Category Archives: schooling

A Manglish Argument On School.

Here is a response by Laurie A. Couture to CNN Article – What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents.

My version of it in Plain Manglish. Please note interpretation is mine as a reader. 

Many parents are shaking their heads at the audacity and insolence of the CNN article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parentsby Disney-and-Oprah-endorsed teacher, Ron Clark. His article is dangerous because it represents how the majority of traditional school teachers view children, parents and teachers’ roles as authorities over children’s lives. In my post, What Teachers Really Need to Hear From Parents, I challenge Ron Clark to consider the dehumanization of children and the undermining of the parent-child bond in the institution he represents.

That article is stupid. It makes students feel like we are only robots. It also makes parents feel like we are second-class citizens who don’t care about our children. 

Most parents in industrialized societies are conditioned by their own schooling to be obedient and unquestioning of their children’s schools and the so-called authorities therein. A frightening majority of parents are unaware that most everything that traditional school teachers do is developmentally inappropriate and even harmful for youth of all ages. However, a growing movement of parents are parenting through awareness, consciousness and connection to their children’s needs. Many of these parents are opting out of public and traditional schools are are seeking refuge for their children in child-centered and democratic schools or through homeschooling and unschooling. As a mother of an unschooling teen son, and based on the years of complaints I have heard from parents and their children about traditional schools, I have compiled a list of  concerns and presented them to teachers in the context of their own education:

Parents are already brain-washed. So they don’t know that teachers and schools do things that harm their children. They scratch head when their children are depressed, unhappy and jump off building, runaway, have bad habits.  Your parents don’t know that what your school teachers do to you is harmful for your intelligence, growth, happiness and future success. That is why they force you to go to school. 

However, more and more parents are becoming clever liao. (Like me!) So we take our children out of school and we detox them (unschooling) from the torture and harm that school does. Here’s a list of complaints : (You can scroll down to the end for the Plain English version.)

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Filed under Danger School, Malaysia, On teachers, Rethinking Parenting & Teaching, schooling

What a Parent Who Used To Be a Teacher Really Want to Say to Parents And Teachers.

I had a request from ********* to post the comments I had written on a fb comments thread on a CNN article What Teachers Really Want To Tell Parents.

In between the time it took for me to post this another article responding to it appeared here

The original responses I made on my fb comments thread on Sept 10 to the CNN article : What Teachers Really Want To Tell Parents  (as is) is in blue.  My expanded comments (for context) if necessary will be in Italics. 

I like the first line :

“I just cant deal with parents anymore; they’re killing us.”  

– Send the kids back to the parents. 😀  

Why don’t they? A parent is almost as qualified if not better qualified to teach their own children than a school teacher is – for many, many reasons outside the context of this article. Don’t believe me? Think about it logically : Both teachers and parents went through the same K-12 education. All things being equal they studied the same content. Unless you’re trying to tell me for 12 years of their education their teachers had pre-selected an elite bunch of students to teach better to knowing one day this elite bunch will become the next generation of teachers. – I doubt it!

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Filed under Context : the thoughts behind the blog., Danger School, On teachers, Rethinking Parenting & Teaching, schooling

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.

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Filed under Context : the thoughts behind the blog., Danger School, Downstream Parenting, Education 2.0 for 2020, ESL in Asia, Future of Education, Rethinking Parenting & Teaching, schooling, Up the ante on teaching

The Dropout Economy

When I took my daughter, then 9, out of school, her Headmistress asked, rather politely, “But what will her future be like if she’s a school dropout at 10?”  I responded almost instinctively, as if talking to an old friend, that by the time Thea reaches the age where she would be graduating from high-school, school “drop-outs” and home-schooled kids will be the new COOL, the first-choice for employment, partnerships and scholarships.

It’s obvious when you think about today’s world where most employers are no longer impressed by products of degree-mills; young people who are disconnected between the theories they regurgitated for a piece of paper and the real world they are supposed to bring value to.  In about 10 years, just about the time Thea and other unschooled children like her become young adults,  people are going to notice  that school drop-outs have all the desired qualities for the 21st Century Economy that others have been schooled out of in the 20th Century schooling machinery.

A Time magazine article on March 11th, 2010 brought back my enthusiasm about how I believe the future is going to unfold and how, with that knowledge, I am preparing those who would listen, for that future.

Middle-class kids are taught from an early age that they should work hard and finish school. Yet 3 out of 10 students dropped out of high school as recently as 2006, and less than a third of young people have finished college. …..But what if the millions of so-called dropouts are onto something? As conventional high schools and colleges prepare the next generation for jobs that won’t exist, we’re on the cusp of a dropout revolution, one that will spark an era of experimentation in new ways to learn and new ways to live.  (Italics are mine.)

It’s important to keep in mind that behavior that seems irrational from a middle-class perspective is perfectly rational in the face of straitened circumstances. People who feel obsolete in today’s information economy will be joined by millions more in the emerging post-information economy, in which routine professional work and even some high-end services will be more cheaply performed overseas or by machines. This doesn’t mean that work will vanish. It does mean, however, that it will take a new and unfamiliar form.

Rather than warehouse their children in factory schools invented to instill obedience in the future mill workers of America, bourgeois rebels will educate their kids in virtual schools tailored to different learning styles. Whereas only 1.5 million children were homeschooled in 2007, we can expect the number to explode in future years as distance education blows past the traditional variety in cost and quality.

