Last March, Global Peace Team was invited to attend one of the School Improvement Specialist Coach + Training in a public school in the Klang Valley. The training emphasised the role of an teacher as a facilitator which I really liked. Well, this is what actually allows better learning to take place.
One of the activities involved watching a video and coming up with responses in respective groups. Teachers came up with so many different responses, some of which was really hilarious. To me, this was interesting experience. The responses were genuine thoughts whereby each one was one’s own. The exercise and the approach had allowed the teachers to think for themselves as to what could possibly be the answer and not what is the answer.
I am not sure if the teachers saw this, but what was striking to me was what happens when one is instigated to think rather than be told what’s what. Well, what happens is that we come up with the many possibilities. All these possibilities put together could create fresh solutions to things the real world problems that we are facing in the now.
In reality however, I doubt that the current education culture in public schools in Malaysia allows such practice. To support this statement, the presence of the SISC + Training is one as it was initiated by the education ministry to allow thinking skills to be nurtured. The initiative is a process by itself that will take months to years to change the culture of the schools to one that promotes learning better.
It scares me to think that we might be unintentionally spreading a no-brainer culture from the way the education culture is currently. Sadly, this might be reinforced in public schools through the rigid system in place, over and over again over time.
How might our school culture be sadly instigating a no-brainer culture? The answer is by a information feeder-like methodology in place. Students have the questions, teachers or textbooks provide the answers. There are already a set of “yes” and “no” in place. No space for mistakes but punishments for mistakes made.
This methodology is in place due to a list of various factors.
Some of the many reasons?
Teachers are provided a set syllabus that is super compact. They have to look into both the teaching of the syllabus in place and the paperworks. What adds to the amount of work that they have is the menial things in place that are redundant work, simply tedious or purposeless. Next is, the implementation of the education blueprint. This is a whole factor by itself as it has a few layers of flaws. For one, the implementation does not trickle down holistically to the classrooms. Two, not all schools are provided the SISC + Training. Three, teachers are not provided the proper mentorship and guidance to be able to improve the teaching and learning in the classrooms. Well, all the reasons mentioned certainly does not give space for teachers to have their lessons done more purposefully. What more, do it in a way that instigates students thinking?
What happens when one is instigated to think rather than follow by instruction or norm?
To sum it, we will be nurturing the future leaders that will be capable of thinking before acting not just for oneself, but with the benefit of others taken into account. To be able to think is a critical skill that promotes independent mindset. This is important because we will then be able to create spaces for people to truly embrace the differences in thoughts, opinions and ideas. Imagine a world that is more acceptive, and understanding instead of superficial tolerance beyond all differences. We will create a world where group norms will be challenged for change in societies for the development of humanity. We will help create people who will be capable of telling the good from the bad, making the right choices and not the choices the are manipulated to pick. We will create people and communities that are more independent to push for reforms no matter the oppression and authority due to the ability of being able to be objective in thoughts and decisions. For a country like Malaysia where it ranks number 1 with power distance index of 104 in comparison to 65 other countries on the Hofstede’s Power distance Index, there could be a huge positive shift in a couple of years to come. We will then have reduced power distance, hence become a better country for its people.
From this is that it is not just necessary but much needed to practice the individualistic freedom to think, rationalise and then respond mindfully and not to blindly abide as to respect a cultural norm. Students from young to old should be given the space to question, have a discourse and understand before an action to create socially matured and responsible people, communities and nation.
How can we go about it?
Lets get talking and turning things around for the better, from the ground.