Archive for August, 2009

Staying Clean and Healthy

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Because school involves putting several hundreds to thousands of children and teenagers together in close proximity for about five to six hours or more, it is a good place for diseases to spread.The use of common facilities like canteen, classes and toilets, makes it easier for diseases that spread by air and  water to infect a larger number of people.

The usual suspects in school illnesses are the seasonal influenza cases, food poisoning and dengue fever. However, the current influenza A(H1N1) has raised the awareness of contagious diseases to a new level.

For the national schools, the job of maintaining the schools cleanliness is done by privatised workers. These workers are assigned to outdoor duties, including the gardening and general cleanliness of the school compound; and maintaining the cleanliness of the school toilets and corridors as part of their indoor duties.

Meanwhile, the cleanliness of the classrooms becomes the responsibility of the students themselves. This usually involves the class representative in charge of cleanliness drawing up a duty roster where each student takes turn to do different duties during the week.These duties usually include sweeping the floor, cleaning the whyteboard after each lesson and wiping the window panes among other chores.

Aside from monitoring the cleanliness of the school and ensuring that the toilets are always supplied with soap, a few other precautionary measures to be taken by school management are:

  • Take the temperatures of students;
  • Students who feel unwell should get their temperature scanned at a separate room and told to go home if they have a fever;
  • These students, as well as the staff members who interact with them, are to be provided with face masks and hand sanitisers  (at the school’s expense-if possible) to help contain the spread of the disease;
  • Find out more information about H1N1 virus and circulate the new information to all students;
  • As for the trial UPSR, PMR , SPM and STPM examination that are going around this time, it is good if the schools can  practise a closed exam system. This means that students are not allowed to take the exam papers home with them. This is to ensure that those who are sick or quarantined at home during the exam period can take the same papers at a later time.
  • Other precautionary measures include encouraging students and teachers to practise social distancing – such as no hugging and shaking hands, stay at home and interact online through social networking sites, rather than hanging out in crowded shopping malls.
  • Avoid conducting weekly school assemblies in closed-up hall; and students be provided with face masks should they be required to attend such meetings.


Intellectuals Differ on Language Switch

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

CEO of  SIDMA College cum UNITAR Sabah Regional Centre, Prof. Dr. Morni Hj. Kambrie was very upset by the Education Ministry’s move to revert the teaching of Mathematics and Science to Bahasa Malaysia and mother-tongue languages. He commented: “This decision (of reverting to Bahasa Malaysia) is a blunder. I am very angry at the decision made. The decision to introduce the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English in 2003 was just six years ago…. It is not even a decade yet. There is nothing for the Government to say it is a failure. To return to Bahasa Malaysia is wrong, very wrong!”

He lamented at the standards of English among some of our local university graduates, and felt that the decision to revert the teaching of Mathematics and Science in  Bahasa Malaysia will worsen the situation. “The damage has been done to what is happening in this country. I am not joking!” ” This is the standards of our graduates!”

He told a story of how he rejected the job applications of three local graduates whose English were atrocious as  they had problem spelling certain English words correctly when they were told to write an essay on “My Vision of a Successful Organisation”.

He said English proficiency is vital for the future of our graduates. Graduates who have good English competency get jobs easily ; and even if they cannot get jobs here, they should be able to compete elsewhere with their competency in English.”

Prof.  Dr. Morni even challenged the Education Minister to meet up with him to go to a rural school of his choice to see the situation for himself.

According to Prof. Dr. Morni, he studied in United Kingdom for many years, but that did not make him more English. Instead “I am more Malaysian!” he stressed.

Prof. Dr. Morni  was one of the speakers of the first-ever public forum outside Peninsular Malaysia over the controversial subject of reverting to the use of Bahasa Malaysia to teach Mathematics and Science. The forum was the first of a series of intellectual discourses on issues of public interest, which was jointly organised by The Borneo Post and UiTM Sabah at its campus in Menggatal on August 15, 2009.

Other speakers at the forum were former Sabah Education Director, Datuk Kamal Quadra, who is now Chairman of  Yayasan College; Datin Amy-Jean Yee, Head Mistress of SRS Datuk Simon Fung; and Prof. Madya Dr. Yusof Abdullah, the Dean of School of Education and Social Development in Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu.

Prof. Madya Dr. Yusof, while acknowledging the importance of English, said that Bahasa Malaysia acts as a bridge among the various races in this country. He did not agree with the use of English in Mathematics and Science teaching and pointed to countries like Taiwan which use their own national language and excel in the two subjects.

