Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2014: The Fault in My Starry-Eyed Journey

At this very moment, I am thankful that I’m alive, blessed and inspired.

             2014 is such an eventful and unforgettable year. I expected a roller-coaster journey as a first-year teacher. Never did I know how emotion could fluctuate so much in a day. Kids frustrate you in the morning but the next couple of hours the others came all genuinely motivated and determined. Some of these attributes last for the rest of the year. Some need to be ignited at times. Some desired values lost in the dark abyss. After all, this career is mentally taxing and soul consuming for me, at least.
              I hold strongly to my principle of optimism, relentlessly believe in potential and kindness of humankind. Passion and patience will win over any aggressive strategy.

            I glanced at each eyes of theirs, I see hope and dream. My students did not know the life beyond their comfort zone or what the world has to offer. 
            I’ve stopped Facebook postings mostly because I’m worried I’ll end up romanticizing this profession. We often filtered the unpleasant things and shared our best moment with the students. I’m afraid I will be emotionally attached with the kids. Well, I think you can’t forget amongst your first students. I love them like a love song. But,..

         Hakikatnya, bukan mudah untuk menyentuh hati dan memanusiakan manusia.

         I started my first three months with all tips-and-tricks, being all strict and scary. It didn’t stay for long because I tend to forget to apply the sanction and gave them second chance (or more perhaps). Two important things I want them to remember are ‘’respect’’ and ‘’try your best’’. The ‘’Scholar Dollar’’ system was applied to motivate them. They were given a printed dollar note for abiding the class rule and winning the game activities. At the end of the month, they would trade the scholar dollars for a few stationaries, snacks and book vouchers.
         I intended to do this for the first semester and beyond that, they would already instill the motivation within themselves without these tangible (and costly) rewards. This will also be my vision for this academic year (with a couple of budget-cutting plans).
         So, let’s remind myself of why I want inspire the kids of Malaysia. Let’s remind myself the joy of giving to others. Remind me of their struggles and their smiles. Only by giving you are able to receive more than what you already have.

1.       This is 16-year-old Arif. A very nice young boy who respects his teachers and speaks only good. This is him working during post-final-exam schooldays. Lifelong learner, huh?

           He struggled through my math class because he is slow reader and unable to differentiate between 9+9 and 9x9. I wanted to get him diagnosed for dyslexia but I was swamped with work, too bad. As you might guess, he was teased by his classmates and friends.  Numeracy and language proficiency in this class are extremely low. They were called the last, the worst and the lost. A few boys are slow-readers.  Knowing education inequity and experiencing the environment are two different things, really.

         At first, I felt sad, helpless and poignant for this kid. He might not able to write a resume. How would he estimate his money when he received his paycheck? However, my biggest fear is how he will thrive in the future.  Would he end up in the low-entry job? My academic track record has never seen anything like this before.

         So I used LINUS literacy and numeracy book for him and a few others. I got the resources from my mom and they were designed for primary school students. Arif will always try his best to solve the questions in the book. He is quite passive and hesitates to ask if I stand beside him while he works on it. Knowing this, I tried to give him some space and check once a while. Thus, his friends  would not focus on him alone and reduce the peer pressure surrounds.

        All I said was ‘’Good, cuba lagi’’ or
‘’Bukannya tak boleh buat, kena usaha lebih sket’’

        One cheeky guy in the class often said;
‘’Hang dah terlepas kereta api la, ni buku budak-budak hoi’’

       But it did not get on his nerves and he keeps on working.  

This is his diagnostic scores in March 2014.

He did the same test in October 2014. 

          He made incremental improvement but it is just NOT ENOUGH. The passing grade is still far. Many factors must be taken into consideration including the student’s preparation and surrounding.    I did the best I could to help, with whatever resources I can get, to whoever I can, whenever and wherever I could.  Could I do better this year?

          At the end I have come to realization that I just want them to be a human of dignity and bring good to the others around them. I want them to be the best version of themselves, be it a mechanic, an international chef, a lecturer or an entrepreneur. After all, is it not what the education over-arching goal is about? 


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