Sunday, November 22, 2020

The misdirection in teaching courses

The drive to perfect the teaching vocation is pure, but severely misdirected.

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There was once a widely accepted doctrine on teaching about the objective of it: teaching requires objective input and the output must be objective as well. In a sense, the values of right or wrong, true or false are put on a continuum with the distinctions made on the output.

Students are taught prescriptively to reach towards the accepted notion of true and right while breaking away from what is deemed false and wrong. This axis forms the plane on which teaching stands. The accepted values are concrete and materialised in the choices and projections of students. Subtlety and drive are collateral to the goal.

This doctrine has been revised with an awareness on reconstructing the values of teaching. Teaching has been made to oppose the outdated teacher-centred learning and the prescription of concrete values, among other changes. However, the reality of the teaching course, particularly for language teaching, does not align with this revision.

In methodology subjects, students are taught the methods in their field of learning. Theories of language acquisition and applied linguistics in the English teaching course as well as philosophy in education, sociology in education, and ethics of educators are among the compulsory subjects for all teaching courses.

However, the landscape in which the students as well as the educators fit in differs from the objective of teaching those subjects. In ethics of educators, disappointingly, students are taught of the values that perfected the teaching vocation as an industry instead of as a noble pursuit.

Sociology in education brings about awareness on the relativity of social structure within the field of teaching, yet students end up straying further away from the charity of educating people of different backgrounds.

Philosophy of education is saturated with theories that students end up not comprehending for themselves but instead only for paper purposes. Theories of language acquisition is a collateral subject in understanding the learners of a language instead of the focus with which students are to apply in the teaching environment they will face.

Methodology bears the methods of application within the teaching and learning environment, but it also bears the shortcomings of students who do not apply it in the environment in which they will find themselves.

This observation is made through the perspective of a student in the language teaching course, but the problem runs deep within all of these courses. The drive to perfect the teaching vocation is pure, but severely misdirected.

This misdirection comes in various forms. The direction of objectives and subsequently the prioritisation of the teaching vocation are no longer placed on the defining values of educators in the pursuit of a purely teaching service, and instead towards the saturation of holistic values.

While it is an accepted notion that students need enhancement in their personal cores, this would be futile if the striving is not in the direction of what an educator is supposed to do. What is conceptualised is an absolutist requirement instead of a relativity that caters to the needs of the teaching vocation.

What good can teachers who are well equipped in technical skills do if they are sent to a rural school that lacks the basic infrastructure of technology?

Another misdirection of value is on the concept of an educator. Educators are rich in history. In Tanah Melayu itself, educators were on the frontline of revolutions. They preached freedom from the traditional and conservative norms that shrouded the people of the land.

Educators are formed by radicalness. They are the ones that breathe a fresh beginning towards the future of a nation of intent.

Sadly radicalness is now an agenda relegated to the vacuum of oblivion. Educators at universities adopt the reconstructions in the field but perceive and project it traditionally. Authoritarian holders of power dictate education, and the progressivism which was once abundant is now the new tradition not to be opposed. Dogmatic concepts of education prevail. It faced revisions, but it is nevertheless the conceptualisation of the common belief about education in this age.

Innovation in education falls flat due to its function of only piecing together what is lacking instead of providing an alternative. Students in teaching courses are not given the chance to be creative even though they are taught to be. They are taught not to rebel against the norm, as if the norm of teaching is an absolute.

Misdirections in objectives are also apparent in the goal of service. Teaching is a selfless pursuit because of its goal to provide for the people. The reality, however, is that this service is centred on the authorities who demand out of their ability to demand. It is a self-enriching venture that clouds the path of the vocation.

The system demands more educators to fill the gaps perceived through the reality of a lack in numbers. Consequently, student enrolment in teaching courses is primarily driven by the need to provide for themselves instead of for the people. Altruism is a value taught but not a value enriched. Selflessness takes a backseat with personal ventures driving the whole education field. This results in the neglect of the people to whom the education field is supposed to cater and serve.

A wedge has been driven between the ideal of education as a bearer of humanity and education as an industry that forms current reality. A detriment that materialises and develops the current reality even further is the submission of the students of teaching courses to order. Future educators willingly agree to the current direction of the education field. The landscape that strives for the future will ensure the strengthening of the industry that forgoes the need to be aware of afflictions on the current state of humanity.

It is a disappointing sight to see the students of teaching courses diminish the need to cater for all in the name of charity and instead cater for the concretisation of the upper echelon. While community service is demanded in the curriculum, it becomes a mark on a piece of paper for which the students are to achieve good results instead of taking the spirit of community service to heart. The students of this course are no longer individuals with altruistic values but individuals in an aggregation for the education industry.

The students rarely rebel against the system as an expression of anger at the system’s deficiency of humanity, but as an expression of anger at the burden that falls upon them to bear the responsibility of teaching.

I demand a return to the values of educators as rebels, for charity, as innovators and in the name of altruism. I believe that the reality of this field severely lacks educators as a provider for the people instead of the system and its demands. Change may not happen in the near future but I hope it does because we are in need of educators that may be imperfect in the perception of the industry, but satisfy the needs of humanity as a whole.

Until then, semoga kita terus berbakti.

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