Thursday, December 29, 2005
The first two days was primarily for the new students, so the teachers of the other classes came to help out. With a higher teacher and lower student ratio, it would be less chaotic and the children would receive more personalised attention from the teachers.
It was great! On the first day itself, many of the parents came with their children. The children composed mostly of the first years 3,4 & 5 years children. An entire group worked with playdough, whilst the rest with animal puzzles, knobbed cylinders, pegging, and the Pink Tower.
After the first day's activities, I realised that I had to change many of the Practical Life activities, and set out to change it so that the materials would be suitable for the new children.I had not intended for them to use the Practical Life activities, but I had to change it nonetheless.
By the 2nd Orientation Day, there were still as many parents, but some of the children (the older ones that is) had already calmed down. The younger ones still had their parents accompanying them, but there were some of the more plucky ones whos moms just went to work not long after.
The children worked with puzzles, pegging, and knobbed cylinders till the bell rang. Then they put the materials away, and had circle time. We had singing and a game of passing the ball around. It was sort of a way to break the ice among the children.
After morning tea break, the children had about half an hour to work individually on puzzles, blocks and other manipulatives. After which, they packed it away to spend some time at the play ground.The day ended after that.
I think it is a good strategy to do that without the presence of the existing students, as it would be much more chaotic and having 3 (or 2 classes) of children whose parents.
I am still waiting for school to start. In the mean time, I am still very much in a holiday mood....*heh*. But there will be loads of paperwork to do, in regard to my Special Needs exam & project, my Sociology assignment, my Play lesson plan project, and of course, the upcoming article that is due. Something on pre-natal brain development, memory and cognitive skills.
Now, Kimmy, (my niece who is 13 this year) just finished Intermediate Level is attending High School next year. I did remember at one point of time this year, (after Soo Yee had returned from Australia), she told me that her cousin (who was the same age as her) who was in NZ did not seem to get any homework or needed to do any homework in the schools there. So now I wanted to clarify whether it was true of it over there.
Kimmy is currently attending public school, and paying 350 NZD (which is even higher than the normal public schools, but that's coz they have more activities there). Winnie stated that it was incorrect to say that the students (in intermediate level, where Kimmy is at right now) do not get homework, but the kind of work they are given to do is a lot of projects.
(I wouldn't mind asking Kimmy all this, she is most capable of answering all these questions, but it was more proper to ask Winnie, as the latter had attended Chinese high school here. Winnie has currently lived in NZ for over 20 years now, and puts her the best position to make the most educated and informed comparison between both education systems.
The subjects that the students do there are not segregated into like three different subjects, but instead, the subject areas are integrated into one, by way of projects, for example, history, geography and social science into one project, say, the family tree which Kimmy had to do.
The other subjects she had to do were projects such as
-BioTechnology: where projects including making her own lip gloss or hand cream.
-Electronics: project outcomes was making her own radio.
- Pewter Technology (where she made pewter craft such as earrings out of mould!),
- Literacy: a Novel Analysis (say, Harry Potter, where the student had to write out the main character, the plot, analysis, and all that).
- Art Technology: design their own uniforms (for project work) as well, as painting (some portraits, which I can't remember what she was saying about).
Other subjects included in the syllabus were also Music and Movement (some kind of dance as well), even basic music theory as well. Co-curricular experiences included programs such as student exchange programme to host families in Australia, cycling around the Island on bikes and living in the Maori homes (don't know what they are called) and loads more.
According to Winnie, the list of projects were given in class, as well as on the Internet on a homepage, where each student had their own homepage, and parents (like Winnie!) can actually go online to check what are the list of projects that their children had been assigned to do. Winnie said that she used to keep watch and monitor on that page to know what kind of projects that Kimmy had to do, but she said that she had stopped doing it since Kimmy began to be more responsible for her own assignments
The kind of work that is given to the students were not the mucking type, where it required a lot of rote memory, as in our Malaysian culture required, and especially during exams, where after that, it would have been thrown out with the wind. However, the projects requires a lot of thinking and analytic skills, and had to be done and assessed invidividually and attendance is graded as well.
