Monday, November 23, 2009

Racism, Non-Tolerance, or Just The Easy Way Out?

Pix Credits- Flor Saluzzo. 

A conversation with a church mate today led me to think about my practicum experience at uni. This church mate is a lady in her early 50s, and has a daugher currently completing her remainder of her tertiary studies in Melbourne, Victoria.

Her daughter described the experience as "Racist". 

Perhaps for the rest of us Malaysians, who have been fortunate to be trained and taught in the same English language that the Aussies did, and the ability to speak it well too, we may not be at the end-stick of "racist experience."

Some of the incidents that the daughter noted were,
  • asians, notedly many from China being shouted at by the Administration staff for not being able to communicate in English. The daughter had to step in to intervene.
  • cases of Asians (in this case anyways) being bullied at train stations.
The mother was concerned that if this had happened in the girl's university, what more could be said if it was out in the bigger circle of the Melbourne city?

The mother also mentioned that perhaps in a city like Melbourne, the growing denomination of asians may pose it too close for comfort for the local caucasian residents, who are lashing back in discomfort at the proximity and rate that the migration is growing. I really do beg to differ.

However from my perspective, it may be worst in the surburb where I had gone to, where Asians make barely less than 1 percent.

I'd like to share my experience of my time there. I've not written much about my time during my practicum at uni, as I was thrown into a situation which I truly did not understand what happened then. Yes, and it took  courage to finally write this down after the incident happened two years back.

During my 2nd year (which essentially was the final year practicum) in Toowoomba, I did my practicum in a Catholic Girls College. It was basically a private all girls school. 

It was not an easy ride for me. I thought I was doing fine until the teacher who had me told me I had to leave!

Now that I reflect on it, I realised it was a one-down situation for me. Not only did the mentor teachers assumed the very worst of me, they did not inform of what had gone wrong, nor bothered to discuss the entire situation with me. In fact, they blamed me for what had gone wrong.

Let me analyse the situation here for all caucasians, of how a teacher who is brought up in a typical asian background would expect when she goes to an Australian school setting.

TIME SLOT FOR CURRICULUM PLANNING

In a typical asian school, be it pre-school, primary school, or secondary school, most teachers do not have the luxury of what is called "curriculum planning" time.

Whereas from what I have found, even in preschool and primary school, all schools in Australia allocate a special curriculum planning time where the school brings in a substitute teacher to take over the class at least if not once a week, it'll be once in two weeks.

The allocated  "curriculum planning" time is normally about 2-3 hours where the teacher goes to the "teacher's room" and goes and supposedly does her planning.

For a person who's only having her second practicum in an Australian private school, I was not aware of these practices that I'd assume have been going on for the past twenty years or so? (Not that I would know, would I?)

Asians, especially the chinese, like to jest with one another, saying, "hei, lei tau lan ah?" (hei, are you snaking off (from work)? 

When I look back at this, my mentor teacher then related to me that I had "questioned" the motive of this one particular teacher I had seen in the staff room who was not at work.
  • Tell me, was it wrong of me to ask what she was doing in the staff room? 
  • Was it wrong of her to assume that I was being "condescending" to her?
  • Who exactly is right in these situations?
AUSTRALIANS ARE VERY PROUD OF THEIR WORK

Actually the same applies whether they are working at the front desk, as the contract household housekeeper, or even the part-time sub teacher that comes in to help with the work. This I believe, applies to all individuals who have grown and brought up in an Australian setting for more than fifteen years the least.

Perhaps the same applies to those brought up in New Zealand, but for now, this only applies to Australia, as per my personal experience.

I have observed that even classroom assistants are proud of their work, whereas their counterparts in an asian setting (meaning Malaysia) would not regard their work with the same respect.


It was when I returned to Malaysia and tried to apply the same regard for my work, and found some "people" regarding my work in a condescending manner that I begun to be able to empathize with how these Australians feel.

When my mom came to visit Melbourne last year, she encountered the incident of a pedestrian (actually the correct term to describe the lady was "female vagrant") who shouted at the driver for not dropping her at the stop she wanted to get off.

How do you describe a "female vagrant"? It's basically someone who is dressed in rags, and is really dirty all over, without having showered for days, and her hair is all unkempt.

In a similar situation in Malaysia, most "female vagrants" or vagrants for that matter, would not have the gall to shout at anyone, as everyone would just avoid them, and not look too highly upon them.

My mentor teacher then related that I had been *condescending to one of the classroom assistants in the school. 

SO IS IT RACISM, NON-TOLERANCE, OR JUST THE EASY WAY OUT?

At the private girls college where I had gone to complete my studies, the teachers from the onset seemed to be very "friendly" and "nice". But that was where it all stopped.

