3 Jujur 2012

These are my students from 3 Jujur 2012. Gonna miss this bunch of kids!

3 Amanah 2012

My 3 Amanah kids. They are normally a lot happier!

4 Usaha 2011

Best of luck guys!

5 Murni 2011

I will never forget all of you.

Choral Speaking Team 2012

Champions of Zone H (Pasir Gudang)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Are You a Carrot, an Egg or a Coffee Bean?



A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.

It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.

She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" the mother asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?" Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why I Become a Teacher

Frankly, I never really wanted to become a teacher. The only time I can remember myself wanting to be a teacher was back in the year 1994 when I was 8 years old. The reason was simple: all my teachers back then smelled nice, and wore awesomely nice dresses. I've had a long list of ambitions after that but becoming a teacher never got a place again in the list. I spent most of my years growing up aspiring to be a doctor, because the way I saw it, the best of students become doctors. So that was what I wanted to be, before I grew up and realized that I never really did want to become a doctor. I wanted only to be the best, I wanted to make my parents proud.

I grew up in poverty. Back then, it was something that I was ashamed of. Now, it makes me grateful. Because of the poverty I had to go through, I am now strengthened from within. I learned to be strong-willed and I don't give up easily. I started earning my own pocket money when I was 9 by selling potato chips at school. I would take orders everyday from my friends and when I go home that day I would pack the chips into small packets according to the orders. I earned 10 cents per packet as commission. The next year when I was 10, I moved to another school in a different state. At this school, I sold stationery. For each item sold, I earned 10 cents. When I was 11, I moved back to my previous school. I learned to make some crafts and quickly realized that I could make money out of that. I started taking orders for bead brooches and trinkets. I also made stickers and sold them. The 'business' was quite flourishing  I earned up to RM50 a month selling those in between lessons at school. This continued until I was in Year 6. 

I sat for my UPSR in 1998. My father lost his job the previous year and he was jobless for several months. Money was tight and debts were mounting. He finally started selling fruits at weekly markets. In the same year, my brother who was studying in an MRSM was sitting for his SPM. As the eldest child at home, I had to help my parents. Since both my parents were out working, I had to cook my own lunch when I got home after school. Sometimes I had to cook for the whole family. During holidays, I had to help them at the markets. I had to do these because we were poor. I had no chance to go to paid tuition classes like some of my friends. The only extra classes that I went to were the ones organized by the PIBG because it was cheaper, even though I had to cycle 3 km to school at night, alone. 

I still remember the first day of the UPSR. My father was about to send me to school with our fruit lorry, which was our only transport. That morning, out of the many mornings that could have been, it broke down. The lorry failed to start. I remember the look on my father's face that morning. He was panicking and worried like never before, but alhamdulillah, after some fixing (and some luck, I guess), he managed to get me to school in time for the exam.

16 November 1998, if I remember correctly, was the day the UPSR results was announced. It was a Monday. The GPK 1 was giving her speech in a school assembly when the GB's car drove in. He got out of the car with a brown envelope in his hand. All our eyes were on him and the GPK stopped her speech to give way for the announcement. The GB walked to the front, put on his glasses and opened the envelope. Five of us got 5A's. He announced the names one by one. I had an indescribable feeling when mine was one of the names announced. It felt like a war won, a dream accomplished, a promise fulfilled. My father cried tears of joy that day.

I got to an MRSM the next year. My father had to borrow money from a lot of people to pay for my expenses and fees. My family spent most of the money we had just to send me there. We were really, really poor. In our home back then, we did not have proper rooms and the water we drank and clean ourselves with came from an old well. My parents are kampung folks. In fact, my father only went to school until Year 6. Even so, he taught me whatever he could and my mother always helped me with my homework. I remember my father being a very fierce Mathematics teacher when I was in Year 2. I always cried during his 'lessons'. But apart from having amazing parents who always put education their top priority, I have to say that I owe my success mainly to the teachers who had taught me all those years in SK Pauh, Perlis. Getting straight A's in UPSR is nothing much now, but I see it as a motivation to kickstart further successes in life.

To Cikgu Sharifah Idziah binti Syed Ismail who taught me Bahasa Melayu in Year 1 Kenanga (1993), Year 2 Seroja (1994) and Year 3 Seroja (1995), to Teacher Noryuzaimah binti Mohd Yunus who taught me English when I was in Year 3 Seroja (1995), Year 4 Seroja (1996), Year 5 Seroja (1997) and Year 6 Seroja (1998), you are huge figures in my life. I have had many good teachers in my life, but the two of you are the most influential. I might not realize it back then, but as I grow older and look back to those innocent years, I could have easily strayed away from the right path without your guidance. You were my strength when I was weak. You were my voice when I couldn't say. You were my eyes when I couldn't see. You saw the best there was in me. You lifted me up when I couldn't reach. You gave me faith and believed in me. I'm everything I am because you loved me. 

Thank you for all your hard work, troubles and time spent in nurturing me as a child. Thank you for guiding me with good examples. Thank you for teaching me values. Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for everything. I hope I can teach my students half of the things that both of you had taught me. I hope I can be half of the teachers that both of you are. I hope I can give back to the world what both of you had given me. I hope I can change the lives of others the way you did to mine. You, my teachers, are the reasons why I become a teacher myself.

Year 3 Seroja of 1995

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pedagogi Anak Kelas Hujung

Written by Zul Fikri Zamir. Original article can be obtained here.



“Kami memang orang miskin. Di mata orang kota kemiskinan itu kesalahan. Lupa mereka, lauk yang mereka makan itu kerja kami,”
- Gadis Pantai, Pramoedya Ananta Toer

BADRI paling awal sekali keluar dari program Projek ‘Bedtime Stories’ malam itu. Tanpa disuruh, tatkala melihat kelibat Kak Jihah, dia terus bangkit dan keluar mencari seliparnya. Diikuti Zarul, mereka adalah di antara 6 orang anak-anak Teach For The Needs (TFTN) yang akan menjalani kelas intensif ‘program membaca’ kendalian sukarelawan TFTN.
Di dalam ruang khas ini, mereka sabar menunggu Kak Jiher mengeluarkan pensel, pemadam dan buku Bacalah Sayang milik mereka. Badri (9 tahun) dan Zarul (7 tahun), sudah menunjukkan peningkatan yang memberansangkan.
Kelas intensif ‘program membaca’ ini, diadakan sebanyak dua kali seminggu iaitu pada malam Selasa dan Rabu. Diupayakan sepenuhnya oleh sukarelawan TFTN, tiga mahasiswa dari UiTM Shah Alam iaitu Kak Husna, Kak Jiher dari MSU serta Abang Afiq dari IPG Kampus Ilmu Khas, Cheras.
Bersempena dengan Kempen #TFTNMembaca 2013, TFTN melancarkan ujian saringan literasi terhadap semua anak-anak TFTN di seluruh negara. Dapatan awal kami menunjukkan jumlah yang membimbangkan untuk jumlah anak-anak berumur 5 hingga 16 tahun yang masih belum boleh membaca.
Untuk setiap rumah anak yatim di bawah kelolaan TFTN, data memperlihatkan anak-anak yang masih belum menguasai kemahiran membaca adalah sekitar 10%.