In fact, Winnie pointed out vehemently to me that the system is such that it prepares the student for the onset of university studies, and deadlines are given. Extensions, like at university level, have to requested even at Intermediate Level!!
To this, which I noted that a lot of the subjects seem to be relevant to real life and things that can be used in real life. In my perspective, a lot of the subjects in Malaysia are not integrated, whereby each subject is segregated to so many parts, that it hardly seems relevant to what we are doing at all!
Which comes to my next point. As I have said before, I doubt the chinese school system has changed much in the past 20 years, at least since even when my friend, Jaq has left school, which is about ten years from a chinese school. Knowing which, I'd rather send my children to a Malay school and let them have more time to pursue more things of their interest.
Of course, if I want them to learn Mandarin, I would send them for Mandarin tutelage. But most importantly, school has to be a pleasurable experience for them , and not a time where it is stressful mugging and memorizing of meanless information & data which can't even be related to them in their real lives.
From my perspective, I cannot imagine the Kimmy I see now, if it were not for the way she has been shaped by the school system over there. Kimmy (coming from a strict chinese education system) would be very much different from Kimmy (coming from an open ended education system), and I think I like the Kimmy I see very much now!!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Children demonstrate their knowledge of context as they organise their play space, gather resources, and adopt the role of hairdressers. In acting as if they were hairdressers, they adhere to the rules, what customers do, and what hairdressers do.
As you read, *Note*:
1)The children's use of materials, (some more realistic than others),
2) How adults support children's ideas (providing resources or acting their roles),
3) The pretend and meta-communication strategies, demonstrated by children to establish shared meaning & guide & direct the play.
The following comes from a scene in the children’s play, Hairdresser, from the video.
*Cinderella (comes from another play theme in the video).
Teacher A asks if “lost” child (Natalie) wants to follow her to the hairdressing play area.
(Scene changes to hairdressing area).
Natalie follows teacher A to hairdressing area.
Teacher A points out the correct “hairdressing signage” is there.
Hairdresser A acknowledges it.
Hairdresser A asks about “hairdresser things”
Teacher A tells Girl B she “ will ring up to get somebody to deliver for you”.
Immediately, (few seconds later) Teacher B comes in carrying a box (full of curls and ribbons).
Teacher A: “That’s very quick service!”.
Teacher B places box on the floor. “Twenty dollars”.
Hairdresser A slaps Teacher B’s hand (indicating she is paying for it).
Teacher B: “Here’s some change, Thank You”
*Cinderella comes into Hairdressing Area.
Hairdresser B (with short hair) brushes customer B’s hair.
Cinderella: ( to customer A)
“You like some curls on your hair?”.
Customer A indicates no.
“I know, I am just asking.”
Cinderella: (to customer B) “What would you like me to have on your hair?”
Cinderella: (to Hairdresser B ). “She wants some curls on”.
Hairdresser B wets hairbrush in water and brushes hair.
Hairdresser A comes in. She takes hairbrush (and dips it in water) and starts brushing Customer A’s hair. After a while, Hairdresser A starts rummaging for “hairdryer”
Hairdresser B brings curls and ribbons (in a basket). “Look what I’ve brought”.
Hairdresser B takes a strand of sparkly glittery string (to make a wig) and walks away.
Hairdresser A takes it and puts the basket down.
Customer A is sitting down waiting (looking around).
Hairdresser A is taking some bottles from the floor.
Customer A: “….you need my help?”
Hairdresser A: “No”.
Hairdresser B (who was working on the wig) gestures to her to go and sit back on the chair.
Customer A goes back to sit down on the chair.
(Hairdresser B is seen carrying wig back and forth. )
Hairdresser A places 3 bottles on the table.
