Why don’t our students enjoy school?

OCTOBER 31 — I thought you’d never ask.

1. Have you been in a school lately? Every student looks like they’re on Death Row. The very best thing that can happen on any given day is Class Cancelled. Either that or an asteroid hits Earth. 

No wonder each day, every one of us schemes up some ploy to avoid school. Flu, diarrhoea, alien abduction — anything. That girl from Sunway whose Mummy chained her to the pole (because she refused to go to school)? Did you notice that the news report didn’t say anything about her crying or begging to be unchained? 

Why do you think that’s the case? My answer is simple: School is like Planet A and the rest of the world is Planet B. And Planet A stands for Planet Aiya Damn Boring. At least go prison also can see people fight; in school only see grown-ups talk like they know more than us kids. 

Which is not even true because I see many teachers don’t even know what a Learning Management System is or what is SnapChat, or if they know also like don’t want to use like that.

2. My teachers — surprise, surprise — often look like they too are hoping a calamity will strike. Their eyes tell me anything would be better than the catastrophe of their job. 

They walk into class like their Honda just totalled a traffic light and their beloved Arsenal lost to Watford 6-0. Some of them are so bored they look like they prefer to watch paint dry. 

They even spend the whole lesson sitting down and talking like the voice on National Geographic i.e. like they’re waiting for the spider to finish building its web bungalow. At least that commentator sounds like he’s having fun; my teachers sound dull and tortured at the same time. 

Aiya, if she’s pregnant or sakit never mind lah, but they are neither mah! In fact, I think schools should remove the teacher’s chair in the class so they are forced to stand lor.

3. My teachers are so predictable. The smarter ones among us have already read up on the chapters prior to the class, we already know the stuff, and we’re not impressed with what “Mrs Lee” has to add which, most of the time, is nothing. 

No jokes, no exotic stories, no provocative questions — nothing but a grey recap of the key points of the subject, some exercises and, okay, next class. The thing is we often don’t even blame her because how much lesson-enjoyment can be covered and shared in the average 40-45 minutes per class period? 

This is even assuming that class starts on time which will only happens after Semenanjung Malaysia shifts below Tasmania.

4. There is only one class that is fun — P.E. But almost no adult thinks that’s important, except for the P.E. teacher and even he doesn’t always sound convincing. My dream school: To have outdoor classes every day, or physical activities more than 80 per cent of the time. 

Or just an hour of something genuinely exciting. Many of us want to experience a lesson as more than just gloomy words from a book. The way things are going now, the teacher may as well stand at the door and hand out Valium. 

I mean, I don’t expect my teachers to be as terror as those TED Talk punya orang, but I do expect them to put a little more effort in — what’s that word they use? — engaging us students. We kids are not cruel, we also wish the best for our teachers one but the sad thing is many of them don’t appear to want to be “in our worlds”, know what I mean?

5. Yes, I don’t deny that many of these textbooks have pictures — and that’s nice — but it’s the whole mood of school which makes us want to stick our heads in the canteen freezer. What mood? That culture, spirit or “atmosphere” of school which proclaims that The Sum Of Life Reduces To My Exam Results.

I hate this from the bottom of my cat’s butt. I hate being judged primarily by my academic performance, I hate being made to “feel bad” because I scored “lower than average” for Maths (which I struggle with all the time). Worse still, when my Art is top in class, my parents hardly think it’s a big deal, saying some crappy thing like artists “can’t make any money” blah-blah-blah.

6. Funny thing is, the other day I overheard some of my teachers talking about the “Uberization of Schooling”? Jokers! It’s been around the past 30 years and it’s called tuition, dammit. 

Anyway, many of my teachers work part-time in tuition centres, a situation which is illogical on so many levels: If tuition centres were so good, why don’t we kids just study there and skip school? If teachers perform better in tuition centres (which, I gather, is something taken for granted) why don’t they simply quit their school-jobs and work full-time in these centres? 

Or start their own private tuition? Is this a reason why many private schools are popping up all over town like mushrooms? Better pay = better teaching = better students, etc.? But, of course lah, how many parents can afford those crazy private school fees? More than RM1,000 a month — my parents die lah

I even know of this guy who sends two of his kids to private school, after that he also got no more money so sometimes he skips meals or eat peanuts. Damn siao lor, but at least his children enjoy lah.

7. I also don’t know what’s the big fuss over Science and Maths anyway. All my parents’ friends all get into their oh-so-awesome “5 Science 1” classes also never become scientists; everybody end up doing business and nobody use Add Maths. 

Ya I know lah one or two become doctor or engineer, but how many people are like this lah? So few, right? In that case, why force everyone to study Physics, Chemistry and Bio? Since so many people end up working in the “corporate world” shouldn’t we be learning things like Negotiation, How to Manage Risks in Real Life, How To Raise Funds (no need 2.6 billion lah, just a few thousand also good mah), etc.? Why not make those subjects compulsory?

Some more, in Malaysia, how many famous scientists we got? Other than a young lady win some world-class research award every 20 years, you where got see any well-known local scientists one?! 

And let’s be honest, most Malaysians look up to rich people only. Clever no use one. Can play music no use one. Can so terror design and sculpture all also no use one. In the end must make money. See lah, if our Olympic medal-winners don’t earn a lot people also don’t respect them, right?

So you know what I’m saying? In the end, students like me also know that it’s about money not about knowledge. And once we realise that, we will only value our academic “journey” to the extent it helps us earn more. 

And every genius or dropout also know that doing well in school hardly adds up to a higher salary, right? So tell me again: Why should I study so hard?

Finally, here’s something I found on Twitter. What do u call a museum with cool stuff? A science centre. A science centre without any cool stuff? A school. 

Sigh.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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