Musim Peperiksaan
Masalah utama sistem pendidikan konvensional yang kita semua anuti kini adalah apabila kita mengamalkan sistem penilaian seragam untuk semua murid untuk menilai aspek intelek semata-mata. Beberapa minggu yang lalu, peperiksaan UPSR untuk menilai pelajar tahun 6 yang berumur 12 tahun baru sahaja selesai.
Menyambung musim peperiksaan ini adalah peperiksaan PMR pula untuk menguji pelajar tingkatan 3 yang berumur 15 tahun. Menyusul sehingga ke hujung tahun adalah peperiksaan SPM untuk menguji pelajar Tingkatan 5 yang berumur 17 tahun.
Malangnya, untuk anak-anak seperti Badri ataupun Zarul, apakah harapan mereka untuk peperiksaan seperti ini? Apakah anak-anak kelas corot ini, yang mendiami rumah-rumah anak yatim sepanjang tahun serta tidak punya keluarga untuk menyemak kerja rumah mereka, dapat bersaing dengan anak-anak dari kelas lain yang sepanjang malam menghadiri kelas tambahan, menghabiskan berbakul-bakul set soalan tahun lepas serta mengulangkaji melalui siri televisyen Astro Tutor TV?
Anak-anak ini bukan sahaja ketinggalan dari aspek fizikal iaitu sumber kewangan yang terhad, ketiadaan buku latihan, malah lebih menyukarkan mereka ketinggalan dari aspek psikologi dan kasih sayang. Untuk sebahagian besar anak-anak ini, asrama adalah dunia mereka 24 jam 7 hari seminggu.

Di mana Falsafah Pendidikan Negara?
Ketika inilah lahirnya soalan; di manakah Falsafah Pendidikan Negara (FPN) ketika anak-anak seperti Badri dan Zarul di seluruh negara memerlukannya?
Oleh yang demikian ada baiknya kita baca semula Falsafah Pendidikan Negara yang berbunyi;
“Pendidikan di Malaysia adalah satu usaha berterusan ke arah memperkembangankan lagi potensi individu secara menyeluruh dan bersepadu untuk mewujudkan insan yang seimbang dan harmonis dari segi intelek, rohani, emosi, dan jasmani berdasarkan kepada kepercayaan dan kepatuhan kepada Tuhan.  Usaha ini adalah bagi melahirkan rakyat Malaysia yang berilmu, bertanggungjawab dan berkeupayaan mencapai kesejahteraan diri serta memberi sumbangan terhadap keharmonian dan kemakmuran masyarakat dan negara. “ 
Untuk memudahkan kita memahami falsafah ini, secara ringkasnya FPN menggariskan item Jasmani, Emosi, Rohani, Intelek dan Sosial serta meletakkan kayu ukur seimbang  kesemua item tersebut di hujung pendidikan. Bacaan semula falsafah ini amat penting untuk memahami corak pendidikan yang sedang kita jalani kini, hala tuju serta ideologi yang menggerakkan keseluruhan sistem yang menyokong di belakang gerak kerja Kementerian Pelajaran.
Berbeza, falsafah pendidikan negara Jepun menekankan item ‘kejujuran’, falsafah pendidikan Korea Selatan yang pro-Cofucianism menekankan ‘kerja keras’, manakala falsafah pendidikan Finland menekankan ‘pedagogi yang berkesan’ atau ‘pedagogical autonomy’.

Cinta, Cinta dan Cinta
Kisah Badri dan Zarul bukan hanya cebisan dua kisah sahaja. Di seluruh negara, terdapat ribuan rumah-rumah anak yatim yang menempatkan puluhan ribu samada anak yatim atau anak dari keluarga miskin yang nasib mereka di sekolah hanyalah di kelas-kelas corot.
Begitu juga golongan marginal yang lain seperti anak-anak pedalaman di Sabah dan Sarawak serta anak-anak orang asli di penempatan orang asli. Anak-anak ini hadir ke sekolah dengan niat yang suci untuk belajar dan menimba ilmu pengetahuan, tetapi kemudiannya menjadi mangsa kepada sistem. Lebih mencengangkan, jumlah anak-anak ini begitu ramai sekali kerana sistem sedia ada hanya memberi perhatian dan pengiktirafan kepada anak-anak yang cemerlang, bukannya menghargai setiap individu dengan keupayaan mereka.
Ini mengakibatkan dua teres strata wujud dalam keadaan tidak kita sedari. Di satu hujung, wujudnya kelompok dari golongan cemerlang yang dirai dan disukai oleh masyarakat, manakala di satu hujung lagi wujud kelompok dari kelas corot yang dibenci oleh masyarakat. Ketika kita berbangga dengan keputusan anak-anak cemerlang dan memuji-muji mereka dengan pujian seperti rajin dan bijak, kita sergah anak-anak kelas corot dengan makian seperti pemalas dan bodoh.
Hakikatnya, kedua golongan ini bersaing di dalam sebuah sistem yang sama sekali tidak adil dan rata buat mereka. Jelas sekali, yang kita perlukan kini adalah Cinta, Cinta dan Cinta. Jika kita ajarkan anak-anak kita erti Cinta, dan bagaimana kemanusiaan ini dengan Cinta, sudah pasti anak-anak kita kini tidak akan tegar meninggalkan rakan-rakan mereka yang tidak benasib baik terkontang-kanting di kelas corot.
Untuk anak seperti Badri dan Zarul, sekolah kini bukan lagi tempat untuk mengajarkan mereka tentang dunia, tetapi sebuah penjara yang perlu dihadiri setiap hari kerana hukumnya begitu. Jika benar sekolah adalah tempat untuk mengajarkan mereka apa yang benar dan apa yang salah, mengapa anak-anak ini masih kekal di kelas hujung dan corot?