Customer A chooses the dark pink bottle from the three.
Hairdresser A applies bottle on Customer A’s hair and starts brushing.
(Hairdresser B is seen carrying wig out of Hairdressing Area. )
Customer A chooses (one of two bottles) for Girl B to use from.
Customer A: (to Hairdresser A) “How long is this gonna take?”
Hairdresser B gives wig to teacher:
“Oh beautiful. Oh thank you. How much do I owe you?”
“No dollars, it’s free? Thank you.”
Event Based Play program Center (in Australia).
What is Event Play Based Approach?
Event Based Approach:
Perry (1995) The children's ideas are central to an event-based approach. They are encouraged to re-create the events they have experienced. They develop their own play contexts by using open-ended materials provided by the teacher.
Yukiko: the role of the teacher is extremely important. The teacher needs to co-ordinate the variety of play themes, in terms of space use, resource needs and play entry and development .
Professionals have many opportunities to observe how children play. Since the focus of the play is determined by the children, themes can be both broad & extended over time, alowing a range of play skills to be observed. Planning for children's development is based upon these observations. (Fleer, 1997).
The children are grouped together at the begining of the session to discuss their ideas. They are
grouped together at the beginning of the session to discuss their ideas. They are actively encouraged to invite other chidlren to help them in their play.
After much discussion, the children create their play spaces, firstly by establishing a boundary. At the end of the session, the chidlren tidy up but do not pack away.
On the following day, at group time, the children will reflect upon their progress.The teacher will sensitively extend, assist & introduce new materials in order to support children's play.
Features of event based programs:
1. Play scripts are initiated by children.
2. Direction of play controlled by children.
3. They are not given prescriptive resources (such as hairdressing box).
4. Materials are open-ended.
5. Group times: children talk through what they would like to do and inviting others to join them.
6. Role of teacher: Only to help children organise play spaces, analyse & facilitate play.
The planning outcomes relate to developing children's ability to play together effectively, to use & organise resources, to support their play & to explore cognitive ideas within the context of their own playscripts.
Event based play approach (in an Australian centre).
How play is used in programs today....often relates to how play has been conceived at various times in the past. Understanding how play has been interpreted throughout history can help teachers to better understand the nature of play & how to use it in early childhood programs.(Saracho & Spodek, 1995)
Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) was from German heritage and loved nature. He developed the word "kindergarten", and designed what is called the "Froebel gifts" (geometric blocks, pattern blocks, etc). Froebel's contribution to the education world was his ideas in recognising that children had unique needs and capabilities, and importance of the activities in the children's learning.
Through play, the individual learns that there is
Dr Maria Montessori (1870-1952)- is Italy's first trained female General Physician (GP). She had an interest in the needs of the mentally & disabled children. It was probably with the birth of her illegitimate son that sparked the interest to how she would pour her life & energies into studying the needs of children.
Montessori is particularly interested in how play developed the mind, body, brain & senses in terms of
Progressive Era: play as one of the vehicles for learning.
John Dewey: (1859-1952) is American & the father of "functional psychology".
His theories provided the basis for contemporary educational uses of children's play.
Recently, I had to watch this two-hour long of video on event based play. This takes place in an Australian community children's centre, which is a collaboration of both the school as well as Childhood Education lecturers from University of Southern Queensland.
When I first watched the video, I had a hard time trying to understand what was going on. The children (4-6 year olds) were moving from place to place and it was hard to see what they were doing. Basically, that first clip was just to give an overall view of what was happening in that particular point of time.
Although it seemed to be, the children were actually doing their own thing in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Although they were doing their own thing and it seemed as though the teachers were not watching, it was revealed in the later part of the show that this was part of their learning process.
The particular kindergarten has spaces where children could move into "spaces" that were divided and the children themselves decide what they want to do with the space, and how they want use the space, (except for certain set designated areas, mainly the "making centers", where children find resources to construct materials for their games, the "circle time" area, and others. Not too sure, as this was not stated).
