Over­all per­for­mance im­proves

Fewer straight As, but not to be alarmed

New Straits Times - - News -

AN­OTHER im­por­tant year in the coun­try’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. The first batch of chil­dren put through the paces of the Higher-Or­der Think­ing Skills (HOTS) sys­tem, which dis­tin­guishes a child’s learn­ing from the lower-or­der out­come through rote mem­o­ri­sa­tion, sat the Si­jil Pe­la­jaran Malaysia (SPM) ex­am­i­na­tion last year. The re­sults are out and there is good and not-so-good news. The not-so-good news — the num­ber of straight A+ at­tain­ment is lower from that of the pre­vi­ous year; 1.94 per cent, or 102 stu­dents, scored straight As, com­pared with 2015’s 2.6 per cent, or 163 stu­dents. Teachers, par­ents and stu­dents, how­ever, should not de­spair be­cause the good news is the over­all per­for­mance has im­proved, with the Na­tional Av­er­age Grade (GPN) at 5.10 com­pared with 2015’s 5.15. A lower GPN score in­di­cates bet­ter per­for­mance. Given that it re­flects the ef­fec­tive­ness of HOTS, this is pos­i­tive. The ex­per­i­men­tal batch has grasped the con­cept of think­ing crit­i­cally, not an easy feat given years of spoon-feed­ing and rote learn­ing.

HOTS de­vel­ops a child’s crit­i­cal think­ing skills. It is ar­gued that this method is a lev­eller. For ex­am­ple, chil­dren with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties of­ten suf­fer from an in­ca­pac­ity to mem­o­rise. With HOTS, this prob­lem is cir­cum­vented. Fur­ther­more, in com­ple­ment­ing the l ower-or­der learn­ing with ap­pli­ca­tion of knowl­edge ac­quired though prob­lem-solv­ing HOTS ques­tions, the de­sired out­come of a pro­fi­cient work­ing adult is made pos­si­ble. In this re­spect, the bet­ter per­for­mance av­er­age in­di­cates that schools could be made in­ter­est­ing as the in­tel­lect is stim­u­lated and chal­lenged.

Im­proved over­all per­for­mance in­di­cates, too, that the method and prac­tice of teach­ing, the ped­a­gogy, is ef­fec­tive. Teachers are prov­ing able to put the HOTS re­form into ef­fect. If they were not, there would not have been the im­prove­ment. And, given that it is early days yet, the achieve­ment of this first batch of both stu­dents and teachers is en­cour­ag­ing. Nat­u­rally, there is a need to iden­tify the weak­nesses and work on them, so that the sec­ond batch of SPM stu­dents can do bet­ter.

There is, of course, rea­son to re­gret the de­cline in the num­ber of straight-A stu­dents, be­cause the A rep­re­sents a yard­stick of ex­cel­lence, which is es­sen­tial in any so­ci­ety. But, we can­not de­spair. Ev­ery­one has their edge, which can be nur­tured and fined-tuned, hence, per­haps more at­ten­tion can be chan­nelled to pro­duce the ge­niuses the coun­try is in dire need of. We need more of them. We have, for in­stance, pro­duced many pro­fes­sion­als to a point where the econ­omy is not able to ab­sorb them prop­erly. But, where are the Elon Musks of Malaysia, who will place us squarely in the race to Mars? Malaysia has not yet pro­duced bil­lion­aires like Mark Zucker­berg, who suc­cess­fully rode on the backs of the ideas of ge­niuses. As the ed­u­ca­tion re­form is fully grasped by the ed­u­ca­tors, the like­li­hood will be a rapid im­prove­ment.

We have, for in­stance, pro­duced many pro­fes­sion­als to a point where the econ­omy is not able to ab­sorb them prop­erly. But, where are the Elon Musks of Malaysia, who will place us squarely in the race to Mars?

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