You Got To Put Your Behind~ In Your Past... Eh???

on Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Until today, The Lion King is one of my most-est best-est favourite movie of all time. It's funny, visually breathtaking, culturally colourful, and of course... the music - hmmm... perfecto.

With scenes like this one, can you not watch it?

When I asked my form 4 students if they've watch The Lion King, as usual, only 1 or 2 said yes. The rest of them, even some who seem to be better in English and should be exposed to some form of English media shook their heads when I asked. They know it's a cartoon and they've seen posters or ads about it somewhere but watch the movie? Natha.

I think as their English teacher, it isn't really about giving them exercises and lessons all the time. What I did the past few lessons was to show them these classic English movies (cartoons actually) and they really appreciate the time off. Of course, this is because they did such a great job in their previous exercises hence this movie screening is some sorta reward. Just my way of telling them Don't think I'm gonna show you movies all the time without you guys giving me somethin' somethin'...

There's really no justice in my world if their English teacher didn't give them the chance to watch these kind of movies. It's really sad if throughout their lifetime, they don't get to watch these classics. It's my monumental responsibility that all my students get a chance to watch that movie. It's my duty to let them watch that movie. It's not a waste of time; not a pointless 2 period wasted just watching a movie. In my opinion, these priceless moments of someone finally showing us this English movie we never got to see is important in a student's life. For any cynic out there saying that watching movies is just an easy way out for teachers to relax.. well, I've only got one thing to say to you:

Hakuna Matata

The Land We Spill Our Blood On

on Monday, 30 August 2010
The Colours of Freedom

We're celebrating independence day.

Remember to hold it up high

Yep. It's time for us to hold up our flags high, hoist it to the highest point and let the wind glorify our nations glorious stripes with the breezy gushes. Ah, seeing our jalur gemilang really does bring about a sense of belonging - it does.

Lately though, there have been more chastising commentaries trying to undermine that patriotism. How stone-age-esque are these people to even think that by chanting such vulgar words, the ingrained love for our land can wither just like that. It's by far the worst insult ever; not the fact that our possession towards our homeland is being questioned, but the fact that they think by saying that, we will feel threatened.

Almost every single day since I was a 7 year old kid in Ho Seng Ong (M) till now (being a teacher is the reason why) I've been proudly singing our national anthem with my best bass voice. It's not really about me trying to out-sing others with my melodious and commanding voice, it's the feeling of love towards the land we spill our blood on that keeps the spirits high. Here is something that we would always have as our own, our home and the feeling of being home is warm and comforting.

In other words, if you do not feel you love your country, then I'm truly sorry for you. If you feel that you don't belong to this country, then I'm truly sorry for you. If you feel that some other person can make you feel unattached to your country, I'm even more sorry for you. Never ever let another person make you feel like you're less of a person when you've been living and contributing to this glorious country we call Malaysia.

No one can make me feel like I'm not Malaysian; or not Malaysian enough.

I love my country. It is mine as much as it is everyone's who was born a Malaysian. Be proud of it.

Happy Independence Day.

Kinabatangan's Project Runway

on Friday, 27 August 2010
This entire month was fashion month.

That's right... fashion month.

Girls love fashion

As usual, I love to talk about things that make my students tick. Both my form 4 classes are dominated by girls. In fact, one of the classes only has 2 boys in it. So, fashion is something that definitely the entire class can learn to appreciate (in fact, the boys hopped into the bandwagon too). 

The entire month, we talked/debated/designed and even had a fashion show at the end of this month. You'd be surprised at how much they know and don't know about something that they adore so much. As a teacher, I'm glad to be able to bring in topics of discussion that students personally feel attached to. Honestly, it's difficult to talk about things like Christmas or maybe outer-space travelling when they have no personal attachment to it at all. Having said that, sometimes we still forcefully introduce alien topics to them too. It's all about enriching their present knowledge.