Among some of the games that I found most interesting was the "Cinderella" game, where the children decided (actually it was just one girl- the one who played Cinderella) who directed the whole thing, from who should play the main characters, and designated the roles to each one, to decorating the "teater" to "making the popcorn", to "inviting people to come watch the play".
You would think that without the teacher instructing, the children would not know what to do, but it was the children who decided how they wanted to do, (from preparing the backdrop, the flowers, "the popcorn", and inviting people to come watch the "play").
The other was this group of boys who were working on this "dinosaur garden" for a couple of days...Ok, that totally didn't interest me, as I am so not interested in dinosaurs, but the video means to show the progress of how the children developed their ideas for the dinosaur garden. They went about creating "towers" using paper rolls and tape, clay dinosaurs and painting them (and then waiting for it to dry), and how they added it to the play.
This went on for a couple of days (about two weeks, but I am not too sure about the duration though).
At the end of the day, the children will come into the "circle time" areas, and then discuss with the teacher and other children on what they have done, (that is their game), and how they can further scaffold or extend their games. The teacher will ask questions to the children such as,
1. Do you want to continue with this game?
2. Is there anything else they would need to extend to make/provide for the game, please ask the teachers for the resources.
3. If there is a play, who will take turns to be the "main character" for that day? If there are 3 people who wants to play "Cindrella", how will they solve the problem?
The main thing about the whole process is that, the teacher's role is as the facilitator, as well as a questioner. If she sees the children "managing the areas" in a way which may not be efficient, she would question them, but she would not tell them what to do. The end decision lies with the children, so that they are the ones who make the decisions themselves. Notice the teacher does not give the answers, but expect the children to discuss this among themselves.
Monday, December 19, 2005
This would apply more so for (at least for) parents who have been educated in foreign universities for a while. I have parents from Chinese school background, had gone overseas and gone through that "culture shock".
These were some of the things that one parent noted: (the person is a lecturer in a local college).
1) Malaysian students have to be pushed by their lecturers to study. When you are over there, you are considered a mature adult, RESPONSIBLE for your own education.
If you don't study, you FAIL. (hence, wasting your own money). Here, lecturers have to make sure their students pass (and push and push and push, as well as FEED them answers). Here, students are like BABIES. Lecturers gotta take care of them.
2) There, you have to look for the lecturers. You make the appointment with the lecturer. Here, THE lecturer looks FOR you.
3) Reading and Writing are going towards "Making Meaning out of Reading, Writing & Print". No longer would it be just reading for reading's sake. Instead, Creativity & Individuality is a characteristic that will be expounded and valued, instead of a mass education system where everyone thinks alike and can't think out of the box, where if the boss says yes, it's a yes, and and everyone will nod their head unison.
A lot of these has to partly due to cultural constraints and of our Asian education system. The Asian role of the 'teacher" has always been to provide answers and they are expected to have all the answers, or else they are not considered *GOOD* teachers. Well, in my opinion, (as an educator myself), I disagree with that concept. I am only human and I only know that much. However, if I don't know, I would just have to say that I do not know everything. It's not so much a matter of "face", which in my opinion, is a very irreverent and silly concept. At least I don't go and commit harikana.
I was speaking to my principal today, and she voiced out the same perspective that I had stated earlier....Well, what can I say?
As globalisation take its toll, so would the world change. It is the Asian students who are moving over to the West to study, and not vice versa. Hence, even our local education system would be going in the same direction as well. The trend is moving back towards "activity based" curriculum for kindergarten. Perhaps I sound bias. What can I say?
I can't wait.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
In Malaysia, it is estimated a loss of RM4.48 billion to RM 6.38 billion because the disabled are excluded from contributing economically (hence working in jobs). As is known, if the disabled (more towards those who are just physically handicapped, visual or hearing disabled) are taught and socialised from young, they are capable of being independent & fending and earning financially for themselves
Our country is still about 20 years behind other Developed Countries such as Japan or Australia (according to a Special Needs lecturer! *lolz*), but that can be helped as our country is still a very young "infant".
