Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Feb 1, 2008

Mathematics: Are we teaching our kids the right thing about money?

I was browsing through the chapter on 'Money' in the Mathematics Year 1 textbook. And suddenly it struck my mind, "Oh my god, are we teaching the right thing about money to the kids?"

Almost everything is about buying things in this chapter. " Buy, buy buy!" And the funniest part is there's this sub topic called "I know how to USE money!".

Sure we all know how to use money. But how about saving money and manage our money? We are feeding the kids with the 'spending habit' since they are in Year 1 already. Something is not right here.

Jan 5, 2008

Tactic used by publishers to get their workbooks into schools

At first glance you might thought this is an exercise book used by students in schools.

However, if you look closely, this is a Mathematics workbook. Yes, this is the latest gimmick used by local educational publishers to get their books into schools. Well, I don't think it's bad at all. In fact, this is a rather smart and creative idea. This trend which is started by a publisher has been followed by others, even big players in the market.

I supposed this trend started after the Ministry of Education announced workbook ban in the primary level particularly Year 1 to Year 3 and the limited use of one workbook per subject for Year 4 to 6.

The main objective of the workbook ban is to make lighter schoolbags for pupils. Well, these new form of 'exercise books' are way lighter than the previous thick workbooks. And how about the pricing? Would you pay RM3 or RM3.50 for it?

Oct 24, 2007

What happened before year 1400?

In the Form 1 syllabus of the Sejarah (History) subject, the first chapter introduces the definition of history by explaining what is artifacts, archeology as well as reminding us the importance of learning the subject. Then, in the following chapter, students learn about the prehistoric era from Paleolithic to Mesolithic and Neolithic before they start learning the prosperity of Malacca and its downfall.

So what happened before Malacca?

Although there is a brief topic discussing about Gangga Nagara in the syllabus, which is considered the earliest kingdom in our country back in 2-11 A.D., the Hindu Malay kingdom is simply forgettable. Gangga Nagara is the present day of Beruas, Dinding and Manjung which is situated in the state of Perak.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to pay a visit to the Beruas Museum, whereby they have over 300 artifacts from the lost kingdom.

In the following 3-5 A.D., there was a small kingdom in Kelantan/Terengganu known as Pan Pan. However, not many information were known about this kingdom.

I am pretty sure many of us know that Kedah Tua (1136-?? A.D.) is one of the earliest kingdom before Malacca. According to I-Ching, Kedah Tua is also known as Cheh-Cha (not Che-Cheh, mind you). However, again, very little facts were discuss during this era as the main focus of the history text is based on the empires after conversion to Islam.

Sep 27, 2007

Is it time for one-session school?

Here are 10 reasons why the Ministry of Education should not implement single session and dismiss schools at 4 p.m.

1. Teachers are not babysitters. Teachers are burdened with a lot of programmes and paper works.

2. Parents will treat teachers like babysitters. They might take advantage to leave their children in school until they clock off at 5 p.m. only to pick up their children. This might lead parents to neglect their responsibility.

3. Teachers will be losing a lot of side income especially from tuition business.

4. Tuition centres and private tutors will generate lesser income too if students study until evening.

5. Students will definitely end up bringing more books to school (which resulted in heavy school bags which is not a new issue) as there will be more study periods. Unless the evening hours are for extra curricular activities.

6. Students should spend their evening for leisure, take a nap or doing homework instead of wasting time waiting for the bus or parents to pick them up after school at 4 p.m.

7. To be realistic, many schools are crowded and still have to opt for the two-session.

8. It's general election soon. If the next Minister of Education is not Hishamuddin, suggesting or arguing about this issue is useless because chances are new minister wants to implement their own policy.

9. The National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) is pretty vocally sound and will fight for the teachers who are already MENTALLY and physically drained teaching hundreds or thousands of students each day.

10. Students will be extremely tired after school. Or perhaps during school hours. Which one is better, sleep in the class or skip school?

Jun 17, 2007

sex education makes its way into the classroom by next year

By next year, our children are going to start having sex education in their classrooms. The subject is known as Pendidikan Kesihatan Reproduktif dan Sosial.