In total, the mentor teacher finally informed me that "after much discussion", I as a student teacher was not "ready" nor "suitable" to be a teacher, and their school had to release me.

Ironically, I had been working in Sydney for the past 8 months after that as an Early Childhood Teacher in preschools, and under a number of employers.

In my opinion, I'd rather have completed my practicum in a place like Gold Coast where the schools had more exposure to asians. It may not be as asian-crowded as places like Sydney, nor Melbourne, but from what I have heard, the schools there are more understanding of the differences and the needs of international students.

And especially for Student Teachers who have to go to schools to complete their practicums. These are some of the issues that schools should clarify and have dialogue with to clear these things that may crop up.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Malaysia: Free 30 Mins Pre-Natal Massage@ Soul Nibanna review

Are you currently a pregnant mother who is already in her 5th month of pregnancy? Hankering for someone to just rub those aching shoulders of yours, i.e. getting a complimentary 30 minutes massage in the ambience of a spa?

Well look no further. As I was surfing through the world wide web, I found this blog review from Eat N Play about the Soul Nibanna spa in SS2, Petaling Jaya.  



Eat N Play has included a lot of glossy pictures of the spa, so we can have a peek at what's inside Soul Nibanna. According to Eat N Play, Soul Nibanna is currently having the complimentary 30 minutes pre-natal massage promotion for all pregnant women. As my blog is related to parenting as well as early childhood, I thought it appropriate to add the link to the review here.

The first 4-5 months are considered the few months that mothers are not to over-stress their bodies, but it is normally considered safe by the 5th month. According to Eat N Play, the owner of the spa states that
Prenatal Massage will help to reduce stress and also promotes relaxation to pregnant women and there are lots of other benefits such as relieving muscles spasms, cramps and pains; increasing blood circulation; relieving anxiety and depression; improving labor outcome and eases labor pain.
So, for 5 -9 months pregnant ladies, do check out Eat N Play's review if you want to procure the complimentary 30 minutes pre-natal massage!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And I"m Off To Singapore, Guys!

 Hi readers, this is to inform you guys that I'd be away this coming weekend (19th-21st September) to Singapore for 3 Days 2 Nights.

Well, that is, should everything go as intended.

With Raya around the corner, it was truly a last minute decision. I was not even sure if we'd be able to even get accomodation, nor transport to head down. But it seems that some ad-hoc trips could be sheer fun for the stress it produces! Heh. What with the Grand Prix F1 that will be on next week, and everything, I thought accomodation would be like looking for a needle in a haystack..

I'll be checking in at a budget accomodation, very near to a MRT (lucky us!), costing a mere SGD58 for a twin-bed sized room.

Along the way, I'll be there to check out their local early childhood scene, as well as make some research on their early childhood rearing practices and teaching qualifications. Well, not that I'd be working there, but it's still good to know a bit more of a subject matter related to one's professional training. ^^

Okay, Ta-Ta!  Enjoy your Raya holidays!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This blog will remain as it is.

After much consideration, I have decided that this blog will remain as it is.

As much as I would like to execute any changes, this blog has a 5 year history. Hence, any changes may be detrimental to its health.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Did You Notice Any Changes to This Blog?

I don't know if my readers have noticed, but I have actually changed the address for this blog. Even the blog title...! Just needed to make it something less of a mouthful. But as you can see, Google hasn't really been of much help in any case!

Nonetheless, I've been checking my StatCounter almost on a half-weekly basis to watch how the readership has been.

The other reason to this could be attested to the fact that this blog is almost 5 YEARS OLD. Its long history would also be the reason why I felt it needed a face-lift of some sort.

Do give me some suggestions!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Article Summary: ECE Literacy New Pathways

Makin, L & Jones Diaz, C (2002) , New pathways for literacy in ECE, in L Makin & C Jones (eds), Literacies in early childhood: changing views, challenging practice, Maclennon & Petty Pty Limited, Eastgardens, pp.325-35.


Summary:
The article states that two important changes in society need to influence literacy education are:

* Globalization of communications and competitive labour markets has an impact on linguistic diversity.
* Growth of technology which changes the way people can make meaning and literacy is becoming increasingly multi-modal. Increasing globalization is a factor to why bilingual education may be essential in the long term, both to survive culturally, and for people to remain competitive in the international business world.

Funding from government bodies act as:

o as a method of encouraging compliance
o linked to performance
o linked to program alignment with government directions.

Funding cuts has meant that early childhood services now find themselves under more pressure to prepare children for school literacy (book and print based) and move from child centred orientation. These skills largely ignore techno-literacy, authentic assessment and languages other than English.

* Narratives of popular culture offer a “way into” literacy, such as children who use drawing and model making, rather than words, and that if these activities are regarded primarily as design rather than as communication, then children’s literacy will be undervalued.

