Sunday, December 29, 2013

Straight A's and Ivy League Universities

I was amused when FB was inundated with self congratulatory message from proud parents on their children's achievements in the recently announced PMR results.

Yes, may be I am a jealous guy since my two kids did not get straight A's in their respective PMR, and neither did I when I sat for the now defunct but equivalent SRP. I missed on a straight A's as I got a C3 for my Bahasa.

Now you know why I would never write my blog in Bahasa.

There are over 30,000 students with straight A's in PMR. To be honest, I have no clue whether this is a lot or not, or what percentage this is compared to those sitting for the exam. May be it is normal distribution; may be it is done to the whim and fancy of the examiners' board.

I am not in the academic, so I don't have privilege information.

I was told many years ago by a lecturer friend (she has a PhD in mathematics) that the dumbing of ou students started with the current PM when he was the Education Minister God-knows-when. Hey, I am not against him per se; yes, I think he is going against his Election promise, but this is not the topic of this entry.

I would like to invite parents to think about their children's achievement in education. Let's get rid of the straight A's mentality and let our child's ren learn and at their own pace.

Think of how many of these 30K students who would get straight A's in SPM and how many of them would get into Ivy League Universities, and for that matter, how many more of them would graduate with First Class Honours.

From any faculty for any university actually.

I am not asking them to go and do theoretical  physics and pure mathematics or rocket science at the University of Chicago or MIT. How many would graduate with first class honours say from UiTM, our mass production university, for that matter?

And later on in their lives, how many of them would get to own a patent, or invent something worthy of being straight A's students in their earlier lives?

Don't get me wrong; I am not one eventhough at one time, I was nearly a best student in SRP, and I got into mid-level university. Monash is well known enough in Australia and a Top 8 university there, but it is not an ivy league university, mind you.

I graduated with a third class honours in engineering; even then I thought I was lucky to have passed (with failing). Barely I must add. Since then, I have had a mediocre career, although enough to cater for my family and have a good life. I did practically nothing worthy of mention here, but not contribute to the expansion of knowledge.

Definitely my name will not be remembered in the annals of chemical engineering; definitely I will not have my own Equation of States.

The Hariri EOS - I wish.

Let's think beyond PMR and SPM. Let's get our children to understand the fundamental of science and engineering, and not become memorizer of things so that they can get straight A's in school examination. Get them to love science. Let's get to understand how things work and be able to make deduction why many times they did not. Let's them create things, or be creative. Let's get him to be hands-on; let's get their hands dirtied.

Let's get them into arts - languages beyond their mother's tongue. It can be Arabic, which would be close to our heart since it is the language of Islam. Let them learn music and be creative. Let them learn about painting, and craft. Let them learn about life and what is needed to survive in this world.

Of course, let them learn about physics and how it affects our life, especially in this modern world. Do not let them just be users of technology. They will know all the different models of smart phones, right down to the latest models and features, but know nothing about how they work.

Get them to love physics and science, for the sake of learning rather than getting straight A's in any school examinations. Get them to do more experiments than  memorizing books.

I think a combination of these along with traditional subjects may be good for our children. 

Life is beyond getting straight A's. Get rid of that mentality.

But learning is a must and must be encouraged to our children.

Going back, I know soon our FB will be inundated with a flurry of posting when the SPM results are out. Think again before you start posting. What I love to see posted on FB is posting about our children's achievement at the universities. Yes, getting them graduating for now is an achievement I would not mind chipping in my congratulatory message, especially from a good university.

Then the next task would be to encourage them to excel and not become someone who would go with the flow and become anonymous.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Old Paintings by Othmansor

These paintings were left to the elements behind the bedroom door at our Taiping home, and has been with the family since 1970. According to MCKam, the artist painted them in 1968, when he was a bachelor and a teacher. Almarhum Othman Mansor was one talented artist who in 1980 was even sent to the States to study art.

These painting were given to bapak, during one of our visit to his studio home in Assam Kumbang, immediately after he married her in 1970. Almarhum offered one of the paintings for bapak to choose, but bapak could not choose one over the other; so instead Almarhum generously gave both of them away to him.

That's how we came into possession of these two priceless paintings. I should know and I knew it to the fine details as I was there when it happened. I may be young then, as a seven year old, but that conversation remains etched in my memory.
One of his painting now resides in Balai Seni Lukis Negara. He won second place in a national competition sponsored by RRI, circa 73/74 when he was a student at USM. It was not a competition for the amateur actually, as the winner was one Latiff Mohidin, Malaysia's most celebrated artist and poet.

That shows how talented he was then. He passed away at a very young age of 37 in 1982. Talented (and nice) people normally die young. He left a very young family obviously - his widow (my auntie) at 27 and his three children, the youngest at two.

This was painted in 1968 and I hope his son and my cousin will be able to restore them.
Now Balai Seni Lukis Negara has two paintings, one done by him and another one by his son, as they had recently purchased a painting by his equally talented son Arif Fauzan Othman. Kemana jatuhnya kuah kalau tidak ke nasi.

His painting (murals if you must) also used to adorn the main entrance of Taiping zoo in the 70s and 80s.

Alfatihah to my uncle Othman Mansor (Othmansor). Moga Allah mencucuri rahmat ke atas ruhnya, dan dimasukkan dalam golongan orang2 yg beriman.