Archive for June, 2010

Experiential learning activities

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Experiential learning is also referred to to as experiential teaching, or experiential training and development, or experiential activities, and other variations of these terms.

However the word learning is significant, since it emphasises the learner’s perspective, which is crucial to the experiential learning concept.

Conversely, the words training and teaching significantly reflect the teacher or training perspective (on behalf of the teaching or training organisation – e.g., a school or employer).

Experiential learning is therefore the most meaningful name for this concept.

The word experiential essentially means that learning and development are achieved through personally determined experience and involvement, rather than on received teaching or training, typically in group, by observation, listening, study of theory or hypothesis, or some other transfer of skills or knowledge.

The expression ‘hands-on’ is commonly used to describe types of learning and teaching which are to a lesser or greater extent forms of experiential learning.

The expression ‘chalk-and-talk’ (the teacher writes on a board and speaks while learners listen and look and try to absorb facts) refers to a style of teaching or training which contains no experiential learning aspect whatsoever.

We might also regard experiential learning as growing a person from the inside, whereas conventional teaching and training is the transfer of capability into a person from the outside.

Experiential learning is determined and controlled by the individual for the purpose of achieving personal development and growth, whereas conventional training and teaching tend to be designed and delivered by an organisation for the purpose of developing the capabilities (usually knowledge and/or skills) of a group of people, necessary to meet organisational needs or to achieve a known measurable standard or qualification.

There is a place for many types of learning and teaching/training, and specifically these two types:

  • conventional prescribed teaching/training – the transfer of pre-determined knowledge/skills – ‘from the outside, usually for an external purpose’.
  • experiential learning – development of people as individuals – ‘from the inside, usually for an internal purpose’.

People need certain prescribed skills and knowledge for their education and their work. But they also need to be helped to develop as individuals too, which interestingly also carries many benefits for external purposes.

In work and society most problems stem from people feeling unhappy or being unfulfilled. Conventional skills/knowledge transfer training/teaching does little to counter these effects. Individual growth – via experiential learning – most certainly offers ways to address personal feelings of confidence, fulfilment, sense of purpose, etc.

In conventional teaching and training the needs of the ‘organisation’ (which might be an employer or school or college, etc) are the primary driver of the learning content, design, delivery and assessment. In experiential learning the starting point is quite different – the starting point is the person, and the primary driver is to help the individual grow and learn and develop in their own direction and in their own way.

Unfortunately the notion of developing people as individuals is regarded by many employers (and much of the educational establishment) as less efficient and effective than conventional training and teaching.

This is because employers and educational policy-makers tend to see training and teaching in terms of organisational or bureaucratic requirements, or in terms of qualifications and standards, or in terms of short-term costs and efficiencies; and given this basic assumption it’s easy to see why so much training and teaching avoids the costs and time in developing individuals, when the priority is so strongly to manage and achieve organisational or systemic requirements.

The benefits however of developing people as individuals (in addition of course to transferring capabilities necessary to pass exams and contribute to organisational activities) are huge. By developing people as individuals – rather than simply transferring arbitrary capabilities – we develop people’s confidence, self-esteem, personal strengths, and crucially a rounded sense of purpose and fulfilment which fundamentally improve attitude, life-balance and emotional well-being. These immensely important outcomes are just as important for sustainable productive work and a healthy society as the essential skills and knowledge typically represented in conventional education and work-related training.

Developing people as individuals, which is at the heart of experiential learning, also implicitly enables learning methods to fit each person’s own preferred learning styles and natural preferences, because learners are encouraged and helped to learn and develop in their own ways, using methods which they find most comfortable and therefore enjoyable.

When people can be helped to discover that learning and development itself can be fun and emotionally rewarding, then we provide a platform for all sorts of learning and development in the future. Conversely, when we subject people to inappropriate teaching or training, which does not interest them or fit their preferred learning style, we put people off learning and development, sometimes permanently.

Experiential learning, especially used at the beginning of a person’s new phase of learning, can help to provide a positive emotional platform which will respond positively and confidently to future learning, even for areas of learning which initially would have been considered uncomfortable or unnecessary.

Experiential learning also brings into play the concept of multiple intelligences – the fact that people should not be limited by the ‘three Rs’ and a method of teaching based primarily on reading and writing.

Experiential learning is a way to break out of the received conditioned training and teaching practices which so constrain people’s development in schools and work.