* Finally popular culture provide children with a lingua france through which they share other meanings about their worlds.

* A rejection by educators of popular culture merely locks out the potential exchange of ‘cultural’ and ‘social capital’ and connection to literacy beyond that which is provided at the setting.

I believe that popular culture provides many good sources and ideas in developing children’s literacy skills to think critically as well as broadly. Yet, this too entirely depends on the context of which the class the children are situated at.

The teacher in class may have many ideas in wanting to link and bring popular culture into the classroom, but if the context (school and parents) feel that it is not relevant to what they want for both the centre and the parents, the work is fruitless unless the teacher is able to advocate for what s/he wants.
Article:
Linning, L (1999), “Children’s literature: resources for literacy development ‘, in R Campbell & D Green (eds) Literacies and learners : current perspectives, Prentice Hall Australia, French Forest NSW, pp.105-10.

Summary:
The article discusses the role and value of children’s literature in the literacy program, whereby it can assist in the development of literary appreciation. Printed texts in different forms can introduce children to the recurrent structures, conventions and allusions in English literature which attune to their experience, knowledge and stages of reading development.

The different modes of responding to literature vary according to the purposes and natures of the texts. They range from

* Enjoyment of language & story, understanding that print is meaningful.
* Learning to decode- beginning independent reading and practicing skills.
* Losing oneself in books-where readers read their favourite popular series and develop fluency and confidence.
* Finding oneself in books-where readers recognize characters and settings which relate to their own lives.
* Making ethical applications (Personal & social), where books stimulate readers to think about other times, places, cultures, ideas & personal circumstances, in a light hearted but perceptive way accessible to young readers.
* Wide reading- which gives readers a context for approaching and responding to texts new to them and developing their inter-textuality skills.
* Aesthetic response- where readers notice how authors use language effectively and enjoy literary criticism.

I would agree that readers respond to books in a variety of ways. Ways which are relevant to themselves in different contexts and situations. Coming from a context where bilingualism is the norm, yet fluency of mastery of a few languages is barely achievable, I believe that I would not have been able to attain the standard of fluency in English were it not my interest as a young child in reading books such as those by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl or Lucy Maud Montgomery.
These books enabled me to lose myself in the stories, as well as finding characters similar to my situation, and at the same time develop the vocabulary to express my intents and wants in ways I would not have been able to deem possible.

Literates As Social Practice (Article Summary)

Jones, Diaz, C. & Makin, L. (2002) ‘Literates as social practice’ in L. Makin & C. Jones Diaz (eds), Literates in early childhood: changing views, changing practice, Maclennon & Petty Pty Limited, Eastgardens, pp.7-13.
____________________________________________________________________________________
Summary:
Literacy is defined as including talking, listening, visual literacies and critical thinking. Traditional perspectives situate literacy in the individual rather than in social worlds in which the individuals actively participate.

The focus was previously on skills on decoding meanings in paper-based texts, devoid of the social influences within which texts are constructed, as it will limit understandings about literacy and about the diverse ways in which children learn.
The 3 so called misleading misconceptions of literacy is:

* That it is a unitary object, but the fact is that literacy is not the same for everyone. It is more of how “technology is used to pursue social goals’ which is intrinsic to literacy.
* That it is neutral, and functions independently of specific social contexts, but the fact is that literacy has been made use to achieve social objectives and used to market to different contexts.
* Finally, the misconception that is responsible for high order thinking & cognitive processes, detached from other social processes, as an independent variable, but the fact is that it has to take into account the connectedness of other literacy factors, i.e. ethnicity, race, age, class, occupation, gender or geographic location.

I agree with the authors whereby literacy does not just mean knowing how to read and write, and decode words, but using it in context of the student’s environment, and context. I feel that many Malaysian as well focus too much on learning how to read and write, and neglect the importance of developing social skills where their literacy skills could be employed to communicate their needs & wants.

Literacy: Shared or Interactive Writing Teaching.

Learning activity 5.8: Develop a series of steps to teach students how to recognize and write a sentence. Consider that you would teach this during shared or interactive writing. Refer to SR 5.14: Pinnell & Fountas, page 203 for strategies to assist you.

According to Pinnell & Fountas (1998), “interactive writing is a teacher-guided group activity designed to teach children about the writing process and about how written language works.”
A series of steps to teach students how to recognize and write a sentence:

* The teacher gathers children around an easel/ blackboard/ a vertical plane on

which the teacher will be writing. All children should be able to see the writing.

* Together the teacher and children co-construct a message/text, i.e children write

word parts/whole words, teachers fill in the rest. These words for the children would be new or unfamiliar words, a challenging word, whereas the teacher will write in the simple familiar word. The reason for this is to spend more time focusing and learning the difficult word. This may take a series of days, if the sentence is a long one.

