Archive for October, 2010

History without fear or favour

Friday, October 29th, 2010
FASTER than we can say “education system”, another change has been made to it. At least, that’s what it feels like.Some say the speed in which several announcements have been made is similar to that experienced by screaming thrill seekers on a roller-coaster going through its second corkscrew loop.

The latest — History will be a must- pass subject for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination from 2013. It will also be introduced in primary schools as a core subject from 2014.
Making another subject a must pass is a little curious when there are moves at the same time to make the education system less exam-oriented, as evidenced by the replacement of the Penilaian Menengah Rendah with school-based assessment. But perhaps there is a logical explanation for all this, as there’s been for the other recent changes made.

As for History, it’s to enhance students’ understanding of the Constitution and the nation-building process. The younger generation must know their country’s history as it will teach them what worked well in the past, and what did not. They can learn much from the nation’s past mistakes and successes.

While it has been wryly remarked that the only people who will stand to benefit from such an exercise are tuition centres and textbook publishers, learning history is beneficial; a good thing. Young children need to know the origins of the nation in which they reside and the contribution of every community to the country’s development.
Educationists are, however, concerned over a few things — overlaps, omissions in the secondary school History syllabus, as well as the uninteresting way the subject is currently being taught and presented.

Their worries are legitimate, and require attention, if possible before the changes are introduced.

At primary level, there are now two subjects with elements of “history” — Civics and Nationhood, and Kajian Tempatan.
If and when History is introduced, it will overlap with Kajian Tempatan, which is basically History, Geography and Civics rolled into one.

It will also cover some of the same areas already included in Civics and Nationhood, which was introduced, or rather re-introduced, in 2005.

Civics, first taught in 1972, was scrapped in 1982 following a revamp. In its new, improved guise, it deals with various themes relating to family relationships, life in school and society, multiculturalism, Malaysia as a sovereign state, and the future challenges facing the nation.

What should then be in the primary school History syllabus? When many elements of the country’s historical mosaic has fallen through the cracks in the secondary school History textbooks, it is imperative that the same does not occur at the primary school level.

Before any new subject is thrust upon pupils, this tangled, confused, and complicated mass needs to be unravelled.

At the secondary school level, there are also a few issues that need sorting out. The most pressing — the omissions and insufficient emphasis on certain communities. Experts and parents have claimed that some of the text and illustrations in History textbooks are placed there to subtly brainwash young minds. Some of these elements contain politically-aligned and narrow views that can skew students’ impressions of historical events and their impact on the country and its communities.

Some quarters, for instance, have taken exception to the Chinese clans, the Ghee Hin and Hai San, which played so pivotal a role in the advent of colonial administration in the Malay states, being described as kongsi gelap or secret societies.

Specific historical figures such as Gurchan Singh, the “Lion of Malaya”, and Sybil Karthigesu have all but vanished from the record. The key historical roles played by prominent figures from Sabah and Sarawak also merit little or no mention.

As highlighted in an article “Whose Story is Our History?” which was published in the New Straits Times on April 11, last year: “All Malaysian communities have their role in the story of how this nation came to be what it is today, and history texts need to reflect this shared ownership.

Questions of ethnic relations in history must be discussed in scrupulously neutral language, without judgments of right or wrong.

“A review would, indeed, be timely, but it must be collective, consultative and knowledge-based, not driven by emotion or political imperatives”.

The points highlighted still hold true today.

by Chok Suat Ling.

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Why Gifted Children Have Homework Problems and What You Can Do About Them

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

The last thing most parents of gifted children think their kids will have problems with is homework. After all, gifted children are cognitively advanced and learn quickly. Unfortunately, for some parents, visions of straight A report cards are replaced by one or more (or even all) of these problems:

  • Child does homework, but doesn’t turn it in
  • Child says he did it at school, but didn’t
  • Child procrastinates
  • Child rushes and makes careless errors

It’s not unusual for a gifted child to have all of these problems. It is difficult to motivate a child to do homework, particularly if a child is intrinsically motivated. The first step in solving these homework problems is to understand what causes them.

