Archive for the ‘Moral Education.’ Category

Ramadan in the garden of knowledge and virtue

Saturday, June 8th, 2019
A member of the congregration at the World Quran Hour at the International Islamic University Malaysia. PIC BY ASYRAF HAMZAH

MY stint in IIUM thus far is no less than business unusual. There are too many tales to tell. For now, I would like to focus on the experience during e Ramadan, my first in this Garden of Knowledge and Virtue as this serene campus‎ is also known as. It was preceded by the World Quran Hour graced by the sultan of Perak.

Knowledge has always been likened to a tree with its many branches representing the many disciplines of knowledge, some bearing fruits and flowers. This metaphor is what defines a university.

The more the branches, the “lusher” the tree, compared to some institutions that prefer to pick and choose what is “marketable” while trimming off the branches that are said to be “irrelevant”  to the marketplace.

Such a tree is somewhat “artificial” and imbalanced (read unsustainable), academically speaking. A hefty price that we are beginning to pay as the knowledge purveyors are themselves imbalanced as reflected in the many human-induced crises of today. This is indeed the crux of knowledge-deficit that is being promoted as “world-class” education — one without a soul

To speak of the soul of education is to recognise what “virtue” is all about. For virtue is the root of the tree, so to speak; the unseen part underneath a tree that gives rise to the whole tree, any tree

Just like the whole person whom the Quran likened to a “good” tree, and the virtue that is rooted therein. There is no tree without roots (except for “artificial” ones) and in fact the latter determines the quality of the former.

When the roots are left to rot the tree will eventually collapse. Easily uprooted, as warned by the Quran. This means ensuring the growth of the tree of knowledge in a “balanced” way is to tend to its roots foremost.

It is in this sense that Ramadan in IIUM is deeply rooted to provide the much-needed “balance” to the acquired disciplines of knowledge. It is the inspiration that changes knowledge into wisdom; the reflection that brings about courage for transformational changes; and the practice that realises the real meaning of virtues into reality.

This is made possible by nurturing values like humility, patience, tolerance, justice and trustworthiness which are the foundation for a balanced being to be manifested harmoniously as the Ramadan man (Homo ramadanus).

Hence Ramadan is set for the higher purpose of restoring or perfecting the balance in maturing a holistic person — balanced and complete. This acts as the bedrock to move forward beyond the month of Ramadan. In other words, it has to be internalised as a way of daily living in the Garden of Knowledge and Virtue.

For that reason alone it adds deeper dimensions to the practice of mere fasting. Meaning, we are constantly all the time aware of a balanced life that will lead us out of Ramadan until the next one.

These deeper dimensions are spread throughout the garden campus with its international community of 700-odd members from more than 110 countries. The culmination of this came during the congregation for Eidul Fitri prayer at the dawning of Syawal.

They were not limited to the IIUM community, but also from nearby communities and other campuses throughout the length and breadth of the peninsula, renewing acquaintances in the spirit of Syawal. Seeking forgiveness and strengthening fellowship.

It was yet another experience to behold, unmistakenly like that of the Holy City of Makkah where the mix and aura are beyond description except for those who had gone on the holy pilgrimage whose memberships ranged far and wide.

For instance, standing in line with the rest in prayer was the ambassador of Yemen and other dignitaries who preferred to be in the Makkah-like environment. The camaraderie was total and undivided. As though the ummah was actually one, despite the intra-ummah divisions apparent from the 14th OIC Summit held a couple of days before during Ramadan.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

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Positive values produce national highs

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Tun M has made the perfect statement when giving his address in 1 Belt 1 Road summit in Beijing on 27 April 2019.

He is quoted as having said “No one should impose one single value system to the world but should strive to understand the different cultures and values.” All Malaysians should read this article as in the same context, his statement has deep pertinence to New Malaysia. This is what Malaysia needs in our multi religious and cultural country..

No world leader has made a statement like Tun M’s. Typical Tun M style – concise, succinct and straight, likes an arrow hitting the heart of the target. It reflects on the reality of a new world order that is emerging fast, in which the mono polar leadership of USA is fast fading, a new multipolar system with Russia, China with India slightly behind is fast emerging.

No matter how hard USA is trying to suppress the birth of this multipolar system, how hard it is trying to impose its will on other countries including its closest allies, it will fail due to many weaknesses of its own making. Trump’s erratic, unbecoming tyrannical behaviour, is helping to expedite its demise as world’s only super power.

Tun M’s statement is the beacon to the emerging new world order. No Malaysian leader has uttered a more perfect, profound statement like Tun M. His statement is fittingly suitable for the New Malaysia that PH is trying to give all Malaysians.

