SPM... the lead-up, the exam, the joy or the aftermath — Boo Soon Yew

MARCH 12 — I write not only in eager anticipation as a private tutor for my students receiving their SPM results this Thursday but also in trepidation of old habits that die hard as I hear remarks by an undoubtedly experienced teacher who was on air today on the morning radio show.

She recalled an apt moment when she advised her student in the first biology class to start studying right from the beginning. No wasting of time which the student gainfully replied “Yes, we have lots of time !! We can do it !!”

Yet as months approach the examination, this very student was now struggling with her work and even keeping her eyelids open during class !!

Which now begs a question... are our students so bogged down with school work that they just become plain exhausted or be on the verge of a burnout?

Come this Thursday, you will hear otherwise from the lips of those who have wisely managed their time and done well, even excelled in their subjects.

Yet, you will surely find the ones who remain in the doldrums because of coming short of expectations or worse have turned indifferent to all academic pursuits so much so that the SPM result slip will be furthest from his or her thoughts.

Now back to what I heard over the radio this morning, the teacher remarked on how the ideal preparation is done by schools, which entails the important trial exam which thus warrants the completion of syllabus by July.

Now to the unaccustomed but very logical mind, a Form 4 syllabus for a particular subject has same volume of content as the Form 5 syllabus. Hence the approach by schools (whether it is an instruction by the Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri or not) is to complete the Form 5 syllabus in seven months when the regular Form 4 syllabus runs for at least 10 months.

Some might remark that cramming 10 months into seven months is manageable. However, try that with a massive biology syllabus or a chemistry syllabus that requires so much thought or a physics syllabus that has many useful applications to learn... and an experienced, honest teacher or tutor will tell you it does not do justice to the subject and certainly unfair to the student ramming the facts down their throats, occasionally at breakneck speed.

You hear stories of a particular topic bring breezed through in two periods at the click of the laptop button and shifting of the power point slides, and yes.. in the eyes of the teacher, the syllabus is completed.

Yet, it begs the question... Is the student equipped to answer questions?

I shall not go into the "efficacy of doing State Papers or Residential School Papers." Suffice to say is that if the syllabus is rushed through, year in and year out, you breed disillusioned students who find it futile in the classroom to follow lessons.

What is vital is for education to be an experience, a learning joy istilled early in the primary years and nurtured into the secondary formative period before one embarks on an independent tertiary quest. I wish the very best to all who are receiving their SPM results soon and may it be a small but sure step upward to gear yourselves up for facing future challenges!!

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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