COMMENT | I recently came across a recording of a retired principal, V Chakaravathy, ranting at the reigning tsar of the education regime Maszlee Malik in a dialogue session organised by the Asian Strategy and Learning Institute (Asli) in Subang Jaya.
The arguments took me back to my schooldays in Sekolah Temenggong Abdul Rahman I (Star 1) in Johor Bahru, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Listening to the principal having a go at the minister reminded me of Star 1's own principal PV Kulasingam. This no-nonsense educator was much feared. He had a stable of teachers of various cultural backgrounds.
I still remember the name of those great educators of my life and times, D Varma, Wong Seng Kuang, Ho Liang Kho, Elizabeth Tan, Cikgu Hasan. I remember the name of the office boy as well, Pakcik Seman.
That was the time of tuck shops, sepak yem, bola chopping, and only prefects wearing ties. The 'tablet' was not an iPad, and learning was fun in a school where English was the medium of instruction.
I did not remember much homework given to be completed at home under the light of my kerosene lamp, since I could still play soccer to my heart’s content every evening after school.
I could still roam around my village after school, playing in the nearby stream to catch fish and grasshoppers, roll old bicycle tyres around the neighbourhood, or walk along the huge water pipes that sent refined water to Singapore, and I could still watch my black-and-white American and Malay TV programmes, the two channels in Malaysia and two more from Singapore.
In school were the basics of reading, writing, counting, and speaking taught with not much stress, as I recall. I thank the universe the internet, iPhone and all other kinds of dehumanising and life-distracting gadgets had not been invented yet.
I could relate to what Chakaravathy was saying on the topic of how today’s children are experiencing a slow but sure death of creativity and problem-solving.
I lamented on the state of our country on Facebook recently:
How can this happen?
A country even begins to learn about the ethics