Reasons Behind Homework Problems of Gifted Children

  1. Learning Disability
    A gifted child with dyslexia, an auditory processing problem, or some other learning disability may find it difficult to perform as well as they should in school and on homework. Gifted children are not immune to these disabilities and the effect of such disabilities on their learning is then reflected in their homework, including an avoidance to do it. Gifted children with undiagnosed disabilities may be confused and even embarrassed by problems they have understanding concepts or doing their homework. It is much less psychologically and emotionally threatening to avoid doing the homework than it is to do it and fail at it. If a child doesn’t try, he can easily convince himself that had he done the homework, he would have done it well.
  2. Disorganization
    Gifted children who are disorganized – and that is a large number of them – have a hard time doing homework because they have misplaced the assignment, forgot to bring the book or worksheet home, or forgot the due date. Daily planners don’t seem to help these children because they tend to lose, misplace, or forget those as well. If they have managed to bring all the necessary materials home on the right day, they can then forget to take it to school or they may take it to school, but be unable to find it in their backpack or stuff it in their desk or locker at school, where it disappears until the end of the semester or school year.
  3. Perfectionism
    Children who are perfectionists are often reluctant to complete their homework because they don’t feel it is good enough. If it doesn’t meet their standards, which tend to be quite high, they can become frustrated. Over time, they may procrastinate in order avoid that frustration. Perfectionist children may complete their homework, but then neglect to turn it in because they aren’t satisfied with it or don’t feel that it reflects their true ability and don’t want their teacher to see it and evaluate it. Perfectionists may also choose to put little effort into their work since they can then rationalize the lack of perfection on the lack of effort.
  4. Lack of Challenge
    Work that is not challenging or stimulating can be so tedious to complete that gifted children will avoid doing it at all costs. Tasks, for any child, should be optimally challenging. That means that they should not be too easy or too difficult. Tasks that are too difficult can lead to anxiety while tasks that are too easy lead to boredom. In both cases, children find it difficult to concentrate on the task. They will avoid the tasks in order to avoid the unpleasant feeling – either anxiety or boredom – that comes with it. When children are given tasks that are too difficult, they can get help learning the concepts or completing the task. However, when tasks are too easy, no help is necessary; children are simply expected to complete the tasks, in spite of the fact that boredom makes it just as difficult to concentrate on a task as anxiety does. Sometimes children will manage to complete focus long enough to do the homework, but they will rush through it to get it done and as a result make numerous careless errors.

How to Solve Homework Problems

  • Get Help for Learning Disability
    Gifted children with a learning disability may have problems with homework. Like all children with a learning disability, gifted children need to learn how to manage the disability and need specific learning strategies and classroom accommodations in order to work at their level of ability. However, it’s important to recognize that gifted children are often misdiagnosed with disorders like ADHD, bipolar, and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Some learning disabilities can be found through IQ and achievement subtest scores. This testing, and any screenings for disorders, should be done by a psychologist who has knowledge of and experience working with gifted children. It’s also important to understand that problems with homework can have many causes; looking for a disability should not necessarily be the first thing considered.
  • Help Children Get Organized
    Some children have problems getting with homework because they forget to bring it home, forget the books they need to do it, forget to take it back to school, or forget when it’s due. If they do remember all that, they may lose the homework, which may eventually turn up — at the end of the school year, stuffed with countless other papers in the child’s desk or locker.

    Eileen Bailey,Guide to ADD/ADHD, has some excellent suggestions for helping kids get organized. Although most gifted kids don’t have ADD/ADHD, some need help keeping their work organized. One suggestion is the Basket of Preparation. Children drop homework and books in a basket when they come home from school, get it from the basket when it’s time to do homework, then put it back in the basket when it’s done. In the morning everything they need is in one place, ready to take to school.

    While you might get your child to do the homework and take it to school, there is no guarantee that your child will turn it in. What can you do to make sure the homework gets turned in? A plastic, expanding folder with separate compartments is a good way to help kids keep track of work that needs to be turned in. Each compartment can be labeled so that a child knows where the homework is for each class. The expanding folder can be used along with the Basket of Preparation. When homework is completed, rather than just placing it in the basket, it can be placed in the appropriate compartment of the expanding folder, which is kept in the basket.

    These techniques can work for teens as well as young children, but teens might also find an electronic organizer, such as a palm pilot, useful. Teens love electronic gadgets, so they might be more motivated to keep track of their work electronically. It eliminates assignments written in numerous different places, including little scraps of paper. However, this might not be a good choice for those children who lose more than their homework.

  • Set a Daily Time for Doing Homework
    Gifted children will often rush through homework that is too easy for them. They are eager to get it done so that they can move on to more interesting and stimulating activities. One solution to this problem is to have a set time every day to complete homework. This time must be used for study, whether the child has homework or not. When children have homework, they know they must do it during this time. If the homework takes them only fifteen minutes and their assigned study time is one hour, they must fill in the remaining time with additional study.

    The additional study children do can consist of enrichment activities. For example, if a child has an assignment to draw a map of the expansion of the Roman Empire, they might write an essay about the Romans or they might write a short story about an imaginary Roman soldier. Once children know they have to fill the assigned study time, they may be less likely to rush through their homework just to get it done and move on to other activities.

    The daily study time should be the same time every day. Parents should discuss the options with their children so that the children can have some control. For example, children might choose to do their homework right after school or they might choose to do it right after dinner. It is important, however, that the time be the same every day. Children cannot choose to do it after school one day and then after dinner another day, depending on their mood.

    Although homework time should be the same every day, children who are involved in extracurricular activities may need a more complex schedule. The may need to do homework right after school on Mondays because they have a dance class after dinner, but will do homework after dinner on the other days. In other words, the schedule must be consistent and not based on daily moods. Not only will children learn that scheduling time for homework is important, they will also learn necessary time management skills.

  • Talk to the Teachers
    Ideally, teachers will recognize the need for more challenging homework and will be willing to provide it. However, if a child has had issues getting homework done and turned in for so long that it has become a habit, other strategies may be needed at school, whether the teachers provide more challenging work or not. Some schools have homework hotlines that parents can call to find out about homework assignments. In addition, some teachers have Web sites, where they post assignments. Parents can check with their child’s teachers to see if such a hotline exists and if so, what the teachers’ extension numbers are for that hotline. Parents can also check on Web sites and get the Web address.

    Parents can also arrange with a teacher to sign daily papers about homework. Every day a child writes down homework and has the teacher sign a paper, even when there is no homework. Children cannot say they have no homework when they do. On those days children have no homework, they should still spend their designated homework time studying. However, for this system to work, children and parents must agree on a consequence for failing to bring home a signed homework sheet.

Good study habits are important for success in school and these strategies can help develop those habits.

by Carol Bainbridge.

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Must pass history a commercial boon.

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
IN Malaysia’s education system, the parties directly involved in making the system what it is today are the Government (formulating policies, curriculum and syllabus), teachers (teach, guide and instruct) and students (learn to pass examinations).The fourth interested party is the politicians with a keen eye on the happiness of parents and teachers (as a huge repository of votes and political support) on what gets taught and whether what gets taught is appropriate for the students.

There is a fifth column with strong influence in the education system which practically everyone above has a stake – private tuition centres and workbook publishers, either operating as a one-man show or a corporation with an army of tutors fully committed to Malaysia’s system of myriad of must-pass examinations (UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM) with the enthusiasm of entrepreneurs looking for a big killing.
Since Saturday after the Education Minister announced the latest fait accompli education contract – SPM students must pass History as a core subject or they’ll flunk everything else the same way they have no choice but to pass Bahasa Malaysia, guess who is swaying silly in doing a celebratory dance? The same fifth column whooping at the latest and likely to be the most lucrative business opportunity.

Tuition centres’ exhilaration at the Government’s bid to compel history as a must-pass SPM subject comes after a lucrative aspect of their business is under uncertainty – the replacement of the UPSR examinations with school-based assessment that will the centres to revise their business model.

