Slowing the Paper Chase.

There are many things I know squat about. Like Romantic Love. Like Goddess Housekeeping. Like how to stay married beyond the 7-year itch. Like how to travel on a shoestring budget.  Or how to make an omelet in a ziplock bag while travelling by van without a stove. Or simply color-coordinating my clothes. (My principle for getting dressed is : (1) Is it clean? (2) Does it fit? (3) The more colors the better.)

Let’s cut to the chase. This is a post that gives me one of those, “I Told You So” moments.

I don’t usually read Malaysia MSM (mainstream media) but today I decided to buy the papers. On page 35 of the Nation section of The Star I saw an article that got me excited to post about : Slowing the Paper Chase.

The article begins with :

IN THE face of a changed labour market, Singapore may have decided to keep the local university population from increasing beyond current levels. The more cautious approach to higher education emerged from private talks that a senior education ministry official had with a US diplomat several years ago, according to WikiLeaks.

Key words : several years ago.

Continue reading “Slowing the Paper Chase.”


Education and the Significance of Life – Jiddu Krishnamurthi

You need to understand 2 things : What your Education is REALLY meant to do for you and secondly, what is the significance of life? Put these two together and ensure that each does not contradict the other.

Chapter 1 : Points 

Everywhere around the world the education system is the same – a mould creating clones.

Independent thinking is snuffed out – that is what conventional education does.

Once you conform you become mediocre.

With age, people’s minds become dull because of this : Fear. The urge to pursue Reward, Security, Comfort to smother discontent.

Fear ends spontaneity & blocks the understanding of life.

In seeking comfort we avoid conflict and this fear of the new kills our spirit for adventure.

Our entire upbringing and miseducation has made us afraid to be different and falsely respectful of authority and tradition.

When we yield to our environment our spirit dies down and our responsibilities become a lid on our lives.

There is violent revolt and Intelligent Revolt. Intelligent Revolt comes with self-knowledge and awareness of our own thoughts and feelings. How do we keep Intelligence highly awakened? By facing experiences as they come (Yes, Man!), accepting everything including contrasts.

Intelligence highly awakened is Intuition – the only true guide in life.

What is the significance of life? Our lives will be shallow and empty if the purpose is merely to get a job, be more efficient  & to have domination over others and if we are provided with the knowledge to become experts then we become a menace to society – contributing to the destruction and misery of the world.

Can we conceptualize a Higher and Wider significance of life? As long as education does not cultivate an integrated outlook on life it has very little significance.

Instead of awakening the Integrated Intelligence of the individual, our education, rather, our miseducation, is encouraging conformity and hinders a person from comprehending him/herself as a total process. We’re trying to solve the many problems of existence at different levels – and this shows our utter lack of comprehension of a total process.

The individual is made up of different entities – and education should integrate them. To separate and develop them is to create complexities and contradictions. Without integration life becomes a series of conflicts and sorrows.

We must distinguish between the personal and the accidental.

All of us have been trained by education and environment to seek personal gain and security, and to fight for ourselves. Though we cover it over with pleasant phrases, we have been educated for various professions within a system which is based on exploitation and acquisitive fear.

A mind that has merely been trained is the continuation of the past, and such a mind can never discover the new. That is why, to find out what is right education, we will have to inquire into the whole significance of living.

Love is more efficient than ambition in the aim of education.  Love breeds integration; efficiency alone breeds ruthlessness.

A person who is always thinking is without thought; Thoughtless. Because his thinking is confined to a pattern. To understand life is to understand ourselves.  And that is the Beginning and the End of Education.

Education is to help you see the significance of life as a whole – and you cannot approach the Whole through parts. When human beings are integrated they are Intelligent.  Intelligence is the ability to See. Education is to awaken this ability in oneself and in others.

The purpose of education is to create integrated men and women who are free of Fear; for only when human beings are free from Fear can there be enduring peace.

It is in the understanding of ourselves that all Fear comes to an end.

Education should not encourage individuals to conform or to be negatively harmonious with it.

When there is no self knowledge, self-expression becomes self-assertion, with all its aggressive and ambitious conflicts.