The other speakers and members of the audience at the forum themed  “Mathematics and Science Teaching: Bahasa Malaysia or English” called for choices, but stressed the importance of English for the teaching of Mathematics and Science as the two subjects contain terminologies which are technical in nature. They claimed that Bahasa Malaysia falls short in this while the use of English would allow a wider collaboration worldwide.

The moderator of the forum, Prof. Datuk Dr. Chua Kim Hing, posed the question whether globalisation down the line was even thought of when it was first decided to switch the medium of instruction to Bahasa Malaysia in 1970.

Read more @ :

The Borneo Post, August 16,2009.

Four Keys to Better Learning

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

At the opening of the “International Conference on Education For All” in Kuala Lumpur on August 17, 2009;  Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah said that the four key aspects of the education system needing special attention to the demands of a knowledge and innovation-based economy are :

  • English Language;
  • Curriculum;
  • Assessment system;
  • Teaching methods.

Raja Dr. Nazrin said that English was of paramount importance in the 21st century workplace. It was also the lingua franca of the knowledge and innovation economy ; and those proficient in the language would enjoy many advantages in the global workplace, he added.

On the assessment system, Raja Dr. Nazrin said perhaps Malaysia could do with less national examinations and reduce the anxiety of teachers, school administrators and parents.  He said the examination-oriented system had also led to schools focusing on high achievers to the exclusion of underachievers, who unfortunately were usually from poorer backgrounds.

As for the curriculum, Raja Dr. Nazrin said it was too bogged down with teachers and university instructors dispensing chunks of information to passive students.

“Perhaps it is time to reduce the amount of content disseminated and spend the extra time on developing skills and competencies needed in the 21st century.” he added.

Raja Dr. Nazrin said that school teachers and lecturers often lamented they did not have enough time to complete the syllabus and feared reducing the content would deprive learners – without realising that, in fact, less might be more. The ‘more’ comes from students learning to inquire and discover the facts and concepts of a discipline by themselves.

“With the billions of web pages available at the click of a mouse, the earlier notions of the ’sage on the stage’ may have to give way to the ‘guide on the side”, he said.

On teaching learning methods and strategies, he said the focus should be on students engaging in projects, analysing case studies, solving real world problems, making decisions in different situations, making presentations and arguing their case and constructing their own knowledge.



Malaysia Lagging Behind in Science

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Newly-conferred Professor Emeritus Datuk Mohamed Abdul Majid said the education system is not supportive of science and technology which would help the country to attain its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020. Mohamed who was conferred the Professor Emeritus awards by Universiti Malaya on Wednesday (August 12, 2009) said that Malaysia still lags behind developed countries in science and technology which is necessary for a country to move forward and stay ahead.

“In science, we are below the world average, meaning that we cannot catch up with the advanced countries.”

“We have to develop, if we really want to become a fully developed nation by 2020″ he said in an interview.

The 61-year-old scientist and educator for the past 35 years suggested that the Education and Higher Education ministries to study the curriculum and raise the quality of education.

“At the moment, our education system is not supporting the development of science and technology.”

“When you are talking about science and technology, you are talking about people who can think, people who have intellectual power, logical thinking, critical thinking and creativity.” said Mohamed, who is now attached to the Science Faculty of Brunei Darussalam University.

He said students must have the courage and freedom to acquire more knowledge and not just rely on local textbooks. “We have got workbooks where you have to answer exactly, the answer that is given by the teacher on the book”,  he said, adding that the school curriculum must allow students to think and express themselves.

“This is what is happening in many other countries like Singapore, the United States, South Korea, which allow the students to have freedom of expression. So, there is a lot of creativity among the students (there).” said Mohamed.

He also suggested that teachers be paid better so that they could give their best to their students.

“We want teachers who are very well qualified. Only then can we expect to get very good students and results.”

“I am suggesting that they be placed on higher salary scales, given more attractive promotion prospects and better status,” he said.



The Johari Window.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

The word “Johari” comes from Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham – the two individuals who developed the Johari Window communication model. It is a communication model that can be used to improve understanding between individuals within a team or in a group setting. Based on disclosure, self-disclosure and feedback, the Johari Window can also be used to improve a group’s relationship with other groups. The two key ideas behind this model are:

  1. That individuals can build trust between themselves by disclosing information about themselves; and
  2. That they can learn about themselves and come to terms with personal issues with the help of feedback from others.