In this show, students have to present out clothes made out of recycled materials or things that people don't want anymore. I told them that the cost to make the clothes should be near 0 because I didn't want anyone to take out any money to make the outfits. This was mentioned a month earlier so that the students have 1 month to design and amend it before the fashion show. 25th of August, 2010 - 2 fashion shows that were even attended by my colleagues (thanks guys) were held and I was really, truly inspired.

My kids can really design.

Seriously... they looked almost like this (too bad I have no camera)

I just want to say BRAVO to the students for coming up with jaw-dropping designs that took me by surprise! I can't believe how talented they are in designing/sewing/improvising unwanted materials into exquisite designs.

Fantastic. I'm really impressed.

Race... That Mean Race Car Ah?

on Friday, 20 August 2010
First of all, let me just say that this is not something you would expect at least during the merdeka month. Not because of patriotism or because you're trying to beat the 1Malaysia drum - it's just not smart. Up until now, there is no conclusion if it was really true and if the alleged person was truly uttering such noxious words.

Of course, I'm talking about the accused Hajah Siti Inshah Mansor (accused because there is no real verdict yet) and her alleged remarks about passengers of this country. If you would take it blindly and accept that whatever that was quoted is true, then I'm sure you are baffled and boggled by the atrocity and idiocy of such behaviour. Not just because the words were completely gut-curdling and blood-boiling but because such a person who is supposedly learned, educated, influential and sophisticated was the one who uttered them.

I seriously feel that instead of heading towards liberalisation and transparency in our country, we are heading towards barbarianism and complete ignorance. Issues like racism, favours based on race, any racial based policies should slowly disappear. Instead, we're taking the highway to more fascism and megalomania I've ever seen reported in the news.

Even worse, this bad news seem to surface in education. My bread and butter; my plateau of hope. There is not 1 excuse for such things to be happening in school because there should be no outlet for these things to be practiced whatsoever. Imagine the times during skin-heads and lynching - are we going to reinvent these barbaric periods of the early 20th century? I certainly hope not and I certainly will give my utter best to shove that stupid (yes, that's just the right word - stupid) mentality from the minds of our youths.

I remember when I was a school student. I was in SMK Seri Putera and it was probably 50% Chinese, 30% Malays, and the rest Indians and Punjabi students. There was nearly no recollection of serious racial tension whatsoever. Of course you'll get the occasional gangs where they consist of one race but that is not racially charged. It's just sorta like a brotherhood where language proficiency bonded them together (Chinese spoke Cantonese and therefore bonded well with others who did the same... etc) - not because they saw race and colour of the skin. I remember all the Malays, Indians, Sikhs, Chinese playing soccer during physical Education, cursing, teasing their fathers' names (very popular among Indians especially), playing pranks on each other, without ever wondering if we can or cannot mix because of our race.

In other words, racial issues were not the crux of our disciplinary problems. I think this didn't just extend to the students but the teachers and everyone who was in SMK Seri Putera as well. I lived in a blissful environment where everyone got along or didn't get along because of who you are as a person without thinking about race. Seriously, it is sometimes very hard for me to comprehend how this whole racial thing suddenly existed in my life because I never had to encounter such radical racist issues in my student-lifetime.

That's the kind of paradise that we should encircle our students with. To never let them notice or realise that there are such things as racial tension. We must try to emulate that life that I once enjoyed in my schooling years to my students now. Make them blind about these things and it'll all work out. Seriously. I want them to be blind about racism and do not know about these kind of things. So, when they see someone from a different race, they are ignorant about affiliating themselves with others based on the colour of their skin.

Yasmin Ahmad's ever endearing ads

I'm in no position to verify these accusations of Hajah Siti Inshah Mansor until there is finality in the reports and investigations but these are the links to what you should see for yourself and judge on your own.

The Star Online reporting that harsh action should be taken if allegations are true

The alleged police report (source unverified)

The Face of the Accused

A Fundamental Right

on Wednesday, 18 August 2010

It's great that the Education Ministry of Malaysia is giving away netbooks to students in my school who do not have these books. These are how the books are given to the students:

1. Only 1 per family
2. Low income families receive it
3. Parents must come personally to take it.

I think this is a great step to emancipate students from a non-tech world. I can't accept it if my students tell me that they do not have a computer or any access to technology at home. This is a good response from the government to ensure that these people are covered in some way. I'm sure the netbooks aren't avant grad in any way but this is enough.

