Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I guess the million dollar question behind this whole farce of SPM results is fairly obvious. How on earth is 15A1's better than 15A1's + 1A2? I suppose it is a question that highlights the utter nonsense of this annual worshipping of 'geniuses'. Labels: current issues
I started off wanting to bash the three of them, but I realized that I would be doing no better than to repeat my points from last year. For your benefit though, I shall roughly scheme through some of those points. For instance, all of them did Basic Science when they did Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Basic Science is a subject done by students from the Arts Stream. It is nothing short of pointless and downright 'kiasu' to do a basic subject when you are at the same time studying a subject of a higher level. And sticking to subject choices, what was that 16A Chinese girl doing Tasawuur Islam?
We would all like to think that these kids spent their time nicely and managed to have fun enjoying their childhood. SPM was something we all went through. It is not logical to say that kids these days are smarter than the days of "let's worship the guy who got 8A's." We have all known our fair share of geniuses in our time, and no matter how smart they were, we all know that getting 10A's in our time would require a superhuman feat, no less.
That brings me to wonder...how much exactly are kids these days studying? There is enough time to be a zombie when we start working, slogging day and night to bring in some dough, but surely the line has to be drawn when it comes to teenagers? Should we not allow them to enjoy their youth and leave the slogging up to the adults?
Too often have I seen the over-achievers in school get into university or get into the workforce totally burnt-out, a shadow of their former self. They end up partying like wild animals and somehow do not work with the same exuberance they showed in school. Why the burn out? Why did they pressure themselves to excel? More importantly, why did we pressure them to excel? Of course it would be preposterous to be suggest that they should have played around and not have a single responsibility in the world, and play around till they flunk all their subjects. Yet, there has got to be a line of moderation drawn somewhere - the line that separates sensibility in studying and sensibility in playing.
On this year's issue, where all the newspapers as well as the MoE happily boast of a 43% increase in straight 1A students, not only is their action encouraging such high levels of unhealthy competition at such a young age, that statistic is ridiculously misleading.
Let's start by bashing the statistics, shall we?
To be honest, when I first read the papers of the 43% increase, I was muttering curses beneath my breath. Does that mean that kids last year are 43% smarter than the previous year? Rubbish. Does that mean that the standard had dropped? Maybe. Should we get all excited about it? Definately not. But then it occured to me to do a little research before I start with the bashing. Thank heavens I did.
As you can see, the announcement of the supposed 43% increase is nothing more than the MoE blowing it's own trumpet just to please the public. Well, of course there would be a sharp increase in the number of students with straight A1's, since there are more than 20 000 more candidates last year compared to the previous year! Yes, there was an increase in the percentage of straight A1 students, but only by a mere 0.06%
It then brings me to wonder, why show off the supposedly great results when in truth, they aren't much greater than last year? I think it has a lot to do with the public demands. Why do we laud top scorers? So what if they got 15A's or 17A's? Yes, we should pat them on the back, but why should we worship them as heroes? It is that sort of attitude that causes kids to attempt suicide when they get bad results.
And of course sometimes the kids probably have no choice but to get all those A's because most of the time, that is what dictates who gets the scholarship and who doesn't. At last knowledge, co-curicular activities only count for 10% of the criteria, and no matter how hard people deny it, there is a very direct link between straight A scorers of today with their inadequate skills in other areas. Just the other day, a good student, a qualified engineer, was so nervous during an interview that he blurted out "Tekanan = Isipadu divide by area". Of course, when these guys don't get their scholarship despite their many A's they then scream bloody murder.
I have never liked our system of education. Many people call me a government lover, and while that may be slightly true, I hate the MoE with a vengence. I could expand this article by another 5000 words but would still fail to cover every single fault within the system.
Firstly, the SPM format and syllabus is way outdated. It does not encourage students to think, but to mug, because after all, mugging and not thinking yields the best short term result. With that mugging system in place, it is extremely easy for an experienced teacher to 'spot' questions just by analysing the papers from the past few years. There is not a single student out there now who can tell me that they never heard of a 'tip' for SPM that didn't come out.
It is also a fact that large tuition centres especially here in the Klang Valley conduct large seminars just before SPM to 'sell their tips'. This practice was rampant when I sat for my SPM in 2000, and it is even scarier to think how common a practice it is these days. Of course, back then, I defended my actions as 'studying smart' instead of 'studying hard'. Thinking back now, 'studying hard' and 'studying smart' is essentially the same lie. We study to gain knowledge. We study because we have a passion for something. When we learn about the body's digestive system, we do so because we want to know what happens after we have dinner. We shouldn't learn about it because we know the exam will ask us to name the acid we find in the stomach. Studying for exams is a concept that should be made foreign to students.
The grading system doesn't work either. Every year the MoE releases statistics that mention the increase (or decrease) in the percentage of A's and percentage of failures in a particular subject. Statistics like those are misleading and only serve to fool people into believing that results of that particular year have improved. The idea that "70% gets you an A, 60% gets you a B" is an extremely flawed practice.
Two things essentially determine the grade of the student. First is of course his score. There is no exact figure to get an A, but it is known to be around 70%, but that figure can be raised or lowered depending on various other factors. I could make an uneducated guess and say that they might lower the bar if the paper was a little too tough but as those factors are only known to the MoE, I shall stop at that. In other words, the MoE can decide whether they want to lower or raise the bar for a particular subject for a particular year and we would be none the wiser. Crudely, it is possible to say then that the results are 'rigged'.