By explaining the idea of the Johari Window to your team, you can help team members understand the value of self-disclosure, and gently encourage people to give and accept feedback. Done sensitively, this can help people build more-trusting relationships with one another, solve issues and work more effectively as a team.

The Johari Window Model:

The Johari Window consists of a four squaregrid (think of taking a piece of paper and dividing it into four parts by drawing one line down the middle of the paper from top to bottom, and another line through the middle of the paper from side- to – side.

Using this model, each person is represented by their own four-quadrant, or four-pane, window. Each of these contains and represents personal information – feelings, motivation – about the person, and shows whether the information is known or not known by themselves or other people. The Four quadrants are:

Quadrant 1: Open Area

What is known by the person about himself / herself and is also known by others.

Quadrant 2: Blind Area, or “Blind Spot”

What is unknown by the person about himself / herself but which others know.

Quadrant 3: Hidden or Avoided Area

What the person knows about himself / herself that others do not.

Quadrant 4: Unknown Area

What is unknown by the person about himself / herself and is also unknown by others.

The process of enlarging the open quadrant vertically is called self-disclosure, a give and take process between the person and the people he/she interacts with.

As the information is shared, the boundary with the hidden quadrant moves downwards. And as other people reciprocate, trust tends to build between them.

Using Johari Window

The process of enlarging the open quadrant horizontally is one of feedback. Here the individual learns things about himself or herself that others can see, but he or she can’t.

If anyone is interested in learning more about this individual, they reciprocate by disclosing information in their hidden quadrant.

As your levels of confidence and self-esteem rises, it is easier to invite others to comment on your blind spots. Obviously, active and empathic listening skills are useful in these exercises.

The Johari Window in a Team Context

Established team members will have larger open areas than new team members. New members start with smaller open areas because little knowledge about the new team member has yet been shared. The size of the Open Area can be expended horizontally into the blind space, by seeking and actively listening to feedback from other group members

Group members should strive to assist a team member in expanding their Open Area by offering constructive feedback. The size of the Open Area can also be expended vertically downwards into the hidden or avoided space by the senders disclosure of information, feelings, etc. about himself / herself to the group and group members.

Also, group members can help a person expand their Open Area into the hidden area by asking the sender about himself / herself. Managers and team leaders play a key role here, facilitating feedback and disclosure among group members, and by providing constructive feedback to individuals about their own blind areas.

Working in this area with others usually allows for enhanced individual and team effectiveness and productivity. The Open Area is the “space” where good communications and cooperation occur, free from confusion, conflict and misunderstanding.

Self-disclosure is the process by which people expand the Open Area vertically. Feedback is the process by which people expand this area horizontally.

By encouraging healthy self-disclosure and sensitive feedback, you can build a stronger and more effective team.

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Presentation Planning Checklist

Monday, August 17th, 2009

This presentation checklist is adapted in part from Business Communication: A Cultural and Strategic Approach by Michael J. Rouse and Sandra Rouse. It will  help you deliver successful presentation.


  • Does your introduction grab participant’s attention, and do you explain your objectives?
  • Do you clearly define the points of the presentation?
  • Do these flow well?
  • Are these main points in logical sequence?
  • Do the main points need support from visual aids?
  • Does your closing summarize the presentation clearly and concisely?
  • Is the conclusion strong?
  • Have you tied the conclusion to the introduction?


  • Are you knowledgeable about the topic covered in your presentation?
  • Do you have your notes in order?
  • Where and how will you present (indoors, outdoors, standing, sitting, etc )
  • Have you visited the presentation site?
  • Have you checked your visual aids to ensure they are working and you know how to use them?


  • Make sure you are dressed and groomed appropriately and in keeping with the audience’s expectations;
  • Practice your speech standing (or sitting, if applicable), pay close attention to your body language, your posture – both of which will be assessed by the audience;

Visual Aids:

  • Are the visual aids easy to read and easy to understand?
  • Are they tied into the points you are trying to communicate?
  • Can they be easily seen from all areas of the room?

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Better Public Speaking and Presentation.

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Sadly, too many presentations are easy to forget. And that’s a big problem because the only reason the presenter gave the talk was to communicate something to the audience!

There are some basic things that you can do to ensure that your verbal messages (presentations) are understood – and remembered – time and time again. These basic skills are:

  • Understand the purpose of the presentation;
  • Keep the message clear and concise;
  • Be prepared;
  • Be vivid when delivering  the message.