Pedagogi Anak Kelas Hujung
Dalam sejarah pendidikan, satu-satunya pedagogi yang akan diingati kerana memihak kepada kaum tertindas adalah tulisan Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire menegaskan, pelan-pelan pendidikan di akhirnya akan menyumbang kepada penyisihan terhadap golongan marginal dan tertindas ini.
Berbeza sekali dengan konsep pendidikan itu sendiri iaitu pembebasan, sistem dan konsep pendidikan zaman ini tidak membantu masyarakat keluar dari stereotaip golongan ‘penindas dan tertindas’. Melalui tulisannya juga Freire menegaskan pendidikan itu sendiri adalah sebuah tindakan ‘Cinta’, bahawa pendidik haruslah bertindak atas nama ‘Cinta’ serta fokus untuk menyiapkan dunia yang penuh ‘Cinta’.
Lebih ekstrim, Ivan Illich di dalam Deschooling Society menegaskan;
“Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. Most people learn best by being “with it,” yet school makes them identify their personal, cognitive growth with elaborate planning and manipulation.”
Illich kemudian membayangkan bahawa manusia belajar lebih banyak daripada pengalaman seharian daripada ketika duduk di sekolah;
“A…major illusion on which the school system rests is that most learning is the result of teaching. Teaching, it is true, may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstances. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school, and in school only insofar as school, in a few rich countries, has become their place of confinement during an increasing part of their lives.
Most learning happens casually, and even most intentional learning is not the result of programmed instruction. Normal children learn their first language casually, although faster if their parents pay attention to them. Most people who learn a second language well do so as a result of odd circumstances and not of sequential teaching. They go to live with their grandparents, they travel, or they fall in love with a foreigner. Fluency in reading is also more often than not a result of such extracurricular activities. Most people who read widely, and with pleasure, merely believe that they learned to do so in school; when challenged, they easily discard this illusion.”
Masa depan bergerak, teknologi semakin pantas dan dunia menjadi semakin kecil, tetapi sesi pengajaran dan pembelajaran anak-anak kelas hujung ini masih seperti 30 tahun yang lalu. Sistem nampaknya tidak berubah walaupun iPhone kini menggunakan iOS7. Pelan-pelan pendidikan mahupun pedagogi sedia ada nampaknya tidak mampu membantu anak-anak kelas hujung seperti Badri dan Zarul.
Guru perlu mengajar kerana Cinta anak bangsa dan keinginan untuk melihat mereka berubah dan keluar dari lingkaran kemiskinan, bukan kerana perlu menghabiskan silibus. Anak-anak perlu diajar untuk Cinta  ilmu agar kelak mereka mampu mengubah diri dan keluarga mereka. Negara perlu membaca semula falsafah pendidikan nasional agar nasib anak-anak seperti Badri dan Zarul tidak tersisih seperti mana mereka di dalam sistem sedia ada.
Berhadapan dengan kerumitan sistem yang tidak stabil, politiko-sosio yang kecamuk dan krisis identiti nasional yang mendalam seperti hari ini, hanya ada satu pilihan di tangan kita iaitu dengan meletakkan Cinta di hadapan sebagai falsafah dan pedagogi – terutamanya untuk anak-anak kelas hujung.
Lebih besar tanggungjawab kita pada hari ini adalah untuk memahamkan anak-anak kelas hujung; mengapa sekolah perlu untuk mereka – serta bagaimana sekolah berfungsi sebagai alat pendidikan untuk membantu mereka menjadi manusia pada masa depan.

“The pupil is thereby ‘schooled’ to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is ‘schooled’ to accept service in place of value.”
- Ivan Illich

Monday, August 19, 2013

Losing Big on Small Mistakes


Monday, July 1, 2013

Are You An Asset or A Liability?



There are two types of people walking around on planet earth today. Just two. There are givers and there are takers. You know what I mean. The question is – which one are you?

Time for a Change?
The other day on twitter I picked up this quote from Dr Tayo Adeyemi in the UK – it really caught my eye:
You are either a blessing or a burden; an asset or a liability; a problem solver or a problem. Your choice!
And that got me thinking through all the people I know. It was really easy to categorise them either on one side of that ledger or the other. I’m imagining you’d be able to do the same.

So then, I began to imagine a world in which more of us became assets rather than liabilities. In fact – call me crazy – imagine a world where everyone is an asset and no one is a liability. Just imagine how different this world would be.

Of course, you and I can’t change every one of the 7+ billion people on the planet. But there is one person we can change. Ourselves!

On Balance – Which One Are You?
I wonder if you consider yourself for a moment, on balance – are you a blessing or a burden to the people around you. An asset or a liability. A problem solver … or a problem?  

The Apostle Paul, sitting on death row in a Roman dungeon, wrote this to his friends in Philippi:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (Phil 2:3,4)
It’s an exhortation to be a blessing instead of a burden.

Imagine a land locked sea like the Dead Sea for instance, where all the rivers flow in, but none of them flow out. The only way the water gets out is through evaporation by the heat of the sun. And the reason it’s called the Dead Sea is because there’s so much salt in it that nothing can live in it’s water.

Our selfishness is like the Dead Sea. We want everything to flow inward towards us – we want others to be a blessing to us, we want circumstances to favour us, we want, we want, we want …

It’s all about the direction of the flow of the blessing. Many a man’s life, many a woman’s life (writes  S.D Gordon) is just like the circumference of that Dead Sea. When everything flows inwards … it’s dead. And by experience you and I know that that’s true. 

A Transformed Life – From Liability to Asset
Paul addresses both sides of this equation in that short passage we just read.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but instead … look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
In other words stop living your life trying to be blessed all the time, and start blessing others. Turn the direction of the flow from inwards, to outwards.

Be a blessing instead of a burden; an asset instead of a liability; a problem solver instead of a problem. It’s about a complete, fundamental, 180 degree change in direction from inward, to outward. 

So, you are either a blessing or a burden; an asset or a liability; a problem solver or a problem.
Your choice!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Some Smiles Can Break Hearts


This is Amira, a 9 year-old girl who couldn't read or write. On the first day of school this year, this girl had almost succeeded in shattering down my fortress of patience with her naivety. She asks the silliest of questions and always at the wrong time - when I had just finished explaining the very answer to the question. But I put up with her, I know she couldn't read, so she is probably a bit slow. I know that it's a good thing that despite her disability, she still wants to learn. Most kids like her just give up trying. Even though she couldn't read, she would do all the homework that I gave and would be the first to tell me that she has finished it. I know that there is something different about this kid.,but what I did not know then was that, it was Amira's first day of school, ever. She did not go to school until she is 9. That explains why she can't read or write. 

It has been years since Amira last saw her father. He abandoned the family and left Amira's mother to support their seven children. When I asked about him, her voice was shaken a little when she answered, "Kite dah lame tak jumpe ayah kite. Tak tahu ayah pegi mane." (I have not seen my father for a long time. Don't know where he went.) I never ask again, but sometimes she would tell me stories of how her father used to buy her ice-creams. She misses him.

I took pity on this little girl's fate. So, one day I asked her. "Amira, nak tak belajar baca?" (Amira, do you want to learn how to read?). "Nak!" (Yes, I want to), she said eagerly. So that day I made a promise to myself that no matter how insanely busy I get, I will spend some time to teach this girl something. Starting from the next day, I spent every afternoon after school teaching Amira how to read and write.

One day, while she was doing one of the exercises I gave her, Amira asked me, "Teacher, boleh tak ajar kite solat? Kite tak tahu solat. Ustazah tanya, tapi kite tak tahu." (Teacher, can you teach me how to perform solat? I don't know how to. My ustazah asked, but I don't know.) I was surprised by this. So I asked her back, "Ibu tak ajar solat ke?" (Didn't your mother teach you how to perform solat?) to which she shook her head. I didn't know what to say, so I told her "Nanti balik, mintak la ibu ajar." (When you go back home, ask your mother to teach you.) and she nodded.

After my Master's classes started, I could only spend a few hours after school every Friday to teach her how to read and write. She looks forward to this and would wait in the staffroom until I finish my class. Sometimes she would fall asleep on the sofa out of tiredness, but she still wants to learn. One day, Amira came to me with her finger bleeding and her school uniform stained with blood. I took a look at the injury and asked what happened. She told me her fingers had been very itchy, so she scratched them. It looked like scabies, so I asked her,"Dah pegi klinik ke?" (Have you been to a clinic?). She shook her head. "Ibu kerja. Ibu takde masa." (Mother is working. She doesn't have time). "Takpe, lepas ni teacher bawak jumpa doktor, nak?" (It's okay, I will bring you to see a doctor after this.). I was cursing the mother in my heart. How could she let her child suffer like this and say she doesn't have time? If something/somebody is important to you, you will make time for it/him/her. I was being judgmental. So I took her to a clinic to see a doctor. It was scabies. The doctor gave her some medications and I SMSed the instructions to her mother. So since then, once every few weeks, I took her to the clinic to get the meds. Altogether, I have paid more than RM150 for this, but I'm glad I did because her scabies has disappeared and she is no longer suffering.