I know one of my colleague is working on a series of teacher's resource/guidebook in this subject. While at the pantry this morning, she and another colleague were giggling away and I was curious what they were talking about. She told me about the project and how she felt about the pictures and terms used in the books.

Back to her cubical, I approached her and asked permission to take a look at those manuscripts. You know what? I consider myself an open minded person and support sex education. Somehow when I saw those words such as 'penis' or 'punai' used in the text and supported by real photos, I was confused. These books are going to be used for preschool and primary level. It's not that I can't accept the way the manuscripts were written but how it's going to be accepted by the public.

I don't believe it's going to be well accepted by parents and politicians once this subject makes its way into the classroom. Somehow I believe there will be certain parties who will object this subject. There will also be teachers who refused to teach this subject just like some teachers who refused teaching the reproductive chapter in Science subject in the secondary level.

I wish I can show you some pictures from the books here but it's going to be unethical.

May 19, 2007

condemn tutors who punish kids

It's been a long time since I write something on education.

I was chatting with my boss how time flies and her kids actually grow up and studying in primary level now. Like any other modern parents, my boss is ready to spend huge sum of money just for their education which includes tuition fees. Being a private tutor for so many years, I'm not surprised by the amount that she forked out. What surprises me was, my boss actually gave permission to her private tutor to punish her son if he doesn't listen or do his work.

I know it's perfectly normal for parents to do that for the good sake of their children. Even my parents asked my teachers to punish or beat me when I was small. But to me it won't work. It will only create fear in their children. Once kids get used to the punishment, they will be immunized and will not give a damn anymore.

What is the best solution? Get a tutor who knows how to motivate your children. Yes, it's easy to say than done (or find). Your children should have a tutor who gives attention to your children not only academically but as well as other things like co-curriculum, interests, etc. In the end, all your children need is not another commander to force them to sit down and study. They need a compassionate tutor who is willing to sit down together and accompany them through the process of learning in a tuition class.

To all the tutors out there, please don't teach if you think you enjoy punishing kids (like asking them to ketuk ketampi hundred times or hit them with rotan until lebam). Please don't teach if you think you are more superior than the kids. Please don't teach if your students hate you or intimidated by you.

To all the parents out there, spend more time with your kids. There are more than life than getting As or earning money. Find balance between your career and your family. Show love and concern to your kids as much as you can. Ask them about their homework and learning in school and get them to open up to you as much as possible. Motivates them. Sometimes, you don't need to motivate your kids by using materials. Motivation can be free of charge.

Mar 26, 2007

antara plot dan teknik plot

Some students actually confused between plot and teknik plot.

Plot is the structure of events within a story and the causal relationship between them. In KOMSAS (Komponen Sastera), the novels used are chronological and they are formed by 5 elements:

1. Permulaan
2. Perkembangan
3. Perumitan
4. Klimaks
5. Peleraian

On the other hand, teknik plot can be seen by the usage of the following techniques in presenting a story:

1. Monolog (dalaman atau luaran)
2. Dialog
3. Saspens
4. Kejutan
5. Pemerian
6. Imbas kembali
7. Imbas muka

Hope you don't get it wrong the next time you see the words plot and teknik plot. For more details on how you can apply the above elements to your novels, please find them in your reference books. I recommend publishers such as Sasbadi and Fajar Bakti for their KOMSAS reference books and Cerdik Publications for their past years papers.

Mar 12, 2007

want to be a freelance Science & Maths writer?

Anyone interested to start a freelance job in writing Science and Maths workbooks? If you are:
  • looking for a writing job, working comfortably from your home and with attractive pay,
  • an organized person who is able to meet reasonable deadline,
  • in the educational industry (teacher, tutor, editor, writer, etc),
  • well versed with the National syllabus particularly the Science and Maths subjects,
  • able to present your manuscript neatly using the Microsoft Word;
  • creative and original,
  • doesn't mind working closely with the editors and accept their criticism,

then probably you should give it a shot. It is okay if you have not published any books before as training will be provided by the editors at Cerdik Publications. For your information, Cerdik is one of the strong players in the competitive educational publishing business. They are the sole publisher who has the rights and permission to publish past years examination papers.