* Other ways include having word lists, word wall, name charts, referring to books

that children can refer to.

Demonstrating Writing:

* An example of interactive writing piece of work where the class students and

teacher can co-construct as part of an integrated science unit experiment incorporating other Key Learning Areas, for example a plant growing project.

The children with the teacher prior to experimenting would predict the outcomes, and the teacher would scribe down their predictions. After the experiment has been completed, the teacher and children would come together to discuss and write out their findings. Pinnell & Fountas (1998) suggests a strategy, whereby before composing, children reread some of the sentences they have written before proceeding further. They further suggest that these worksheets can be collected and be part of a big book, or it could go into the children’s individual folders for assessment.

Learning activity 5.9: Consider management issues such as size of groups, moving to next activity, behaviour, time issues and learning content of activities. Write a brief explanation describing how you would address the following:

Management issues – size and dynamics of groups, transition and rotation of groups, behaviour guidance.


Size and dynamics of groups:
To have effective management of student’s behaviour, each group should have about 6-7 children in a group in order that they could receive adequate attention from the teacher or adult who is working with them. The classroom teacher would enlist the assistance of teacher aides and parent helpers to assist in rotation learning groups. Parent helpers would help best in activities that do not require use of formal instruction or tools.

Transition and rotation of groups:
A task chart or something similar works as an effective visual behaviour management to guide to the learning centres they have been assigned to. The students would also be reminded to keep away the activities they have worked with for their rotation learning centre for the next group, and wait quietly to go into the next activity as

An egg timer is also an effective way of informing all groups that it is time for transitions. During rotations, the main teacher could also ring a bell for a similar effect. The main classroom teacher should also go from one group to another to observe how the students fare or work in each learning centre.

Behaviour Guidance:

The use of behaviour charts on the wall serves as an effective visual reminder and behaviour management tool. The teacher also reminds the students of the behaviour expected of each student together as she explains the activities being implemented for that learning centre

Literacy: Modelled Writing & Strategies

Learning activity 5.7: Read SR 5.13: Hoyt, Mooney & Parkes and describe and explain the purpose of modeled writing and strategies a teacher could use when modelling and verbalizing the ‘thinking in their head’.

The purposes of modeled writing include that students understand the similarities and differences between reading and writing, and between fiction and non-fiction.

This enables students to creatively and effectively use each type of literacy practice, irregardless whether reading or writing for a variety of purposes and with a variety of audiences.

The purposes of modeled writing include

§ Watching the teacher use phrasing in sentences or paragraphs.

§ Observations of leaving a space between each word to make it more coherent and understandable.

§ The use of correct punctuation.

§ Become familiar with the different types of genres.

§ Know that the words that a speaker says can be translated into symbols and signs and written down on the blackboard/whiteboard/ or paper.

§ Understand that words that are written down can be broken into parts and is a combination of different letters (of sounds) put together.

Strategies that a teacher can use:

§ Provide explicit and frequent models and demonstrations in shared reading and writing.

An example is the modeling of writing an invitation card to a friend for a birthday party. The teacher takes out an old invitation card and shows it to the students. She then asks the students questions about the invitation card, and lists down on a chart or the blackboard what is needed to be written down on their invitation. The students can work on creating their own invitation cards during individual work time based on these criteria.

§ Inviting and supporting dialogue about the writer’s craft during informational book read aloud.

As a continuation of work for the invitation card that the children have written, the teacher can take out an informational book such as a recipe book. She will then read out the recipe and ask the students what they require from the recipe. The teacher then scribes down on the blackboard or paper as the students state their observations. The teacher can plan for the implementation of a cooking activity based on the recipe book used during the informational book read

§ Continuing the demonstrations and dialogue with the expectancy of increased involvement and understanding during shared reading and writing.

Finally, when the making of the invitation is completed, the teacher can present in a subsequent lesson, on how the envelope can be used to send a letter and what information is needed on the envelope. For this, the teacher will show and model the children a sample of used envelopes and stamps. She will frame the questions in context of the envelope, and scribe down the children’s answers. The students can then be provided each with an envelope, or create one of their own, and write in the information on their envelopes and post it into the “classroom post box”. If there is not a classroom post box, one can be made in lieu of this unit.

§ Providing further demonstrations and increasing the expectancy of independent use during guided reading and writing.

Finally, the teacher can implement the use of journals to write down their reflections on their feelings and findings through out the implementation of this unit of work. The teacher will revise some of these terms and new words that they have acquired throughout the week, or the unit and this would be used as part of the children’s work assessment.