It does this because it is centred on the individual – not the training or the surrounding system. It works on the basis that people can and should be developed from the inside out, not the other way around. In merely transferring and conveying knowledge to a person we do very little to help them grow as individuals, and when we starve this need most people quickly begin to lose confidence and hopes of becoming someone special in life.

Differences between experiential learning and conventional training and teaching might be represented simply as:

conventional training

experiential learning

training-centred/focused – theoretical learner-centred/focused – really doing it
prescribed fixed design and content flexible open possibilities
for external needs (organisation, exams, etc) for internal growth and discovery
transfers/explains knowledge/skills develops knowledge/skills/emotions via experience
fixed structured delivery/facilitation not delivered, minimal facilitation, unstructured
timebound measurable components (mostly) not timebound, more difficult to measure
suitable for groups and fixed outcomes individually directed, flexible outcomes
examples: powerpoint presentations, chalk-and-talk classes, reading, attending lectures, exam study, observation, planning and hypothesising, theoretical work, unreal role-play. examples: learning a physical activity, games and exercises, drama and role-play which becomes real, actually doing the job or task, ‘outward bound’ activities, teaching others, hobbies, pastimes, passions.

While mainly focused on organised experiential activities, games, events and exercises, etc, the principles below can be adapted for other forms of experiential learning and development, for example job secondments and specially delegated projects, for which the techniques below offer an immensely helpful alternative approach compared with conventional methods of task-based review, which tend to ignore many valuable individual learner opportunities and lessons.

The essence of effective experiential learning is that the entire process is centred on the learner – not the task, not the organisational objective, not the qualification standard, not the group, and certainly not the trainer’s or the teacher’s personal opinions. In this respect the underpinning philosophy of well executed experiential learning has much in common with the principles of good modern life coaching, and also interestingly in facilitative decision-making methodology, both of which place the other person at the centre of the issue, not the coach, seller, or organisation.

Experiential Learning Activities – Concepts and Principles:

The conceptual basis of the process of experiential learning is commonly related to Kolb’s Learning Cycle  (Kolb and Fry 1975). This model can be developed for experiential learning and summarised in the diagram below.

experiential learning diagram

Diagram adapted from Kolb’s learning styles and process theory as it might be applied to experiential learning.

This ‘Learning Cycle’ provides a helpful simple diagram of the process of experiential learning, which is broadly:

  1. do
  2. review
  3. develop and implement ideas for improvement.

Here follow the principles of experiential learning on greater detail, especially as they relate to organised activities, events and games, etc.

1 - Learner is central:

The learner is central to the process throughout, the facilitator provides the learner with a service. The principle that the success of the experiential approach to learning depends on the learners is fundamental. Therefore the facilitator must understand that learners can only make best use of their opportunities if they are ready, willing and able to become personally involved in the learning process: learners have to be prepared to actively develop their understanding, critique and evaluate the messages in their context and then work hard to apply appropriate learning.

2 – Facilitation must be Light and Subtle.

Principle 2: Individuals can and do learn without facilitation. Learners learn experientially by reflecting on their experiences, developing personal insights and understandings through involvement in intellectual, emotional and physical activity. This can be (and often is) done by an individual without any external help. A facilitator is not a prerequisite. Experiential learning involves people in working things through for themselves and developing their own understanding, so facilitators should always be seeking ways to enable this to happen. Although effective facilitation can add tremendous value, facilitators should remember that inappropriate facilitation can hinder, rather than help learning; they should not instruct, proffer knowledge, proscribe or offer personal wisdom.

3 – Find / Create Experiential Learning Opportunities:

A facilitator should help create learning opportunities and enable others to recognise and make good use of these opportunities. The facilitator can provide help during each element of the learning cycle by creating an appropriate learning environment, providing an activity that will initiate the learning process, creating an atmosphere and framework conducive to constructively critical review, (guiding thinking and challenging to developing understanding) ensuring that any conceptual thinking is progressed to meaningful conclusions and opportunities for improvement identified. Facilitation is a complex and skilled process.