I've been teaching Amira for half a year already and I see progress in her. She can read now, but slowly. Today she told me she got bored staying at home for 2 weeks during the school break. She didn't have any homework to do. So I gave her a book to practice reading in her free times. She said coming to school is far more fun. She wants to learn. She wants to be able to read and write. I was so happy to hear this and after our lesson, I took her to lunch at a KFC. She was very happy. In fact she finished the whole meal. I bought another for her 11-year old brother because I know he too has not eaten anything much since morning. When I sent Amira back home, her brother came running from their 4th floor flat house just to say "Thank you".

They were smiling to their ears and it breaks my heart, somehow.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

27 Acts of Kindness

I have always wanted to do this. This year, I will make it happen. 27 acts of kindness within 2 months before I turn 27 on 10 August 2013. 


Friday, May 31, 2013

2013 MELTA-Smart Kids Way with Words Competition

Never underestimate the power of confidence. It will make you or break you.
Honestly, when I registered my students for the 2013 MELTA-Smart Kids Way with Words competition, my only goals were that this competition would give them experience, expose them to a new way of seeing English, give them a chance to compete with other schools in an English competition and above all, let them have fun while learning English. I never expected they would win a prize, considering the other schools who was participating were mostly 'elite' urban schools and convent schools. They are clearly out of our league. Obviously, I have underestimated my own students. They had no idea who they were competing with and to them, those kids were just kids like them and like any other kids, they can beat them. And guess what, they did. Against all odds, my Year 4 students won the second prize. I couldn't be any prouder, considering that all the other teams were mostly Year 6 students from elite schools. Such an amazing feat that was. The organizer even asked how old are my students, and when I told her 10, even she was shocked.

Anyway, huge congratulations to Irfan Syafiq, Zareq Iskandar and Muhammad Zulfikry for winning the second prize in the competition. Congratulations as well to 'Adlin Nabila, Amirul Zarfan and Muhammad Nasrul Hakim for qualifying into the final round. Not to forget Nur Filzah Naqiyah, Nurilya Natasya and Nurin Irdina for the spirit they showed in the competition. You guys are all champions to me.

My students (youngest kids on the right) with their prize. First prize went to SK Sri Tebrau (middle) and third prize won by SK Infant Jesus Convent (left).

All the three teams from SK Kopok.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Update 30/4/2013

Things have been really hectic at school, but here's a quick update of what I've been working on.

Choral Speaking
Much to my disappointment, even though we have practiced very hard, we only managed the fourth place in the district level. I have to admit that I was a bit too ambitious with the script. It was a little too complicated for primary school kids. My bad. Looking at the bright side though, I have a strong team of Year 4 pupils who have experience competing in the district level, has experienced defeat and did not give up. I will write a better script for next year and hopefully, we can win.

Penpal Project v. 2
I have started a penpal project with a school in Sweden. My 4 Jujur kids are in the process of typing their letters. We have limited computers at school, so that's a bit of a problem. Mostly, I let the kids use my laptop, which I bring to school everyday.

MELTA-Smart Kids Way With Words Competition 2013
I am preparing three teams from my school to compete in the competition which will be held at Persada Johor, JB next month. It'll be a tough challenge for the kids participating, but it will also be a good experience.

Bicara Berirama
This is my first time training bicara berirama or Malay choral speaking. I am in the process of refining the script and identifying talents among our school kids. Mostly, I will use my choral speakers as they already have experience in this field but I would also like to add some other students who can recite pantun, sajak, gurindam and syair extraordinarily. I am doing this with the help of a fellow teacher. We will be competing in the Pasir Gudang district level next month representing Pasir Gudang zone (Zone H). 

Friday, April 26, 2013

If I Were a Voice (Choral Speaking Script)


This was the script I used in the District Level competition. I have a video of my kids performing this at the competition. I might upload it later.



Choral Speaking Script (Recommended for Secondary School)
IF I WERE A VOICE

STANZA ONE

GROUP 1:
If I...

GROUP 2:
If I...

GROUP 3:
If I...

ALL:
...were a voice,
A persuasive voice,
That could...

GROUP 1:
...travel...

GROUP 2:
...travel...

GROUP 3:
...travel...

ALL:
...the wide world through,

SOLO:
England!

SOLO:
Japan!

SOLO:
Brazil!

SOLO:
Australia!

SOLO:
Malaysia!

GROUP 1:
I'd fly...

GROUP 2:
I'd fly...

GROUP 3:
I'd fly...

ALL:
...on the beams of the morning light,
And speak to men with a gentle might,

SOLO:
I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.
- Confucius

SOLO:
Love all,
Trust a few,
Do wrong to none.
- William Shakespeare

SOLO:
An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
- Mahatma Gandhi

ALL:
And tell them to be true.

GROUP 1:
I'd fly,

GROUP 2:
I'd fly,

GROUP 3:
I'd fly,

ALL:
Over land and sea,

SOLO:
Asia!

SOLO:
Europe!

SOLO:
America!

SOLO:
Africa!

ALL:
Wherever a human heart might be,

Telling a tale,

GROUP 1:
Once upon a time,

GROUP 2:
In a faraway land,

GROUP 3:
There lived a beautiful princess.

GROUP 1:
 Or singing a song...

GROUP 1 and 2:
...singing a song...

ALL:
...singing a song...

ALL:
In praise of the right

SOLO:
Excellent!

SOLO:
Extraordinary!

SOLO:
Wonderful!

ALL:
In blame of the wrong.

SOLO:
You're guilty!


STANZA TWO

GROUP 1:
If I...

GROUP 2:
If I...

GROUP 3:
If I...

ALL:
... were a voice,
a consoling voice,

GROUP 1:
I'd fly...

GROUP 2:
I'd fly...

GROUP 3:
I'd fly...

ALL:
...on the wings of air,

GROUP 1:
The homes of sorrow and guilt I'd seek,

GROUP 2:
And calm and truthful words I'd speak

GROUP 1:
..speak..

GROUP 3:
..speak.

ALL:
To save them from despair.

GROUP 1:
I'd fly...

GROUP 2:
I'd fly...

GROUP 3:
I'd fly...

ALL:
...over the crowded town,
And drop,
like the...

GROUP 1:
...happy...

GROUP 2:
...happy...

GROUP 3:
Happy, happy, happy...

ALL:
...sunlight!

down into the hearts of suffering men,
And teach them to rejoice again.

STANZA THREE

GROUP 1:
If I...

GROUP 2:
If I...

GROUP 3:
If I...

ALL:
...were a voice,
a convincing voice,

GROUP 1:
I'd travel...

GROUP 2:
...travel...

GROUP 3:
...travel...

ALL:
...with the wind,

SOLO:
And whenever I saw the nations torn
By warfare, jealousy, or scorn,

ALL:
Or hatred of their kind,

GROUP 1:
I'd fly...

GROUP 2:
I'd fly...

GROUP 3:
I'd fly...