I have to say though that although skeptics would like to talk about political agendas, this act itself is very good for the people receiving these netbooks. You have no idea how many kids I teach tell me that they do not have access to the internet. They don't even know what is Microsoft Word and what it means when I say,

Just go home and Google it if you want to find out more.

The many functions of Google

Even worse is that when I talk about all the technology and the easy access people outside their little world are receiving, their eyes say it all: they want it; they long for the taste of tech. I remember reading an article in BBC once saying that access to the internet is now known as a basic fundamental right. I believe so and agree to the argument that one cannot compete in the world if one does not have access to the internet.

Well, the government didn't give free internet access.. just the netbook with a wireless device. The only free wireless internet they can get is if they choose to access the school's wireless network... wait... even that is barred with a password... wait... kids can't bring netbooks to school right? How are they going to enjoy the internet access then?

Hmmm... a free netbook doesn't necessarily mean free internet access eh?

Let's take it step by step, OK?

Visiting Morgues

on Friday, 13 August 2010
It's normal that teachers approach different classes differently. It's not that you're using a different method in teaching your content. You're approaching the students humanistic-ly in different manners.

Put it in uglier terms, you like classes, and you like certain classes less.

Is that OK?

I find myself being very biased lately to certain classes. In these classes, I become very pretentious and fake when teaching. I think it's not that obvious to the students because partly I'm kinda good at covering up my emotions - I think a Screen Actors Guild Award would do just fine.

It's not really important whether or not I can or cannot portray that interest in teaching the students. I think it doesn't affect the students that greatly because I still manage to make a boring class into something less burdensome. I don't know why but I think it's just in my innate nature to make sure that my class stays vibrant even if we're not doing much... sometimes, just reading and writing exercises can become light if I manage to bring a light mood into the classroom.

I'm more concerned about self-fulfillment. It's not so fulfilling when you're not genuinely interested in the students participation. It's not fulfilling when you are jumping up and down, being spirited, hyped up; come out an hour later feeling as if you just visited a morgue. Not just any morgue, a morgue where the corpses have been there for ages because no one comes to claim them.

This ain't an oven

I don't like morgues. I don't know who does. That's a good imagery actually... *pats self on the back

I honestly don't like the fact that I'm feeling that way. I want to be able to go into each and every class and come out from it feeling like the kids really felt some importance in remembering that day's lesson.

I try bringing about themes for the month, I try to discuss about things that they are interested in, I even let them go about debating and arguing. I believe that these activities are not just important to break the affective factors that might be put up so evidently by some students. Does it work? Nah-ah~

... well, maybe it does to some students.

Keeping yourself motivated. That's a teacher's challenge.

My challenge.

They're special...

on Thursday, 12 August 2010
They may not be academically inclined as the others but they'll always have a special place in my heart.

Here is Scenario 1:

Left hand carrying my textbook and my right hand was carrying a rather heavy bag filled with manila cards, old newspapers and some stationaries. As I walk up to the second floor, kids from 1F came running to the stairs, stretching out their hands.."teacher, teacher..saya ambilkan"

About 5 of them came when the things that I was holding only needed 2 kids to carry. One carried my red bag... another carried my textbook and record book... the third kid carried my pencil box. The other 2 were trying to snatch away what the first 3 were carrying.

Here is Scenario 2:

I was carrying the same things that I carried to the first class. This second class of mine just watched me from afar... watched me struggled with these heavy things. When the class ended, my hands were full but not a single help was offered. They were more eager to chase me out of the class so that they can head back home. Many of them waiting eagerly at the door to run out of the class. RUDE...plain rude.


this is supposedly the smarter class...the smarter kids.

Who will have a special place in my heart?

Enough said.


on Tuesday, 10 August 2010
This is just great... after the exam, I realised that students in desperation can come up with the craziest of sentences. It doesn't even have to be relevant to the topic or question. The things that they write can really drive you up the wall; laughing like a cackling witch.


