Awang Goneng (Wan A Hulaimi) came around to leave a possible explanation to the ‘Active Eye’ of my last posting. Obviously he had done some research and suggested further reading – http://www.cvcny.org/index.php?s=1&b=4&p=4
On a number of occasions his appearance was timely. This time I was planning to write about my uncalled-for poor impression of certain teachers around me. I must make it very clear that I am not in any way generalising my view of teachers, the one group I like to befriend. I sigh when, in my occasional depressed moods, I see weaknesses where they ought not to be.
I was in that mood when I read W A Hulaimi’s weekly column in New Sunday Times of 20th January, ‘To teach, you have to know’, as usual a well-researched piece of writing. On this subject he quoted Art Markman, a professor of psychology. I will now copy-and-paste a few lines from that column.
- If you want to learn, teach.
- You cannot teach what you do not know, and to know, you must look up the subject, and the more you look it up, the more you’ll see.
- We often ask of each other, “Are you familiar with the subject?” as opposed to “Do you know?”.
- Before I started teaching, I did not believe that I would be the one learning.
- If you look at a house from a distance, you are looking at it abstractly, but when you move in close you’ll see it specifically, in greater detail – how it is structured, what kind of windows and pillars and which architectural genre.
When I started Almanar and thought of helping needy children in English, mathematics and science subjects, I did not realise how hard it would be for me to do it after having left school more than fifty years. It was not so difficult with English but with additional mathematics, physics and chemistry it was self study all over again. I was not facing a few questions in an examination but odd questions, some from thick-headed children. I had to dig out whatever old books I still had stowed away in boxes, and had to buy more.
It was then I realised the superiority of old imported books over those being flooded in local bookshops. For a start hardly a local school reference book has index at the back, making it virtually impossible to check at a glance the presence of certain topics.
Then at one point a teacher came around and had a glance at the few reference books at Almanar, and declared that those books, being about five years old, were ‘out of date’! No wonder book publishers keep revising school books not less than once a year to keep the contents up-to-date (or create new market?). The catch phrase is ‘format baru’.
To teach I have to learn.
Stubborn as I am, I have been doing it my way. Newton’s laws of motion have not changed. The concept of chemical bonds between elements has never changed. Do we need to change the way we teach because of changes in examination format? So today I still make reference to my old books.
I teach, and I learn.
Now I must relate what I did some ten years ago. I had just taught coordinate geometry to a group of Form 2 children. When the children had grasped it I ventured to explain its application in geography; in the formation of longitudes and the latitudes on earth. It was such a revelation to them to know why the range of longitudes is from 0 degree (at Greenwich) to 180 degree east and 180 degree west, but of latitudes, on the other hand, are from 0 degree at the equator to 90 degree north and 90 degree south.
It was then I learnt that a globe, like the one I used to illustrate my explanation, had never been used by their geography teacher. So I was naïve enough to ask a couple of the children to ask their geography teacher to explain why latitudes and longitudes were not simplified by having 180 degrees east, 180 degrees west for longitudes, and 180 degrees north, 180 degrees south for latitudes.
A few days later we had a good laugh in class when the two children came back to report. The first geography teacher they approached asked them to ask a second geography teacher who happened to be around. The second teacher asked them to refer yet to another teacher. To her surpridse a terse reply, a kind of rebuke, came from the third teacher.
“ Apa nak Tanya lagi? Memang dah macam itu. Ingat saja sudah lah! ( Why do you need to ask? It has been like that. Just take and remember it!)” The teacher was obviously annoyed with such a frivolous question.
If you do not want to learn, don’t teach.
I laughed but I drew a long sigh. I am an old fashioned and inquisitive fool, wasting time teaching what is not needed to get ‘Aces’ in an examinnation. I will never know how to use such ‘Malay’ words as, produk, ilusi, emosi, kompelikasi etc. Dewan Bahasa’s dictionary is probably the only dictionary in the whole world that needs to be purchased every year to enable one to acquire the fast expanding Bahasa 1 Malaysia ‘moden’.
I will go on learning and I will go on teaching; but I will go on doing it my way.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaaan