Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Is a pensyarah similar to a teacher?

When I was in a primary school my ambition was to be an assistant district officer (ADO) or a teacher. My parent was so cooped up with their nephew who was an ADO of Pasir Mas at that time and talked about it all day and night until I came to think that’s the coolest job on the planet. He went on to be the State Sec of Kelantan and recently being an ass to the ailing sultan. But when I found out the world is bigger than my hometown Pasir Mas, I let go the first intention and hang on to the second one until this day. Well, sort of….I end up to be a lecturer instead. I admired my teachers a lot because they were the most successful people closest to me. Although they beat me up and looked me down as a loser bum who could not even kick a ball, I admired them nonethelessly. That’s what a small child does to an adult no matter what happens. I was made to believe that I deserved all the bad things that happened to me. So na├»ve I went on to love and admire my teachers. So one of the reasons I wanted to be a teacher was that I can be good to my students and teach them the world without any prejudice or preoccupation. You are what you are just let me show you the way.
I practiced writing on the blackboard so that my writing would not go up and down but straight from one side to another. I wrote large letters so my future students could read properly. I practiced to speak loudly word by word so my future students could listen to me clearly. Just like a kid spending time playing doctor or soldier; I spent my time playing teachers. When it was about time for me to leave school I wondered why my teachers were mostly studied at a “maktab” and not a university. I didn’t want to go to a maktab, it sounded so dark and horrible. Maybe that’s why all the teachers were like that—unfriendly---because they came out of this dungeon. So I thought. Can I go to the university and still be a teacher? ---when I got the answer to that question, I had no doubt of what I would do for the next one thousand years.

Is a pensyarah similar to a teacher? The answer is no, it’s not similar. But since being a teacher is said to be noble and sacred, we tend to tag along and menumpang tuah of those teachers. When people celebrate the Teacher’s Day we close one eye and pretend to be one and be so proud for one brief moment. I am not sure whether it is a good thing or bad when I said our profession is not similar; but one thing for sure we are not the same. Maybe if I could make a list ,it would be as follows:


  1. A teacher is much more closer to the students and responsible to nurture not only their academics but other aspect of a human needs such psychological, sociological, spiritual and physical.
  2. Development of a child at different level of growth.
  3. Students demand a very focused and specific learning experience to cater for their intelligence and skills.
  4. Teachers claim a special social status in the community.
  5. In order to execute all those tasks, teachers would require a special set of teaching skills that they can get from a maktab.

Pensyarah on the other hand may be fit into that list between 20-30% only. Mainly because we attend to the different group of students that require and demand different things altogether. All those small kids have grown into much more elegant adolescence who know what they want and what they hate. They seek fun all the time and come to the class only when there is absolutely positively nothing else to do. And they burn all our money in  cigarettes, BBQ ,weekend drifts and drags. And do you know what a pensyarah does to tackle these issues? Nothing. We have one Timbalan Dekan for student affairs in the faculty and we put all the blame on this poor guy. We lecture, put up some quizzes and tests, see what they have to say in a presentation and off you go. I guess we are not much of a help in that area----the teaching part----but we are also responsible for other academic endeavor such as research and publication which teachers do not focus. So is it good enough reason to justify our dissimilarity? Frankly speaking, I don’t really know how to answer that….maybe it is not that important.

Friday, May 20, 2011

work, homework and responsibility

The semester is about to finish, the diploma results have been endorsed and the results for my master’s classes have just been uploaded. That’s it--- done. I am happy about the results but not sure my students will like it though. All the thesis reports have been read, marked and returned. There are a couple of MQA reports to be finalized and ready for visit plus one set of KPT’s final exam questions needs to be tidied up. So I am almost there to enjoy a long break before the students come back in September. It’s more like looking at the long and wide par 5 fairway but still stuck at the tee box waiting for the guy to hit the ball. What a long wait, isn’t it?

But work seems to be endless, never finish. This one ends; another one will come in from nowhere. For some people they feel obliged to finish the job come rain or sun shine ; and the term “workaholic” has its owner. Yes the job is the trust mandated upon us but there is also a limit and boundary comes with the package that we sometime tend to overlook. Sometime the only next best thing to do is to drop the whole thing for once. Just drop it and go. Your office or your company will not go haywire without you. I pity some of the ladies as they are always the ones left in the office because the boss said she has been doing so well so keep up the good work and keep working. I remember my first few months of my career that I was doing doggy job for others and loved it. You felt so “useful” that nothing else seemed waste of time. For the first time when people put a trust on you to complete a certain task, no matter how trivial the job was, you would feel so good and so fulfilling that you did not want to go home. I could do this all day and all night. You would never feel exploited or anything of that kind; even when people tend to take advantage of you. So those were the days……

Everything comes down to responsibility. And being responsible or taking responsibility of things does not come to you easily, it has to be learned and practiced. This is what “the homework” that our little children take home from school is all about. They teach them how to be responsible; no matter how difficult or easy the homework might be. I have experienced this (and I believe we all have) from the beginning and now at the higher level of learning, the similar exercise exists but has never seem to get into their heads. You must finish your homework; and to do that you must understand the problem, you should find the way to do it and manage the time in doing it. So the simple task has made us learn a few things in life. The more you strive to finish your homework the more lesson will be learnt. And after every finished homework the teacher will give you more homework and you will get better and better at it. In the end you will be a responsible person and be successful in your career no matter what kind of job you are doing. If you look at someone who has not finish schooling or failed and given up school, they have no sense of time; late for everything and never feel to be punctual. Works would never be completed and they just left whenever they feel like. They have no sense of being responsible or anything.

Anyway, you guys are all successful now so you must have done something right, right? Of course, so be proud of yourself and teach your kids accordingly. Now go back to work and help the world be a better place to live.

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