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Deep and Serious thoughts… *not good for the brain…lol*

May 8, 2009
Most of my close friends in New Zealand as well as readers of my blog would have known that I’m involved in a mentoring programme – MATES that aims at helping at-risk students have a good transition from intermediate to secondary school, by providing extra support and some form of tutoring. The decision to participate as one of the pioneers of this new baby project would be one of the best I have made in New Zealand so far. It wasn’t an easy journey, but it was definitely a very educational one

Here are my two lovely yet cheeky mentees~ Shamayne and Darlene

and the yellow hedgehog is called henry… Lol..

Schools is New Zealand are divided according to ‘deciles’. Decile 1 for extremely low income from the students’ families, and decile 10 for the schools of the rich. And the school which we were sent for mentoring – James Cook High School is of decile 1.

But hold your thoughts to yourself, the schools are no way near deserving sympathy~

It has facilities for Dragon Boating, Outrigging, Touch Rugby, Volleyball, Swimming, Athletics, Softball, Rugby, Netball, Basketball, Rugby League, Hockey, Soccer, Indoor Soccer, Table Tennis, Squash, Water Polo and Equestrian.

Impressed? Wait till you see this, all students are required to learn at least one musical instrument. The school not only has sufficient guitars, drums, saxophones, clarinets, violins, cellos, keyboards and pianos, they have specialised tutors for music and drama.

This is what I love about New Zealand education system. One may come from extreme poverty or even a dysfuntional family with no financial support, one will still have equal opportunities to pursue their wants and needs in schools. *thinks back on Malaysian schools… sigh… we still have a long way to go…*

We have been exposed to different types of schools in NZ, from public to private, from common to extravagant. And for our current practicum, we were divided into groups and sent to schools at the outskirts of Auckland… That means a lot of travelling and tiresome bus rides T.T

Well, 6 of us – Haniff, Adlina, Farhana, Intan, Wira and I were sent to Avondale College (decile 5). There were some hiccups from the beginning but overall it was a good but exhausting experience… 9 more trips to go… The experience in Avondale College would be entirely another entry…

Here are some pictures of Wira and I fooling around when we were asked to photocopy exam papers @_@


me being ‘serious’…


me being a wacko teacher crazy for bananas



and this taken using my camera’s timer, minutes before Mrs Quah entered the room… phew…

This entry is about something Mrs Quah (the teacher I was assigned to) said that struck me hard… It made me think hard…

Mrs Quah used to be a lecturer in Maktab Perguruan Ilmu Khas, and was trained in a universtity in UK. After teaching for quite sometime in Malaysia, she decided that she wanted her children to receive better education than what the Malaysian system could offer, so she opted for optional retirement when she was 40 and migrated with her family over to New Zealand. Even if it meant that she had to sacrifice her respectable job as a teacher college lecturer, and started all over again in New Zealand as a teacher-aid; even if it meant that her qualifications and teaching services in Malaysia were not recognised by the New Zealand system then, and had to restudy in University of Auckland while receiving the starting pay for teachers – she felt that they were all worth-while, because her children received good education and her family benefited a lot from the NZ system.

Even before this, we had a forum with our seniors who were back for their graduation (they are teaching in schools now). Oh my, we were totally slapped in the faceby the harsh reality.

Some of them did not even teach English in schools although our degree is in TESOL, and were asked to teach history, geography etc. They were bullied by teachers and principals just because they “graduated from overseas and should be capable of handling all those ridiculous tasks.” They work from morning till night because there are always ‘extra work’, ‘night classes’, ‘extra-curricular activities’, ‘roles and responsibilites in different departments of the schools’. And some of them were even sent to places so remote that there is hardly reception for mobile calls, let alone internet.

All of these may sound depressing. But the most saddening part is, even they admited that what we learned, the dreams we have for our future learners, are inapplicable in the real world of Malaysia. Many of them started out strong, and many are giving up.

Was I scared? I was, and I am.

Although I know how schools work, how teachers live (since I grew up with 2 teachers with thousands of responsibilities in my family), and I had teaching experiences in primary and secondary schools before receiving formal teaching training; I am still scared. There are times when I discussed or suggested teaching strategies to my dad for his seminars and teaching, he would say that I’m being too idealistic.

What I couldn’t understand is that, why are those ‘idealistic methods’ achieveable in NZ but not in Malaysia? In fact, those approaches are of common sense and not ‘ideal’ in NZ schools.

Will there not be a day when Malaysia’s education system would be as developed, and not bluntly focus on useless ‘A’s, and foolaround with the ‘bell-graph’?

Will there be a day when teaching is no longer viewed as a ‘last option’ and ‘a stable half-day job’ but rather as a noble and respected job?

Or will I, after been exposed to equality, maturity in social mentality, and other benefits hold by places other than Malaysia, choose to leave my homeland so that my children could receive better?

OR, would I stay, and try to make a difference in my small world, hoping that what I sow could be harvested in abundance in the future?

Lord, i ask for Your guidance. More of than not, i tend to let my human logic and rationale get the better of me. Many a times, i struggle and try to fight my way through my own human strength and wisdom. i’m so sorry Lord. Now, i surrender my hopes, dreams, and my future unto Your hands Lord. Mould me, use me to my utmost potential, for the purpose You have in my life. In You I trust, Amen.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. ah^kam_koko' permalink
    May 9, 2009 8:37 pm

    You have a 4 year contract…
    Take your time.
    =)

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