Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Act of Pulun

Pulun is a local dialect which means going all out.

This is the time of the year when exam is supposed to be foremost on the minds of most students (those involved in the public exams - UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM), teachers and parents. It is at this time that everything extra is brought out to drill as much as possible into the heads of the students. Hence, it is pulun mode we are supposed to be in now.

And those extras include lots extra classes to make sure that students get as much drilling as possible before the exam. Extra classes... Every school I know is holding them. It is a norm these days to have extra classes. It would be incomplete without the extra classes. The head of a school has to be very brave to buck this trend because nobody wants their results to show a drop.

In schools like mine, we are (or at least are seen) taking every conceivable measure to ensure that as many students as possible make the grades. Unimportant subjects like Pendidikan Sivik, PE, KT which are none exam subjects are taken out of the timetable to make way for the important subjects. Makes me wonder too about this move cos we are often reminded that all subjects are important. The important subject teachers now get extra periods to teach because the subjects they teach are so important. Apart from that, they also have to give extra classes after school. That's how indispensable these important-subject teachers have become. Yet we are often reminded too that all teachers are the same.... LOL!

The work load becomes skewed... the important-subject teachers now get saddled with extra classes during school hours and extra classes after school. The not-so-important teachers get to do mindless work by going into relief classes with no extra classes thrown in. And the mantra that all teachers are the same kept being repeated to us when they need the teachers to ensure that programs run but some obviously have it easier for the next couple of months...

I think this is an indication that the MOE has failed badly. First, because the prescribed hours in the curriculum seem not able to ensure adequacy in completing everything in the classes. Second, subjects which are unimportant should not be incorporated into the timetable since they are going to be 'thrown out' by the school administrators at the end of the year anyway, usually around 2-3 months before the school term ends. Thirdly, the morale of the teachers is badly affected cos those involved in the important subjects get saddled with extra work load. You have one group getting stressed up over exam preparations while another basically with nothing much to 'worry'. Or perhaps there is a misinterpretation of MOE policies by those entrusted to be its executors.

Anyway, I think our current system is too rigid with too much emphasis on rote and very little thinking. Recently, I took some thinking skills questions for my 10 year-old to attempt. She couldn't do most of them in the beginning. I downgraded it one level down and discovered that she was still finding it hard to solve them. These were questions taken from our neighboring country which has one of the best education systems in the world. And my own girl could not do it. Then I thought perhaps it's her mental ability that was the problem. So I gave those same questions to a kid who scored a string of A(s) with many (A+) in her SPM to solve. It was quite an eye opener to discover she could not solve a problem meant for 10 year olds! Whether one is 10 or 20, both are not able to solve a supposedly simple but requires some thinking problem.

Perhaps my sampling is too narrow to draw a conclusion. Moreover, one of our universities is back on the list of 200 best universities in the world. Perhaps too my world too is an aberrant one; it is not the norm. But I notice that very few of my students are observant or have the drive and attitude of a dynamic character. But whatever it is, in this pulun season, I realized too that one reason why the rot has set into our schools is many things are not quite right in our system.

Pulun is necessary in life. but I don't know whether this way, that we pulun for them in the sense that we assume the responsibility to pulun, which should be theirs in the first place. Even in my kids, whose life are generally comfortable, the drive to excel is just so lax. The spirit of pulun is just very lacking.... but then again.....

3 comments:

PreciousPearl said...

there's more to life than this...

Thomas C B Chua said...

It is building foundation upon foundation!

AJ7 said...

Agreed!!!