17Jan

To Welcome With the Spirit of Hijrah

kmss-welcome

What and where is the starting point?

It was our first week. And that morning was my first session with both current and new students.

“When seniors and juniors gather in this school, how can you relate this situation with Sirah? Any particular event that came across your mind?” I asked our students.

They looked each other. As if so many things happened and I ‘miss the train’.

One of the students replied, “hijrah!”

“Yes, indeed. Hijrah! Your brothers and sisters left their home, and come to this new place, we should consider our selves as Ansār and the new students as Muhājirūn. Ansār loved Muhājirūn, they helped them and they even sacrificed for their new brothers and sisters. Allah praised them in the Quran because of their selfless attitude” I responded.

59_9And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madinah and embraced the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their chests of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful. [al-Hashr 59: 9]

The seniors love the juniors, assist them, and provide them to fulfill their needs. The juniors love the seniors, respect them, and pray for them. Those are the truthful and will be the successful, as promised by Allah.

Bullying is jahiliah.

There is nothing funny and cool about bullying.

It is us to decide, if the school is going to be a school of faithful people, or a school of jahiliah which could not be cured by our Islamic garments , our memorization of the Quran or our collection of A’s in the exams. We will never tolerate bullying.

May Allah bless you and our school, boys and girls, khalifah of Allah.

15Jan

Education: Jihad Against Zombification!”

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“Do you guys know any Zombie movies?” I asked our students this morning.

“Zombi Kampung Pisang!” one of the sisters replied.

“Zombieland!” another one responded.

And the list went on and on.

“What are the similar characters you realize among those Zombies?” I continued asking them more questions.

The students did not respond immediately. They took few minutes to reflect. Asking them to provide you with facts, most likely you will get what you expected. But when you ask them to share some simple hypothesis, the speed of response will decrease. Analyzing involves thinking. And after many years involved with students, and even my own kids, I have to say that thinking is a huge challenge and the scenario seems worsening from one year to another.

I told our students during my first session with them this morning that their parents must have some ideas on why they want to spend a huge amount of money sending their kids to a school which the fee for one student could be like 1000 times more expensive than having their kids at public schools. And not all the parents are rich. I know some of them struggle very hard to afford their option sending kids to our school. I want the students to reflect their parents’ idea on education.

What is wrong with our public education?

Why you are here?

endangeredMind

I shared with them an important questions I found when reading Jane M. Healy’s Endangered Mind: Why Children Don’t Think – And What We Can Do About It? recently.

“Since the introduction of standardized schooling over a hundred years ago, the rate of literacy has radically declined. How did we go from a nation of unschooled but highly literate people, to a nation of over-schooled and illiterate people?”

The standardized education in public schools ignores the fact that children’s brains might be so significantly changed by contemporary culture as to be increasingly maladapted to our traditional notions of “school”. This has been described by Jane M. Healy in length.  Introducing or perhaps enforcing ‘critical thinking’ or ‘high thinking order’ module while the brain itself is injured and remain untreated, is far from answering the real problem we have.

When you talk to students, you hardly feel that you are connected to them. As if you are talking to Zombies! Alhamdulillah in this country, as far as I concern, we haven’t reach the level where Ritalin is easily prescribed to control brain activities. But I think we are not distance away from that.

Before the class even begin, our students now are in fact surrounded by fast–paced visual stimuli (TV, videos, computer games) at the expense of face-to-face adult modeling, interactive language, reflective problem-problem solving, and creative play. They are expected to arrive at school unprepared for academic learning, fall farther behind and become increasingly “unmotivated”as the years go by.

The injured brain and the unmotivated soul among our students create a huge market for self help industry.

But it makes everything worse. The short term changes pacify and lead us believe that we did well at helping them. But based on my first hand experience conducting hundreds or perhaps thousands of motivational courses, I know that there is something wrong, inside the skulls, and I am too illiterate to connect neuroscience to education. Popular psychology does not answer my concern.

It has to go deeper.

I don’t want to cheat or be cheated.