ALL:
...on the thunder crash,
And into their blinded bosoms flash;

GROUP 1:
And, all their evil thoughts subdued,

GROUP 2:
I'd teach them goodness and brotherhood.

STANZA FOUR

GROUP 1:
If I...

GROUP 2:
If I...

GROUP 3:
If I...

ALL:
...were a voice,
a pervading voice,

I'd seek the kings of Earth;

SOLO:
Queen Elizabeth the Second of the United Kingdom!

SOLO:
Tuanku Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'azam Shah of Malaysia!

SOLO:
Sultan Haji Hasanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam!

SOLO:
Emperor Akihito of Japan!

SOLO:
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia!

ALL:
I'd find them alone on their beds at night,
And whisper words that should guide them right,
Lessons of priceless worth;

GROUP 1:
I'd fly,

GROUP 2:
I'd fly,

GROUP 3:
I'd fly,

ALL:
... more swift than the swiftest bird,
And tell them things they never heard

SOLO:
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.

ALL:
Love them anyway.

SOLO:
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives.

ALL:
Do good anyway.

SOLO:
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies.

ALL:
Succeed anyway.

SOLO:
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.

ALL:
Do good anyway.

SOLO:
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.

ALL:
Be honest and transparent anyway.

SOLO:
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

ALL:
Build anyway.

SOLO:
People who really want help may attack you if you help them.

ALL:
Help them anyway.

SOLO:
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt.

ALL:
Give the world your best anyway.

GIRLS:
Truths which the ages for aye repeat,

BOYS:
Unknown to the statesmen at their feet.

STANZA FIVE

GROUP 1:
If I...

GROUP 2:
If I...

GROUP 3:
If I...

ALL:
... were a voice,
an immortal voice,

I'd speak in the people's ear;
And whenever they shouted...

GROUP 1:
 "Liberty!"

GROUP 2:
"Liberty !"

GROUP 3:
"Liberty!"

ALL:
Without deserving to be free,
I'd make their error clear.

GROUP 1:
I'd fly...

GROUP 2:
I'd fly...

GROUP 3:
I'd fly...

ALL:
...on the wings of day,
Rebuking wrong on my world-wide way,
And making all the Earth rejoice

GROUP 1:
If I...

GROUP 2:
If I...

GROUP 3:
If I...

ALL:
...were a voice!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Detrimental Effects of Littering


Sorry McDonald's, but I couldn't find a better picture.
Littering has long been a major environmental problem in Malaysia and is fast becoming a norm in the Malaysian society. Towns, countryside, rivers, beaches, mangroves and even national parks and marine parks fall victim to this unsightly phenomenon. Although it is devastating to see our beautiful landscape smudged by these reckless acts, it is even more frustrating when some people act as if it is none of their problem. Almost everywhere in the country, litter scattered on the ground is a common sight. Night markets, for example, are an easy testimony of our lackadaisical attitudes as they usually do not provide rubbish bins and all waste is left on the ground or goes into the nearest drain. Littering, as defined by the Malaysian Law, is "the throwing, dropping or depositing of any filth, rubbish, litter, glass, tins or other containers, papers, dead animals, waste or flushing water or other refuse, liquid or solid". These irresponsible activities, even though it seems like "small matters" to some, come with a great price to pay. Based on these observations, I would like to discuss some detrimental effects of littering on the environment, animals and humans, in high hopes of helping to raise awareness among Malaysians against littering.

The effects of littering  are obviously not pleasant and can be seen from a range of aspects. Of all the aspects, it seems sensible to start by looking at its adverse effects on the environment, where there are direct implications in a number of ways. First of all, the litter thrown into drains could cause blockages of the drainage system. This would interrupt water flow and thus, results in flooding. Needless to say, floods put people through a lot of trouble. There would be lives at risk and the damage done would cause the government a fortune to repair. For instance, the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART), a storm drainage and road structure in Kuala Lumpur, collected so many rubbish daily that it has caused damage to its piping and electricity system. Consequently, a total of RM 144,000 had to be spent annually for the maintenance of the garbage filtration system. From a visionary point of view, this is the money that could be better spent on housing and education. In addition to that, litter left on the ground is also not a pretty sight. Some will eventually be swept to the sea through rivers. Liquid litter will contaminate the water and cause water pollution. This is particularly hazardous as it not only lead to a shortage of drinking water but also limit our supply of clean water for other purposes as well. Therefore, as clean water is such a precious resource with a limited supply, it would be wise to preserve and cherish our rivers and waterways. Rivers, as mentioned by Greenworks, are the lifeblood of the environment. They provide homes for wildlife and plants, water supplies for homes, industries and farms, and places of recreation and enjoyment for us all. Apart from those already mentioned, another possible effect of littering to the environment is that it could sometimes lead to wildfires especially if cigarettes are not being properly put out before being littered. Other than that, decomposition of certain litter could emit harmful gas that contribute to climate change and global warming. Things get even worse if the litter items are not biodegradable because their chemical decomposition takes a very long time  and therefore create long-term damage to the environment.

As much as it is harmful to the environment, littering is also dangerous to animals and wildlife. Litter left on the ground will eventually end up in the sea, where it can be deadly to marine animals. It could kill these animal directly through choking or indirectly by contaminating the water.  Some animals such as birds could get entangled to the litter causing them to die slowly. Animals that ingest litter, whether incidentally or out of curiosity, could die of starvation or malnutrition. The litter could also get stuck in their throats and cause breathing difficulties. Some animals such as hedgehogs are attracted to leftovers and could get their heads trapped inside plastic yogurt cartons, tin cans and polystyrene cups, leading to death by starvation. Other than that, plastic loops can make a similar trap for animals. These have been known to catch and kill diving birds when discarded into the sea. Some animals like swans, ducks and geese can get their legs, wings, or necks trapped in discarded fishing line. This would limit their movement and makes them an easy target for predators. Littered broken glasses pose another threat to animals as they can cut animals' feet, while unbroken bottles could be dangerous to many small animals. As an instance, mice might crawl inside bottles to drink water and then cannot climb back up the slippery sides to get out. Lizards might also crawl inside littered bottles or cans to bask in their warm interiors, or to find food. If they are unable to squeeze out again they can die of overheating. These problems can actually be easily avoided by cutting plastic loops with scissors before throwing them away, replacing the lids on bottles and jars before discarding and last but probably the best option, making use of recycling centres.

Littering not only affect the environment and animals, but also has boomerang impacts on us, humans. Most effects on humans occur indirectly rather than directly. As littering is a major cause of pollution, it is not surprising that it also leads to various health problems among humans. The emission of harmful gases as the by-products of litter decomposition could be toxic to human and affect our respiration system especially the lungs and respiratory tract. Furthermore, water contaminated by liquid litter discarded into waterways is likely to cause illnesses if consumed. Children, for example, would be especially affected by this pollution as they have underdeveloped immune system. Litter on the streets breeds rats who carry diseases, destroy and eat crops and food, chew electrical and telephone cables. These would definitely cause catastrophic consequences which are avoidable if appropriate preventive measures had been taken.  Apart from these, certain litter can be dangerous to people particularly when it involves items such as broken glass, rust, needles and syringes.