10. Devi is got down from the man.

9. Devi continued staring at the man and apologised and continued.

8. The teachers advisors accompanied 35 students to our home of spastic children.

7. Teachers fed and helped nurses to battle the physically disabled children.

6. The instruction of the section for directed writing was:
     Devi and her friends were shopping at a mega sale. Write the events that occurred after that based on the pictures above. Here are the names they used instead: Mei Ling (twice), Kak Halimah, my sister, me (himself), Era, and not forgetting kakak.

5. The food, clothes, toys, disabled children for all the collect by teachers and students.

4. Devi held up the bag and the man held up the porch.

3. The man hurriedly followed to porch Devi.

2. She went for the bustop to wait for bustop.
Devi banged man nearby and apologised with bag.

*insert big band jazzy ending with lots of confetti and blow horns!

Behind Closed Doors

Recently, this video made headlines in TV3. It showcased the presence of a few teachers and 1 student bickering in what appears to be an office or staffroom. The student was obviously being taken in for some disciplinary action (whether or not that student is at fault is not something I will discuss) or just for plain discussion.

What is more interesting to talk about is not about who is right and who is wrong. I feel very uneasy to talk about that because there are just too many variables and questions that cannot be answered just by watching the video. For example:

Was the student really guilty of something he had done?

Did the teacher say anything to insinuate such behaviour?

Was the exchange by either person before the recording cynical or demeaning in any way?

Is there already recorded past behaviour that led to the hostility between these individuals?

Until these actions and questions can be proven, I dare not say who is right or wrong. In fact, it'll be unjustifiable for both sides to be judged based solely on this video.

What interests me more is the actual recording of this event.

How did this manage to proliferate among outsiders and get into 

How is it possible that the recording staged could have been even made public knowing that the faces of both individuals are clearly seen in the video? 

Why should there be a recording of such behaviour anyway? 

Are we supposed to expose these behaviours in school for others to help teachers discipline children? 

What happened to the confidentiality between disciplinary cases to protect the identity of both children and teachers?

I find this action of recording and posting it up on to be very invasive.

Au Naturale

on Monday, 2 August 2010
How did I become good in Bahasa Melayu?

Talking about how I acquired this second language of mine is really interesting.

I don't recall the first decent conversation I had in Malay. I remember some classes in school, I remember the first time I told the kacang putih auntie that:

Itu saya mahu 10 sen. *while pointing at the flying saucer (tapioca) kacang putih.

There's just no recollection whatsoever about my first few experiences using Malay. I don't even remember how was it exactly that I managed to suddenly get over the awkwardness of a new language and started using it just like that... let's think back a little bit..

I remember I had problems talking to a lot of people in primary school in Bahasa Melayu. Not that I refused to speak in Malay but I had too little vocabulary in the Malay Language. I couldn't converse with others and sometimes I even used Mandarin to speak to others; which led my mom to say:

Don't talk to them in Mandarin... use English or Malay. They don't understand Mandarin.

I remember very clearly me having this problem. In fact, shortly after that, I had 2 friends who are Chinese, who can speak Cantonese and English without a problem who conversed exclusively in Malay to me. When the 3 of us hung out in school, we'll be speaking in pure Malay and it just felt natural to us. After that, in secondary school, again I had a Chinese friend who had no problems speaking in Cantonese or English but spoke Malay to me. We didn't feel awkward at all. Completely natural. I'm not even talking about vernacular Malay; I mean, talking to each other almost native-like in Malay.


A teacher in school told me that sometimes if the first contact between the 2 individuals was in a certain language, then naturally it will continue on no matter who you are. I feel that this could possibly be true and it'll be important for me to realise this fact. My students are going through the same process when learning English. It is that one split moment when they use English and it leads on no matter where they are and whatever their condition, when that scenario fits, they will automatically use English.

I need to get them that one friend that they speak in English naturally to.

I need to give them that one situation where they feel so natural to use English.