Friday, January 7, 2011

M & M

How many of us do not know what 'M&M' stands for??? It's one the most well-known chocolate candies for kids. Many of us grew up eating M&M. The small M&M candies have even become larger than life by assuming candy characters. One year, I even bought a M&M clock for my gal, which made her very happy.... though the clock sits on the shelf tick-tock(less) now.
But M&M has come to take on another meaning for many of us now at work. M&M.... they stand for Managers and Meetings. These are the 2 things that affect us, the worker ants, terribly. Managers, in my case the Principals, breathe down our necks all the time and come up with programs after programs which burden us. And there are many of them who seem to have nothing better to do except come up with more programs than let us do our job (in my case, teach) peacefully. Never a week goes by without reminders of Headcounts, Analysis, Extra Classes, Paper Work... the list goes on. By the time one is done with them, one would have lost a lot of the original desire and energy to teach as planned. One just gets on and over with the task...

We've even been asked to list down the exact number of questions we plan to give our students throughout the year! They call it our Kontrak Latihan. My Manager even goes as far as reminding us to do question by question analysis (for type and marks). With the kind of paper work that we're buried under these days, all these added programs distract us from our core business... teach. Though they keep reminding us that our core business is to teach, they distract us with more programs designed more to make them look good than give us more time to (and peace) to teach. I get mental block sometimes just thinking about the idiocy that plagues our system these days. I think very often these Managers forget that teaching is also an art... and we need time to recover and reflect.

Then the Meetings..... Gosh! You would think that we're idiots. There are so many meetings and briefings to attend. What can be accomplished in just one short meeting and printed manuals is mentioned again and again in meetings that duplicate each other's contents. They take us out literally. We get floored and disgusted listening to the same voice rambling the same things (or almost the same things). Managers seem to have nothing better to do... actually they have but sometimes I think they like meetings because it helps them feel good and be seen to be in control. I don't know..... but 2-3 hours of meeting? My eardrums go on auto shutdown after the first 30 minutes! In Educational Psychology and Teaching Pedagogy, we learned that the attention span lasts something like 40 minutes. Go figure where we apply what we've learned on ourselves. No wonder our system is rotting.

Principals are supposed to teach. But you see many Principals who 'empower' other teachers to enter their classes. And many Principals won't teach examination classes too... And they usually take subjects like Pendidikan Sivik, Pengetahuan Moral (Lower Forms) or Pendidikan Seni (Lower Form).... all non-exam subjects. But they sound downright clever when they try to teach us how to teach the incorrigible classes. Managers today should go for more courses on what it means to be a true leader... means you be with your soldiers in the field; not sit in some comfy air-con room or strut around ordering this and that done... get down to the worst class and teach!!!!

There are many Managers today who hold too many Meetings... but unfortunately unlike the original M&M candies which give us pleasure, they become our nightmares. They distract us cos they feel they must be seen to be doing work. But at the same time, they are not willing to be true leaders by assuming the most difficult task..... For example, when a school does well, often times, it's the teachers' collective efforts more than just a good manager. Yet, I've served under Managers who continue to berate us even though they get praised by their bosses.

A good Manager gets no where without good workers. However good workers still get somewhere even without a good Manager... there have been years when I've served under ineffective Managers... but because my colleagues are rather responsible, the students were not neglected. The school may lack certain things in other ways but because the teachers were still doing their job.... kids didn't lose out.

So, M&M... it's supposed to be a treat that gives us pleasure and happiness.... Unfortunately in many of our schools, they do just the opposite.

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