What in the World…?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the teachers I had in secondary school.
When I was in Form 5 (an important Government Examination year!), my class had Mrs L for Geography. I remember her name, but think it would be better if she remained anonymous. Mrs L was known as one of the best Geography teachers and so I was ‘excited’ to have a good teacher.
Within a few lessons, it was clear that Mrs L’s idea of teaching involved looking at past exam questions and showing us how to answer those questions. I was more than a bit disappointed.
No one else minded at all because, apparently, the whole purpose of school was to learn how to pass exams well.
So, when the Ministry of Education did its thing of transferring teachers mid-year, and Mrs L got her application approved, I was not sorry to see her go. I think I must have been the only one because more than one person bemoaned the fact that we had lost one of the best teachers and now who was going to help us prepare for the Government Exam at the end of the year??
The replacement we got was a young, rather inexperienced, not trained in Geography, teacher called Miss L (different name, same initial, as luck would have it). Miss L’s idea of teaching was to stand in front of the class and read from the textbook. Form 5 geography was all about Monsoon Asia and South East Asia countries. It involved learning about Malaysia (for the umpteenth time!).
Since there is SO much material to cover and really not enough time in the school year to go through all of it, the teachers have to make the difficult but necessary decision to teach only that which are ‘guaranteed’ to come out in the exam. Not everything in the textbook is taught. For Form 5, that meant learning about India, Japan and Malaysia.
In hindsight, having Miss L was probably a good idea because I told her that I wasn’t going to study India, Japan and Malaysia and that I would prefer to study the subject on my own, thankyouverymuch. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to say that to Mrs L.
I studied Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma (as it was then called).
It was a gamble, but so worth it, because in the end I answered those questions for the exam and got an A. If nothing else, seeing my answers among a sea of India, Japan and Malaysia was probably a nice breath of fresh air for the examiners.
A common misconception among Malaysian students is that the question on Malaysia in the Geography paper is compulsory. No, it is not! (It wasn’t back when I did it. Things may have changed since then.) A question on Malaysia is a sure bet, ie, you can be guaranteed that there will be a question on Malaysia, but it is (was?) by no means compulsory. I know because I deliberately did not answer that question and (still) managed to get an A.