The use of old invitation cards, used envelopes and recipe books are real-life examples that can be presented to the children. It not only provides real life examples of the literacy practices of people in society, but it provides a pre-made genre which the children can relate to as they would have seen these as familiar objects in their own daily lives.

Literacy: Guided Reading (Year 1)

Learning Activity 5.3
A lesson overview for a Guided Reading lesson for a Year 1 class is as follows:

Before Reading: Key Learning Area/ Subject: English
Year Level: 1
1. Learning Objective: To read texts with students in Blue Group.(Beginning readers).
2. Resources: What is it? ( text for Beginning Readers).

Students are each given a copy of the book.
3. Prior Knowledge:

* Students make use of visual cues to help in their reading.
* Students have some knowledge of the animals in the pictures in the book.

The Guided Reading Lesson:
4. Introduction:

* Teacher introduces book and title of book with students.
* Teacher discusses the illustration of the cover with students

5. Body:

* Teacher points to the word and reads it.
* Students follow the reading aloud in their little books.
* Teacher asks students questions of the pictures

-What can you see from the picture?

* Teacher relates objects in the pictures to student’s life

- Where have you seen this before? What did you think of it

- What colour was it? How did it look like?

- Were you scared/happy/sad? Why were you scared/happy/sad?

- What did you do?

6. Conclusion:

- Teacher read and summarizes with the students what they have just read.

- What is this? This is a ______

- Children look at the picture and give the answers.

After Reading:7. Extension activities:

* Teacher revisits this text with children using other activities such as using cloze activities and asking children to find missing words and match.
* Teacher makes matching strips and asks children to match sentence strips to word with pictures covered.

Literacy: Modelled reading (Early Years Level)

Learning Activity 5.1:
Develop a list of suitable literature for reading to/modelled reading in the early years. Choose a variety of texts and complete the table below.

Text

Text type/ Genre

Purpose

Who sank the boat?
(Pamela Allen)

The Potato People
(Pamela Allen)

Can You Keep a Secret?
(Pamela Allen)

Bears on Wheels
(Stan and Jan Berenstain)

Sleepytime ABC

Three Billy Goats Gruff

Mrs. Wishy Washy.

Elliot the Piglet. Q2

Fiction- Picture Book


Fiction – Picture Book


Fiction- Picture Book


Fiction- Picture Book

Non-Fiction: Picture Book

Fiction- Big Book


Fiction- Big Book


Non Fiction- Picture Book

Humourous story-to develop prediction skills.

To discuss about relationships between families, grandparents.

Discusses about crowns, kings and rulers and prepositions.

Discusses about acrobatics, numbers and bicycles.

Introduces letters of the alphabet.
Introduces concepts of big, small, middle sized.
Talks about familiar animals on the farm.

Discusses about a pig who feel secluded due to his size.



Literacy: Kindergarten activity review.

Task 4: Implementation of a Finger Rhyme activity.

Lesson plan: Finger Rhyme (5 little Lady Bugs) and reading of a story.
Purpose of activity: Do a finger rhyme with children (on an insect the children are familiar with): The lady bug.

- Illustrations will give the children contextual clues to what the rhyme is trying to communicate.

Equipment:
- Finger Rhyme poster (5 Little Lady Bugs) by Rita Galloway.

Five Little Lady Bugs:

Five little lady bugs sitting in a tree, (hold up five fingers)
The first one said, “ I’m glad I’m me”.(wiggle thumb).
The second one said, “I feel great too”.(wiggle pointer finger).
The third one said, “How about you?” (wiggle middle finger).
The fourth one said “It’s time to fly away”. (wiggle ring finger).
The fifth one said, “We’ll talk another day”. (wiggle little finger.)

Evaluation: I shared this activity with a group of 3 year old children in a childcare centre. The children responded quite well where they showed this by following along and imitating the finger movements. I read the rhyme to them three times. The children were very familiar with ladybugs, as the classroom’s name was LadyBeetles!

I personalized the poem by adding the children’s names after holding up each finger, and the children giggled when they heard their names being mentioned.

Task 5: Evaluation of a computer learning program.

Title: JumpStart Kindergarten: Teaches Essential Skills for School.

Age Appropriateness: Good

  • Only appropriate for pre-school age children (4 years and above as per the target age group of this program).

Multi-Cultural: Good

  • Dolls: Rearrange dolls from smallest to biggest. (multi-cultural dolls )
  • Has toys and manipulatives from other cultures. A calendar that shows the different seasons and festivals, i.e, Chanukah according to the computer calendar.

Interactive: Satisfactory

  • It requires a lot of reliance on audio instructions, which may not be appropriate for deaf children.
  • Cupboard: Which has random objects on the shelves. When the cursor clicks on it, it will say the name of the object as well as the label of the object in capital letters.