Having mentioned its detrimental effects on the environment, animals and humans, it is obvious that  littering is indeed a serious problem, especially in Malaysia. However, before we start pointing fingers, blaming each other for this problem, it would be better if we reflect on ourselves first. In my opinion, lack of awareness is a major factor contributing to this environmental problem. Therefore, in order to curb or at least lessen this problem, we need to work hand in hand to raise awareness against littering not only in Malaysia but also throughout the world. A good way to do this is by educating children in schools to value the environment and not to litter indiscriminately. They could be asked to pick rubbish in the school compound so that they know how unsightly and disgusting the experience is and will therefore think twice before littering. A common belief of most people who litter is that there are cleaners and garbage collectors to clean up after them. What they are unaware of is that, cleaners and garbage collectors will still have their jobs even if they do not litter. Therefore, unless this negative attitude is either controlled or wiped out entirely, the world as we know it will cease to exist and we would all be living in an enormous garbage dump, representing major shame to our entire civilization.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pizza Treat


I promised my students a pizza treat for the top scorer for English in Ujian Formatif 1. 
So here is our top scorer: DZIL HARITH ILHAM BIN MAZLAN

Congratulations!

Volunteerism and the Third Sector as an Agent of Democracy

by Anas Alam Faizli (TFTN founder)

Every December 5 since 1985, millions of volunteers across the globe celebrate the International Volunteers Day. This auspicious day is designated by the United Nations to mark the contributions of many voluntary organisations worldwide. During the recent celebration, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a profound message; crediting significant volunteer contributions to both economic and social development.


“Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expectation of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose.” ~ Ban Ki-moon.

A Eurobarometer study conducted in 2006 estimated that full-time equivalent volunteers total approximately 140 million globally, contributing US$400 billion or 7 per cent of world GDP. Together with full time employees working for the sector, they would form the ninth most populous country in the world.

Voluntary but obligatory? Volunteerism as Fard Kifayah

Islam provides a beautiful perspective, encouraging volunteerism through the concept of the ‘fard-kifayah, or socially obligatory duty. An act is compulsory for any members of society should the need arise. As long as there is already another member of society performing it, this act will be non-compulsory at individual level. However, the sin of insubordination is borne by the whole society should no one perform it.

Early act of voluntarism made its impact in the Islamic society of Medina under the guidance of the Prophet, at a time when disunity, greed and selfishness plagued Bedouin Arabs. The great Nabawi mosque of Medina was built on a charitable basis, both by voluntary labour and cash. It was also benevolent military forces that fought numerous battles against Makkan forces during that period.

In America, voluntarism emerged during periods of European explorations westwards across the Pacific. Colonists in the “New Land” had no choice but to form mutual systems of support to ensure survival. Volunteers farmed, developed irrigation systems, and provided healthcare in the absence of state or commercial provision of communal needs. The resulting social cohesion from these voluntary acts became foundation for these earlier systems of livelihood for early colonies in North America. In mid-nineteenth century Europe too, collectives were organized voluntarily, forming businesses to deliver services given the then lack of a welfare state.

The selfless volunteers

Humans as economic agents are self-interested and aim to maximize their respective utility when they consume goods, and provide factors of production. So why do people volunteer? Different disciplines have different answers. The economist would attempt to quantify non-monetary benefits gained by a volunteer, while the sociologist would explain volunteerism as humankind’s way of expressing core societal principles, like solidarity, social cohesion, and democracy. Psychologists say that volunteerism is innate.

The phenomenon of volunteering is difficult to define academically because it is often public perception that defines it. However, there are three common characteristics of volunteerism beyond the original blunt definition of “work for no pay”. These are choice, going beyond paid or family responsibilities, and ultimately resulting in some kind of contribution to society. This stands even if the volunteer, in whatever way, personally benefits from volunteering.

The emergence of volunteerism in developing countries

The voluntary sector already represents an important part of socio, economic and political structures in developed countries. In the past few decades, it has enjoyed considerably intensive growth in developing countries too. This is due to several reasons. Most commonly, it is thought to arise from the emergence of pluralism, freedom of speech and increased pressures for solidarity amongst a people. It is also linked to democratic developments within society and populist rises against the ugly outcomes of capitalism. While these may all be true, the major underlying reason is efficient provision of goods and services, wherever markets and governments have failed.

As often misunderstood, the sector is apolitical; it need not be in opposing stance to the government. In fact, it strengthens and complements the government as well as market forces. Strong governmental support for the sector around the world can be seen as 40 per cent of funding for the sector comes from governments. 10 per cent come from philanthropy while the remaining comes from fees. Resources and funding vary with the wealth of a certain society.

Because needs and deficiencies vary between developed and developing countries, the kind of volunteer movements, the methods deployed, and the degree of exercisable difference, also vary. Volunteerism in developing countries may tackle developing issues such as educational opportunities, human rights or orphan care. Meanwhile, developed European countries may see the rise of volunteerism revolving around integration issues amongst second-generation immigrants, or urban backlashes. In America, volunteers may work for victims of a deeply rooted market-based capitalist system, and inequality. In any case, the basis of the voluntary sector is premised on the main goal of not-for-profit and the advancement of identified social goals.

Volunteerism, civil society as the “Third Sector”

Since the 1970s, volunteerism has been labelled as the Third Sector (after government and private sectors). Discussions have even gone as far as attaching the role of “saviour of democracy” to it and crediting it for the “rise of a civil society”. The academic realm suggests that the third sector is a credible alternative to state-provided and market-based welfare. But what is civil society and how is the third sector a potential saviour?

Civil society, put simplistically, was originally a term that describes any society living under a functional state. With increasing state meddling in matters of welfare, civil society disconnected itself to solely represent the interest of the third economic agent (households), championing their rights under banners such as “charity”, “humanity” and “equality for all”. That said, the government remains the primary caretaker of the general good and common wealth. Civil society simply shares this sense of “public welfare” without making claims to legitimate coercion or authority, unlike the government.

Voluntarism is an overarching characteristic of civil society. This is because civil society is essentially a collective action that is not a result of coercion or compulsion. Rather, it is made of groups of individuals with shared interests, purposes and values. In other words, civil society is the citizen, mobilized out of will. It is the sector that charities, NGOs, religious groups, trade unions, self-help groups, social movements, coalitions and advocacy groups would fall into.

Academics have outlined three major roles of civil society; to provide services, represent common citizens, and governance.

Civil society achieves this via multiple methods. First, it acts as pressure groups; analyzing prevalent policies and advocate recommendations. Secondly, civil society can become watchdogs and independent experts in monitoring state performance, effectively pressuring the public service to be accountable. Thirdly, civil society molds society by providing avenue for the latter to identify, articulate and act upon their beliefs and value systems. Fourth, it acts as a political agent, mobilizing marginalized sections of the society otherwise vulnerable, to participate and have representation in public affairs. Lastly, civil society is an industry of its own, a sector which contributes to society by consuming and demanding outputs of other industries while producing its own services.

Directly, it provides services to the community, which creates new value in itself. Quintessential examples of direct services are teaching and pro bono legal representation. Indirectly, it demands goods and services from businesses to be transferred to the needy. This actually benefits the commercial private sector as demand is increased, and lightens the burden of the government in providing public goods.