But with the History boon, tuition centres and workbook providers are expected to see a spike in demand and business – it is one thing to tutor kids to face examinations confidently armed with exam-answering strategies and accurate spot questions, but it is another when failure is NOT an option.
Long neglected and overshadowed by their maths and science brethren, history teachers, especially those with expertise in contemporary post-war narration, will be a sought after lot.

The commercial planning to reboot History lessons and tutoring now hinges on the syllabus provided by the Education Ministry but pertinent inquiries remain:

* will it be an unnatural burden on current Form 2 students who must face the gauntlet when they sit for the 2013 SPM, especially when they are Science students beginning to explore History as a subject?
* what is the meat of the contemporary history that is to be taught? Early indications are citizenship, patriotism and the Constitution.

Looking at the History initiative as a response to adverse inquiries on the interpretation of the Constitution, Deputy Education Minister Dr Puad Zarkashi dismissed concerns of a burden, arguing that the new teaching method promotes understanding and not only memorisation of key historical dates and events.

From Parliament House yesterday, Tony Pua (DAP-Petaling Jaya Utara) & the party’s National Publicity Secretary predictably questioned the History initiative: while he doesn’t seem to object to History as a must-pass subject, he demands a review of the syllabus and whether it might be an attempt at historical revisionism.

“…we fear this is a blatant attempt to indoctrinate our students with a narrow and biased interpretation of the Federal Constitution and the country’s founding history,” Pua told a media conference at the Parliament lobby.

On the consideration that Pua may not be the only politician pessimistic with the outcome of the History initiative, the Education Ministry may need to hold a national roundtable or two, as advocated by Pua, on what will constitute the syllabus and how it will be presented and taught.

by Azmi Anshar.

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Sports Equipment In Schools Not Fully Used

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR:  Sports equipment valued at RM783,955 supplied to 27 schools since 2007 has not been fully used, according to the 2009 Auditor-General’s Report.

The Education Ministry had provided apparatus for gymnastics and athletics and items like tennis and golf balls.

Some of the items were not used because they were unsuitable or surplus to requirement, the report said.

It also said that 15 schools were found not to have recorded properly receipt of sports equipment valued at RM588,612.

The Auditor-General asked the ministry to be clear in future about what was required before supplying it.


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Bringing History to the fore

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

A compulsory pass in History is an interesting move which needs some prerequisites to work well.

A CLEAR indication that requiring a compulsory pass in History for the SPM examinations has political connotations is that the decision was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister at the Umno general assembly and that it was roundly endorsed by a number of delegates.

The support of the delegates was centred on the belief that its proper teaching will ensure that students understand well the history of the country, including the basis for the Federal Constitution, the events leading up to the formation of Malaysia and the aspirations of the people.

At first glance, that would not pose a problem, for who can argue about the benefits of teaching all those things to students and ensuring that they have a good appreciation of the history of the country.

The problem is that there is a lot of controversy and disagreement about these things, something which is made even more perplexing by a social contract that all manner of politicians refer to but which no one has seen because it does not exist in written form.

History – if it can be agreed upon – should be agreed upon through a fair and true assessment of facts and clues by professionals in the field.

They include historians, archivists, archaeologists and others.

Politicians may have a place in history but they must have no say in what goes into history.

So, even before teaching history, we need to establish what exactly is our history as unambiguously and as thoroughly as possible, distinguishing facts, analyses, opinions, theories, hypotheses and plain conjecture.

And there is a need to highlight the contentious issues so that students of history, young and old and somewhere in between, know which are the points of disagreement that cannot be adequately resolved.

By all means, make history a compulsory pass for SPM but also ensure that it does the desired good.

It must paint an accurate picture of history, untainted by politics and politicians.

Well-regarded and qualified professionals of all backgrounds must determine the facts and provide the analyses and arguments.

We should inject some reasoned thinking into students so that they have an appreciation of the real-life difficulties of interpreting historical events accurately and the cases where disagreements are actually subjective and do not lend themselves to an easy, formulaic solution.

If students are taught constitutional history, they should also be taught what their rights are under the Federal Constitution and their obligations as members of a civil society and the avenues that are open to them to defend their civil rights.