What is the good of learning if in the process of living we are destroying ourselves?  I think most of us are aware of this, but we do not know how to deal with it.

The individual is of first importance, not the system; and as long as the individual does not understand the total process of himself, no system, whether of the left or of the right, can bring order and peace to the world.

Question : 

1. What is meant by Integration of the self?

2. How much of yourself in relation to your Inner World and your Outer World, have you come to understand through these classes?

It’s either Thriving, or it’s dying.

The Child is a part of nature. It’s either dying, or it’s thriving. People ask me all the time, “What’s your program like?” finding it necessary to compare one commercial program to another.   On the surface, there’s a plethora of choice on offer in the market; accelerated this and intervention that and multiple this and creative that. How different really is one over another? Is there an advantage one offers over another? One that matters? One that counts?

Look, a child is all that already, within. They are intelligent, they are creative, they are gifted, they are loving. There’s nothing more we need to do TO them. We just need to provide them the soil to grow. So, there’s no program – there’s only going with the natural unfolding of the child. Language is such a medium that it allows you to do anything with it – anything that supports love and meaning.

a child is part of nature. Where there is love, everything thrives.

Continue reading “It’s either Thriving, or it’s dying.”

More hours for English lessons in primary schools.

The Star is always encouraging students to “read” by offering a subsidized subscription for school students. You can take the teacher out of an NiE program but you can’t take an NiE program out of a teacher, it seems.

So last Sunday we took a look at the freshest news in the Education section. First up : more periods for English and Bahasa Malaysia in primary national and vernacular schools. In general, students disagree with the move – which periods are going to be replaced without extending school hours? Most suspect it’s a political move to reduce the number of periods that are being conducted in the Mother Tongue language. Well, it’s been approved by the Cabinet so what is there to do about it?

A homeschooling parent commented on my Facebook Page that adding more time for the teaching of English (let’s leave out Bahasa Malaysia) is akin to drowning a plant with more and more water when we realize it’s withering. Honestly, that’s how I kill my plants – from leafy ones to cacti. I ignore the fact that I have to be sensitive to what each plant needs for it’s optimum growth – all I knew about plants was what I had learned in my primary Science textbook. That’s generally the way I’ve been approaching everything in my life – using a sanitized,textbook approach. Isn’t that the consequence of modern schooling?

The general feeling, from the teachers and parents interviewed in the article and from students in class is that we should just have better teachers. So what makes a better teacher? It’s true that with better teachers you might not even need a standardized curriculum after all – only the most incompetent teachers or the most elementary of students need a textbook to lean on. A majority of English teachers just wing it and they are often able to take students to greater heights this way.

We had a raised hand offering the idea that “CRITICAL THINKING” maketh a good teacher. But critical thinking is not something you can teach – or can you? Another student suggested, then start nurturing critical thinking from a young age.

I think we have to look at the origins of schooling for some context. The purpose of schooling was never to help us learn. We were learning fine for thousands of years and great civilizations have come and gone and brilliant technologies and arts have been devised and created without the need for schooling as we have come to know it. The purpose of 20th Century schooling – and to highlight a point made by Ken Robinson – there were no mass schools prior to the 20th Century, they came to be to support the needs of Industrialism – is to create good, obedient, factory workers.

If critical thinking were allowed, our world would be a lot flatter. If critical thinking were allowed we wouldn’t have had the same government for as long as the Chinese have had a Communist Party.

So you see, it is pointless to argue about how to solve the problem of English language proficiency in Malaysian schools. It is just another sugar-coated distraction to placate voters angered by the abolishment of the teaching of Science and Math in English. We simply cannot find enough people in their 20s and 30s with the proficiency and with-itness, willing to be a cog in the terrible machinery of 20th Century schools. Teaching is the one profession where more money is not necessarily the carrot that moves the donkey. Good teachers do not make good, little, factory workers nor efficient paper pushers.

Voters and vernacular schools beware. I honestly doubt the BN-government’s intentions of adding more English periods. It’s about the kind of teachers you have, not cheaper textbooks, more workbooks or longer hours.  Do read this post about what teachers in other parts of the world have to say about what really matters when it comes to a quality learning experience.