For more information, you can send an email to me at or call +603 5637 9046 or +603 5637 9044 and look for Lai Yeen (Science and Maths editor @ Cerdik Publications).

Mar 11, 2007

museum at Stadhuys, Malacca

With all the criticisms about Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007, I somehow feel that it isn't quite true especially when you are in Malacca. I was there yesterday and I can feel the VMY atmosphere there.

Since this week is school holiday, parents should take the opportunity to bring their children, especially those studying in lower secondary level (Form 1-3) to the museum which is located at the Stadhuys building, Malacca.

In the Form 1 syllabus, students are required to learn about the rise and fall of Malacca. So, there's no better place to learn than the museum itself.

At the first floor of the museum, the history of Malacca began with the story of the arrival of Parameswara who founded Malacca. in the 15th century. You will also read about the relationship between Malacca and China, Hang Tuah and friends, the sultanate in Malacca, Portuguese, Dutch and British colonization, as well as Japanese occupation. There's also a special gallery for Admiral Zheng He to commemorate the ties between China and Malacca in the 15th century.

The entrance fee is RM5 for adults and RM3 for kids. If your child doesn't like Sejarah, it's time to plan a trip there.

Mar 9, 2007

parents and teachers - partners or rivals?

I've created a poll which I placed on the sidebar. Recently I've been working on a research project about teachers-parents partnerships. Well, the poll is definitely not going to be used in my research but I would like to know your opinion whether you are a student, parent, grandparent or single working adult.

Parents often feel that what they want for their child is somehow in conflict with what the principal / headmaster / teachers wants for the school as a whole.

Teachers on the other hand feel that parents are too demanding and do not understand their job. Meanwhile, principal or headmaster wants parents to stay behind the school gates during school hours by giving security reason. Schools often confining parents' role to money raising and denying them from any constructive part in the education of their child.

I believe there's a need to improve the relationships between these parties. Yes, there are Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) in every school but these PTAs can be a gimmick. Most PTAs do not gain full support from parents. Attendance rates are low. Many parents do not see the needs to attend. Teachers are also reluctant to join unless they were dragged by their principal or headmaster.

The lack of communication between parents and teachers can also be reflected in students report card. Even if there's an open day for parents to meet their child's form teacher to collect report card, how often is the communication is a two way traffic? How many teachers ask parents for information? And how many parents actually share information with their child's teacher?

This can be a long discussion. So, I'll just have to stop now and continue in the next post.

Mar 7, 2007

freelance writing job - Science and Maths workbooks

Anyone interested to start a freelance job in writing Science and Maths workbooks? If you are:

  • looking for a writing job, working comfortably from your home and with attractive pay,
  • an organized person who is able to meet reasonable deadline,
  • in the educational industry (teacher, tutor, editor, writer, etc),
  • well versed with the National syllabus particularly the Science and Maths subjects,
  • able to present your manuscript neatly using the Microsoft Word;
  • creative and original,
  • doesn't mind working closely with the editors and accept their criticism,

then probably you should give it a shot. It is okay if you have not published any books before as training will be provided by the editors at Cerdik Publications. For your information, Cerdik is one of the strong players in the competitive educational publishing business. They are the sole publisher who has the rights and permission to publish past years examination papers.

For more information, you can send an email to me at or call +603 5637 9046 or +603 5637 9044 and look for Lai Yeen (Science and Maths editor @ Cerdik Publications).

Mar 6, 2007

scoring more than 19 1As in SPM is still possible

I did not know about a record-breaking SPM results until I read Malaysia Students's blog. Nadiah Amirah scored 19 1As in SPM 2006, breaking Nur Amalina Che Bakri's record of 17 1As in SPM 2004 . The SPM results will be announced nationwide on Mac 12, 2007.

