Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Dear Tan Sri

My humble thoughts are that there is no need to make a pass in English compulsory to obtain the SPM certificate.

Not because English is not important. Far from it, really.

In an age where the children are forever drilled that it is the outcome that matters and not the journey itself, a “must pass” condition seems at odds with this reality and disconcertingly political (with much apologies) in its connotations.

You are already talking about limiting subjects: well and good as it would make learning not a race of how many 1As and 2As instead of the actual gathering of knowledge.

(I would however propose that the limit is set only on what is counted in aggregate for the Certification and NOT in the actual subjects which students can opt to take.

Many – especially those in the secondary levels – are expose to a diverse range of interest and might just want to learn about something other than the core subjects.

Why stop them from doing so if the resources are available for these subjects to be taught?)

Back to the suggestion of making a pass in English compulsory: my thoughts would be that if something likewise is imposed, you shouldn’t stop at a mere pass.

Make it instead at a certain level of competency reflective in the number of years that went into learning the language.

Say, a C. (For competency?)

After all, if one does not even get a pass after learning the language for a good 11 years of their young lives, it is a sign that they have been going through the motions of learning, without getting anything out of the hours of being in the classroom.

Unless the standards are at such high levels, getting a Pass is the least a learning student should obtain.

An argument is that these students might be interested in something else than English.

Well and true, but how one can sit through the hours of classes and not gain anything is a sure sign of a failure in the system.

Perhaps, the “Must Pass” should be on our Education System instead.

I sincerely believe that the learning and teaching of languages (any language, for that matter – even mother tongues) is something of a passion.

Those who have it often go on to become the artisans of the society, adding flair to the hum drum of daily living.

Teaching these students must be a delightful exercise if my former teachers (including informal ones at home, workplace and elsewhere) are of any examples.

They display a willingness to indulge in Q&A’s that could sometimes verge on the nonsensical on the whys and hows and what nots in language usage.

Anyway, with the teaching of Science and Mathematics being in English, passing the actual English language papers must surely be scientifically mathematical.

You can’t learn them without some competency in the language they are being taught in, isn't it?.

Why is there a need for a “Must Pass” then?

Alas, these are only my humble opinions.

There might be other considerations that my myopic mind could not discern, but I do hope these are for the best of our future generations and nothing else.

Best regards,
A Keen Parent

Nuggets on classes from Bill Watterson


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