16 year old kids who can barely do a Year 1 level worksheet.
I thought I have long accepted this shocking, sad fact.
Till recently during my oral assessment with them.
I decided to do an interview with them.
Knowing that their proficiency is beyond basic, I've prepared the interview questions. All they have to do is answer the questions, give it back to me to edit their grammatically wrong answer, and just memorise the whole damn thing.
Questions like, "What is your name?", "How old are you?", "When were you born?", yada yada.
The dedicated kids managed to do what was required.
And as for the rest, they just didn't give a damn.
I don't mind if they are able to answer these simple questions.
But they couldn't.
First, they didn't understand the questions. "What is your name?" was as far as they could answer.
Second, even if they do, they do not how to construct the answer.
There's this one kid who simply just didn't give a fuck who didn't even bother to answer the questionnaire. And when he couldn't answer the question, who just sat there saying he doesn't know. He didn't even bother asking for the meaning of the questions, nor how to answer it, unlike his other classmates.
My class with him was from 7.40 a.m. till 8.15 a.m. I wasn't just going to let him go with his I-don't-know answers. I dragged him to my next class and made him sit with me as I conducted the same oral assessment with another class, while occassionaly asking him if he has any questions pertaining the questions that he couldn't understand. Only 'bout after an hour then he realised what he should do to avoid being dragged to the staffroom, to my next class, and basically, till school period ends. 'Coz I was adamant to make him speak. 4 hours and 3 classes later, his oral test with me was finally over.
On a different but still disgruntled note, I can accept that they don't understand the question. In which getting pissed off with them for not making the effort to understand it weeks prior the test even after we have discussed it together is a futile show of emotion. I can't lose my youth this young.
But what I couldn't accept is that at 16, they don't know numbers. Say if their birthday is on the 16th, I have to make them count from 1. Like a million times till they can remember. Don't make me start on making them say their year of birth. And another shocking revelation was that a couple of them DO NOT KNOW THE NAME OF THE MONTHS.
WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED DURING THEIR PRIMARY SCHOOL YEARS?
My biggest bet is NOTHING.
And so my oral assessment turned into a one on one lesson on counting and name of the months.
Then there's this kid who sleeps whole day in class, and dreams to be a mechanic. And by gawd, he's going to make RM1500 every month and that's going to sustain his life and his family till he grows old and frail. When you wave at him the possibilities of making double the amount by just studying hard, meh. Sleeping through his school years and yet still making RM1.5K is the dream.
I'm never gonna get used to this ignorance. As long as the system sucks, we're bound to produce more blue collar citizens and poverty will always be part of our nation. But who knows, that might be the exact agenda. We all can't be millionaires, can we? Who's going to serve our food and fix our car if not the school drop outs?
Which begs the question. WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?
Do we ignore those who choose not to learn, and focus on those who still wants to; OR, do we try our best and never give up on those who have already given up on themselves -as part of our responsibility as a teacher to motivate students to better their lives?
In the movie Lean On Me (based on a true strory), the new, hard ass principal expelled all the drug addicts and thugs - no question asked, in order to save the school. Did he do the right thing? Is he denying these students chance to change to be a better person? In the movie Freedom Writer (also based on a true story), this teacher, Erin Gruwell, was given the most unteacheable class, but she managed to build these students broken lives and see them graduate.
In my opinion (or rather, absolutely inspired by Erin Gruwell and her crusade), abandoning them is not an option. Especially when you are a young teacher, full of energy, ideas and inspiration. But for how long till I break, ignore them, and just save those who want to be saved?
I might be doing those who really want to learn a favour by not wasting time on those who don't, but that doesn't mean my hands are clean. And that doesn't make me happy. Even though I can make a difference in half of my students, I'd still have blood on my hands of the other half. To be a little more melodramatic.
Which again, boosts my motivation in furthering my studies and get the hell out of the school system, even to the extend asking friends and lecturers for opinions on the whatnots. Even if I still have another 4 years to go, according to my bond. But there has to be a loophole. There has to be.
So peeps, I now repeat the question for you, regardless whether you're a teacher or not.
Do you amputate the infected foot before it infects the whole leg, or do you try to treat and save it?
(I've always wanted to say that actually. Medical TV drama is just so cool.)
Should a teacher ignore those who don't want to study and focus on those who want, or should he or she try his/her best to motivate them and never give up on them?
|Unlike toilet paper - we now know the answer.|