The PH government has taken various baby steps to implement/fulfil its many manifesto promises since GE14. Many a times, it got side tracked by the opposition’s trumpeting negative value of “fear” of loss of political and racial rights etc. All sensible Malaysians who know what is good for our nation would not subscribe to this “fear” factor. “Fear”, “jealousy” “rights” and other negative factors have never got any country or race anywhere in the world. There are clear indications that these are negative value leaders. They would not help to build national greatness for Malaysia. No country or race has gotten to the top by embracing and inculcating negative values among its citizens. More than that, negative values are destructive, suppressive, regressive and keeping people poor like in the feudal system.

It is increasingly clear that the Americans, in their falling economic/political standing in the world, have adopted many negative values for quite a long time. One very outstanding of such negative value is that they think it is their birth right to be No. 1 super power and no other country and/or political system can usurp them from their august “high and mighty” position. Many Malaysians have this same negative attitude too.

The baby steps of the PH government I have mentioned earlier show lack of conviction in its own direction and leadership. Good example is the recent decision of increasing the number of positions for matriculation from 25,000 to 40,000. The PH government is trying to please all which in the end, will make no one any happier. Instead, it is continuing to promote mediocracy among all Malaysians. It is an easy way out. It will perpetuate negative values, instead of imbuing positive values like “I can do it” confidence or hard work will pay.

Tun M’s 1 Belt 1 Road statement to the world is also the perfect statement for New Malaysia. I am certain Tun M being the man he has always been, does not have double standards. Just like the English saying “What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”.

Lacking in the PH government so far is a very clear vision which Tun M has now provided in his Beijing statement, definitive political and economic leadership which can pin point the way forward for all Malaysians. Most importantly is political courage to tell Malaysians what it should be, like Tun M has done in Beijing. Such a vision is exactly what Tun Mahathir has prescribed to the world in Beijing.

Political courage is key Malaysian national greatness. Malaysians can advance to high income status for which we are more than capable of and have the resource for it. However, it is not like a walk in the park. For years, Malaysians of all races have been poisoned with a great number of negative values.

Definitely there are more negative values than positive ones. Not easy to lead Malaysians out of this cauldron of negative value system that is more than 40 years old with many wanting to protect their rights protected and with just as many thinking they are being deprived or discriminated. justly Malaysia cannot continue with this diabolical racial dilemma. The solution is to get all to give up these negative positions, work hard with the confidence of being justly rewarded .

Does Malaysia have leaders with the necessary mental capacity, vision and courage to lead Malaysians in the path of national greatness? I will deal with mental capacity and vision first. All our leaders have the necessary mental capacity and vision. Najib has them when he introduced his New Economic Model and Government Transformation Programmes when he first became PM. Courage he was lacking for he abandoned it soon after the launch with great fanfare.

Tun M has it all, plenty mental capacity, clear vision and ample courage. In his case, too many Malaysians lack the necessary will to embrace all that he has to offer. Too many Malaysians cannot accept the harsh reality of hard work, competitiveness to achieve greatness. Too many Malaysians resort to corruption, and quick wealth by “hook or by crook”.

As for Anwar who will become the next PM, he too has all the requisites. I am a bit taken aback by his illogical explanation on increasing the number for matriculation to 40,000.

He is creating more mediocre graduates, not more resilient ones. National greatness will never come from mediocracy.

He is just taking the easy way out. If mediocracy can create national greatness, every country will be great! He is not promoting the right values. My greatest fear for PH government is that it may eventually, like Najib, get cold feet with its transformation.

It should remain steadfast even its approval rating may get a beating now. Rating goes up and down, the PH government must remain on course as far as its transformation is concerned. Do what is right for the people, for the nation and the rating will be take care of. Malaysians can judge what is right and wrong for themselves.

Not fair of me if I don’t say that the PH government has done many things that are of  positive values like promotion of rule of law, national value of “mercy for all creations”, much more transparency and a lot more fairness to common Malaysians. PH government is on the right track. The speed of transformation the PH government can implement will ultimately depend on the uptake capacity of all Malaysians to embrace positive values. I am certain that when more Malaysians can see the benefits of PH’s transformation, the faster Malaysia can become an advance nation.

By: Datuk John Lo.

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Moral studies a dynamic subject

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
The desire to abolish moral education compels me to clarify the dynamism of this subject and illustrate the actual issues in this subject. – FILE PIC

THE past two months have been a reflective phase for many parents and people to voice their desire to replace the
Moral Education with philosophy.