To enjoy the benefits, rights and the legislation given to the disabled, the individual must be registered as "disabled" under Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia (JKMM) or any other government bodies.
The government has set up a Code of Practices for the Employment of Disabled Persons in the Private Sector / Kod Amalan Penggajian Orang Kurang Upaya (Kod OKU) in 2001.
In the Government Services Circular no.10/1998, 1 percent of the job opportunies is allocated to the disabled.
Income Tax Act.1967:
For the disabled individual tax payer, a further deduction of RM5,000 tax relief (added to the normal RM8.000 for able bodied).
Spouse: RM2,500 (added to the normal RM3,000)
In the Recent Budget 2006, the disabled child pursuing higher education will receive a RM9,000 tax relief. Also a further RM5,000 tax relief for purchase of disabled assistive equipment. (for which individual disabled individual).
Employers receive double tax deductions for salaries paid to disabled employee and training of any disabled non-employee.
EPF Act 1991:
Disabled members are allowed to withdraw all savings but with strict guidelines and submission of relevant documents.
The disabled person will also receive RM5,000 from EPF as a compassionate gesture.
Rights of the Disabled:
Sales Tax Act. 1972:
Sales tax has been exempted from assistive/supportive equipment. (such as orthopaeics appliances, hearing aids, wheelchairs). The disabled people can also apply for special funds to buy motorised tricycles and other devices from the National Welfare Foundation.
Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976:
If disabled children are put under custody of mother, she need not worry about finding extra income to support the disabled children for funding will still be the father's responsibility, and action can be taken against him.
Married Women and Children (Maintenance) Act. 1950 (Revised 1981):
The wife has the right to claim maintenance even before the divorce hearing. (able or disabled!).
If father fails, just refer to the Law Reform Act ler... ;-)
Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1971:
The deceased's estate will be reasonably divided among all dependents, here, referring to either son or daughters who are disabled and unable to maintain themselves, and also a (disabled) daughter who is not married.
If the deceased's will does not provide sufficiently, they have the right to request for provision to be given out differently from what is stated in teh will.
Housing: The government through Syarikat Perumahan National Berhad (SPNB) gives a price discount of 20 percent to disabled persons with low income.
Education: a monthly allowance is given to disabled children
RM25 in primary/secondary school.
RM3000 persuing higher education.
Transportation: up to 50 percent on tickets are given. including MAS, KTMB, Transnasional and Syarikat Prasarana Negara. They are also exempted from paying road tax. (applicable to local cars) and 50 percent discount on Govt. duty on local cars.
Communication: Telekom (its Pakej Penyayang), free monthly rental and free telephone enhanced facilities, (call waiting, call transfer services).
Establishing a business: A launching grant up to RM2,700 for the purpose of starting up a business. Additional grants however, will be given for business expansion.
However, many of us fail to realise that there are others who are not looking at the same matter in the same perspective as we do, who may have never been exposed to the same matter as well. When they raise a question, or a question (which may seem SO OBVIOUS to us), they might be derided for asking such a basic question, or, the teacher/lecturer may give a response which seems to give the student the impression that they "should already know".
In my opinion, if I have to speak a second language (or use big words, or whatever), and a friend keeps asking me a million questions on it, (which I know is bad, but I JUST dont feel like answering anything that moment, and i knw by experience what to expect), I'd rather keep quiet and pretend I don't know what it is about.
Otherwise I'll pretend I had never heard of it, and only later reveal that I actually do know about it (but not necessarily to them), but it's just that I want to avoid competing, so that they can SHINE IN THE GLORY of their own knowledge, as that is WHAT THEY WANT ler.
(Anyway, if I really know something, it would show much later on, and there is no need to prove yourself through competing anyway).
