Friday, 8 September 2017

Vulnerability

Currently listening to: Bravado by Lorde.
          I can’t identify what it is that makes me nervous. Perhaps this is why I don’t travel anywhere alone. The idea of solo travel is a romantic one but I know the minute I get off the plane, I would regret going. Who would help me? Who would I talk to when I’m not exploring amazing architecture. Who would I eat with? Strangers? You mean I have to *shudder* socialise? I want to shake off those shudders and approach strangers to ask for help without feeling judged, stupid, pitiful, lost and beyond help. I want to get over that feeling of hopelessness in unfamiliar territory.
               I sometimes imagine myself exploring unknown places, foreign lands without a plan or care in the world, but then I realise I’m just replaying a scene from a random movie or travel programme, where the hero always bumps into someone willing to take them around to explore the colourful street life of Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines.
              I digress. I realise I fear being vulnerable, being in a position where I have to admit I am lost, in order to get help. I fear new train ticket machines because using them entails putting yourself in a clueless position to ask for instructions. I fear getting on a plane because it involves checking in and boarding and a hundred other terms I’ve read about but never experienced.
I fear the unknown.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

HEARTBREAK
Breathe in.Your chest experiences a sudden tightness as if it's making a last desperate attempt to stick a band aid on and hold itself together. Breathe out. The band aid snaps off. Shocked/angry/hurt/embarrassed tears well up, which you will furiously blink back because they who hurt you cannot know it. Your fists curl up, not to punch a wall, or pound a table but just to contain the trembles. Truth is, you don't know how to react. There's always a first time.

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TEACHER HEARTBREAK. So I know the picture seems trivial enough, (not to mention badly drawn) but this is one of many teeny tiny heartbreaks that happen along the way. It's easier to post the funny faces but it's not always a Mary poppins kinda day, I'm afraid.
Here's to teachers everywhere who breathe in, breathe out and move on! ðŸ’ðŸ’ðŸ’

OKAY, kids, copy this down!

Me unintentionally starting a dialogue on coffee...again.

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A week after the holidays

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Unflattering Candids

This look is called "Sigh.Not againn" When I try to explain the words "DESperate" "DESpite" or "DEStination" or "DEScribe" and you shout "DESPACITOOO", I'm not paid enough to laugh, kid.

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The look I'm wearing: "Mildly annoyed" with a touch of "Smelt something bad".
One of my go-to facial expressions when 30 sweaty buffaloes charge in 10 minutes late after an hour of football and start congregating under the fans, making loud tired sighs, asking for a further 10 minute break..when here I am with my roll of mahjong papers ready to go! 

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Some days we see marvellous things



My eyes must be deceiving me. Peralihan students NOT running around? NOT SPLASHING WATER on each other? Instead, READING? QUIETLY?
Respect to the comic book writers who have these kids so captivated that they are so effectively out of mischief.

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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Subtle Racism in the Malaysian Classroom



Hello reader hope you're conquering mountains this weekend.. Literal or figurative!


A while ago, R.A.G.E posted  a video about how racism was rampant in the property market, and I was suddenly reminded of how teachers shoulder such an enormous role in shaping human beings of tomorrow. Everything we complain about in the attitude of grownup Malaysians today are traits that were not checked or corrected by a teacher 20 years ago!
As teachers, we are a pretty huge, if not biggest influence on a child's formative years. We build good habits, and character traits. It goes without saying therefore, that we should practise what we preach. What if we don't realise when we're being hypocrites?

I was having a delightful conversation over kuaci and coffee with some of my most treasured comrades, and was quite surprised to hear a story related by one of them, regarding an officer in the the education dept who, while demonstrating a poetry lesson, had used a large fair boy to represent an Albino buffalo, and a dark skinned boy to represent a regular buffalo. Although it was done in good humour, and the kids who were compared to the beasts, took it lightly, it made me think about some of the subtle messages that we give off through the simplest of actions in the classroom.

A few months back, I was having a conversation with a fellow teacher on what we could do to quieten some of the hyperactive ones in class. Quite frankly, I was at my wits end on how to deal with him! And something she said took me by surprise. She would make the misbehaving Chinese student sit among the Indians as punishment. This, she told me, was a sure way of getting him to zip it, because "the Chinese students don't mix with the Indians."
Why make it a punishment then? Aren't we only justifying their hatred towards the other race by forcing them to sit there only when they misbehave? She had no answer. It was, after-all a quick-fix and no one was ready to give that up.
 But what do we get in return? "Quiet" kids who grow up with a roaring disgust towards their brother from another mother.
 We speak of a 21st century education system, and as terms like "open minded" and "modern thinking" are bandied about and used to describe generation Y, teachers too try to separate themselves from our rather "narrow-minded"  grandparents. But honestly how different are we from the old aunties who used to say "I will let the Keling man catch you if you are naughty"?

I have always thought about her actions and wondered why it would be considered okay to anyone. In fact, today, many complain about the kids who never mingle with other races in their vernacular schools. But what about the teachers who studied exactly the same way and had not experienced living and interacting with different races till they reached the tertiary level of education? What are they bringing to the table...or rather the classroom? How equipped are they to handle the multiracial adolescent learning environment, never having tasted it themselves?

At this point my head usually starts to hurt.

In another incident, I had accompanied my school track and field team for the district level sporting event, and during the closing ceremony, I overheard two teachers talking loudly... Apparently one was speaking too fast, because the other said "cakap slow sikit, macam keling betul ko cakap" (speak slowly, you're speaking like a real keling). Now don't even try to tell me that Keling isn't a derogatory term, because just the context of this teacher's dialogue proves otherwise. The other immediately hushed her and they sheepishly glanced around to see an Indian teacher from my school sitting close by. Fortunately for them, he hadn't seemed to hear, and they burst into a fit of relieved giggles. But we haven't come to the saddest part of this story. Sitting and gaping at their teachers banter, were at least 5 students who then proceeded to laugh and share in this disgusting brand of humour endorsed by none other than their mentors and educators. And THAT, my dear reader, is simply heartbreaking.

We don't realise that as we sit and laugh, we are educating, as we talk and tell stories we are educating, as we chide, scold, and punish, we are also educating. So, it is a constant reminder to be mindful of what we impart every second of the day. As my afternoon school supervisor once very aptly put; in all our actions, we are being watched not by one, but eight hundred pairs of eyes. Eyes that remember, and eyes that learn.
   
Every day I am  humbled by this profession, in the weight it carries in shaping the biggest assets of the future!

"Nasty littering adults, were once grimy littering, snot-nosed children, who were not checked because their parents and teachers were nasty litter bugs as well."