Don’t forget to watch the short video by Reihan Salam (sorry, unable to embed video to show).  Here are some of the points I really loved :

  • We tend to think school dropouts are making a very big mistake with regards to their future – but what if school dropouts are on to something?
  • Good, solid, stable, middle-income jobs are vanishing regardless and it’s not kids’ fault they’re dropping out rather it’s the failure on the part of our schools.
  • Colleges and universities have evolved into diploma mills that really exist to perpetuate themselves and to expand their own budgets rather than deliver real value to the people they were meant to serve.
  • So in the future when your kids tell you they want to drop out of school it could be an indication that they’ve found a better of learning and preparing for the future.
If you liked this post you might also enjoy this article which includes a video of influential futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler discussing how hopeless our school systems are in preparing for a future they predict is unfolding.

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Filed under Future of Education, Rethinking Parenting & Teaching, schooling

Self Actualization through language learning? Pt. 1 :Paradox of education.

  • We should teach people to be authentic, to be aware of their inner selves and to hear their inner-feeling voices.
  • We should teach people to transcend their cultural conditioning and become world citizens.
  • We should help people discover their vocation in life, their calling, fate or destiny. This is especially focused on finding the right career and the right mate.
  • We should teach people that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life, and if people are open to seeing the good and joyous in all kinds of situations, it makes life worth living.
  • We must accept the person as he or she is and help the person learn their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes and limitations we can know what to build upon, what potentials are really there.
  • We must see that the person’s basic needs are satisfied. This includes safety, belongingness, and esteem needs.
  • We should refreshen consciousness, teaching the person to appreciate beauty and the other good things in nature and in living.
  • We should teach people that controls are good, and complete abandon is bad. It takes control to improve the quality of life in all areas.
  • We should teach people to transcend the trifling problems and grapple with the serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, of pain, suffering, and death.
  • We must teach people to be good choosers. They must be given practice in making good choices.

Would you agree that those should be the goals of EDUCATION? And if so, which subjects are the best to teach these and if none are suitable, how must education be restructured in order for us to be able to teach these things?

The above points would be much easier to deliver if the goal of second language acquisition focuses on Language Acquisition, the bits of language, instead of a focus on Language Teaching, the atoms that build up our idea of language instruction. But is self-actualization the responsibility of the language teacher? Should it be?

Abraham Maslow believes that the only reason people would not move well in th direction of self-actualization is because of hindrances placed in their way by society. He states that education is one of these hindrances. He recommends ways education can switch from its usual person-stunting tactics to person-growing approaches. Maslow states that educators should respond to the potential an individual has for growing into a self-actualizing person of his/her own kind.

It is a paradox that education is a hindrance to Self-Actualization. “The current education system, in fact, has dissected and inverted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs so that belonging has been transformed from an unconditional need and right of all people into something that must be earned, something that can be achieved only by the “best” of us.”

“The perception that we must earn our right to belong permeates our society. A central tenet of our culture is that we value uniformity, and we make uniformity the criteria for belonging. Moreover, we exclude people because of their diversity.” [the full article here.]

Our schools, being a reflection of society, perpetuate this belief.  – When a school system makes belonging and acceptance conditional upon achievement, it basically leaves students with two options. They can either decide that they are incapable of attaining these expectation and therefore resign themselves to a feeling of personal inadequacy, or, they can decide to try to gain acceptance through achievement in a particular area (i.e. sports, academics, appearance). In either case, there are potential serious negative consequences for the students.

The question of attaining proficiency in ESL cannot be resolved independently of the problems facing education. Students wish to acquire English so that they feel a sense of belonging to the rest of our increasingly global and inter-connected world. But students should come into class equipped with the knowledge that the right to belong is already theirs and that pursuing a second language as part of a larger global community  is recreational as well as reflecting an innate motivation to learn for the sake of learning.  It is because students enter ESL classes with a sense of shame and failure that it becomes so much harder to immediately work on the language acquisition. My job as an ESL tutor becomes so much harder because I have to be counselor, therapist, motivator, role-model, instructor and surrogate parent all at once.  If I ignore the need to play all those roles, instruction alone would do nothing for learning. Isn’t our job as educators not to make sure teaching / instruction happens but instead to make sure learning happens?

However,  the things I have to do are negated in the wider scope of things because those hours of healing for learning are not reflected immediately in the barrage of standardized testing and world judgments students face on a quarterly or annual basis. I can understand that a student with low self-esteem would feel that a lack of outward representation of achievement (distinctions in certification, awards, etc) would mean they have actually failed in language learning. But what if the goals of education is about healing learners from their miseducation about learning, about life? If society becomes aware about the paradox of education and parents become aware of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs then only will the true meaning of education have value.

Should our goals, even as ESL practitioners, be about the bits that make up wholistic learning instead of the atoms that currently structure curricula around the world?

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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.

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When parents and educators screw up, it’s you who pays with your future.

As both an educator and a parent, I can say this : When parents and teachers screw up, it’s the children who grow up and pay the price in the future. Give me one example of a person who says, “I am so lucky to have great, loving, supportive, strong and intelligent parents and teachers” but is not successful. You won’t be able to.

But among your friends who are fearful and frustrated in life, you’re going to be able to identify those who feel both their parents’ life and their education had failed them. All successful people are successful because their parents knew what they were doing. Successful people are successful because they didn’t choose the wrong mentors/teachers to listen to. Successful people often describe themselves as “lucky”. They made their own luck. Continue reading

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