Our students are drowning and education need fundamental reconstructions.

We cannot blame the students for not being able to think.

They are sick, and the sickness remained misunderstood.

“Here in this school, we are trying very hard to prevent you from being Zombies. We need you to remain conscious, alive, becoming superheroes and save the nation for Zombies. Therefore you will experience war on brain aggressively launched in consistence” I told them.

How I wish all parents have the strength, not to think too much on their children’s grades. But I understand that educating the parents themselves is nevertheless as tough as educating the students. The vicious cycle must be stopped.

Education is jihad.

To fight against Zombification.

 

9Jan

Islamically, Mind Our Language

kmss-speakPhoto credit to KMSS Media Unit

A muslim speaks well.

They choose good words to speak their mind and heart.

To speak well is to be well educated and to be cultured.

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O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice. [al-Ahzāb 33: 70]

It is a specific command by Allah instructing the believers whenever they speak, they must speak with quality. The words are sound, the message is clear and the meaning is delivered and understood.

But we do not have an Islamic Language.

We have Arabic as the chosen language to deliver the premier sources of our language but it is not conditioned that to become a Muslim, one must speak Arabic. To learn and understand Arabic is highly recommended but it does not make Arabic as the exclusive language of Islam. Our fellow Christian Arabs read their Bible in Arabic and pray in their churches with the same language.

So, all languages spoken by any Muslims are potentially Islamic.

But with a condition; the language must be spoken according to its specific instructions.

Speaking a language properly, even when describing others, is demonstrating the talker rather than the talked.

The sentence “John is stupid” is a shorthand version of something like this: “When I perceive John’s behavior in a variety of contexts, I am disappointed or distressed or frustrated or disgusted.” We are talking about ourselves here more than about John. But through a kind of grammatical alchemy, the ‘I’ has disappeared. Our grammar has forced us to ‘objectify’ our feelings, to protect them onto something outside of our skins. [Postman, Neil. Building a bridge to the 18th century: How the past can improve our future. Random House LLC, 2011.]

Plato once said, “when the mind is thinking, it is talking to itself”.

Speaking is directly related to the mind, and the quality of mind is the quality of a person’s personhood.

Therefore, we must carefully examine our language. A Malay Muslim, ‘Islamically’ speaking, must use proper Malay language. To learn Malay language it to improve the ‘Malayness’ of a Malay so that as a Muslim, he or she speaks with Islam’s quality and value.

Let us take an example.

When a young man aged 20 sent an email to an ustaz to invite him to his campus, he asked, “ustaz, ana nak tanya anta free tak tarikh 20 Mac nanti? Ana nak ajak anta datang kampus ana”

The sentence is made up of three languages; Malay, English, and Arabic:

  • Ustaz = Malay (Arabic Origin)
  • Ana = Arabic
  • Nak = Malay
  • Tanya = Malay
  • Anta = Arabic
  • Free = English
  • Tak = Malay
  • Tarikh = Malay (Arabic origin)
  • Mac = Malay (English origin)
  • Nanti = Malay
  • Ajak = Malay
  • Datang = Malay
  • Kampus = Malay (English origin)

The meaning of the sentence is “ustaz, are you free on the 20th of March? I want to invite you to my campus.”

Is the sentence Arabic, English or Malay?

The student who said the sentence is a Malay, the ustaz is Malay, so, the sentence is in Malay when spoken and heard. By using the Arabic pronoun which is ‘ana’ (I or saya in Malay) and ‘anta’ (you or awak in Malay), it does not make the sentence Arabic. I am amused to discover that some people think that using the Arabic pronouns such as ana and anta is a Sunnah because the Prophet PBUH used those pronouns! I believed that Rasulullah PBUH did not only use the Arabic limited to pronouns, but he spoke the entire sentence in Arabic. So, if any of us want to be more Islamic by following the Sunnah, then we should speak the whole sentence in Arabic, and not just the pronouns.

By using the mixed words in one sentence, the person might not realize that his intention to make the sentence Islamic, produced a reverse impact. In Malay language, we have our own way to address others. We consider the seniority, and we use the appropriate pronouns accordingly.