Understand what you want to achieve:

It’s very important that you really understand what you want to say; who you want to tell; and why they might want to hear it. To do this, ask yourself the following questions: Who? What? How? When Where? Why?

Who are you speaking to? What are their interests; presuppositions and values? What do they share in common with others; how are they unique?

What do you wish to communicate? Ask yourself about the “success criteria” – How do you know if and when you have successfully communicate what you have in mind?

How can you best convey your message? Language and nonverbal cues are important here. Choose your words and your your nonverbal cues with your audience in mind. Plan a beginning, middle and end. If time and place allow, consider and prepare audio-visual aids.

When? Timing is important here. Develop a sense of timing, so that your contributions are seen and heard as relevant to the issue of matter at hand. There is time to speak and a time to be silent. “It’s better to be  silent than sing a bad tune”.

Where? Here refers to the physical context of the communication in mind. You may have time to visit the room, for example, and rearrange the furniture. Also check for availability and visibility if you are using audio or visual aids.

Why? In order to convert hearers into listeners, you need to know why they should listen to you – and tell them if necessary.

That implies that you know yourself why you are seeking to communicate – the value or worth or interest of what you are going to say.

Keep it Simple.

When it comes to wording your message, less is more. You’re giving your audience headlines. They don’t need to and are usually not expecting to become experts on the subject as a result of hearing your talk.

If you’re using slides, limit the content of each one to a few bullet points, or one statement, or a very simple diagram.

Be prepared:

Preparation is one of the most important factors in determining your communication successes. When possible, set meeting times,  speaking and presentation times well in advance, thus allowing yourself the time you need to prepare  your communications, mindful of the entire communication process – source, encoding, channel, decoding, receiver, feedback and context. By paying close attention to each of these stages and preparing accordingly, you ensure your communications will be more effective and better understood.

Of course, not all communications can be scheduled. In this case, preparation may mean having a good, thorough understanding of the office goings-on, enabling you to communicate with the knowledge you need to be effective, both through verbal and written communications.

Unforgettable delivery:

Your delivery of your speech or presentation will make or break it, no matter how well you’ve prepared and crafted your clear, concise message. Some useful tips for keeping your presentation vivid include:

  • Use examples to bring your points to life;
  • Keep your body language up-beat – don’t stay stuck behind a rostrum;
  • Don’t talk too fast. Less is more here too. Pauses are effective;
  • Use a variety of tones of voice;
  • Use visual aids.

Read more @

Professor, the car broke down.

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Two college seniors had a week of exams coming up. They decided to party instead. Their biggest exam was on Wednesday and they showed up telling the professor that their car had broken down the night before due to a very flat tire and they needed a bit more time to study.

The professor told them that they could have another day to study. That evening, both of the boys crammed all night until they were sure they knew just about everything.

Arriving to class the next morning, each boy was told to go to two separate classrooms to take the exam. Each boy just shrugged and went to two different parts of the building.

As each sat down, they read the first question.

“For 5 points, explain the contents of an atom.”

At this point, they both thought that this was going to be a piece of cake, and answered the question with ease. Then, the test continued.

“For 95 points, tell me which tire it was.”

By Anisha (2001)

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Healthy Living Tips: Living a Healthy Lifestyle.

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Leading a physically and mentally well-balanced existence is the ideal way to live a healthy life style. This involved a great  many things such as the way you think, what you eat, where you work, where you live, what you do, what your financial situation is, who you know, and so on. You need a certain amount of self-discipline and self motivation to maintain a sensible daily rhythm. You need to discover what works for you and what doesn’t. You need to accept that certain things are beyond your control and there is little point in knocking yourself out about them. You need to understand that leading a healthy life-style is a continual and life-long process. Life is chain of continued efforts, an on-going process. Think of yourself as a work of art in progress.

Here are a few healthy living tips by Sonal Panse (2007). They work for her. May be they will work for you. You should always find your own path to living and healthy lifestyle.