Child-Friendly Functionality: Excellent

  • Only needs the mouse to work and click on the activity.

Literacy: Good

  • Chalkboard activity: A sentence will be said out and the child has to click on the corresponding pictures. The name of the object will be said out when it is clicked on and its labels will appear. Introduces names of objects with the label.
  • Rhyming: Introduces rhyming of objects in a visual manner.
  • Aquarium with a hamster: To look for hamster in the room. The hamster will give verbal instructions. Children learn to develop listening skills.
  • Introduces the letters of the alphabet
  • Matching of shapes.

Classification: Good

  • Colouring paints activity: To find the “odd man out” and then colour, or paint the pictures.
  • Outdoors: Take pictures with a camera for painting/ colouring purposes
  • Sequencing: From the smallest to the largest doll.
  • Counting skills: 1-20 (on the mat).
  • Classification skills: Extends and practices classification skills: shapes in the right box, “odd man out”,

Different modes of language: Very Good

  • Radio: Singing and dancing on the mat. Click on the pictures to start the music
  • Music: Songs from the radio as well as the letters of the alphabet which is fun, and the ABC song is something familiar to a lot of children.

Children’s Interests: Satisfactory

The activities provided are fairly interesting, but could be better.

Related links:

Literacy Tasks (2nd Year Studies: Part 2)

Letter to a Malaysian Education Publisher: Penerbitan Pelangi

Recently, I wrote a letter to a malaysian publisher, Penerbitan Pelangi. It was the 7th of July when I forwarded the email to both their Headquarters (in Johore), and Marketing Office (in Kuala Lumpur).

My Letter To Them:
My name: xxx
My Address..xxx
Tel number..xxx

To: Penerbitan Pelangi
xxx
xxx

Re: "Hutan Berhantu" in- Bijak Baru 4 Text. (Haunted Forest)

I write here related to the subject above. It was brought to my attention from a Principal & Owner of a Kindergarten in Kuala Lumpur of the story above, published by Penerbitan XX in your Bijak Baca 4- "Belajar Membaca dengan Sukukata" text by Aliza Ali.

The story published in the book depicts the tale of animals in the jungle taking revenge on the wood loggers that were cutting down the trees, which were the animals home.

The story may be a fascinating one to much older readers, but in moral terms & values, it does not provide the right values that teachers should inculcate to children, as it does not teach the right way to pursue justice- which is through exacting revenge on others who have wronged us.

This is not the appropriate kind of values that should be passed on to our children, or the next generation, where everyone would 'go tit for tat', which would create a never-ending vicious cycle.

Second, I bring to your attention the picture of the "figurine with long fingernails & dark shaggy hair" on page 30 of the same text. It has come to my hearing on certain reports of numerous children having sleepless nights after looking at the drawing of the figurine in the story.

As this text is targeted towards children aged between five to six years, the publisher MUST take into consideration the psyche of the children's mental & emotional development of that stage.

The report given by the Principal was the children "had the impression that ghosts had "long fingernails and shaggy hair", and some had trouble sleeping for days.

The "Hutan Berhantu" (Haunted Forest) story is not appropriate to be included in a learning resource, which should instead be focusing on teaching & creating better strategies to pursue justice than the use of revenge.

The text should also not include stories of the supernatural, which has incited fear in the children's hearts, as has been demonstrated from the reports given. This is of utmost important to not do so, especially in the early developmental up to the teenage years, where children are at the impressionable stage, and will internalise these images. Having fearful fits is not what parents want happening to their own children.

To end this, I ask that the Publisher seriously take what has been reported, to understand that young minds are not a matter that is to be played with, as it will not only affect the children for the rest of their growing years, but ultimately the rest of their lives.


Regards,
CY.

Bach. Early Childhood (Uni. SQ)
Int. Dipl. Montessori Pedagogy (UK-MCI)
www.casadelbambino.blogspot.com

Their VERY SHORT but careless reply to Me:
Dear Ms XX,
Thank you very much for your email. We will definitely take note of your comments in our future publications.
Once again, our sincerest thanks.
Yours sincerely,
Jan Giam
Penerbitan XX Sdn. Bhd
It has since been a week at the time of this writing. I am still waiting for a response.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Baby Rearing Practices: Living & Staying with Babysitter for 3 years.

Recently a staff of mine just gave birth. The baby is now barely one month old, and take a guess to what I had just found out?

The mother (a Malaysian born Chinese, aged mid30s) does not keep the baby with her or look after the baby at home. In fact, the baby was sent to a babysitter where she will be looked after for 5 days a week, and only returns home during the weekends! The mother has to pay the babysitter a fee of RM900/month. The mother does not keep the baby at home.

This is not the first time I have heard this.

