Sunday, September 23, 2018

Learning to face tough life in adult world of children

THERE has been a spate of news on parents lodging police reports against teachers for apparently punishing their children. What irks me is the incessant complaints teachers get for caning or pulling their students’ ears. While I do not dispute the fact that some punishments meted out have led to serious injuries, I feel that most times teachers are not intentionally hurting their students.

As a 90s kid, I believe most parents gave teachers the right to punish their children. Heck, my parents told my teachers to wield the rotan (cane) on me if I misbehaved or performed badly in class. This message was conveyed to the teachers on my first day of school!

I was brought up in an era where teachers were considered sacred and had every right to educate us not only on the lessons in the classroom but also in life. By disciplining students, the hope was that they would correct their mistakes and grow up to be capable adults.

The sad thing is there are some parents who are overprotective of their children. This has to stop! Children have to learn to toughen up and not take things for granted.

I’m now in my 30s and going through troubled times running my own business. But all those years of getting punished back in school and the humiliation I felt actually made me mentally stronger and more able to weather the challenging situation I am in now.

To sum up, I would like to quote famous comedian Russell Peters: “Beat Your Kids”.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Teachers, students must have mutual respect in classroom

ACCORDING to a report, cases of parents lodging police reports against teachers are on the rise and are occurring almost every week.

Most of the reports involved disciplinary actions taken against their children by the teachers.

Reports were lodged for the simplest of reasons such as their children being scolded by the teachers.

Most of these cases do not warrant police intervention and can be resolved amicably in the school.

Parents need to understand that learning and teaching can take place only when there is discipline and mutual respect in the classroom.

No learning can take place if there is indiscipline.

When a child continuously misbehaves in class while a teacher is teaching, the teacher will have to discipline him.

There are many ways a teacher can discipline a child such as ordering him to stand up, reprimanding him, scolding him or tapping him on the shoulder.

Sometimes, the teacher may discipline the child beyond the permissible boundary if the child is difficult or relcalcitrant.

Parents who are unhappy with the mode of punishment should exercise restraint and approach the school principal to resolve the matter.

Sadly, some parents rush to the police station to lodge reports against the teachers.

Dragging teachers to court damages the integrity and honour of teachers.

Parents need to follow the standard operating procedure in dealing with teachers who may have abused their children.

Parents are not allowed to barge into the school and confront the teachers.

The unhappy parents should see the head teacher or principal, and make a formal complaint.

All parties will be heard and the principal will ensure that the mediation is done in an amicable manner.

If the teacher is wrong, he or she must apologise to the parents. If the child needs medical attention, the cost must be borne by the teacher.

If the child is wrong and deserves to be punished, the onus is on the parents to apologise to the teacher.

Sometimes, children exaggerate and do not tell their parents what transpires in school.

In the early days, parents put their whole trust and faith in teachers. This is wonderfully encapsulated in this Malay saying when they hand over their child to the teacher with this advice: “Cikgu buatlah yang terbaik yang cikgu rasa baik untuk anak saya.” (Do whatever it takes for the wellbeing of my child.)

“Kalau perlu pukul, pukullah dia. Cuma jangan bagi dia buta atau cacat sudahlah.” (If you need to cane, cane him. Just do not make him blind or a cripple).

Today, however, parents drag teachers to court even for scolding their children.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

No need for tedious reports

THREE senior teachers from my church have submitted their optional retirement papers.

I was shocked when I heard that they had put in their optional retirement papers because they have a lot going for them in their teaching careers.

All three said that they love teaching but the work pressure and the online reporting has taken a toll on their teaching.

Many more teachers are burdened with non teaching duties that have made them lose their teaching enthusiasm and passion.

Many are not too happy with the new lesson plan writing format which had to be typed on the computer. It is not that these teachers are against writing lesson plans but the complex structure and format of the new lesson plan has burdened them tremendously. Lesson plan writing is synonymous with the teaching fraternity. Teachers write their lesson plan before they enter a class to teach.

The lesson plan provides the teacher with a vision, mission and a guide on the intended lesson.
By the end of the lesson the teacher is expected to achieve the learning outcomes as outlined in the lesson plan.

The children should have learnt a new skill or new knowledge as stipulated in the lesson plan. The lesson plan has been a check and balance for teachers whether they are doing their work.
It is an offence to enter a class without a lesson plan for the lesson.

During my time in the early 1980s and 1990s teachers carried a Record Book and lesson plans were written in it.
Teachers had to enter the class with the Record Book and if an officer from the Education Department or Ministry made a surprise appearance, the teacher without a Record Book would be given a stern warning.
If the teacher had not written the lesson plan for the day, the teacher would be marked and be under strict observation.
An so it was ingrained to us from teachers’ training college that writing lesson plans was paramount and the Record Book should be with us in the classroom.
During my time the lesson plan for particular lessons were quite simple and written in less than five lines.
The lesson plan had the following items - date, time, topic, syllabus specification, activities and the source – either the text book or workbook. Teacher trainees in the Teacher Education Institute on the other hand are taught to write elaborate lesson plans as part of their teaching and learning experience.
Teacher trainees have always been reminded that if they fail to write their lesson plan, then they plan to fail in the classroom.
During their practicum in the school, the teacher trainees are given a one hour lesson everyday where they are expected to write complete lesson plans with pre, while and post activities, teaching aids and worksheets.
The lesson plans are written following a standard format and structure and all the activities are elaborately explained.
When they are posted to schools as trained teachers, they are not able to write exhaustive lesson plans because they may have more than three to four lessons a day.
Writing a few lines of the lesson in the Record Book worked well with teachers.
But today teachers have to type their lesson plan on the computer and to file the print out in a ring file.
It looks simple and easy but teachers are not too happy with the format and mode of lesson plan writing.
They spend a lot of time working on completing the lesson plan instead of teaching the lesson plan. Teaching has become very complex and document standards and gathering evidence in lesson plan writing has made it a tedious process.
And teachers are burdened with other non teaching duties which have impacted many teachers physically and emotionally.