According to Utusan Malaysia Online, Nadiah sat for the following papers: Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Inggeris, Matematik Moden, Matematik Tambahan, Fizik, Kimia, Biologi, Sejarah, Pendidikan Islam, Sains dan Teknologi (EST) in English Language, Prinsip Akaun, Perdagangan, Ekonomi Asas, Tasaur Islam, Pendidikan Al-Quran dan Sunah, Pendidikan Syariah Islamiah, Sains Teras, Geografi and Sastera.

Impressive, right? Yes, but is this a healthy trend for the government or perhaps the school to turn SPM into some sort of a platform for record-breaking?

Dear future SPM students, you think you can do better than 19 1As? Don't worry because it is still possible to score 20 1As or 21 1As or more. There are still subjects such as Bahasa Arab, Bahasa Cina, English Literature, etc which have not been tackled by Nadiah.

The question is should we encourage SPM students to break Nadiah's record in the near future? How will this impact Malaysian students as a whole?

Mar 5, 2007

SPM students: watch out for JPA and MARA sponsorship program

Calling out all students waiting for their SPM results. You know your results will be out on Mac 12, 2007.

If you check the papers today, JPA/ PSD and MARA announced that scholarships will be offered to outstanding students who wants to pursue overseas program,
Program Ijazah Luar Negara (PILN). The online application via or will be available on Mac 12, 2007, the same day as the SPM results.

Please note that the deadline for the PILN application will end on March 22, 2007. Shortlisted candidates who made it to the interview stage will be announced on March 30, 2007.

For any enquiry on the JPA sponsorship program, call 03-88853397 from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. or email to them at

For any enquiry on the MARA sponsorship program, call Bahagian Penganjuran Pelajaran MARA at 03-26915111 (ext 1103, 1107, 1120, 1134, 1155, 3619, 3620, 3631 from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. or email to them at

Finally on any technical issues regarding the online registration procedure, you can call 03-88853559, 03-88853550 or 03-8885 3533. These lines will be opened from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. starting March 12, 2007.

Do mark your calendar for the above dates. All the best.

Jan 31, 2007

celebrity tutors wanted

If you read the Education pullout on Sunday Star last week, you definitely won't missed the article entitled Wanted: Sexy Tutors.

Tuition business in Hong Kong is very competitive. Almost every tuition centre able to predict what questions will be asked in exams. Hence, the head of Modern Education, Ken Ng said that to differentiate themselves from other competitors, they sell sex appeal (of course along with teaching ability and knowledge).

Well, Ken Ng is not really a good looking tutor himself. But chances are you won't missed the dashing former model, Frankie Tam, who teaches Computer and Information Technology. This guy, a celebrity in Hong Kong, has a very impressive resume both academically and professionally.

Our local tuition business is equally competitive. I don't mind if the business owners here use the same marketing tactics (or gimmicks) to attract students as long as they provide quality education. I would love to see the emergence of some fresh celebrity tutors instead of the boring Sunny Yee.

Jan 16, 2007

leveraging Bloom’s Taxonomy for crossword construction

I've just read through the comments from teachers who attended my crossword construction workshop last year. One of the teacher's comment was crossword puzzles is only best in assessing lower thinking skills and not higher order thinking skills. Based on the idea of Bloom's Taxonomy, she believes that crossword puzzles is not applicable at all. I really appreciate her comment and decided to do some research on her argument.

In the process of the research, I came across a research paper by Elizabeth Avery Gomez and Julian Matthew Scher of New Jersey Institute of Technology titled "Design Strategies for the Pedagogical Use of Crossword Puzzle Generation Software, In Individual and Collaborative Design Modes" which is very helpful.

Based on the article, here's how Bloom's Taxonomy can be applied for crossword construction:

1. Knowledge
Skills Demonstrated
• Knowledge of the subject matter
• List, define, examine or describe

• Solve the instructor’s crossword puzzle individually to demonstrate knowledge of class materials or the context of the course (individual crossword)
• Solve the instructor’s crossword puzzle in groups to demonstrate knowledge of class materials or the context of the course (collaborative crossword)

2. Comprehension
Skills Demonstrated
• Understand meaning of subject matter
• Interpret and associate

• Interpret and associate the clues with the assigned class materials (individual crossword)

• Interpret and associate the clues with the assigned class materials (collaborative crossword)