That will help to make constitutional history a living, relevant subject for them which they can use in their everyday lives and become better citizens as a result.

To have a truly global view and the history lessons that have shaped the world, it would be necessary to equip our students with these too instead of confining their knowledge to just Malaysia, which while useful is rather restrictive.

The current history syllabus is rather too narrow and does not give our children the grasp of world history that many of us older people have.

World history need not be exhaustive but should have sufficient depth to give some understanding of how the world has changed over the centuries and what caused those changes.

That way, history will truly become a living, interesting subject that our students will become automatically interested in and that way, too, we can avoid our students becoming automatons who blithely accept everything thrown at them without question.

>by Managing editor P. Gunasegaram, who believes that there is great opportunity to raise the standard of thinking of our students through the enlightened teaching of history in schools. Politicians keep out!

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Prejudice prevents more from speaking English

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

AS A trainer of English teachers in a public university, I feel that teaching English is sometimes a losing battle.

Comedians mock the proper use of English in the Malay comedies by quoting lines like “What you saying talk talk the orang puteh?”.

Lines like these have long lost their punchlines and they are actually detrimental to the growth of our nation.

If we carry on with this attitude, we would be eventually at the losing end.

I have mixed feelings about native teachers being hired to teach English. While it may have its benefits, it is also costly.

The local trainees and teachers can do just as good a job at a fraction of the cost if given the chance.

The reason why they are often not deemed good enough by many is simply because they are young individuals who have gone through a lifetime of school which uses Bahasa Malaysia in its system.

Worse, in university, they have very little practice outside of their circle of TESL coursemates simply because they are branded as “show-offs” when they converse in English with students from other courses.

However, I strongly believe that given time as well as the resources for training towards continuous development, future and existing local English teachers can be a very capable lot.

There is absolutely nothing wrong if one masters English. It does not make you a snob or less patriotic.

Sometimes the media also goes so far as to portray English-speaking Malays as un-Islamic elites whose main activities are to go clubbing, drinking and chasing girls.

I feel it is about time that the Government does something to stop this stereotypical thinking and the mentality that English-speaking Malaysians do not love their country, race or religion.

I am a Malay and am very proud of Bahasa Malaysia. The fact that my parents had the foresight to teach me good English from a young age has not made me forget or think less of Bahasa Malaysia as it is my native language.

However, it is English that has served me well while debating with English native speakers on Islam and also to promote Malaysia.

What we should worry more is the improper use of Bahasa Malaysia.

Young Malaysians nowadays speak a different brand of Bahasa Malaysia with words like ‘kerek’, ‘kantoi’ and ‘tak ambik pot’.

I sometimes worry if we cannot use proper Bahasa Malaysia and our English is just as wanting, what language are we masters of?

by Afni Anida Adnan, Lecturer (TESL), UiTM, Shah Alam.

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Embracing many faiths in Malaysia

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

The practice of muhibbah – with its abundance of respect, care and love – is a better concept to foster national unity than mere tolerance for one another.

MALAYSIA is a unique federation blessed with a variety of religions, races, ethnic groups, languages, customs and culture. All world major religions are practiced here: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Other religious beliefs include Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Bahaism and even Animism.

The country’s 27 million population consists of three main racial groups – Malays, Chinese, and Indians – and numerous orang asli tribes in the Peninsular as well as indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak.

The Malays are largely Muslims, the Chinese are mostly Buddhists, the Indians are generally Hindus. Christians are basically Chinese or Indians. The orang asli communities and dozens of other Borneo ethnic groups mostly practice traditional beliefs but many have converted to either Christianity or Islam.

Therefore, all the groups are of different religions, races, ethnicities and, understandably, a myriad of languages, dialects, customs and cultures. Obviously Malaysia is a multi-religious, multi-racial and multi-cultural nation.

Despite the diversity, all Malay­sians have been harmoniously living together for decades.

Islam is the religion of the Fede­ration, and the Constitution grants freedom of worship to other religions. So, it is common to see places of worship like mosques, churches and temples within the same area.