The desire to abolish moral education compels me to clarify the dynamism of this subject and illustrate the actual issues in this subject.

Firstly, when moral education was introduced in 1983, there were very few experts and the subject was taught by Islamic studies teachers.

Here is where we made a big mistake.

Moral education is not Islamic studies or religious education.

Moral education, in a multicultural context, takes into consideration all religions and belief systems.

Moral education builds cognitive, emotive and spiritual quotient in people to face moral dilemmas.

One does not need to be religious to have good morals but religion becomes a source or inspiration to be moral.

But because we have belief in God as one of our Rukun Negara pillars and moral education pioneers were all mostly religious educators, our moral education is unique.

Since the first stage of implementing in the 1980s, the subject itself has undergone changes from the content, approach, pedagogy and assessment perspectives.

I am proud that moral education was one of the pioneer subjects in our education system.

We have moral projects under the 2017 moral education syllabus.

Activities would include awareness projects on environment and sustainability, multicultural awareness, which includes human rights, rights and responsibilities in the cyberworld, and mutual respect in a diversified society.

Hence, I wonder if parents and those concerned with moral education understand the dynamism of the subject.

It would be ideal to understand the transformation that the subject had undergone and will undergo before even coming up with ideas of abolishing it.

Look into the issues in the subject, collect evidence, and don’t just form opinions and judgments based on hearsay.

By Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan.

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Character and modern education

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019
(File pix) Issues of moral education and character development are increasingly important in societies that face the pressures of modernisation.

LESZEK Kolakowski writing in his famous essay, Modernity on Endless Trial, wrote that: “When I try, however to point out the most dangerous characteristic of modernity, I tend to sum up my fear in one phrase: the disappearance of taboos (Kolakowski, 1997, page13).”

Kolakowski was well aware that taboos could be both good and bad. They can play a positive role or negative one depending on the example and on circumstance and context. However, what he was trying to point out in his discussion of modernity was that ultimately: “Various traditional human bonds which make communal life possible, and without which our existence would be regulated only by greed and fear, are not likely to survive without a taboo system… .”

In other words, there must be some things that we simply do not do, some things that are simply unthinkable to most of us and to those of us who do think the unthinkable, recognise as unacceptable. There must be limits on what we can do, otherwise we lose our grounding and find ourselves pushed and pulled only by the basest of motivations: “greed and fear”. Kolakowski’s argument is that a “domino effect” occurs as things once thoughttaboo are now no longer considered taboo and wither. This domino effect, can be seen in societies that fail to have some kind of railing, some sense of limit and this is connected to “the disappearance of the sacred”.

Kolakowski writes: “With the disappearance of the sacred, which imposed limits to the perfection that could be attained by the profane, arises one of the most dangerous illusions of our civilisation — the illusion that there are no limits to the changes that human life can undergo, that society is ‘in principle’ an endlessly flexible thing… .”

His argument also reminds us that issues of moral education and character development are increasingly important in societies that face the pressures of modernisation. When we think of the problem of character education and how to develop good character through education, we not only have to think of the positive values or virtues that we want to inculcate in our students, but also the limits, the sense of that which is simply unacceptable.

Both sides of the ledger, the “thou shalt” and the “thou shalt not’s” are important in our moral education. If Kolakowski is correct then one of the objectives of character education must be to instil into students a sense of what is sacred, and what is taboo in a culture, what is held in highest esteem and what is unacceptable or beyond the pale.

This, however, presents a problem since it is also important that students maintain a sense of tolerance and open mindedness lest their attitude to moral issues slides into a one-sided bigotry or mindless citation of rules at the expense of thinking and reflection.

Inculcating ethical sensibility and dispositions in students requires avoiding the pitfalls of a sterile one-sided drill and exam-oriented kind of approach to character education and yet develop a solid ethical personality in students that gives them some ability to withstand moral challenges. The ability to both hold on to and draw firm lines and understand what is simply unacceptable, as well as the ability to reason and make informed and critical judgements is the key.

The question is: how we advance the aims of character education based on reiterating some firm boundaries as well as help develop a student’s critical thinking and ability to make contextual judgements.

Here we face the problem of adapting the right pedagogical and philosophical method to our approach. The problem of character education relies on understanding the problem of ethical content, the problem of pedagogical method and the issue of broader cultural context.

Developing an approach to character education requires an understanding of how it can succeed with consideration to these critical issues.

By James Campbell.

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Moral education: Inculcate values via 3H approach

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
SEVERAL initiatives have been suggested for next year’s education calendar by the Education Ministry.

SEVERAL initiatives have been suggested for next year’s education calendar by the Education Ministry.

