Education: Back to Basics

An academic from UKM recently wrote an article suggesting that Tun should expand the teaching of science and maths through using videos in classrooms. The proposed benefits of this approach are twofold: it would ensure a more uniform teaching of subject matter, and it would also solve the problem of not enough capable teachers on staff.

The point about ensuring uniform teaching of subject matter is already handled by having standardized textbooks for all subjects. Having standardized videos will also provide continuity in that regard, but we don’t think it’s a major concern.

Now let’s address the use of video as the medium with which to educate our future generation. Those of you who read Siti’s previous article on education would know that our definition of education is: “the process of learning how to think.” Going by this definition, it necessitates an environment that is interactive for both teacher and pupil. The teacher needs to be able to “read” her class; whether the pupils are paying attention and following the lesson, or if their eyes are glazed over because they don’t understand the subject but are hesitant to put up their hands and ask.

The teacher also needs to create an environment in which the students are comfortable raising their hands at any time if they haven’t quite grasped the subject and need more clarification. This is also a very valuable skill of gaining sufficient trust from the class to the point that the students are not afraid to be vulnerable and ask questions.

MAJU does not see how any of this can be achieved using video. On the contrary, we think it’s a very passive medium, where both teacher and students end up sitting down staring at a screen for the whole session. In our view it greatly diminishes the bond between teacher and student that we were alluding to earlier. This bond is what opens the mind of the student to be molded and guided by a capable teacher, resulting in graduates who can think both critically and creatively.

Science needs experimentation and interaction. Passive video learning is only good as a minor supplement since it doesn’t encourage good thinking habits which are crucial in the student’s formative years.  

Another thing we would like to point out is that whenever the subject of education comes up, we seem to have this habit of looking for the most complicated solutions and ignore the simpler ones that are right under our noses. Remember those kids a few weeks ago who brought back 9 medals from the Tokyo Math Olympiad? In MAJU’s humble opinion, that is an achievement worthy of being made the benchmark of good schooling. Why don’t we look into which schools they came from, what teaching methods were used to train them, and use that as the standard for our national schools across the board? Do we really need to go to Finland, or implement a whole new medium for getting our basic education up to speed? We don’t think so.

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