4 – Reactions to Experiences vary so don’t pre – judge:

You cannot predict the learning an individual will take from an activity. Because individuals are personally involved in experiential learning individuals can take very different messages from a single event. An obvious example is one where a person fails to listen to another. If they are to learn, both individuals need to understand their part in their failure to communicate, but the causes could be numerous and therefore each persons learning very different. So for example, behaviours seen in an individual who isn’t heard could be; doesn’t express ideas clearly, doesn’t check the ‘listener has understood’, speaks when the other person isn’t ready to listen, doesn’t help the listener understand the significance of the information, fails to develop the idea, backs down when challenged, etc. Similarly example reasons why a ‘listener’ doesn’t listen could be; doesn’t see the issue as being important, had prejudged the issue, is distracted by personal thoughts, doesn’t respect the other person (and or their views). Therefore one event can provide the individuals involved with quite different or even diametrically opposed learning.

5 – Single Events can enable several Different Learning Effects:

There is potential for the learning to be at several levels. In the example used in note 4 above I gave behaviours for not being heard, but reasons for not listening. Typically addressing and developing behavioural change is less challenging than addressing the reasons. Taking the example from above, it can be seen that there is a hierarchy of challenge that the facilitator can encourage the learner to address: realising the need (e.g. I won’t be listened to if the other person is speaking) developing the skill (e.g. speaking clearly and concisely) developing the confidence or self esteem (e.g. believing that I and my views are of value) challenging personal attitudes (e.g. questioning personal drivers and belief systems).

6 – Build Confidence before addressing Attitudes and Behaviour:

Developing basic skills in a supportive environment is relatively simple, changing day to day behaviour is another matter. After having read this note it might be tempting to go straight to the fundamentals and target attitudes first. (If you have a positive attitude and personal confidence it is easier to implement personal change.) However remembering that the learner has to want to learn, it is far safer to build the learners confidence through success with skill development and behavioural change in simple or superficial areas first. When some progress has been made you can consider raising and tackling more fundamental issues like personal confidence and attitudes to others. It’s worth being aware however, that a knock on effect of individuals beginning to use new skills and realise their benefits can be a growth in self esteem and personal confidence.

7 – The Activity must be real and engaging – not based on Artificial Impact:

A learning activity is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The purpose of an experiential learning activity is to create an opportunity for valuable and memorable personal leaning. The ideal activity will engage, stimulate and challenge with individuals becoming absorbed in the task as themselves. It will not involve role play in a conventional artificial sense. All activities must be designed, managed and facilitated carefully so that the activity has impact, but it isn’t so memorable that these ‘activity memories’ override the impact and memory of the learning. If this happens the lasting memory may be an aspect of the activity, not the learning that was realised.

8 – Ensure Activities allow adequate and meaningful reviews:

An effective activity provides the opportunities for learning with as few distractions as possible. It can be great fun to run ‘big activities’ (although some people hate them) and there is no doubt that ‘ropes’ courses (as ‘outward bound’ activities are referred to in some parts of the world) and outdoor team challenges can generate real learning opportunities, but take care. Besides the risk of big events overpowering their intended lessons, the duration of these activities often means that many learning opportunities are lost; valuable incidents can get forgotten or overlooked or submerged in the complexity of the task. Although less memorable in themselves, running several short activities (10-30 minutes) each followed by its own review will often have far greater long term impact that one big activity.

9 – Carefully Reviews of Activities are Crucial:

The learning review is a vital stage of every activity. It should be planned as part of the design, not left to chance. Reviews can take many forms but all must engage the learners. The ideal review will involve the learner in personal thought, challenge and discussion before coming to some form of conclusion. It is often useful if a period of individual reflection, guided by open-ended or tick-box questionnaires, is followed by a facilitated discussion. If it is to be of real benefit, the review must be an honest critique of what happened and the contributions of each individual. Real issues should not be swept under the carpet, but equally criticism must be constructive.

10 – Accentuate the Positives:

Concentrate learning and reviews on the positives more than the negatives. It is all too easy to focus on the negatives but this can seriously undermine confidence in the whole idea of learning and development if the negatives are over-emphasised, especially for people who are not especially robust. It’s obvious that if something goes wrong, or just doesn’t go as well as we hoped, there will be benefit in review and change. It can, however, be equally beneficial to review what’s gone well. It’s not only motivating to recognise and focus on success, but finding out what caused the success and seeking ways to make greater or wider use of it can reap tangible rewards.

11 – Use Stimulating Questions in Reviews, especially for Groups Discussions:

A review discussion is an opportunity for learners, helped by the facilitator, to develop their own understanding and draw their own conclusions. The role of the facilitator is to enable others to learn by drawing out the issues and developing the learning that is relevant to the individuals. The facilitator should ask questions that will stimulate thought about relevant issues and enable the group to use answers given to develop further thought and learning.