Being in the field of moral education and civics, and citizenship, I would like to share my views and ideas for a proactive and progressive start.

I will comment on fields that I have been trained to teach, and have researched and published, locally and internationally. This is important because many a time, scholars speak about anything and everything based on their opinion.

For example, those who speak on moral and civics base their views on their religious understanding, which may or may not apply to the current knowledge-based society.

If one were to make suggestions for the 2019 school initiatives based only on what they hear, read or believe could work well, then I would call it “Panadol treatment”. This is because it will focus only on the surface of each initiative and is prone to failure.

One of the initiatives states: Bermula 2019, sekolah akan ada Manual Nilai yang akan dibacakan di setiap perhimpunan. (Starting from 2019, schools will have a Value Manual, which will be read out at every assembly).

This should be lauded, but merely reading out the manual during the school assembly will not inculcate values in students. They may even “shut off” as they are already studying Moral
Education (non-Muslim students) and Islamic Education (Muslim students), which are value-laden.

And other subject teachers are already integrating values into their lessons.

I suggest that the focus is shifted to 3H (head-moral cognition, heart-moral emotion and hands-moral action).

The 3H approach is on a par with Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan (National Education Philosophy). The approach will differ between the primary and secondary schools.

In primary schools, pupils could be inculcated with 3H through songs, short video clips, and plays. Such activities could be showcased during the school assembly.

As for secondary school students, whose moral development is at a higher level, they can be given real-life moral dilemmas to be discussed in five- to 10-minute sessions during the school assembly.

In value-based discussions, there is no one ultimate solution, as moral decisions are made based on moral principles.

Based on my doctoral and post-doctoral research, I find that secondary students want their voices to be heard.

By Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan

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Self-taught students have the right attitude

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
(File pix) Self-guided students need a definite idea of what they have to learn and where to find the learning material.

SELF-DIRECTED education is not a new concept. Historical figures — including Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Rene Descartes and Julius Caesar — owe much of their knowledge to self-study and being an autodidact.

Again, it’s educators in the higher education sector who play an important role in nurturing self-directed or independent learners.

For Malaysian educators, most will have to follow the instructions given by the Education Ministry and put up with monitoring by inspectorates and audi tors.

There is little that educators can do. Our education system uses the Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC, as a parcel to self-directed learning (SDL).

In primary and secondary schools, vLE Frog (Virtual Learning Environment) helps in SDL, while Moodle platform is used for tertiary learning.

Many people learn on their own since institutions offering formal education are rare or hardly affordable to all.

Gibbons (2002) defined SDL as the enhancement of knowledge, skill or accomplishment that learners opt for and bring about with their own efforts in any way, in any circumstance, at any time.

Self-directed learners take the initiative to know their learning needs and seek out the resources and methods that satisfy these needs.

The modern concept of self-directed learning involves strategies that aid the learning process and assess or evaluate the outcome.

But for those who still think that learning can happen only in classrooms, the world of self-learning can be of little use.

The trend for self and social learning has some scholars and analysts wondering if we are approaching the end of formal learning techniques and conventional teaching methods.

There will always be a need to train people to acquire first-time skills or to upgrade their skill set.

Learning and development professionals will increasingly consider the option of leaving some learning needs to other non-formal approaches.

But if people are to start learning by themselves, we first need to be sure that people are competent to learn by themselves.

Self-guided students have to have a definite idea of what they have to learn and where to find the learning material.

I had been trying out the PdPc approach (pengajaran dan pemudahcaraan , or teaching and facilitation).

It may be equivalent to the student-centred approach but my students prefer the teacher-centred approach.

Some students feel lost when looking for unrelated learning materials.

Even providing guidelines built into each step of learning, landmark checklists and tests don’t help.

This can be so demotivating that students may give up studying altogether.

Such students may need a teacher-centred approach.

Self-taught students who achieve the needed learning have to be skilled learners.

There are very few with such talent.

So who does self-directed online learning help?

It is participating students who reap the advantages and drawbacks.

But given the contributions of self-directed online learning to open education, it must be a “win” situation for learners.


