What if the shortage of gifted, committed, teachers were a problem? (It is).
What if the best students get held back by a mediocre education system? (They are).
What if students who are already academically behind because of socioeconomic inequalities get left FURTHER behind because the students in the top 20% pull away and the top 60% push harder to pull up behind the front runners?
What if education became the Great Unequalizer?
Would a country be better off having 80% of its people of working age performing below their intellectual and other capabilities in order to accommodate the feelings of the 20% who cannot catch up?
Would a country be better off losing its top 20% to other economies because of a lack of educational stimulation or challenging and rewarding enough career opportunities at home?
I answered the first two questions. You, the reader, will have to answer the rest and see what it means for our country in terms of unity, integrity and prosperity.
The NEP was designed to bring the bottom 20% up and in doing so it created opportunities for 50% to have a false sense of achievement, 20% to leave and 10% struggling to make sense of the reality they are trapped in. We have a sum of mostly very average to inadequately mature or informed people forming the bulk of our population and labor market. They’re too smart for blue collar work and too dumb to create dynamic solutions and growth to match the world economy.
Catering to the bottom most portion has proven to be a disaster in the long run. And now we have to make a turn around and be an elitist society where the cream of the crop in schooling, are again, valued and worshipped and set the tone for the majority in the middle to pull up and improve their personal standards.
Here’s the writing on the wall : (Parents, read this very carefully) :
1. The party is over. There are no more short cuts. All those years of criticizing the MOE for producing students who only know how to regurgitate answers? All those years criticizing endless tuition because the teachers at school are not skilled enough to transfer learning and asked students to attend tuition outside? That era is over.
2. If you are in the bottom 20 – 30% you will get increasingly left behind. This is more true of your family’s economic prospects and educational level than it is for your child’s one-time school results. If you are reading this blog you are likely in the middle 60%. The question is how to not be so far behind the top 20% that your children have to compete very hard in the open market with other 50% – 60%.
3. It is a scary time for unskilled teachers who are used to teaching by the book, buying workbooks, relying on smart boards and copy and paste for their school based assessments. It is a scary time for tuition teachers who rely on books that can be bought or imported to photocopy and let students practice in class. This is not the end of all published materials. Books and worksheets, along with other resources, will be used. The key word here is “rely”. Meaning, the teacher has to go through the book or material first before entering class and prepare the answers first in order to have the confidence to teach. KBAT will be extremely problematic for these teachers.
4.English – The focus and theme of this blog : I’m sorry, but your “pasar English” and communicative competence was enough to serve your needs during your time. However, for your children’s generation, they are coming up against a global world of ESL speakers who rank and judge each other by their level of intellectual clarity, diction and PROFICIENCY in Received Pronunciation English. Your Malaysian English may be good enough to communicate basic instructions to customers but in a future where computers are handling all basic correspondences and we need human beings to research, influence, persuade, negotiate, make an impression – your children’s level of English, unfortunately, reflects whether they had a prestigious education or not.
I’ll give you an example of how 20 years makes a difference. Whenever a 50 or 60 year old aunty realizes I have kids with a foreigner, their automatic assumption is I must have been relatively educated. I asked them why do they say that? They said it must be because I am able to speak in English that I am able to marry a foreigner. I find this HILARIOUS for 2 reasons. Why didn’t they think the foreigner is a Bangladeshi or someone from a generally non-English speaking country? Is it because Chinese women are of a higher social status than immigrant? Or that Malaysian women will want to “marry up” and the way to do that is being educated enough to be fluent in English? And why did they think being able to speak English is a pre-requisite to “marry up” ? (Since they have absolutely eliminated the possibility of me “coupling down”)
20 years, 30 years ago, being able to speak English was a tool for upward social mobility. Nowadays, even Thai prostitutes can speak enough English for upward mobility. We now judge and rank people not by their ability to communicate in” enough English to marry a foreigner” but in their ability to lead, persuade and influence. And in the future, if you only look across the Causeway at Singapore, the trend is starting that if you have broken English or do not write or speak with a certain level of diction and clarity, your “commercial and economic prospects” and respectability, among other things, become diminished.
5. Your children can’t get into the top 20% cream of the crop doing the exact same things the years before have done. You can’t actually go to any of the many tuition centres or hire untrained “freelance” tuition teachers who are not experienced and knowledgeable about how HOT and KBAT works to help your child get into the top 20%. What is possible is to be mentored under former professionals in their field who have trained others in systematic thinking and practice. It is one thing to help your child with someone supervising your child’s work but you could be sabotaging your child if the person who is his or her tutor either drills your child for answers or makes your child accommodate their old way of thinking of obtaining answers. You have to think carefully about whether your child will model after Lower Order Thinking processes (the common practice) or Higher Order Thinking (the way forward to the future.)
So, now, let’s look at this scenario of all the points above and put them together – is the answer better and more qualified teachers? Have you come to agreement about Higher Order Thinking becoming the aims of Malaysian education? Or do you think we still want to focus on school children memorizing, regurgitating, going to tuition and spitting out answers? Do you want a nation of Straight A-s who can’t think creatively and critically? Or do you prefer a tested solution where with enough tuition and stress the child will get 90 to 100 marks without understanding anything they’ve learned or why.
If you have any questions and comments please put them below or on my Facebook post and I’ll be happy to answer them.