12 – Resist Temptation to give answers – ask questions only:

Don’t tell people what they should learn. An observer is in a privileged position, often seeing aspects that are not obvious to others. If you observe a point that isn’t raised during a review it is legitimate to raise it, but only through questioning. If, despite questioning, individuals don’t relate to the point, there is no benefit in pursuing as any ‘learning’ will not be theirs. A better option is for you to run another activity designed to focus more attention on this specific point. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to provide a ‘professional analysis’ as this approach takes the ownership of the learning away from the individual.

13 – Have faith in people’s ability to learn for themselves:

Believe in the learners: they can and will make experiential learning opportunities work for them. To be an effective facilitator of experiential learning you have to believe, really believe, in others. You have to believe that they have the potential to make progress and be committed to the fact that your role is to provide opportunities for others to learn and progress.

14 – It’s about them not you:

Forget your ego. Your success is individuals capitalising on their personal learning. As an effective facilitator you have to be satisfied with the knowledge that you offer and develop opportunities for others to learn, many of which will go unused or undervalued. You have to accept that you are not offering ‘tangible and technical’ contributions and therefore will not be able to look back and say ‘I taught this person x or y’. If you’re lucky however, every now and again in the years to come you will hear of some far-reaching consequences that will go way beyond what you might have hoped or imagined.

15 – Getting Started:

Perhaps not surprisingly the best way to start is to experience facilitating – actually have a go at it: experience the process. Find a group of people who are happy to be ‘guinea pigs’ and just try a simple activity that is tried and tested. Think about the activities you’ve experienced yourself in the past. Talk to other people. Ask the potential delegates if they have ideas and preferences or recommendations.


Concept and principles of experiential learning activities article is © Martin Thompson MTA International, 2008-10.

© Alan Chapman 2008-2010.

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Ministry’s survey on teacher’s workload

Friday, June 18th, 2010
Ministry of Education (MOE) would like to thank Liong Kam Chong, from Seremban for his concern through his article, published in THE STAR newspaper dated 04 Jun 2010 on the issue of – “Ministry’s survey on workload a further burden on teachers” pertaining teachers’ work load which are burdening them.
The importance of conducive working environment in any education facility is undeniable. Providing conducive learning and working environmental for all in the school premise is of upmost important and must be advocated. Teachers are no doubt prominent to the growth of the nation and sensitivity to improvement of their welfare will always gain attention from the MOE. Its importance can be discerned in various steps already taken by the MOE to improve teachers’ welfare. The officials at the District Education Office, State Education Department and Ministry Of Education carry accountability responsibilities to monitor the implementation of the education policy. Thus, support and cooperation from all education officials are highly required and welcomed in assisting the implementation of the education policy.
The MOE has formed a special committee that study teachers’ welfare particularly on teachers’ work load and the findings to this study will definitely help the MOE to further improve teachers’ working environment. The committee has outlined suggestions to reduce the teachers’ work load and among the suggestions:
  • reduce the number of students per class;
  • reduce the number of committees at school level;
  • review the number of examinations and test carried out;
  • restructure clerical task in school;
  • coordinate courses attended by teachers at the Ministry level to avoid overlapping of attendance;
  • ensure enough replacement teachers to relieve teachers on maternity leave or attending courses;
  • fair work load distribution to all teachers in school and not only to a certain group of teachers;
  • two additional clerks in schools of more than 500 students; and
  • Award autonomy to schools’ administration to decide involvement in any program organized by other than MOE without being sanction.
By Corporate Communication Unit,
Ministry of Education Malaysia.

Language: Who has failed whom?

Friday, June 18th, 2010
Ministry of Education (MOE) would like to refer to Letter to Editor by Liong Kam Chong, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, published in THE New Straits Times dated 01 June 2010 on the issue of  – Language: Who has failed whom?.