The Third Sector challenges

The third sector is not without its implementing challenges. Civil society acts in very sparse and fragmented manners making it difficult for them to be heard or exercise any concrete influence. Even with solidarity amongst many organizations, the true quality of their opportunities is questionable. Furthermore, it too faces possibilities of selectivity and elitism, because citizens that found and drive NGOs tend to be experienced or subject matter experts, instead of your common “everyday man”. This may hinder its claims to legitimacy. Another challenge is balancing diversity and efficacy. Civil society’s claims to be the antidote of democracy stems from its ability to release diverse resources, meet diverse needs, and give voice to diverse groups of citizens. However, to emerge as a harmonious third sector, reconciling this diversity remains a challenge.

Agent of democracy

After gaining momentum and scale, the Third Sector in developing countries will further become the proxy for transparency and supplement democratic deficits. We know that voluntarism is both reason and energy behind civil society but the definition of civil society itself is being continuously redefined. Thus, there is need to study ways to form a legitimate, influential and functional Third Sector. This can be achieved by experimentation in new forms of social enterprises, cooperatives and organizations that may transcend between traditional borders defining what’s public, what’s private, and what’s NGO.

The challenge is not so much in getting ordinary people on board. Rather, it is in making the organizations that these ordinary people form, influential and strong enough to exercise difference. As for its contribution to democracy, it will come from how prominently this third sector can emerge as a new player in a democratic setup and position itself at par with existing agents within it.

Teach For The Needs in retrospect

Teach For The Needs (TFTN) Malaysia holds the spirit of civil society at the core of its being. Ordinary citizens founded the organization as members of civil society, taking it upon themselves to fill in the current gaps within the national schooling system. Close to a year after its establishment, TFTN is now joined by more than 30 Teacher-Ambassadors and 350 registered Volunteers with 5 Expansion Program, developing neglected and underprivileged pupils and orphans both academically and emotionally.

On March 1, TFTN will be celebrating its first year of inception by launching its “Kempen Membaca” together with a Forum entitled “Sekolah Bukan Penjara, Universiti Bukan Kilang”. Panelists sharing their intellectual thoughts on the subject include YB Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Dr Maszlee Malik and Hishamuddin Rais. The forum will discuss and revisit the objectives of education, schools and universities from the perspective of society, exploring beyond the boundaries of the existing national education philosophy (Falsafah Pendidikan Negara). It is hoped that efforts like this will impact the communities within its reach, become building blocks to a legitimate third sector in Malaysia, and eventually form an influential voice within our democracy.

Passive democracy must now make way for active democracy, where civil society advocates participation and inclusiveness, rather than just going to the polls once in every five years.

* Anas Alam Faizli is an oil and gas professional. He is pursuing a post-graduate doctorate and is the executive director of Teach For The Needs (TFTN).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vests and Ties Have Finally Arrived


Airpak Express took almost a week but I'm so glad that our choral speaking vests and ties are finally here. I paid for these myself. Each set cost approximately RM30. So altogether for 35 students I have dug deep into my pocket and paid a staggering RM1,050. I know that I could have asked for money from the school or other sources, but I have thought this through and decided to use a portion of my tuition money instead. I hope this investment will pay off. We will use these uniforms for years to come. It makes me happy when kids enjoy learning English.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Every Child is a Star

Everyone is a star.
There is a Hindi movie directed and starred by Aamir Khan called Taare Zameen Par (I hope I spelled that correctly) which means 'every child is special'. I haven't watched the whole movie, I only did so halfway on YouTube, but long enough to know that it is a good movie for a teacher to watch. An important lesson from the movie is that there are hidden potentials in each child. There are no such thing as an incorrigible child. No matter how naughty, lazy or stubborn a child is, they become so for some reasons. Unfold their stories, you might be surprised what they have to go through at home. Understand them, show them that you care. It is hard but if a teacher is willing to sacrifice, there are wonderful things in each and every child. If they're not good academically, teach them something that they could be good at. Something they might need later in life. Teach them values, teach them to be good citizens. Please don't give up on them. Remember, it is always the people that least deserve your love that need it the most. Every child is a star, in their own way.

And here's a song for you to enjoy.


Pen Pal Project V.2


Almost 2 years ago, I initiated a pen pal program for my Year 5 students with a classroom in Florida, USA. The response was overwhelming. Even though their English was not so good, they managed to communicate effectively in English with their American pen pals and I believe it had been a memorable experience for all of them. The only drawback is that snail mail communication was too slow and costly. Last year, I did not do any pen pal project because the classes that I taught were unsuitable. They were too young (Year 3) and the only Year 4 class that I taught was not ready for the project.

This year, I am planning another pen pal project with my 4 Jujur kids. We already have students from 2 countries interested to collaborate with us. One is Sweden and another is Mozambique. I am not yet sure how we are going to go about with our friends from Mozambique or how many of them are interested in participating. My colleague from Sweden, however, has as many as 70 students for the project. This means that each of my students might need to be paired with two pen pals. We will be communicating mostly via emails but once in a while we could use snail mail as well. It'll be interesting!

We are writing to our Swedish pen pals this week, so I am bringing a globe to class tomorrow and teach the kids all I know about Sweden, and then teach them how to write a letter. I hope I can spark their curiosity and instill patriotism as they will need to write good things about Malaysia in their first letter to their pen pal. They will be learning for a specific purpose, they will hopefully acquire some skills which they might need later in life. I hope, ultimately, these kids will grow up becoming Malaysians who not only score A's in exams but also able to use English effectively and confidently for real life purposes. I think that is why we teach English in the first place.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sad Reality

I took these pictures today after our Choral Speaking practice. Let's make things better for these kids.

This is what the classrooms look like.

Another picture from a different perspective.

Imagine if your kids have to learn in this kind of classroom.

Bicycle shed turned into classrooms.

Trust me, it's very hot in here.

The 'walls'.

Can you learn in a classroom like this? These kids have no other choice.

Is there really nothing we can do to help them?

All they have for a classroom.

No proper ceiling.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Choral Speaking Vests & Ties


Finally I managed to pay for my choral speaking team's uniform. Dark green vests and yellow ties. 

Total RM spent: RM 942.51

I will upload pictures of the team in their new uniform. Can't wait.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ranking SPM 2012 (SBP)