Three years ago, when I was at university in Queensland, a high-school friend of mine, RinNa, (a chinese, 26 years old then) had come with her two children (were both barely five years old) and family to the university to attend her brother's graduation convocation. The high school friend told me that her parents look after the children, and the children only come home during the weekends!

I was appalled when I first heard it, and had mulled over it for a while.

What is even more shocking is recently, I had found out the same happened to my brother & I when we were young. My brother and I had different babysitters though. Never would it have crossed my mind of this ever occurring to me.

My mother commented that a lot of parents needed to work to survive (and this was over 30 years ago in Kuala Lumpur), so it was even a practice then, that newborn babies were sent to be looked after by a babysitter and would live with the babysitter for up to as much as three years before going home to live with their parents.

However, a lot of the parents would come to visit their babies every day, like what my colleague now does. They do miss seeing their babies, but are just unable to find the time to look after them. As a result, the babysitters would normally develop a very close bond with the babies taken care of, (not that I would remember anything now....!).

What is my perspective on this?

I had always thought that if parents wanted to bring their children out into the world, they should foot the responsibility, and be willing to look after their children and not handing the job to someone else.

However, the reality of the situation is that the cost of living sometimes can't be borned by one person alone (and in most asian families, that is the father). What I meant by stating of the cost of living encompasses but is not limited to just monthly repayments for the house, the car, petrol, electricity, as well as groceries and other social activities.

As I am neither married, nor have any children, I will reserve my comments on this controversial matter till much later. ^^

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Part 1: Australia Permanent Residence (885) via Child Care Co-ordinator

There has been many changes to the Skilled Migration Programme to Australia of late, in wake of the recent Economy Recession that has hit Australia. The government has already placed a cap on the 2008-2009 General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program.

However, this does not affect the Migration Occupation In Demand List (MODL), or Skilled Occupation List (SOL), where Child-Care Coordinator is among one of the occupations in demand to be eligible for application for migration to Australia.
As a disclaimer, this entry is written based on my previous personal experience in the process of my application for migration to Australia.

If you are researching/Google-ing for information on making an application for migration to Australia, take this entry with a pinch of salt, and make your own informed research to what is best suitable for your case.

When I completed my tertiary studies at the end of semester 3- 2007, it had hit me that there was much uncertainty of what my next step would be.To get some breathing space, I decided to head over to Down Under's nearest & dearest neighbouring country, New Zealand. I had promised my nieces years before, that I would go and visit them. What more a better time to go than then...

Fast backwards to three years ago.... 2006.

When I first enrolled to complete my (Bachelor. Early Childhood) B.ECH at University of Southern Queensland on-site in Toowoomba, it was only for one year with a total of about 6 units of courses left till completion. At the same time, I was waiting for the results of my International Montessori Diploma to be ready.

To provide some information to the uninitiated, the B.ECH is a three year degree teacher training programme only found in the state of Queensland, Australia. It is also otherwise known as Bachelor of Teaching in New South Wales. The general rule-of-the-thumb now is should the degree take three years to complete, it by law normally does not allow the holder to be qualified to be registered for employment in public schools around Australia. This rule stands among the different states in Australia, although the qualification might be known under a different title or name in each state.

Halfway through the year, I decided to change my enrolment to the (Bachelor. Education) B.ED which is a four-year program.Anyways, to cut the story short, at the end of my fourth year (where I was doing the lot of extra 3rd year units to complete the programme) I decided to revert back to my original programme, which was a B.ECH (a 3 year program). The reasons to my exit was that it was out of my control to be able to complete my practicum on time in order to graduate.

During the period of my time of studies, in order to obtain a legal student visa to complete our studies, students must have units of studies which contributes to the accumulation of credit in order to extend the duration of the student visa. However the teaching practicums did not fall under that category, and did not have any credit value to it. Teaching practicums however, needed to be completed before the student could graduate with the degree however.

However, halfway through the final year I realised I had problems with my practicum.....

What happened to Chea-Yee's practicum at university? Find out in the next instalment of this exciting drama of "WHAT HAPPENED TO CHEA-YEE'S TEACHING PRACTICUM". ^^

Friday, April 10, 2009

Social Play: Observing Children's Behaviours Through Dramatic Play.

Dramatic Play is among one of the important activities that is normally written into the daily preschool program across the different types of early childhood learning institutions in Australia. It helps children to learn social and language skills as well as develop their abilities to get along with their peers.

Therefore it is important that the teacher in the classroom should be trained to write out age appropriate activities on a daily basis, as it is too required by law for documentation purposes.

The following extracts are taken from Beaty, J (1994) Observing Development of the Young Child, Delmar, New York pp.116, 124-30. Her book has proven useful especially for trainee teachers undertaking observations, or those in need of aid on observations of children in the many different learning areas.