One of the aims of MBMMBI – To Uphold Bahasa Malaysia and To Strengthen English Language, is to reinforce the position of Bahasa Malaysia (BM) as a tool for unity, the main language for communication and the medium for knowledge acquisition.
Under this MBMMBI policy – Ministry of Education (MOE) has planned and implemented various programmes to uphold the status of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language in order to meet the above-mentioned objective. The Curriculum Transformation Strategy which involves primary and secondary education, for instance, introduced several measures such as BM Curriculum Modular Approach, Back To Basics, Fun Learning, The Use of Standard BM Across The Curriculum, Incorporation of ICT in the Teaching and Learning, Strengthening The Reading Culture and the Provision of Quality Teachers. Apart from these, under the Teachers’ Capacity Building Strategy of MBMMBI, training of In-service and Pre-Service teachers are also given its due emphasis to ensure that quality teaching and learning of BM takes place in the classroom. Thus, through this strategy, teachers’ pedagogic skills are continuously enhanced in order to deliver level best teaching of BM. Furthermore, the selection of BM teachers has always been a top priority. MOE has also identified five Teachers’ Training Institutes as the Centres of Excellence for BM. With all these appropriate measures taken, MOE is confident that teachers are able to deliver quality teaching and learning of BM in the classrooms.

By Corporate Communication Unit,
Ministry of Education Malaysia.

Alternative Psychomotor Domain Taxonomy Versions

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Harrow’s interpretation of the Psychomotor domain is strongly biased towards the development of physical fitness, dexterity and agility, and control of the physical ‘body’, to a considerable level of expertise. As such the Harrow model is more appropriate to the development of young children’s bodily movement, skills, and expressive movement than, say, the development of a corporate trainee’s keyboard skills. By the same token, the Harrow model would be perhaps more useful for the development of adult public speaking or artistic performance skills than Dave’s or Simpson’s, because the Harrow model focuses on the translation of physical and bodily activity into meaningful expression. The Harrow model is the only one of the three Psychomotor Domain versions which specifically implies emotional influence on others within the most expert level of bodily control, which to me makes it rather special.

As ever, choose the framework that best fits your situation, and the needs and aims of the trainees or students.

psychomotor domain (harrow)
level category or ‘level’ description examples of activity or demonstration and evidence to be measured ‘key words’ (verbs which describe the activity to be trained or measured at each level)
1 Reflex Movement involuntary reaction respond physically instinctively react, respond
2 Basic Fundamental Movements basic simple movement alter position, move, perform simple action grasp, walk, stand, throw
3 Perceptual Abilities basic response use than one ability in response to different sensory perceptions catch, write, explore, distinguish using senses
4 Physical Abilities fitness develop strength, endurance, agility, control endure, maintain, repeat, increase, improve, exceed
5 Skilled Movements complex operations execute and adapt advanced, integrated movements drive, build, juggle, play a musical instrument, craft
6 Non-discursive Communication meaningfully expressive activity or output activity expresses meaningful interpretation express and convey feeling and meaning through movement and actions

Adapted and simplified representation of Harrow’s Psychomotor Domain (1972). (Non-discursive means intuitively direct and well expressed.)

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Bloom’s Taxonomy – Psychomotor Domain – (physical – skills – ‘do’)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

The Psychomotor Domain was ostensibly established to address skills development relating to manual tasks and physical movement, however it also concerns and covers modern day business and social skills such as communications and operation IT equipment, for example telephone and keyboard skills, or public speaking. Thus, ‘motor’ skills extend beyond the originally traditionally imagined manual and physical skills, so always consider using this domain, even if you think your environment is covered adequately by the Cognitive and Affective Domains. Whatever the training situation, it is likely that the Psychomotor Domain is significant. The Dave version of the Psychomotor Domain is featured most prominently here because in my view it is the most relevant and helpful for work- and life-related development, although the Psychomotor Domains suggested by Simpson and Harrow are more relevant and helpful for certain types of adult training and development, as well as the teaching and development of young people and children, so do explore them all. Each has its uses and advantages.

Dave’s Psychomotor Domain Taxomony:

psychomotor domain (dave)
level category or ‘level’ behaviour descriptions examples of activity or demonstration and evidence to be measured ‘key words’ (verbs which describe the activity to be trained or measured at each level)
1 Imitation copy action of another; observe and replicate watch teacher or trainer and repeat action, process or activity copy, follow, replicate, repeat, adhere
2 Manipulation reproduce activity from instruction or memory carry out task from written or verbal instruction re-create, build, perform, execute, implement
3 Precision execute skill reliably, independent of help perform a task or activity with expertise and to high quality without assistance or instruction; able to demonstrate an activity to other learners demonstrate, complete, show, perfect, calibrate, control,
4 Articulation adapt and integrate expertise to satisfy a non-standard objective relate and combine associated activities to develop methods to meet varying, novel requirements construct, solve, combine, coordinate, integrate, adapt, develop, formulate, modify, master
5 Naturalization automated, unconscious mastery of activity and related skills at strategic level define aim, approach and strategy for use of activities to meet strategic need design, specify, manage, invent, project-manage

Based on RH Dave’s version of the Psychomotor Domain (‘Developing and Writing Behavioral Objectives’, 1970. The theory was first presented at a Berlin conference 1967, hence you may see Dave’s model attributed to 1967 or 1970).