  1. KOLEJ TUNKU KURSHIAH 0.923
  2. SEKOLAH TUN FATIMAH 0.939
  3. SEKOLAH SERI PUTERI 0.9842
  4. SEKOLAH SULTAN ALAM SHAH 1.1183
  5. SEKOLAH MENENGAH SAINS TUANKU MUNAWIR 1.18
  6. SBP INTEGRASI GOMBAK 1.226
  7. SM SAINS REMBAU 1.3006
  8. KOLEJ ISLAM SULTAN ALAM SHAH 1.3553
  9. SEKOLAH TUANKU ABDUL RAHMAN 1.3725
  10. SEKOLAH DATO` ABDUL RAZAK 1.3793
  11. SM SAINS ALAM SHAH 1.44
  12. SM AGAMA PERSEKUTUAN LABU 1.4508
  13. THE MALAY COLLEGE KUALA KANGSAR 1.4579
  14. SM SAINS SULTAN MAHMUD 1.4724
  15. SM SAINS MUZAFFAR SYAH 1.5109
  16. SBP INTEGRASI RAWANG 1.5281
  17. SM SAINS TENGKU MUHAMMAD FARIS PETRA 1.5287
  18. SM SAINS JOHOR 1.5491
  19. SM SAINS KUALA SELANGOR 1.569
  20. SM SAINS SELANGOR 1.5927
  21. SM SAINS BAGAN DATOH 1.6082
  22. SM SULTAN ABDUL HALIM 1.6345
  23. SBP INTEGRASI JEMPOL 1.6416
  24. SM SAINS SERI PUTERI 1.6491
  25. SM SAINS MACHANG 1.6903
  26. SBP INTEGRASI BATU RAKIT 1.7148
  27. SM SAINS HULU SELANGOR 1.7336
  28. SM SAINS KUCHING 1.759
  29. SBP INTEGRASI SELANDAR 1.7763
  30. SBP INTEGRASI SABAK BERNAM 1.7893
  31. SM SAINS KUBANG PASU 1.792
  32. SBP INTEGRASI KUBANG PASU 1.7997
  33. SM SAINS TUANKU JA`AFAR 1.8128
  34. SM SAINS LAHAD DATU 1.8227
  35. SM AGAMA PERSEKUTUAN KAJANG 1.8264
  36. SM SAINS KUALA TERENGGANU 1.8529
  37. SM SAINS MIRI 1.8874
  38. SM SAINS SULTAN ISKANDAR 1.9024
  39. SM SAINS KOTA TINGGI 1.915
  40. SM SAINS TENGKU ABDULLAH 1.9327
  41. SBP INTEGRASI TEMERLOH 1.9355
  42. SM SAINS PASIR PUTEH 2
  43. SBP INTEGRASI TUN ABDUL RAZAK 2.0353
  44. SM SAINS LABUAN 2.0397
  45. SBP INTEGRASI KUANTAN 2.095
  46. SEKOLAH SAINS SULTAN HAJI AHMAD SHAH 2.098
  47. SM SAINS SABAH 2.137
  48. SBP INTEGRASI GOPENG 2.1467
  49. SM SAINS SULTAN MOHAMMAD JIWA 2.1803
  50. SM SAINS TUANKU SYED PUTRA 2.1994
  51. SM SAINS RAJA TUN AZLAN SHAH 2.2249
  52. SM SAINS POKOK SENA 2.2297
  53. SM SAINS TELUK INTAN 2.4285
  54. SM SAINS TUN SYED SHEH SHAHABUDIN 2.4899

Analisis Keputusan SPM MRSM 2012


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Songs to Teach English Grammar


If you are a teacher who likes songs like me, you'll find this useful.

Songs for teaching present simple

  1. Eric Clapton / Wonderful Tonight (lyrics)
  2. The Beatles / She Loves You (lyrics)
  3. Bette Midler / From A Distance (lyrics)


Songs for teaching present continuous

  1. Fool's Garden / Lemon Tree (lyrics)
  2. Rod Stewart / Sailing (lyrics)
  3. Suzanne Vega / Tom's Diner (lyrics)


Songs for teaching past simple

  1. The Beatles / Yellow Submarine (lyrics)
  2. Gloria Gaynor / I Will Survive (lyrics)
  3. Celine Dion / Because You Loved Me (lyrics)


Songs for teaching past continuous

  1. John Lennon / Jealous Guy (lyrics)
  2. Oasis / Champagne Supernova (lyrics)
  3. Aerosmith / Cryin' (lyrics)


Songs for teaching present perfect

  1. Michael Buble / Haven't Met You Yet (lyrics)
  2. U2 / Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (lyrics)
  3. Chris de Burgh / Lady In Red (lyrics)
  4. Sinead O'Connor / Nothing Compares To You (lyrics)
  5. Queen / We Are The Champions (lyrics)


Songs for teaching present perfect continuous

  1. Anastacia / Left Outside Alone (lyrics)
  2. Led Zeppelin / Since I've Been Loving You (lyrics)
  3. Foreigner / Waiting For A Girl Like You (lyrics)


Songs for teaching past perfect  

  1. James Blunt / Goodbye My Lover (lyrics)
  2. Maddness / My Girl (lyrics)
  3. Simon & Garfunkel / I Had The Strangest Dream (lyrics)


Songs for teaching used to

  1. Erik Hassle / Hurtful (lyrics)
  2. Madonna / This Used To Be My Playground (lyrics)
  3. Dandy Warhols / We Used To Be Friends (lyrics)
  4. Bruce Springsteen / The River (lyrics)
  5. Pet Shop Boys / The Way It Used To Be (lyrics)


Songs for teaching going to future

  1. Jamie Cullum / Next Year Baby (lyrics)
  2. Jack Johnson / We're Going To Be Friends (lyrics)


Songs for teaching will future

  1. Savage Garden / Truly Madly Deeply (lyrics)
  2. James Blunt / You're Beautiful (lyrics)
  3. Gloria Gaynor / I Will Survive (lyrics)
  4. The Rembrandts / I'll Be There For You (lyrics)
  5. Whitney Houston / I'll Always Love You (lyrics)


Songs for teaching future continuous

  1. The Police / Every Breath You Take (lyrics)
  2. Ottis Redding / Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay (lyrics)


Songs for teaching future perfect

  1. Faith Hill / You Will Be Mine (lyrics)
  2. Sheryl Crowe / It's Only Love (lyrics)


Songs for teaching 1st conditional

  1. Frank Sinatra / If You Go Away (lyrics)
  2. Simply Red / If You Don't Know Me By Now (lyrics)
  3. Cyndi Lauper / Time After Time (lyrics)
  4. Beautiful South / I'll Sail This Ship Alone (lyrics)


Songs for teaching 2nd conditional

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers / If (lyrics)
  2. Eric Clapton / Tears In Heaven (lyrics)
  3. Enrique Iglesias / Hero (lyrics)
  4. The Beatles / If I Fell (lyrics)
  5. The Beatles / With A Little Help From My Friends (lyrics)
  6. Beyonce Knowles / If I Were A Boy (lyrics)
  7. Gwen Stefani / Rich Girl (lyrics)
  8. Barenaked Ladies / If I Had $1,000,000 (lyrics)
  9. Hoobastank / If I Were You (lyrics)
  10. Joan Osborne / One Of Us (lyrics)
  11. Norah Jones / Painter Song (lyrics)
  12. ABBA / Money Money Money (lyrics)
  13. Johnny Cash / If I Were A Carpenter (lyrics)


Songs for teaching 3rd conditional

  1. Lisa Stansfield / Change (lyrics)
  2. Gloria Gaynor / I Will Survive (lyrics)


Songs for teaching "wish"  

  1. Pearl Jam / Wishlist (lyrics)


Songs for teaching passive voice

  1. Westlife / Written In The Stars (lyrics)
  2. Offspring / Kirsty Are You Doing Okay? (lyrics)
  3. Gloria Gaynor / Let's Mend What's Been Broken (lyrics)


Songs for teaching reported speech

  1. The Beatles / Norwegian Wood (lyrics)
  2. Stereophonics / Mama Told Me Not To Come (lyrics)
  3. The Killers / Somebody Told Me (lyrics)


Songs for teaching similes

  1. Lenka / Everything At Once (lyrics)


Songs to teach collective nouns

  1. Carrie Newcomer / A Crash of Rhinoceros (lyrics)

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