The sentence is heard by the ustaz who is a Malay and with his Malay ears and brain, “Ustaz, aku nak tanya engkau, engkau lapang tak pada 20 Mac nanti? Aku nak ajak engkau ke kampus aku!

The sentence is considered rude. Even if aku is changed into saya, it is still inappropriate to do so.

I saw some young journalists on television inappropriately address people during interview with the wrong pronouns. They address and old man as ‘dia’ rather than ‘beliau’. Even though the message is understood, but again, the whole point here is to improve the way we speak, not just because of the social requirement, but it is Allah who commands us to speak proper Malay, proper English and proper Arabic, to be good Muslims.

A Muslim is a person with a sound language.

Mind our language.

Speaking, writing, and thinking!

 

5Jan

Teaching With Movies

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This year, I will try to choose at least 10 movies for #KMSS students to watch. It will be good for their Social-Emotional Learning. Each month the school will emphasize a different value, such as sportsmanship, friendship, respect or honesty. I will discuss with teachers several movies that related to the monthly topic. For assessment and to obtain extra credit, students would watch one of the movies with their families, talk briefly about the film, and submit a written response to one of three discussion questions posed by the teachers.

Sample assignments could be something like:

(1) Sportsmanship and Friendship: Cool Runnings, Brian’s Song, and Angels in the Outfield;

(2) Respect: Captains Courageous, Boystown, and To Kill A Mockingbird;

(3) Character growth through taking responsibility for your own actions: Quiz Show and The Miracle Worker

I hope our students will be excited about the project and talk about the films with each other.

I was accused by many several years ago when a tv drama based on my real story did not meet the people’s expectation. It was an attempt and what if… 10 years from now, we have brilliant talented young and faithful directors from our graduate, who can interprete the aesthetic of life at its best?

I believe many of our students are among the visual learners. It is a duty for us to help them discover their talent.

24Dec

PT3 o PT3!

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It is hard to say, why parents should be so upset with the recent PT3 results.

As an educationist, I am not into the idea of mass instructions reflected by this centralized series of exam. There are so many reasons, be it economic, political, cultural, or even psychological, why the exams fail to serve justice. Students are individually unique and the standardized exams are always good at ignoring them.

Teachers and schools know their students better and school should have the autonomy to design the assessment based on the uniqueness of each institution. At least, part of it is exercised through this new PT3 where marking is not centralized. And the poor result should be taken as a measurement for improvement at school level, rather than blaming here and there.

There’s nothing to be upset. The result does not determine anything. Not even SPM, not to mention the future of our kid.

Read More »

1Dec

Independent School, Independent Culture, Independently Survive!

kms-girl

When my wife and I decided to send our kids to private schools, we consciously understood what sort of future would it be for them. If they want to pursue their higher education abroad, getting a normal scholarship is not going to be easy, no matter how good the qualification is. That is the reason, I prefer using the term independent school, rather than private school. The idea of being independent must properly embedded right from the beginning.
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26Nov

Teach Less, Learn More!

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Algebra was already taught in Primary School. Proverbs were already part of Malay Language syllabus when our children were only 8 years old; age when abstract thinking was still distance away from the proper cognitive to understand metaphore. Mubtada’ and khabar which the teachers used to learn when they were in Secondary School, are now already introduced in Primary School. And yet our students still don’t speak Arabic, as many wish.

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24Nov

ITEP Week #10: Islamic Education vs Muslim Education

kmss-education-community

This week, we are required to read Farid Panjwani’s  “The” Islamic” in Islamic Education: Assessing the Discourse.”Current Issues in Comparative Education 7, no. 1 (2004): 19-29.  The article is available at eric.ed.gov

Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.

Brothers, sisters and teachers,

I believe that Farid Panjwani in his article title ‘The ‘Islamic’ in Islamic Education: Assessing the Discourse’ raised a very important issue which is not limited only to education, but to the whole discussion about Islam.

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