He instructed me earlier to get the class to meet him in the lavatory. As class monitor for the month I got my classmates assembled and told them that Dr Sinna wants us to go to the lavatory. Why? Nobody queried. We all thought that he was up to introducing some practical science topics that necessitated visit to the lavatory. When the bell rang for period change we lined up “two by two” and walked down to the lavatory with our Science text book and exercise note book. Outside the lavatory we waited in silence. As Dr Sinna was not in the toilet we continued to wait…..for close to 10 minutes. The best course of action was to look for him in the Staff Room which was next door to Lau Hor’s (Bro Michael, Canadian, was our Discipline teacher nicknamed Tiger in the Penang Hokkien dialect.) I told our form teacher Mr. Robless that I was looking for Dr. Sinna. I immediately went next door and before I could greet Bro Michael, Dr Sinna barked, “I was waiting for the class in the lavatory” The Lau Hor asked, “Where is your class now?” I replied that we were lined up outside the lavatory. Bro. Lau Hor understood my predicament and just said, “Take the class to the LA-BORA-TARY!” As though for the benefit of Dr Sinna, but addressed to me, “ Science Lab!” This was the same Bro Lau Hor that suspended me from school for two weeks before the Senior Cambridge Certificate Exam for reading Zane Gray whilst the others were revising for the SCC exam. He stepped into our class and announced, “Bernard, for being the only student who can read two books at a time. Go wait for me in my office!” I had camouflaged Zane Gray over my Geography text book. Undoubtedly those two weeks gave me enough time to accelerate my revision.
I became a teacher and for 19 years I taught English and English Literature. I think I was a good English teacher. I have nothing against teachers from India. But you must be able to speak and articulate correctly, putting emphasis on the key verb and the correct accent on the correct syllable….and discard ethnic and cultural foibles when teaching English. An English teacher’s bible on proper pronunciations and phonetics should be Daniel Jones. My generation was taught by local Malayan-bred teachers!
The English medium schools were largely of two types: missionary schools and government schools. Historically, the English medium schools offered pupils a chance of upward social mobility. English medium schools were the best organized and most developed of all the schools in the country Success in these schools meant better jobs and white-collar employment which was preferred to manual labour. English medium schools were the prestige schools, and it was felt that the type and depth of knowledge they offered were superior to that of the vernacular schools. This situation had implications for the society as a whole, because these English medium schools were mainly urban schools. Together, the English medium sectors of the ethnic groups formed the English educated of Malayan society. My parents were the beneficiary of this. My generation inherited this legacy and opportunity to be educated in Engish.
However by the time I went to school our generation was taught by local Malayan-bred “Normal-Trained” teachers! The only expat teachers were principals of the Government schools and the remaining mission school teachers like the Mill Hill Fathers of Sarawak and the La Salle Brothers in Peninsula Malaya.
The deterioration of English began, to quote a revered former Director General (Malay of course),”when our Teacher’s Training colleges were churning out some half-baked (yeastless, as in not getting a CREDIT in English, he qualified) scums of society were recruited into the teaching profession. Over the years, there has been a lot of kneejerk and quick fixes to no avail. And now this new recruitment drive…….when will we ever learn?
If we continue on these cosmetic changes we will continue to have ministers like Zam Zam alaka Zam telling the world thru Alzeera during the 2007 Bersih protest that we were having an erection in 2008
COULD ABU BE THE PANACEA?
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