Shame on Malaysian teachers.

One ‘popular’ way to manipulate scores is to not teach at all or teach insufficiently what the teacher plans to test on. This will affect the student’s ability to properly grasp the learning outcomes and fail to obtain ‘high scores’. A situation like this opens up an avenue to exploit after-school tuition given by school teachers.

Now that the students are imbued with a sense of failure, a real fear of being a complete failure compels them to take ‘extra tuition’ from the test-setting authority. Whether or not the teacher does this out of some twisted intent or pure ignorance is beside the question. Taxpayers should not be servicing the payroll and pensions of these individuals who are so greedy or too inefficient in delivering learning within public-funded hours and facilities.

Maybe it’s just me but I find something very unethical and manipulative about this practise of inducing fear of not obtaining perfect scores so that students shelve everything else and take regular and extra tuition classes from the test-setting teacher. I’ve recently learned from a European friend of mine who is a teacher of foreign languages, that her students tell her their teacher starts the first week of school giving out her namecard. She was so appalled and said that something like this would never ever happen in her home country. And I agree. Agree so much that if I could agree more, wax would explode out of my ears.

It’s not only that. It’s so common nowadays to hear students telling you that no learning happens in class because the teacher is on the handphone, sms-ing, hangs out elsewhere (like a nearby McDs) instead of coming into class, comes into class late, rambles a few nonsensical things, barks at you and then says, “Do your own work”. It used to be only this way for secondary schools, the teachers’ excuse being, “By the time they come to us, it’s too late, we can’t do anything to help them learn anymore.” But now it’s happening in Std.4!

My friend tells me that in her 10 years being in Penang, she has witnessed how Malaysians are getting more and more progreessive – progressively stupider! I sure got out of that system in time…….

I have every right to say that things can be done differently because I was a school teacher, and I understand the complexities and difficulties of teaching a non-native language to our students. I understand the complexities of mixed-ability classes, limited time, split-periods, discipline issues in class. That is why I think personal reflection and developing skills for effective and speedy lesson preparation is all the more important.

Time spent organizing profit-motivated, fear-induced ‘extra tuition for exam’ should be used for more effective lesson planning and organizing peer-to-peer learning groups. Except for school holidays and weekends which is rightly the teacher’s ‘time-out’, teachers should consider after-school hours on weekdays as also being on the clock. They should use that time to reflect on their teaching, catch-up on their learning and give guidance to students who cannot keep up.

If a person feels that they cannot make ends meet as a teacher, or cannot achieve results within the school system they are in despite asking for support and help, they should consider quitting and setting up their own freelance services, like what I am doing. (And if this fails, oh well, que sera, sera).

If becoming a teacher means you cannot afford to drive a new car and you have to take the bus, or ride a motorbike, if being a teacher means your focus is constantly on the welfare and development of the minds of the young, then that is what being a teacher is. Just because there’s a saying that teaching is a metal rice bowl, it doesn’t mean you have to expect a diamond-studded rice bowl. Being a government school teacher doesn’t buy you a golf club membership and a BMW (actually, nowadays, it does if you use the school as a fertile recruiting ground for ‘tuition’ income) but a pension is a great reward. Anyone with a material drive in life is quite unfit to be a teacher. A person who is immersed in a sense of insecurity about their future material comforts does not possess the qualities traditionally expected of a teacher.

I think it is extremely shameful for a school teacher to induce fear of failure instead of encouraging the will to learn. I think it is disgraceful to create this fear-based phenomenon and then profit off it. I think it is irresponsible to insinuate that it is the government’s fault for setting standards that  are high for languages, and as such, a teacher’s hand is forced to ask for a ‘goodwill fee’ of RM60 or RM80 for a class of 20 to 30 or more students.

Just call it what it is  – your own insecurities digging a deep hole in you that your Greed is attempting to fill up.

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Filed under Malaysia, On teachers, schooling, Up the ante on teaching

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