By extension, this liberty goes to other social and cultural aspects of the various people as long as their practices do not pose any threat to the public order, public health or the principles of ethics and morality.

This explains why religious or cultural festivals have been amazingly celebrated by Malaysians regardless of their divergent racial or religious backgrounds.

Such an excellent understanding and relationship suggests that these races have adopted a strong sense of respect, and tolerate each other well. This has been the main factor behind the country’s economic prosperity, growth and political stability.

However, one of the greatest challenges of the nation is to maintain its peaceful social ambience and political stability resulting from the multi-racial nature of its society.

The recent unfolding of events indicates that all these noble qualities are now increasingly under threat. Since then, there have been repeated calls asking members of our pluralistic citizenry to preserve the unity spearheaded by our forefathers and nurtured by generations of subsequent political leaders.

It seems that religious issues have the potential to be exploited to cause prejudice, suspicion and disunity among the masses. In fact, many have been manipulated by irresponsible and unscrupulous quarters to fan hatred.

Thus, one such call has been to abstain from discussing issues that may spark misunderstanding and ignite religious or racial tensions.

The rationale is straightforward: without unity, there will be no peace and stability. Without peace, there will be no prosperity, growth and development. And none will benefit from any resulting outbreak of social anarchy.

The latest series of events may lead one to conclude that our unity is fragile and our religious tolerance is false and our stability fictitious.

I strongly advocate that we take the above as true. Then what are we to do to rectify the problem?

Perhaps “tolerance” is not the right concept to foster unity. According to the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, “to tolerate” is to endure or permit (something) especially with forbearance, i.e. the patience to sustain or endure suffering, pain, hardship or unfavourable conditions.

Equally highly authoritative Crabb’s English Synonyms puts it thus: “Tolerate suggests something annoying borne with some patience; endure, something in the nature of positive suffering borne with courage and fortitude.”

Prof Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud, a Malaysian scholar, comments that all the above indicate human submission to different kinds and degrees of unpleasantness. It refers to something disagreeable without the element of kindness and love.

Bearing that in mind, it is our clamourous mistake to perceive our tolerance as something genuine and sincerely carried out.

Thus it is not surprising to see that when something happens to the perceived disadvantages of certain people, some will cunningly use the opportunity to shout injustice and blame others for their false predicament. Worse still, they scream that it is their right to annoy others for their own selfish ends.

If we were to “embrace” our unity in diversity as a boon, something exceptionally terrific for the nation, we must genuinely accept our commonalities and agree to disagree on certain fundamental differences as they are, be they religious or cultural.

Echoing Prof SMN al-Attas, I suggest that the conception and practice of freedom and tolerance must be based on samahah, or muhibbah. The former means liberality, munificence, generosity and gentleness, while the latter refers to something that is dear to oneself, loved.

Respect, care and love is abundant in muhibbah. Therefore, instead of propagating “tolerance” as a vehicle for unity, we must rather promote muhibbah in its place.

A muhibbah society means a true, loving society while a “tolerant” one is pretentious, as the majority of its members are exercising self control amid all forms of hatred and suspicions towards others.

by Dr. Wan Azhar Wan Ahmad,

Senior Fellow/Director, Centre for Syariah, Law and Political Science.

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Demand for more international schools in Malaysia

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

THE Education Ministry will encourage local providers to increase the number of international schools in the country.

The demand for international schools is expected to increase due to the Greater Kuala Lumpur-National Key Economic Area’s target of increasing expatriates and the returning diaspora population.

International schools have been expanding at a rate of 10% over the past five years driven by a growth in the expatriate population.

The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) has identified 10 providers for an expansion programme which will start next year. The progress of expansion and running marketing campaigns to engage new local and international providers will be monitored by a special team to be established by the Education Ministry.

The unit will also work together with the Higher Education Ministry, Human Resources Ministry, the Tourism Ministry, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and Wisma Putra on marketing Malaysia as a destination of choice for private basic education.

The capital requirement which will amount to RM2.4bil over a period of 10 years will be sourced entirely from the private sector.