What is the purpose of going to school?

Excerpt from Sayling Wen’s 2000 book, the Future of Education. The same can be said of education throughout Asia.

Education’s greatest limitation today lies in its curriculum. Whether you like it or not you have got to study all the given subjects. Some students are forced to do what is clearly not their forte, and so they refuse to learn. Or perhaps we need not really delve so deeply into some subjects. If we can adopt the self-motivation method and give the curriculum more flexibility, we can both develop the students’ potential as well as enable him to learn what may be of practical use. We may reconcile the 2 theories (Knowledge-oriented Education & Multidirectional Balanced Development) even without the help of computer technology. But with the help of computer technology the results would be even better. For instance, a student with a great interest in vehicles could virtually handle cars on the computer, going through all the vehicle maintenance procedures.

Continue reading “What is the purpose of going to school?”

Education the great unequalizer. – learning English as a 2nd language.

One of the most naive assumptions I have made in life is that it is through education that a person has the best chance to shape his own destiny. Actually, education drives further apart the initial small divide. People with certain professions get to live in certain areas which gives them access to certain schools. People who are misinformed or less informed send their children unwittingly to “the wrong school”. This has serious repercussions; if you go to the wrong school, you’re going to miss experiencing certain things or learning from certain great mentors and these differences greatly affect how you shape your world beyond your education experience.

Continue reading “Education the great unequalizer. – learning English as a 2nd language.”

Organic Learning – my elaboration.

I’m going to start from a context that already exists so for those of you who are completely new to this phrase, you won’t be completely lost.

“Birds fly, fish swim, man thinks and learns………… What we need to do, and all we need to do, is bring as much of the world as we can into [their lives]; give children as much help and guidance as they ask for; listen respectfully when they feel like talking; and then get out of the way. We can trust them to do the rest.” – John Holt, How Children Learn.

In applying organic learning in teaching ESL, let’s not focus on every single tiny aspect of John Holt’s unschooling philosophy. Let’s take some parts we can integrate with other parts of what’s going on in ESL and add a dose of what’s our own personal teaching style and philosophy. Here are the parts I’m taking and integrating with other ideas.

Learning in the world instead of in school Continue reading “Organic Learning – my elaboration.”

How are analogue teachers preparing their students for a digital future?

Went to sleep with some questions : Just how off tangent am I from the goals and purpose I had set out about teaching? Am  I asking the right questions? If I had the right thought 1-2 years ago, how much of that belief would still be relevant in the context of the rapid change and increased channels those change have brought to amplify or execute that thought?

In trying to put it in words the contents of a fuzzy dream that seemed to stretch hours: You are standing at the leading edge of thought. It is true because you wonder;you will be the generation that witnesses the crossover to the intergalactic civilization. You are the last of the analogue/atom age. Choose your battles and efforts not from the perspective of what’s gone wrong but what needs to be.

Continue reading “How are analogue teachers preparing their students for a digital future?”

What’s your story?

Here’s mine :

Like everyone else, I went through a schooling experience that left me wanting and damaged in many ways. But unlike everyone else, I was idealistic about being able to find a way to make schools how I intended for it to be for me: a place which inculcated a transcendental narrative to make this world a better place. A better place how?

– opportunities

– discovery

– creation

Opportunities to go anywhere and be anything you want to be. Continue reading “What’s your story?”

How Children Learn – CNBC, Howard Gardner transcript.

This is a transcript I’ve done on the following interview from CNBC .

I’ve featured an article on my website which also discusses this as part of another issue. I think the significance and importance of the salient points in this interview should be known to every teacher, parent and young person out there to inform their decision on how they are framing the quality of their lives and learning around examinations and college admission.

Howard Gardner is one of the leading thinkers on the subject of how children learn so we’ve invited him here as our guest tonight to discuss the value tests like the SATs. A psychologist and educator at Harvard University, Dr. Gardner is the author of 17 books including the latest The Disciplined Mind.

Continue reading “How Children Learn – CNBC, Howard Gardner transcript.”