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Alternative Psychomotor Domain Taxonomy Versions

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

A.  Simpson’s Psychomotor Domain Taxonomy:

Elizabeth Simpson’s interpretation of the Psychomotor domain differs from Dave’s chiefly because it contains extra two levels prior to the initial imitation or copy stage. Arguably for certain situations, Simpson’s first two levels, ‘Perception’ and ‘Set’ stage are assumed or incorporated within Dave’s first ‘Imitation’ level, assuming that you are dealing with fit and healthy people (probably adults rather than young children), and that ‘getting ready’ or ‘preparing oneself’ is part of the routine to be taught, learned or measured. If not, then the more comprehensive Simpson version might help ensure that these two prerequisites for physical task development are checked and covered. As such, the Simpson model or the Harrow version is probably preferable than the Dave model for the development of young children.

psychomotor domain (simpson)
level category or ‘level’ description examples of activity or demonstration and evidence to be measured ‘key words’ (verbs which describe the activity to be trained or measured at each level)
1 Perception awareness use and/or selection of senses to absorb data for guiding movement recognise, distinguish, notice, touch , hear, feel, etc
2 Set readiness mental, physical or emotional preparation before experience or task arrange, prepare, get set
3 Guided Response attempt imitate or follow instruction, trial and error imitate, copy, follow, try
4 Mechanism basic proficiency competently respond to stimulus for action make, perform, shape, complete
5 Complex Overt Response expert proficiency execute a complex process with expertise coordinate, fix, demonstrate
6 Adaptation adaptable proficiency alter response to reliably meet varying challenges adjust, integrate, solve
7 Origination creative proficiency develop and execute new integrated responses and activities design, formulate, modify, re-design, trouble-shoot

Adapted and simplified representation of Simpson’s Psychomotor Domain (‘The classification of educational objectives in the psychomotor domain’, 1972). Elizabeth Simpson seems actually to have first presented her Psychomotor Domain interpretation in 1966 in the Illinois Journal of Home Economics. Hence you may see the theory attributed to either 1966 or 1972.

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Time to bring back the cane

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

I REFER to the letter “Public caning should be brought back” (NST, June 9).
There is a dire need to bring back the cane in view of the escalating disciplinary problems in schools. This is partly because many parents have lost control of their children and are unable to keep them in check.

Children of today put the kids of yesteryear to shame with their boldness, aggressiveness and violence.

Many youths as young as 14 and 15 years old are running wild and rioting in the dead of the night without the knowledge of their parents.
Reports of them driving without licence, drinking, having orgies and the Mat Rempit menace are just some of the social problems that have been highlighted. These juvenile delinquents need to be caned to put them in place.

Recently, several 14-year-olds were involved in molesting and raping a mentally-challenged student in a classroom.

These menacing youngsters were a terror in their school, instilling much fear and torment among fellow students and teachers. Their reign of terror went on for a few months in a secondary school in Rawang.

Some secondary schools are besieged by a host of disciplinary problems. Smoking, bullying, gangsterism, rebelliousness, indifference to teachers, being rude and violent, watching pornography and engaging in sexual assaults are some of the common disciplinary problems faced by some secondary schools.

These are symptoms of an education system that needs to be revamped. Most of the students with such disciplinary problems have no academic inclination and are not interested in studying.

They are in school because of a system that puts them there through automatic promotion. Many of them fare badly in school and public examinations. So, they create disciplinary problems in class and school.

These non-academically-inclined students should be sent to vocational or technical schools where they can learn or take up some skills to which they are more inclined.

Having them in normal schools is a sheer waste of human potential and a nerve-racking experience for other students and teachers.

So, the short-term solution to indiscipline in schools is to bring back the cane.

Teachers should be given the authority to wield power to bring order in the classroom and school.

Public caning would reduce the disciplinary problems in schools. Fear and pain can bring them to their senses.