3. Application
Skills Demonstrated
• Use information in a new situation
• Solve problems using required skill
• Apply, illustrate or relate

• Generate a crossword puzzle using the course content domain to illustrate knowledge of class materials (individual crossword)
• List and define clues and answers to contribute for the collaborative crossword to illustrate knowledge of the course content domain (collaborative crossword)

4. Analysis
Skills Demonstrated
• Organize into parts
• Recognize hidden meanings
• Analyze, order, classify

Individual crossword
• List and define words for the crossword generation
• Interpret the clues to use

Collaborative crossword
• Organize and order contributions from team mates
• Analyze, classify and consolidate team mates clues

5. Synthesis
Skills Demonstrated
• Relate knowledge from old ideas to new ideas
• Combine, modify, create

Individual crossword
• Complete another classmates crossword individually (synthesis of the instructor crossword and classmate’s crossword)

Collaborative crossword
• Consensus on clues to select
• Generate a collaborative crossword puzzle (synthesis to both instructor crossword and team mates clues)

6. Evaluation
Skills Demonstarted
• Compare ideas and purpose
• Assess value of ideas
• Assess, rank, measure


Individual crossword
Compare the individually generated crossword puzzles (clues and answers) to the submitted
crossword puzzles of others

Collaborative crossword
• Compare the collaboratively generated crossword puzzles (clues and answers) to the submitted crossword puzzles of others

As I'll be conducting a similar (but improved) workshop in February, I'll incorporate this research findings as well as make the whole learning process more interactive. Watch out this space!

Dec 22, 2006

emphasize on reading skill and keep teaching Maths and Science in English

In these four years, we have seen so much effort being contributed by teachers to adapt to the current policy of teaching Maths and Science in English. Officers from the Education Ministry travelled the whole country to train and provide support to these Maths and Science teachers to ensure the effectiveness of the policy. Publishers, too, worked diligently with the Ministry who spends millions of ringgit to publish new textbooks to compliment with the new syllabus.

All parties including decision makers and parents each played their roles to realize the policy because we all believe students must have strong command in English language to acquire knowledge.

Hence, the idea of reversing the policy to tackle current concern of disparities in achievement between urban and rural schools is not a positive suggestion. Instead, we should evaluate the programme development and find effective ways to raise the level of English language proficiency among students and teachers.

By expanding the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) or importing teachers from overseas are good strategies to enhance learning. However, improving students reading skill in English is far more practical in achieving our main objective.
Many students particularly in the rural area are struggling to learn Maths and Science without having mastered reading, the most basic and essential skill. Hence, they will encounter great difficulty in understanding mathematical and scientific concepts conducted in English language, which are using real life problems.

For example, in teaching Maths, a teacher or the textbook presents many problems that must be read, instead of just equations. The same use of language is present in the Science subject when students are reading from the textbook, making hypotheses or draw conclusions. Hence, reading deficit will eventually lead to lose of interest in learning and inability to express their answers verbally and in written form.

Reading skill is highly emphasized even in the most developed countries. Hence, our Education Ministry should conduct research to assess students reading skill to determine if this is the main reason students not able to cope with Maths and Science in English.

If the result of this research is positive, the Ministry must provide professional development in reading instruction for teachers, implement reading curricula and adopt diagnostic reading assessments for students particularly in the primary level to determine where they need assistance. The Education Ministry must also re-evaluate and reinforce the current 3M (Membaca, Menulis, Mengira) programmes to improve students' literacy levels with priority to the rural area.

To improve students' proficiency in English language requires huge effort and time. As they said, Rome is not built in one day. If we are determine to take remedial action against the lack of the language proficiency among students, we must start focusing on emphasizing the development of reading skills in parallel with the policy of teaching Maths and Science in English.

Dec 16, 2006

buying workbooks for your kids

Schools will reopen in two weeks. Parents will be busy buying textbooks and workbooks for their kids. And this means it's going to burn holes in their pockets. Hence, buying the right books (meaning good quality of books) are important. You don't want to spend your money buying books with lotsa typo errors, incorporating the outdated syllabus and have poor quality of questions.

