Monday, June 29, 2015

Animals vs Humans

This video was shot in 1969, before many of us were born. Some were still in diapers. It shows how grateful animals are for taking good care of them. Despite being separated by its owners for over a year, and being more independent, Christian, the lion, vividly remembered his caretakers.

Yes, animals remember; they feel. Videos like this makes all of us wonder, if animals could be that grateful to their guardians, why can't humans? 

And yes, there is a follow-up video taken a few years later (below), showing a more matured pride who has learnt to be on his own. But he still remembered the two (then much older) who saved him from Harrods years earlier. He greeted them, played a bit, and then left them. Christian was never seen again since.

It's also a story of being able to let go when the time is "ripe". Christian did let go of his need for the two guardians because he had to be on his own.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Leave Technology, Embrace Life

I believe you may have seen this video clip before whether in social media or directly from YouTube. It is an advertisement created by a Thai technology company meant to drive a powerful message to all of us.

There are many things that technology can do, but humans are much better than that, for they created technology, from wooden wheels to rubber wheels. From computers the size of your living room to one which you're now holding in your hands.

We created technology, but we are also the ones who abuse it so much so that we and the younger generations are overly dependent on it in every aspect of our lives. We look at our smartphones as we walk on the pathway. We cross the road reading our WhatsApp messages. We snap photos of our food as soon as it arrives and instantly tell the world on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter where we are and who we are eating with, not realising that our mom is waiting to have a conversation right across the table. I'm guilty of all that too, and I plan to gradually put a stop before it completely takes control of my life.

We have to tell our children that the iPad, Gear, smartphones are all merely devices to facilitate our work and to entertain us for a very brief moment. These devices wouldn't have a care in the world if you go blind because of it, or if you suffer from a bad backache. They won't even know if you live or die! So why make them "look" like they're the most important part of your life? Give your children, our future generation, a real life experience that such technology can't give.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Treat Them Like Our Own?

When I first joined the school, there was a meeting a week before the beginning of Term 2. We had the meeting in the library. The meeting was chaired by the CEO, and the Founder was there too. The Founder made a speech, and in that speech, he mentioned: "We have to treat each child as our own, then things will turn out alright." - in brief, he was merely trying to tell the newbies that we have to treat them well, the way we do our own children. I was touched; to me, it made a whole lot of sense because if we don't love them, there's no way they would love us and pay attention in class.

Six months had passed (a tad too slow), and I realise that whatever the Founder had said was just his words of wisdom. I have tried to be nice, to be a "parent" to them, but it backfired. They won't listen but would continue with what they were doing at that time, be it chasing their friends, talking too loudly or not doing their work. Maybe I wasn't strict enough from the beginning, but then, they are not my kids and teachers are not allowed to impose physical punishment including getting them to stand on the chair. When they cause trouble, I tried talking nicely to them but it didn't work - not the primary kids whom I'm teaching.

I began to think... 

It is easy for others, particularly those who have never been teachers - or those who assume they know what it's like to be one - to tell us to treat students like our own children. This is pure fallacy; it's just fatherly talk. In reality, we can't treat students that way, not in this era. Firstly they aren't ours; we can't impose our rules on other people's kids because they may rebel (one of my students recently spread rumours about his teacher because he dislikes her), and their parents may not like the way we try to mould their children. Heaven forbid, they may even sue us if we say or do things that we know is right, but to them it's wrong. Secondly, those who offer such advice to teachers have dealt with only two or three children (of their own); they may not even have brought them up by themselves!! They obviously do not know the problems that we have in dealing with hundreds of kids of various backgrounds, varied attitudes and different upbringings. We deal one student differently from another, and we certainly can't help all, or even ten of them, given the amount of teaching load and non-teaching duties that we have per week. Some are able to accept our ways, others are not. And when things get too heated up due to the number of students teachers have to handle, they would not be motivated and will end up being burned out just trying to educate the recalcitrant or obnoxious ones. Teachers are humans, so they do get stressed out easily if the expectations are too great but the results too insignificant.

So, do we still need to treat students like the way we treat our own children? Nope. Students don't want another "mommy and daddy" - they already have enough naggers at home. Perhaps the Founder was trying to make his point across metaphorically, not literally. I don't know. Go ask him.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It Will End Some Day

Long ago, Malaysia is known to be a safe haven for everyone because there's no natural disasters like volcanic eruption and earthquakes. The major floods that we experience here each year can be attributed more to human activities than a natural event. However, things have changed now.

The recent earthquake in Sabah should open our eyes wide. The tsunami that hit Penang years ago should tell us that something bigger is coming our way. We have got to be ready; the government has to make plans for any eventualities of massive earthquakes or tsunamis years down the road (or sooner). 