This iniative will generate RM2.6bil in gross national income in 2020 and will create approximately 10,000 jobs.

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History lessons need creativity, say dons

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: Teachers must be retrained in the latest method of teaching History in the classroom before making it a must-pass subject in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination.For one, there is a need to make History a fun subject for students, historian Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Mohd Yusof Hashim said.

A suggestion is for teachers to take their students to visit historical sites and combine class work with fieldwork to broaden their horizons.
“We are currently lacking in this area,” Yusof said yesterday.

While it is fine for History to be made a compulsory must-pass subject for SPM, Yusof yesterday urged teachers to be more creative.

“There should be discussions on why it is important to know about people and what and how they have contributed to the nation.”
Yusof was commenting on a recent announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that History would be made a must-pass subject in SPM by 2013, and a core subject in primary schools from 2014.

Universiti Malaya Literature and Social Sciences Faculty’s history department senior research fellow Professor Emeritus Ahmat Adam yesterday said History must be presented to students based on truth and facts, and not propaganda elements.

“It is propaganda if the same old stories are repeated. We must improve how History is taught and learnt.”
He said this after the National History of Malaysia seminar at Universiti Sains Malaysia in George Town.

Asked what he meant by “propaganda”, Ahmat said an example is how non-Malay citizens of the country are referred to as “immigrants” by insensitive people.

He believes History is the key to nation-building.

“Introducing the subject at primary school level and making it a must-pass SPM paper should had been done long ago,” he added.

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What to eat during pregnancy

Monday, October 25th, 2010

If you are pregnant and decide to do a search on the Web on what to eat and what not to eat, you will find a lot of articles. Some of these articles may even contradict each other. Who should you listen to and what can you eat?

For starters, when in doubt, ask your gynaecologist. He or she would be the best person to answer all your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask even if you think it’s a silly question. If your gynae is reluctant to answer properly, find another gynae who is.

If you can’t wait for the next visit to ask all your questions, then read on.

Medical & Scientific Affairs Manager at Danone Dumex Malaysia, Tan Ee Ping, a nutritionist by training, helps answer some questions on the matter.

Tan: ‘Start leading a healthy life three months before you’re actually pregnant.’

Is it okay to only start watching what you eat when you find out you are pregnant?

There is a common thought that once the doctor says ‘Congratulations! You’re pregnant’, you start changing everything – your lifestyle, eating and sleeping habits. The truth is once you and your partner decide to start a family you have to start changing your lifestyle and eating habits because you wouldn’t know when you would get pregnant.

A general rule is to start leading a healthy life and eating healthily three months before you’re actually pregnant. Three months is how long it takes to store up the nutrients in your body.

What can you eat when pregnant?

Basically a lot of people are very worried if they can eat this or that. The general rule is that you can eat almost anything that you have been eating but of course you need to eliminate alcohol and stop smoking.

You just have to keep in mind these three things: Balance, moderation and variety.

So, you can eat all the healthy food in balance, in moderation (that means don’t eat only fruits and vegetables if your doctor asks you to eat more of these) and have a variety (this means don’t eat oranges and no other fruit just because it is high in Vitamin C).

Eat different types of food because different foods will give you different nutrients. There is no one food or fruit that can give you everything. So you should have a variety in your diet.

You should look at a picture of the food pyramid – at the base there’s the carbohydrates and on top of that are the fruits and vegetables, then the protein, followed by milk and dairy, and finally the fats and oils. You should follow the food pyramid and as long as there is balance you are fine.

We also encourage people not to take food that is very white in colour. Instead of white bread, take wholemeal bread. Instead of white rice, take brown rice.

Go towards the natural foods which are not so polished and not so processed.

We have heard that mothers should have quality food in the first half of the pregnancy and quantity in the second half. Is this true?

You should have quality and quantity in your diet throughout the pregnancy. The point is not to eat more but to eat the nutrients that you need.

It is not about how many plates of rice you should eat but how many nutrients you should consume and whether there is a balance and whether you are getting everything.

So, quality and quantity should go hand in hand throughout the pregnancy.

by Brigitte Rozario.

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