Malaysia’s ideal student

APRIL 4 — This country’s ideal student:

  • would be reading this during class or at a meeting
  • probably hates school
  • detests Report Card time (even if he excels) because he knows these occasions are nothing but offerings to the gods of You’re-Only-Good-Enough-If-Someone-Else-Says-So
  • focuses on doing, on serving, on learning, on thinking, on partying (sometimes with only herself), on feeling whatever she wishes to feel (because screw all that Happiness & Success b.s.)
  • will spend hours playing Fall Out 4 if he wants to because life is too short to not finish a good thing started
  • will spend days in a forest or mountain or soup-kitchen because damn do we really need a reason for everything?
  • may spend weeks consoling an ungrateful friend (even during exam season) for the same reason she doesn’t spend so much time on social media as her friends i.e. she doesn’t need the validation of others, although this doesn’t mean she loves warmth and kindness and support any less than any of us
  • seeks the approval of only those who have given their all to her
  • seeks the opinion of those who have suffered for what they say
  • will take tuition classes over her dead body
  • doesn’t feel the need to be logical or rational all the time
  • complains by doing
  • may love social gatherings or hate them (it simply ain’t about being extrovert or introvert)
  • is known by his supreme quirkiness, reflecting the banality of the normal (although he’d be pissed off by smart alecs who toss out phrases like “banality of the normal”)
  • isn’t in the least interested (let alone obsessed) about being “top in class”, about norm-based assessment (which ranks people like they were brands of cereal), about dance teachers performing with parents (and vice-versa), about “celebrity students”, about “top-ranked universities”, about those pull-outs in struggling newspapers in which educational institutions battle for that fading slice of attention society still gives them
  • is able to excel academically at will despite dedicating more than 50 per cent of his attention away from formal education because 20-30 per cent of 365 days a year is more than necessary to absorb anything important about a subject
  • is not without firm standards; she’ll never be at risk of failing any subject (let alone dropping out), although she’ll always be fooling around because only losers never take playful risks; she probably agrees with management guru Tom Peters that a GPA 4.0 shows you someone who “buys the act, and has been colouring between the lines since the age of 5”
  • hates to “colour between the lines” simply because someone tells him to
  • can be a pain in the ass because he questions everything, including the need to be poh-lite all the time
  • may tell people off for being a pain in the ass, especially obnoxious a******s
  • will be inconsistent, because that’s human and rather attractive
  • spends more time on CCA or extra-curricular stuff than formal study; he loves to attend workshops on new topics because his childlike curiosity never dies away
  • may choose not to learn something new because learning is over-rated anyway
  • doesn’t mind not doing anything “productive” because she suspects the word is over-used
  • feels no guilt procrastinating because he can distinguish between important milestones and the huff-n-puff self-styled prima donnas’ make to feel more important 
  • learns whatever he wishes to learn, online offline F2F P2P or, heck, even on television
  • is interested in education as part of her desire to be in the world, to love it; to understand people, nature, technology (and everything in between)
  • isn’t always happy, and won’t go around hurling “you-must-be-happy” homilies at friends because he knows there could be serious reasons why unhappiness may be the proper emotion to experience at certain times
  • feels deeply and will risk helping the few even if this means pissing off the many
  • is disgusted at all the kow-tow “ampun tuanku” happening in the country
  • can be aged 9, or 24 or 50 or 84
  • doesn’t care about ideals; she knows perfection is a notion to laugh at or, better yet, show the finger to
  • is probably fictional, at least for now…

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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