Gains Access to Ongoing Play in Positive Manner.
Access Rituals: These are maneuvers that children use to gain access to play that is already in progress.

Children who successfully gain access to enter ongoing play in a positive manner use among the follow strategies:
a) Observing the group to see what is going on
b) Adopting the group's frame of reference
c) Contributing something relevant to the play
d) Asking again if they are denied access
(LeBlanc, 1989, p.30)

Maintains Role in Ongoing Play in Positive Manner
Developing the skill to enter ongoing play is ont the end of social skill development for the preschool child, but only the beginning. The child must also be able to continue playing with the other.
They must be able to:
1. Carry on a conversation.
2. Main eye contact when speaking.
3. Listen to and watch other speakers.
4. Adjust own conversation content in order to be understood
(Smith, 1982, pp 135-136).

Yet being successful at group daramatic play helps young children to ractice and learn the social skills necessary to be sucessful in life. Some of the social skills children can learn through group dramatic play include:
1. Adjusting their actions to the requirements of their role and the group.
2. Being tolerant of others and their needs.
3. Not always expecting to have their own way.
4. Making appropriate responses to others.
5. Helping others and receiving help from them.

Resolves Play Conflicts in Positive Manner.
During group play, major conflicts often focus on
1. roles
2. direction of play
3. turns
4. toys

Rather than focusing on the negative behaviours during conflicts, spend some time observing how certain children are able to settle their disputes positively. We can learn a great deal from children if we are willing to.

Children who are successful in resolving play conflicts in a positive manner often use strategies such as
1. Ignoring the demand.
2. Distracting using other things that they forget about the conflict/demand.
3. Reasoning.
4. Negotiating a Compromise.
5. Co-operating
6. Compromising a demand

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

International Montessori Convention 2009 Kuala Lumpur

The other day I saw a press-ad for the above event in the local Malaysian TheStar daily.
The time & location for the convention is on:
Date: May 30 & 31, 2009
Time: Sat : 9.00 am to 6.30 pm

Sun : 9.00 am to 6.30 pm
Venue: Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There is also a fee payable for the two day convention. For more information, click here.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Australia: Childcare Unemployment on the rise?

The United States is officially in recession. Now, Australia is feeling the pinch of it.

With major childcare operators like ABC Learning Centres & CFK already in receivership, it definitely is really a difficult time for casual & relief staff to find work. As early as two months ago, news came about that ABC was trying to poach staff off Careers123 which is contracted to provide relief staff for ABC, and that they were trying find ways of not fulfilling their part of the contract with Careers 123.

Last month, about 241 ABC centres were put up for sale. It is good that they have received over 3300 Expression of Interest since November 2008. At least this goes to show that there are others who are still capable of operating and hiring in what seems to be bad times.

The laying off of so many employees deems that parents who have lost their jobs may no longer be able to send their children to childcare centres. Spending which was "discretionary spending" is no longer a viable luxury. This affects the number of children attending childcare centres, and in turn the number of adults required to meet the children adult ratio. The MAIN reason why casuals & relief staff were needed in the first place in these places.

With so many others out there being laid off work from other fields of work, what was deemed as low paid work, even childcare now may not seem such a bad idea after all. Anything to pay the bills. In fact, if one wants to have a guarantee of having work, locking oneself to a full time job is the only way to do it. Eventhough pay is low. Such is that competition between the casuals and those laid off will make it really difficult to even find any work at all!

The only benefit that I can see out of the recession is that it will teach people to be more appreciative of their work, and to value money. In my short life, my family was hit by the recession in the mid 80s, and one in 1997, when I had just completed high school. Growing adolescents who have been overly pampered by their families will no longer be able to just put a hand out and receive money like they used to.

So work hard you guys! Bosses now have an excuse to retrench, and lay off unproductive workers. Employees who use to whinge that they are being overworked, and have too much paperwork..... think twice before complaining about your employers! It's just really time to tighten our pockets, and watch how we manage & spend our money.

During this time, we are only seeing the start of what is happening to the market now. Hopefully by the time I return to Australia for the purposes of fulfilling my migration requirements, that the dust who have settled by then.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Malaysia: Childcare Graduate back on home ground!

To all my readers,

I am finally back on home ground in Malaysia now!

My plane landed on the Friday before Chinese New Year, and I have been back for about 10 days now.

The trip to Korea & Japan was successful. It was really an enjoyable trip & experience to go to my first non-English speaking country (disregarding Malay & Cantonese, since I speak both!). Normal everyday situations like ordering meals, taking the subway, and getting my way around the city took a bit more effort with my handful of Korean language.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience! However, I enjoyed Korea much more than Japan, with economic & financial factors being among them.

Okay, Annyong Kehseyo!

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