Examination-centric is So Yesterday & Let Learning Be Fun Again

I recently read a post on FB about a grandfather at the age of 69 finally getting his degree. One word there, amazing. My mother received her doctorate late 40s, after all her kids had grown up. Very proud of mummy! In both stories, they had one thing in common. They enjoy learning. That’s what education should always be. Enjoyment, excitement and irresistible. It will create a culture that love knowledge which will help to improve future approach to life especially at a very young age.

I had the privilege to taste two world of education. One, local government school and two, Australian public school. There are major differences needed to be highlighted but before that allow me to say, this is not a post to condemn any sides. Blaming culture does not create improvement. Be it at work, online, in person etc. Either you make an active change or change your attitude towards it. I think the frustration of Malaysian’s education system is the talk of all time. Everybody know its strength and weaknesses from exam oriented to lack of innovation (Innovation does not mean you learn the definition of innovation and answer it on exam papers. To think outside the box, you have to provide platform for creativity and flow ability of knowledge).

What I would like to share on this post is my experience abroad at the age of 11 & 12. Particularly at Ironside State School in Queensland, Australia. Its red brick exterior with lush greens brings back memories.

Classes were medium size, if I could recall around 20+ students per class. Seating arrangement were in pairs in rows of 3 to 4. We wore uniform too. So far not much different right? Pretty much the same as what we see here in Malaysia.

Moving into the interior. We have drawers at our desk and hung cloth-pocket at our chairs to place in books and stationery. No, we do not bring our school supply home except when there is homework. It’s a great idea at so many level. You learn to prioritize on what to bring and not to bring home and you would not be that sad little school kids carrying heavy school bags that are probably heavier that you. Each class has a computer at the back, probably because computer was a new hype thing back then. We do not have a special computer class, we can use that for any subjects. Why separate valuable information into different classes?

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The best part of the school system, that even at the age of 30 I still missed, is the learning environment. School was fun not only because of friends, it’s also because of the learning that took place itself. You have one teacher that teaches you all the subjects (except foreign language, religion and music class) from math to English to social studies to science. The teachers has the flexibility to conduct the class creatively. No one teacher has the same method or way of teaching. Bonus, since the same teacher teaches you the entire year, they tend to know your strength and weaknesses in class pretty well.

For example, its English subject time, what do we do? I remembered we did storytelling, sharing session and teachers would read us a thick story book and they would teach us valuable lesson from it (that is like English and Morale studies duet right?). Its Science subject time, what do we do? Instead of going to boring lab or explaining nonstop in front of the class (familiar?). We had a few hour session in the classroom (some outdoor) where the teachers would create stations with various fun scientific experiment together with explanations. Guess who does the explaining? Parents! Yep (sometimes students too). Parents were encouraged to volunteer and handled various station, event housewives, under the guidance of the teachers. What a remarkable way to involve parents in school. The next PIBG meeting, this would be a good idea instead of all year discussing and collecting fund.

Sports equipment were meant to be used during lunch time, not to be kept until sports day. And during lunch time there is no seating area at the canteen. We can sit anywhere at the school compound with friends. My friends and I had a favorite spot by the field. Teachers were the prefect. They take turn monitoring sections at the school compound during lunch time. They often talk to us during lunch while guarding and they would be giving plenty of advice on how the kids behaving outside of the classroom. Kids will still be kids. Lead by example right?

It’s Friday, and yes there is homework but only for about two pages of work for all the subjects. Being a typical Asian, I usually finish it before I got home. Most of the exercise are being done in class, so that teachers would be there to guide. No extra homework to bring back for both students and teachers. Exam? Not a big thing there. But there were projects that involved teamwork and various subjects incorporated into one project. It can really drive excitement and innovation. I remember a team demonstrate pressure or some sort of scientific knowledge by making a board game. How cool!!

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And so, through these experience, I would love to see it here. School should be fun, education should be exciting and teachers as guidance/light and students could do what they do best learning. Assessment should be beyond examination. It’s so yesterday. More reason for myself to support the module ‘Pembudayaan Integriti Dalam PBS” by Dr Eftah Moh.

Let me know your learning experience as well……

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