As a professional (not that I'm good but this is one of my main source of income) educational writer and a private tutor for many years, I'm going to share with you parents on buying workbooks from certain publishers for cetain subjects.

1. Most importantly, get the past years questions (soalan-soalan tahun lepas) from Cerdik Publications. The publisher has the rights to publish the real past years exam papers from UPSR to SPM. Go to your nearest bookshops and they will assist you.

2. Bahasa Melayu - Sasbadi books (both KOMSAS, Tatabahasa and Pemahaman) are the most realiable. You can also use Oxford Fajar Bakti.

3. English - Pearson Longman used to be very good but in recent years Penerbit Mega Setia Emas is doing a good job. If you intend to buy English Literature books for your kids, you can look out for Setia Emas' Baby Steps series.

4. Science - Oxford Fajar Bakti is good. Their reference books is highly recommended compare to Sasbadi. Note: becarefully if you are buying Year 5 or Form 5 Science books. Some publisher did not follow the latest syllabus because it was the consequence of a rushed production. Choose your books carefuly.

5. Mathematics - Pelangi is the expert in this subject. So get their Math books. Note: becareful if you are buying Year 5 or Form 5 Math books. Some publishers did not follow the latest syllabus. For example a workbook published by Oxford Fajar Bakti made mistake in their last couple of chapters. Then there's another publisher called B* Publisher. The writer from this publisher couldn't even form proper sentences and the editor did nothing to correct the mistake. I complained to the owner of Bookway, PJ, and I don't see the book the next day. The bookshop owner told me a school (in PJ i think) actually chose B* Publisher's series to be used in 2007.

6. For arts subjects like Sejarah and Geografi, you can consider to buy reference books from Sasbadi or Oxford Fajar Bakti. As for workbooks, you can trust the books published by the above publishers.

7. As fo science subjects like Chemistry, Physics, etc, you can also rely on Oxford Fajar Bakti's reference books. You can also trust the workbooks published by the above publishers. Marshall Cavendish is okay as well.

How come I didn't mention publishers like Preston, Info Didik, etc? Well, it's not because their books are no good but the publishers mentioned above are more reliable.

Hopefully this simple guideline will help you in getting good quality workbooks for you kids and of course have your money well spent.

Apr 26, 2006

homework for parents

I believe most teachers would like to get to know their students well. Hence, they would usually ask their students to introduce themselves during the first day of class.

There's a better way to get to know your students. Tell your class that you are assigning their parents homework (the kids must be very happy!). Explain to your students that you need their parents to write a letter to discuss about them (likes, dislikes, achievements, concerns, etc).

I believe parents will respond well to this initiative.

Apr 18, 2006

Japanese teacher using puzzles in classroom

I was lucky to be able to catch up with a news coverage on NHK News 9 at channel 35.

Mr Miyamoto (I think this is the correct name) has been using puzzles (especially Sudoku) in his classroom for many years to enhance students' problem solving and thinking skills. NHK interviewed a couple of his students and they agreed the puzzle-solving activities helped them in both Mathematics as well as languages.

Mr Miyamoto invited parents to his class and explained his teaching style (Malaysian teachers and counsellors should practise this to improve schools-parents partnership). He also advised parents to listen to their children but not to intervene in their children's learning. If you look at the Malaysian context, many parents DO intervene in their children's learning and it affected the children-teachers relationship (and teachers-parents relationship too) in school.

Apr 12, 2006

it's been awhile...

Yes, it's been awhile since I last update my blog. Busy preparing for exams, doing assignments, presentations and proposal for my research for next semester as well as some publishing work.

I'm going to organise a workshop next month for PMR and UPSR students in UM. However, this workshop is not your typical exam workshop. I'm using an alternative approach, which is fun-learning based. The main tool I'm going to use in this workshop is crossword puzzle. More details will be posted in this blog and in my wowmedia blog soon (end of this month).

In this workshop, I'm going to take the opportunity to introduce a new series of books which is based on learning through classroom crossword.

Anyone interested in my workshop or my books can contact me via email or mobile no at 012-3720 858.
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