Yes, priests and ulamas will proclaim in their weekly sermons that all this is happening because there is a prophecy that the world is coming to an end. The Christians believe that it is the second coming of Jesus. Other religions would have their own prophecies. It's not a joke. No matter what you call it, this earth won't last forever. It will be destroyed millions of years from now, but there are already signs of earth's destruction. We can already see it.

Apart from praying each day for our safety, for mercy, we also have to do our part to ensure that life is preserved as much as we could. 

Let's all pray that the government would take pro-active measures to address this issue, and not sweep it under the carpet, taking it as just a one-in-a-million occurrence. Let's pray for Sabahans, the victims, and pray for Malaysians.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Breaking the Bubble

I was chatting with a friend on WhatsApp recently, and I got this message:

"Get out of this bubble u r in since you are not happy being there. If you are, then it's alright to be stuck in the bubble."

This is definitely not about soap bubbles that kids blow to entertain themselves when they're bored. It's all about getting out of my shell - the hardened shell that refuses to even crack. I managed to break the shell once when I went out of Malaysia to work in Singapore in the same profession. Two years later, I was thrown out due to my sternness, so students refused to be enrolled into my class. Kids these days just want fun. What happened next was that I returned to my old shell - teaching in a primary school. Despite being a private school, everything is just the same as before I had left the country. In fact, I think it's worse.

This bubble that I'm talking about - it makes me wonder. Will I ever break it? It all boils down to myself - do I want to break it? If I do, then am I willing to make sacrifices? I have to leave my home, I have to forego coming back home as often as I'd like to, I've to let mom live on her own and not bother if she's worried about me and I have to ignore what others think of my decision to break the bubble. Even if I decide to stay where I am, but just change jobs, I'd have to face some of these concerns. 

I've been asking myself just one question. How is it that others could just pack their bags, leave home, travel thousands of miles, relocate to start a new life without a care in the world - or knowing that others at home could care for themselves - while I can't seem to budge? Okay, to be fair, it's not that they're heartless beasts; they just do what they want because it's their life. So, would I dare to do that? Maybe I was programmed with empathy and altruism at birth, so before making any rash decisions, I need to think of how it would affect others, especially my family members.

Are those two innate elements the cause of my reluctance to break the bubble and venture into a better world like many others? Is it the fear of uncertainties, or a combination of both?

Hmm... it's something to ponder seriously and make a stand or else I'd be stuck in the bubble for all eternity - and it's not alright for someone who gets bored easily.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Decision Made

After much thought, I have finally decided that I should leave the school I'm teaching now.

This morning, I was literally breathless, and didn't have the energy to yell at the kids who were too noisy. Had to force my voice out three times before they settled down. I believe kids these days are too affected by their phones and other gadgets as they are so engrossed in their own virtual world that they don't even know that an earthquake is happening in the neighbourhood. Call them once, no response. Call them the second time, they'd grunt while their eyes remained glued to the idiot handheld screen. Raise your voice the third time, then only they'd put down the gadget and do what you tell them to. This habit is carried to the school environment. That explains why it takes at least three yells to get a 99% attention from students.

I have decided, I can't do this anymore. I'd be insane, and I'd be ruining my already-weakened body. Stop talking crap about thinking positive. When you're in my shoes, in my environment, thinking positive wouldn't help you at all. You can't just say: "Oh, it's alright. They're just kids - maybe I'll learn something from them." or just a delusional: "Well, never mind. Tomorrow will be a better day." - seriously? Then how come I end up yelling in order to get just ONE person to listen carefully to my instructions to get just ONE task done? After yelling then only she got it right while the rest remained absolutely silent for a good five minutes (only).

It's not that I've just joined this industry. I started when I was 18. I'm now 48, so you do that math. That's a whole lot of lung abuse, not that I enjoy doing it. It just gets worse as time goes on. If I had been a smoker for the same duration, my lungs would be almost charcoal by now. Years of yelling seem to have similar effect - the breathlessness, the dull physical internal pain of the throat and lungs. But my lungs won't turn black. It has probably either shrunk, or inflamed!!

I'll be writing the letter in a couple of days. I'd have to source money to pay the school for breaking the contract - that's a five-figure sum all in the name of protecting my sanity.

People have given up on me because I complain too much. Whatever. I have the right to live a good and healthy life and shouting at people is not one of them. I know that I will somehow get back into teaching again at some point after this because I don't have other skills which I could use to diversify into another industry... but at least I wouldn't be yelling as much as I have done for decades, particularly the past 2-3 years. It's not a good way to die.