ON 25 July 2010, The Nut Graph and three experts grappled with what needs to be done to restore our public education through the forum Found in Conversation: Creativity and Innovation in Education.
On the panel were educator and dancer-choreographer Datin Marion D’Cruz, 3R executive producer and social commentator Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, and Learning Beyond Schooling founder KV Soon, who is a proponent of homeschooling.
The Nut Graph editor Jacqueline Ann Surin moderated the nearly two-hour session in Kuala Lumpur.
In this first segment, Surin asks the panelists if they agree with the current proposed reforms to do away with the UPSR and PMR examinations. She also asks, what would they do to improve the state of education in Malaysia? Soon and D’Cruz respond:
D’Cruz expounds on the artificiality of the science/arts divide and the treatment of students in schools, and how these are detrimental to children’s learning:
Surin also asks Marina for her views on improving education. “The UN special rapporteur on education was absolutely shocked to find how politicised our education system is. He said he’d never seen anything like it anywhere in the world,” said Marina.
Marina also talks about the methods TV programme 3R uses to discuss real issues such as HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, and about empowering youth with solutions:
Marina stresses that the discussion is not about whether we should have sex education. That’s a given. It’s how sex education is provided that’s important:
Surin then asks D’Cruz: “Are young people being asked to engage in thinking and encouraged to ask questions?” The answer: “No, not at all.”
Soon explains how education needs to be “democratised”. He says the desire to learn must be stimulated before students are pressured to perform in examinations and assessments.
How do homeschoolers deal with “difficult” students or disciplinary issues? Soon responds:
In response to a question from audience member Terry Netto about what made the panelists who they are today, Marina talks about the importance her parents placed on education. She also reminisces on her father sending her to the US at 16, and about being constantly challenged in university:
Teacher Colin Shafer from Canada asks how teachers are trained in Malaysia, and whether they are taught how to conduct sex education in class. Fellow audience member and teacher Anne James responds:
Found in Conversation is a series of conversations hosted by The Nut Graph with our media partner PopRadeeo and venue sponsor Leonardo’s Dining Room and Wine Loft. It aims to link personalities, ideas and people, and to provide opportunities for the public to engage with notable personalities and industry experts.
The next forum, to be held on 8 Aug at the same venue and time, will be on creativity and innovation in show business. It will feature 8TV’s chief executive officer Ahmad Izham Omar, independent singer-songwriter Azmyl Yunor, and actor-director Joanna Bessey, and will be moderated by The Nut Graph‘s former columns and comments editor Shanon Shah.
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I feel compelled to comment on Marions point on Sir Ken Robinsons TED Talk. I agree with him and Marion on the fact that we have to find ways of teaching that accommodate our students’ strengths. The problem is that the current system is too rigid and does not allow an individualistic approach of teaching. ie We can’t have one teacher for each student but I think we have the technology to explore such ideas now. Why should the syllabus be ‘hardcoded’. If Amazon could display customised pages for individual users(based on their preference etc), I think we should do something similar in Education.
The current system only produces mediocrity.
Talk about putting the horse before the carriage!
If anyone has recently visited a Malaysia government school, you will know the number one thing needed is electricity.
Electricity and power sockets to every class room. Next get working fans for every class room.
Then get good quality text book. The KBSM, KBSR syllables by the Education Ministry is woefully inadequate. It has been dumbed down to the point that there is hardly anything to be learned. The text books of my parents in the 60s are actually better despite being 50 years out of date!
Outside the Chinese schools, outside the private school and the super elite MARA and Asrama Schools, outside the cities, a typical Malaysian school bears much resemblance to a third world schoolhouse, with no power, sometimes no water and furniture that has been repaired more times that it should have.
Get that fixed before running off to plan the classrooms of a developed nation.