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Moral compass for parents, guardians

Sunday, January 21st, 2018
It is a partnership between teachers, school and parents, and in any partnership, there will be responsibilities to be shared among the partners. NSTP file pic /Effendy Rashid

THE education of our children is not the sole responsibility of teachers or the school. It is a partnership between teachers, school and parents, and in any partnership, there will be responsibilities to be shared among the partners. Navigating through this may at times be tricky for teachers, parents and guardians. The suggestion by the National Union of Teaching Profession Malaysia to have a Code of Ethics for Parents and Guardians is a way through this maze. The motivation behind the proposal is perhaps the increasing number of attacks by parents on teachers. NUTP says such incidents have not reached an alarming level, but it wants to arrest the problem before they get out of hand. Indiscipline in schools has spiralled in the recent past. On Aug 17, this paper highlighted the case of 402 schools being saddled with disciplinary problems. While Selangor and Johor topped the list with 76 and 63 schools respectively, Kuala Lumpur shamed us with 22 schools, all with drug issues. The disciplinary issues were so serious that police had to call in parents of problematic students for a chat. Bullying, too, is on the rise in residential and non-residential schools. Death due to bullying is not unheard of. NUTP’s proposed code may go some distance in solving this growing menace.

Parents must understand that the school is a learning environment and, as such, it would have rules to ensure that the institution is operated with this objective in mind. Parents must help, not hinder the school in meeting its objectives. The first duty of parents is to send to school a well-disciplined child, who is willing to learn. This is mostly, not entirely though, a result of the nurturing process at home. At times, a well-disciplined child may be shaped by the environment, either at school or outside, into a bully. For example, if a child from a caring home lands in one of the 22 schools in Kuala Lumpur with serious discipline issues, there is a likelihood that the child would fall prey to bad influence. Peer pressure will get to the child, and without early intervention, he will be a delinquent in no time.

Here is where the Code of Ethics for Parents and Guardians will come in handy. A good code will lay out the “dos” and “don’ts” for the parents to navigate their way through the education of their children. Parents who care for the development of their children will closely monitor their children’s progress in school. Parents need to recognise that the school is a place of work as well.


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Transformation in Moral Education

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017
File pix) Moral Education focuses on values learnt at home and school, and in society. Pix by Edmund Samunting

RECENTLY, there was a suggestion that a Values and Personality Development Initiative programme be introduced to students next year.

I look forward to such a programme, which will focus not only on the grading component of Moral Education and Islamic Studies, but also what is characterised by students who study both the subjects.

Moral Education started as a core subject in the education system in the early 1980s. After three decades, there has been a tremendous transformation in Moral Education, not only in Malaysia but also many parts of the globe. A subject that used to focus on the moral cognition, especially stages of moral development, has ventured more into holistic moral development, which includes moral thinking, moral emotions, moral actions, moral sensitivity and moral motivation.

In the 1960s, when Moral Education was gaining popularity worldwide, the principle behind moral philosophy was that one who thought morally would behave morally. But, as research intensified, it was realised that individuals who talked so much about morality and how one should behave, sometimes were not moralised themselves.

Then, came the era of character education in the 1970s. Authorities argue that to be moralised, one needs to have the head (moral thinking), the heart (moral emotions) and the behaviour (moral action).

Since Moral Education started in Malaysia in the 1980s, we have been following the character education model, focusing on the moral thinking, moral emotions and moral action components.

However, the assessment at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) level until early 2000 focused on Moral Studies, which entailed the 16 main values and 64 sub-values in the syllabus.

It was a teething era for Moral Education and we have come a long way from focusing on values and value clarifications based on situations provided in the examination.

Now, the pedagogies and assessments for Moral Education are based on the three components as mentioned.

In 2002, Paper Two for Moral Education was introduced in SPM. Students were required to conduct moral projects. Moral Education teachers were required to assess students based on the projects and reports submitted by their students.

By Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan.

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Moral values to be assessed

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

A Values and Personality Development Initiative programme will begin for all school students from early next year.

The programme will see students receiving a score for how well they display moral values within the classroom, and not just how they answer Islamic Studies and Moral Education exam questions.

Deputy Education director-general (Teaching Professionalism Development) Dr Zainal Aalam Hassan said that the ministry hopes moral values are not only learnt but practised by all students.

“Anyone can learn values but it is more difficult to make it a practice,” he told reporters before the launch of the Education Ministry’s new cinema advertisement on Monday

Most of the time, students are only taught about moral values during Islamic Studies and Moral Education classes, he added.

But these values have been implied and taught throughout the whole curriculum, said Sulaiman.

There would be town halls and workshops to gather feedback and train teachers on how to assess students’ values, added Dr Zainal Aalam.

“Other stakeholders including parents and the local community will also be engaged.”

“It is very difficult to measure moral values,” he said.

He also said that all teachers would be asked to evaluate students as “students do not just meet one teacher in a day.”

For example, Dr Zainal Aalam said students can be assessed on their ability to work together by the way they interact with each other when seated in groups.

“This would also mean those that are more academically-inclined can help the weaker students,” he added.
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