Another factor would of course be the level of difficulty of the paper itself. While they do moderate the papers to be of a certain standard of difficulty, there is not an institution in the world who can set exam papers and say for sure that the 2003 paper is of the exact same level of difficulty as the 2004 paper. You may argue that that is why the practice of 'raising or lowering' the bar is put into place. However, I cannot begin to imagine how it is possible to judge the magnitude of which that said bar is adjusted. Besides, if we really wanted to promote a healthy competition between the students, they should be competing against each other and not against a system.
Therein lies a very interesting marking system which I heard off from an Indian (from India, doh) lecturer in college. Under this system it is not necessary to moderate papers to match the level of difficulty from the previous year, nor is it necessary to adhere to the syllabus as rigidly as we do now. The idea is to set a paper, no matter how easy or hard it may be and the students go about with their exam. The MoE (in the case of the SPM, or the teachers in the case of an ordinary school exam) would then decide how many students they want to score A's. This figure would of course be a set figure (top 10% to get an A, bottom 10% to get an F for example) and be used in every exam.
This means that we pre-decide the number of A's we get every year. Under this system it is not possible for a student to complain 'this paper was sooo tough!' for it would be possible for a student to get 30% in a difficult paper but get an A for it because he fared better than his 90% of his peers. Similarly, it would be possible to get 80% for a ridiculously easy paper and yet only manage a C. I am not championing this system, it has flaws like the current one - but I believe it is more efficient and more fair.
I do know this however. SPM is only an entrance key to college and university. No amount of A's will ever give you the social skills you require to survive in the real world. And certainly, no amount of A's will ever buy you back the childhood that you lost.
If you are one of the few morons who chanced upon my blog over the last few days looking for 'JPA scholarships' in Google, let me be the first to inform you that this is NOT the JPA website and you cannot apply for your scholarships here. But since you kids of today are so spoonfed in your education, I shall hold your hand (and shove a pacifier down your throat) and guide you to the official JPA website.
However, since you couldn't tell the difference between a blog and a government website, a word of advice to you....don't bother.
Labels: current issues
So much for the so-called increase too.
Just get my rich papa to sponsor me to study in UK for 3 years.
All fully paid education and living expenses.
No need to try so hard to score so many A1s to get scholarship to local or Singapore U.
Just let my rich papa fund all my UK education.
And I don't see kids today getting any wiser , their "own theories" came straight from textbooks .
Supposedly they changed the format, after the syllabus change was initiated in 2000 (the year you took the paper), and it worked for Form 2 and 4. Then halfway through those people got a lil' lazy and ended up morphing the Forms 1,3, 5 syllabi into a mixed up rojak pot of two-syllabi in one. How to set good papers I ask you?
Also of course the fact that teachers these days are less qualified than the older bunch, and the older bunch are more 'action' because of this superiority. Too many cooks, spoil the broth, as they say.
Meaning the teachers get to set whatever questions they want based on any particular topic? There is no scope which they have to adhere to?
The thing is, they're all intelligent. No doubt about it but are their comm. skills as GREAT? I doubt so. You only have 24 hours in a day. I wonder when do they go socialising around with other kids. Maybe they just talk to their books.
But there are some ppl who can really divide their time real well and they still have a life. Those ppl, i really admire them lah.
unfortunately, nothing is going to be done in the near future as i see it. changing the language in which english and maths is taught is still stirring up controversy. once that dies down i can imagine the MOE people will want to go for a long tea break and "cuti".
i remember how i was often hit with a ruler for talking too much in class. this is our system.. it discourages us from expressing our opinions.
just look at the majority the government holds in parliament. this is due to the lack of decent opposition. why is that? malaysians dont express opinions... well let me qualify myself by saying that the majority of educated malaysians dont express their opinions on a level that matters.. they only do it at the teh tarik stall... so there... this whole speech because they only gave me 4 A1s
minishorts : care to clarify what you said?
Speaking of speaking up in class. Well, I'm glad the the lecturers in my uni encourage us to speak up as long as we can justify our answers BUT my lecturer told me this story yesterday and said that alot of students misinterpreted what she said and went around saying, "Wah..our lecturer so lousy wan. She ask us to give our opinions because she's not even sure if her answer is correct". I seriously dunno what went through their heads man.
But if I have kids, I will definitely let them go through at least basic education (primary, lower secondary) in M'sia. At least they get to have a more "normal" childhood. Or so I think.
Whenever the teacher tells us to study hard for our exam, I just think about SPM. My SPM is the future.
I cant picture anything more "future" than SPM because students these days are made to study for exams and not their future.
and yea, what the hell was a chinese girl doing Tasawuur Islam for? Its like damn obvious students now use their SPM results to show off.
What the hell do they need so many As for??
become Superdoctor and Superenginner issit?
In fact, I only focused myself on Math and English as I already figured it out what I need after secondary school. The rest of the time I spent playing arcade games in nearby arcade center most of the time. LOL...
'There is no such thing as an 'SPM SYLLABUS', it's a format, based on the Huraian Sukatan Pelajaran KBSM aka KBSM Syllabus.'
You need to blame the high school syllabus, then only the format. they are independent of each other.
spm is the format, not the syllabus.
the syllabus is the kbsm.
the problem therefore is the kbsm and not the spm.
is this accurate?
As for GCSE O Levels- we have multitudes of boarding school kids who are scoring strings of A*s.... the British govt are checking if the syllabus have gone easier or the kids have gone smarter.
jeez, everyone is intelligent nowadays.
And yes, these are things that I never can understand: the General Science paper (started questioning quietly when 2004's top scorer, that Amalina girl with 17 1As, also took up the subject redundantly) and now, shit, Chinese girls doing Tasawwur Islam?!