Proficiency Automatically Equates to Pedagogical Competency? Think Again

on Wednesday, 18 September 2013
I posted this in my facebook, but I thought to share it in this blog as well... I added a couple of things here and there 

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2013/09/11/Idris-Many-teachers-not-fit-to-teach-70-of-English-instructors-found-to-be-incapable-says-Education.aspx This is the link that leads to the article that I am referring to.

Another long rant from me.... *disclaimer: Once again, I'm completely appalled by the way issues so close to me are being addressed and made public and could be so easily misconstrued by others.. even more, this PARTICULAR announcement because when you say 70%, it is statistically very high and will cause unwarranted boos and dissing from those who are uninformed. 

IT DOES NOT HELP

I know this is probably 'statistically speaking'. However, how does it improve the situation by stating this without mentioning the fact that we are lacking English-option teachers teaching as well? Out of the many in Sabah (not sure of the whole country), I would easily say a good 50-60% (statistically speaking as well... at least I can confirm it is 50% in my district) are not English-option teachers. This changes the perspective of this news completely. MANY are being forced to teach English BECAUSE of the lack of English option teachers per se. Of course, they are teaching English... but they're obviously not as well equipped as an English/TESL graduate. Before I go on, big kiddos to those non-English option teachers who are STILL willing to take up the challenge and help us poor few English teachers out even though this is obviously out of your comfort zone. Respect to that~. Let me just say, that for anyone who knows me, if you'd have asked me to teach maths/BM/Geo/whatever, you'd have a good laugh watching me take a CPT-like test of that subject IF there ever is one. Hahahahhaa.... especially maths.

PLEASE, DON'T FEEL DEMOTIVATED AND CONTINUE TO HELP US

It's of course unfair to test the CPT to an English teacher who's actual major is History and say "Ohhh.... itulah, cikgu BI ni makin teruk result BI-nya". It's like telling me to teach Maths and then tell me to take a Maths test and say "Bangangnya cikgu matematik sekarang"... it's such a MISLEADING statement by grouping ALL the English teachers and saying 70% of them are unfit to teach. It's dismissive.


It's dismissive to say that 70% are unfit to teach English because they did not manage to get very high scores on the CPT. The CPT tests proficiency... not pedagogy. How can you say that the pedagogy of an English teacher is 'unfit' just by seeing the statistics of the CPT results? Are you saying that ALL the teachers who scored A1-B2 are unfit pedagogically? Really? Automatically? This is the most sweeping statement I've heard thus far in regards to the CPT results and the condition of the English classes and teachers to date. 

Of course, it doesn't take a dumb ass to figure out that if you put a bunch of football players in a tennis court and tested their skills in badminton, are you going to say "Wah..... teruknya skill ping pong diorang ni..."

I know some of you are going to say... "English very easy only la.... You are good in speaking English right??? Can teach English already la.... Sooooo fluent in English.. You'll be a good English teacher for sure," *read this with a Chinese accent

Erm............... not necessarily. Of course someone who's bad in English and CANNOT SPEAK EVEN A WORD OF ENGLISH won't be teaching English anytime soon. However, it's a typical scenario in our schools that a desperate administration will pick and choose teachers based on 'listening to their English' and checking their SPM English results to fill-in-the-blanks of English classes with no teachers. Come on, I'm not even going to spend time talking too much about 'speaking-good-English-does-not-automatically-qualify-you-to-be-an-expert-English-teacher'. In contrary, getting a C2 or C1 in the CPT doesn't AUTOMATICALLY make you a great English teacher.

To top that off, I'm not saying "ALL non-option English teachers are bad or potentially of a lesser teacher than an English option." Some or even many of them are damnnnnnnnn good.... THE POINT I'm making here is, we should not overgeneralize and say anything like that because it's MISLEADING.

WE HAVE SO MUCH MONEY TO SEND PEOPLE OVERSEAS?

Then they said they will send these teachers overseas. OVERSEAS?!?!

Such a TYPICAL~~~ Malaysian way of solving problems... Why? Because some caucasian lagi mahir la dari kitorang? I want to see how some foreigner will know how to teach Are You Still Playing Your Flute by Zurinah Hassan. I want to see which American/Brit read The Curse by our very own young writer - Lee Su Ann. We'll end up having to brief them about it instead.... we have specific problems and locals who are more than capable of helping each other out. Instead of wiring cash to foreign banks, might as well Maybank2U to me and my fellow English teachers who can do team teaching even better. I'm doing it right now.... I'm trying to improve on the teaching of some teachers... and it's not like they're horrible teachers who are sitting around and doing nothing... but it's as though if I were to teach Maths, I'll surely not know the SUPERB or EFFECTIVE way of teaching, so I'll revert to things like 'how my teacher used to teach before', 'I use my textbook as a guideline', or 'I just find stuff in the internet and try things'.... and I'll probably do all these things like a headless chicken. These non-option teachers are receptive to change, trying out my ideas and suggestions, and are improving just with a few sessions of discussions. Don't announce these kind of unsupportive and demotivating statistics without backing it up with the right description of status quo and expect improvement.

How am I going to encourage these non-option English teachers to continue helping us out if they are discouraged by this news?

How are we teachers going to feel when people go around saying "Why are our English teachers now so bad ah?"

You wanna help? Come here and give us suggestions/materials/lesson ideas/motivation instead. Don't just spew out statistics.

p/s: On a completely different note, from the same article... No one is trying to eradicate anyone's mother tongue. No politician in the next 10-500 years will be willing to stick their neck out and say learning Mandarin and Tamil should be reduced/discouraged/banned from anything or anywhere. Get real.

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