I was reminded of my own SPM experience.
I remember my schooling days where the only thing I did was study. I enjoyed studying. When we get good marks, it feels so good. I think exams should stay because how else can we make a person study and make sure they remember those stuffs? And it’s important to remember, especially if you’re going to be a doctor!
There is nothing wrong with exams.What is wrong is when someone fails, we think he is doomed. It is wrong when we learn only for the sake of exams. And this, lies on the shoulders of the educators (ie teachers and lecturers). The role of a teacher is not maximally fulfilled in Malaysia. Don’t get me wrong – I myself had amazing teachers. My history teacher inspired me so much that I chose to talk about him during my public speaking impromptu speech, I considered being a historian as a career and that I love history till today. I’m not saying teachers here (in Malaysia) are bad – they do what they were taught to do but well, that’s not enough. Teachers are burdened by the principle/headmaster and them, by the ministry. We want good results so much that we forget that kids grow up fast and once they pass a certain age, things become permanent. You teach them to pass and that will be the only reason they will be studying for.
Why are we studying? Simply stating the typical objectives provided by the ministry would never be sufficient. We learn, we sit for the examination and we pass or fail. We were not taught on how important it is to speak up your mind or to stand for what you think is right. We were not trained to speak in class or to give opinions. We were taught to not ask stupid questions. Yes, they say that there is no such thing as stupid questions but is it really true? Teachers, even lecturers at university level hate students who ask too many questions. Ask stupid questions and they will stare at you with the I-can’t-believe-you-are-this-stupid look. Ask with the wrong tone or ask something that makes them look stupid (kids don’t really know the art of asking or facial expression, that’s what teachers are for), then you will be punished for being rude. They don’t correct you, they just shut you up. That’s our problem. We don’t want the kids to talk too much, ask too much or be too daring – because that’s how we define rude.
But when they are older especially when they start working, we suddenly expect them to be an extrovert, so assertive and outspoken. What kind of madness is this?
Continue this and Malaysia will never be able to create successful leaders. We will produce robotic workers who won’t think but simply do their job, like what’s happening currently (of course, with few exceptions).
When teachers start to truly educate, only then we will have brilliant citizens. But oh well, that means, teachers who teach teachers must be true educators too. And those who teach them. And those who teach them. . .
On another note, good luck to all SPM candidates!
NB: This article was written and sent to the editor of the The Star’s Views/Opinions column on the 9th of Nov. It was published in The Star/11Nov2013 with the title “Teach our pupils to think”. Click HERE to read the (edited) published article online.