  1. Eating should be done in moderation – eating, working, resting, playing, maintaining hobbies, socializing, and so on.
  2. You should take stock of how you spend your day, so you can reschedule your time, concentrate on important chores, cut down on the inconsequential, and thereby suffer less stress.
  3. Don’t take on more work or personal responsibilities than you can realistically handle.
  4. Do what you love. The money will usually follow.
  5. Try to be less materialistic and keep your life simple. It is really unnecessary to keep up with the Joneses. Why buy a car if you can avail of public transport? Why own a cell-phone when you don’t really need one? Why beat yourself up trying to upgrade to the latest software when the old one serves you just fine?
  6. Pay all bills regularly and on time. Never take a loan if you’re not sure about meeting the monthly payments. Live within your means.
  7. You sleep for at least eight hours every night. A siesta in the afternoon if possible, is also a good idea and certainly refreshing for  your brain.
  8. Control your mind. What you think and how you think affects your general well-being. Refuse to entertain negative or self-derogatory thought and emotions. This will require practice, especially if you have fallen into the habit of seeing the glass half- empty.
  9. Cultivate your spiritual side. You don’t have to turn religious and burn candles at public altars, but keeping in touch with your intuition and your inner self is important.
  10. Go for comfort over fashion any day.
  11. Eat well and healthy. Learn to cook well. Try new recipes. Make meals interesting and fun.
  12. Exercise regularly. Go for a short run every morning. Do yoga. Exercise your eyes regularly, especially if you spend a lot time in front of the computer. If you have to run errands around the neighbourhood, walk or cycle around. Walk up stairways instead of taking the lift.
  13. Go for regular medical check-ups. If you have health problems, talk to your doctor and discuss all the options that are available for you. Get a second, third, fourth opinion. Research on the internet. Don’t panic, lose hope, or give up easily.
  14. If you have the space, cultivate a garden. Working in a garden is a great form of exercise, and growing plants brings  a lovely deal of cheer and satisfaction to the soul. If you don’t have the space, make space. You can have your garden in small tubs or containers.
  15. Maintain a good social life. Take an interest in other people and help without expecting anything in return whenever possible.
  16. Be honest, ethical, polite, and sincere. Don’t flatter anyone unless you mean it and don’t ever lie.
  17. Read books, magazines, newspapers. Be aware of what is going on around you, locally, nationally, and internationally. Try to learn at least one thing new every day.
  18. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself.
  19. Don’t indulge in malicious gossip.
  20. Pay attention to the things that you’re doing at any given moment, and do it well.

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Making a Great First Impression

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Whether they are in your career or social life, it’s important to know how to create a good first impression. These first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for for all the relations that follows. It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.

Some useful tips to help you on how to create a good first impression:

Be on Time:

Plan to arrive a few minutes early. Allow the flexibility for possible delays in traffic or taking a wrong turn. Arriving early is much better than arriving late, hands down; and is the first step in creating a great first impression. The person you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late.

Be Yourself, Be at Ease:

Feel calm and confident, so the other person will feel more at ease, and so have a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one. If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, this can make the other person ill at ease and that’s a sure way to create the wrong impression.

Present Yourself Appropriately:

Your physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on. The key to good impression is to present yourself appropriately – it certainly does not mean you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression.

Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions. A good haircut or shave. Clean and tidy clothes. Make sure your grooming is appropriate and helps make you feel “the part”.

Appropriate dressing and grooming help make a good first impression and also help you feel “the part”, and so feel more calm and confident.

A Word about Individuality:

Yes, to make a good first impression you do need to “fit in” to some degree. But it all goes back to being appropriate for the situation. If in a business setting, wear appropriate business attire. If a formal evening social event, wear appropriate evening attire. And express your individuality appropriately within that context.

A Winning Smile:

“Smile and the world smiles too” -  that is how the saying goes.  So there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident  smile will put both you and the other person at ease. So smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions.

Be Open and Confident:

When it comes to making the first impression, body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words. Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, smile, make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both you and the other person feel better at ease.

Small Talk Goes a Long Way:

Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you meet for the first time before you get together. For instance, does he play golf? Does she work with a local charitable foundation.?

Is there anything that you know of that you have in common with the person you are meeting? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and to keep it flowing.

Be Positive:

Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Project a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Strive to learn from your meeting and to contribute appropriately, maintaining an upbeat manner and a smile.

Be Courteous and Attentive:

It goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behaviour help make a good first impression. In fact, anything less can ruin the one chance you have at making that first impression . so be on your best behaviour.

One modern manner worth mentioning is “turn off your mobile phones” . What first impression will you create if you are  already speaking to someone other than the person you are meeting for the first time? Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention. Anything less and you’ll create a less than good first impression.

Remember, you have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible ever to change it. So it’s worth giving each new encounter your best shot. Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. But with a little extra thought and preparation, you can sharpen your intuitive style and make every  first impression not just good but great.

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