Now, *back to the original topic...since I have digressed...*
I remember, when I was in Pre-U, a classmate of ours asked so many questions that she was given the label "verbal diarrhoea" by our New Zealander Economics lecture, Mike Naylor. The other classmates complained that she asked even the simplest questions, ones that they would not have bothered asking..... Nonetheless, this didn't deter from continually asking more questions. In the end, guess what?
She got straight As for Pre-U. Well, I don't know if this was an exception or if it was by chance a coincidence. But then again, she was already a recepient for full scholarship during the Pre-U programme....(so what can I say?).
What can I say? I say, KEEP ON ASKING QUESTIONs. Who cares what other people think ler. You pay to study. So you BE THE SMART ONE. Go and ask all the questions you need answers to. If the others dont want to know, that's THEIR Problem lar. (at least the lecturer will give you credit for the fact you are one of those students who are PAYING ATTENTION & IS INTERESTED in what HE has to say anyway!).
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Say for instance, AD's analysis on the AirAsia 2,000,000 free tickets. I didn't think of the, not so popular, yet unoccupied seats, but since the customers are paying for the airport tax (which is about 40 % of total charges), the operational costs are covered (or less for Air Asia to cover in this aspect, that is).
A way to lower the marginal cost of operations for Air Asia. Well, it works both ways. The same way where cinemas give the vouchers for buy one, free one tickets for the less popular movies, or charge less for matinee shows or in the morning, so that more people would come and watch. Of course, at night it does not make sense to do that as it will lower the margin of profit for the company, as everyone is flocking to the cinema. Comprende?
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Bronfenbrenner's work showed how the child could be affected (in their microsystem), by the macrosystem, (and vice versa) and all the different layers between (mesosystem, exosystem).
Today, in groups of four, my class did a case studies on the Malaysian Orang Asli who were displaced, and relocated to an urbanised area, to live in these one storey bungalow houses. The MacroSystem (whereby the need for proper documentation of birth certificate and MyKad is required for children to be able to enter school and look for jobs) is one of the ways that affect not only the poor, but the indigenous who have been relocated. Many of these people do not realise the importance of having to register their own children's birth, not to mention are so hard core poor, that they can't afford to even take the bus to town or go register their children.
As such, without the proper documentation and knowledge, the MacroSystem (The system that is set out by the govt) works against these people, leading them to be caught up in a vicious circle, and these people, without assistance, may continue to live very poor lives, and down many many more generations to come.
For the indigeneous, they are however, not socialised in the ways of the urbanised life, (being nomadic to begin with, take for example, the Penans of Sarawak), and being placed in an urbanised area (forced more likely), is truly a cultural shock for them. These people are not farmers, but they go around gathering shoots and food, and have not been taught the importance of using money. Where previously they were free to move, now they are expected to search for their own money.
Their children, are now expected to go to school. The mesosystem, in terms of socialisation, the children (the hardcore ones that is), are ostracised by others because they are so poor, that they refuse to go to school. Although these children understand the importance of education, yet the social part of it is one that could break or make these children in willingness to attend school.
Without the education, the children too end up in that vicious cycle of poverty, where they are unable to find high paying jobs, and this may continue down the generations...
[will write more later...]
Paquette & Ryan papers.
On an unrelated note, I was watching Legal Entanglement (currently on XHE- Channel 34) in which, the main character, Tracy, was published in the newspaper as having had an affair (as a mistress) to this big honcho of a lawyer when she was still at university. The lawyer, Tracy, was devastated (seeing the news!).
The first thing that came to my mind, is that, this mindset probably only prevails in Asian society. If it were published in the UK, or the States, most people would probably NOT bat an eyelid......*man*. If people are living in together these days, what difference does being a mistress makes? (in fact, in olden days, mistresses had "unspoken" power)......*rolls eyes*.
I am not being cynical, but that is a fact. (I think the chinese series is making an exaggeration out of that particular episode). This is cross-cultural differences for you ler....