Psychology and counselling sessions may not work with these hardcore students; only pukul-logy can discipline them.

Spare the rod and you will definitely spoil the child.

by Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

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Environment: Some lessons in life

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

TO make life more pleasant, man has dug deep into the recesses of the brain and consequently earth itself.

In chasing that utopian and egocentric dream, he leaves a trail of destruction, waste and degradation of the only place he can call home. Ozone-layer depletion, greenhouse effect, drastic climate change, deforestation and acid rain are part of our legacy.

What was seen to be the provider of comfort and happiness is leading us into an age of discomfort and pain –unless drastic action is taken to reverse the trend.
Perhaps the answer lies in a greater awareness of the difference between what we need and what we want. As someone once said: “Happiness is not getting what we want, but wanting what we get.”

We can start by asking:

- Do we need to constantly replace our hardly used cars, television sets, computers, handphones, clothes and furniture?
- Do we need bungalows or mansions to live a comfortable life?

- Do we need million-ringgit places of worship to pray to God?

- Do we need to produce so much to fill supermarket shelves to meet non-existent demand?
- Do we need to spend millions on advertising campaigns to create or induce a demand for new products and services in the name of profit?

What humans basically need is a clean, pleasant, healthy and harmonious environment to live, work and play in. Can we achieve that without waste and environmental degradation?

We can, if we first distinguish between what we need and what we want. That calls for a paradigm shift in priorities, nothing less.

It would serve us well to reflect on what Chief Seattle of the Duwamish tribe once said: “What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast also happens to man. All things are connected.”

by Tam Yong Yuee, Muar, Johor.

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Environment: Maintain what we have

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

MALAYSIA is good at setting fantastic town plans. We employ foreign and local experts to design our public parks and recreational areas. We spend a large amount of public funds on this.

We are always proud to have new recreational parks, which are supposed to be a buffer zone in the city with high-rise buildings.

But all this falls by the wayside within a few years because we do not have proper maintenance and we lack a maintenance culture.
Therefore, the allocation for maintenance should be at least equal to the allocation for the construction of the project.

Local authorities should not just blame the public for the deplorable state of parks. There will always be wear and tear and the question is if they and the planners made adequate allowance for it.

The Hutan Bandar in Johor Baru had a brilliant start. I used to camp there during my Scouting days; I could drink water from the stream and fish for a meal. It is the only place in Johor Baru where the rainforest remains untouched. As a senior citizen, I see it as the only place where one can relax and do some exercise.
But all this is history. Hutan Bandar is now in a deplorable state. The water in the lake has turned milky because of construction work. The exercise facilities are in ruins and most of the buildings and infrastructure there are run-down.

It is no use having city status if the mindset of the city administrators does not match it. Financial constraints are no excuse. If they do not have enough funds, then they must think of ways to raise money, including private sponsorship or by imposing a small charge on visitors.

There is no point in talking eloquently about the environment but not doing anything about it.
It is time for the datuk bandar to visit Hutan Bandar.

by Zamani Ahmad, Johor Baru.

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Government wants to implement POL policy at all national schools.

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

PENANG: The Education Ministry wants to fully implement the Pupil’s Own Language (POL) policy at all national schools to facilitate non-Malay pupils to learn their mother tongues.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today the policy was introduced long ago and several schools already had teachers to teach Mandarin and Tamil.

“This statement is to correct a previous statement that national schools are required to teach Mandarin and Tamil, which are important to strengthen the learning of Mandarin and Tamil in national schools.

“This policy is already in existence. I was not announcing a new policy but that attempts should be made to fully implement the existing policy. The pupils have a choice when they want to master their mother tongues…they can acquire it through the national education system,” he told reporters after opening the St Georges Girls School’’s International Students Conference 2010 at Dewan Budaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

“With this facility, Chinese and Indian pupils need not crowd the national-type schools which often have not enough places. Besides that, the Malay pupils can take the opportunity to learn Mandarin and Tamil,” he said.
He said that so far there were 373 teachers teaching Mandarin and 163 teaching Tamil in national schools under the POL policy and the Education Ministry was working to provide ample teaching staff in these two languages.

What needed to be done now was to ensure that every school had teachers trained in Mandarin and Tamil because there were over 7,000 primary schools nationwide, he said.

“We will train the qualified teachers and they will then be deployed to all schools. Whether or not they (pupils) want to learn (mandarin or Tamil)…that is secondary,” he said.


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