Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Of SPM and certs

The news in The Star today left me a little bit disturbed.

First there's the story of this super-girl who was allegedly reported to achieve 19A1 in SPM by Utusan Malaysia last week but instead got only 14A1.

Then there is the story of a undergrade who lost an astounding number of 300 certs extolling his achievements in a bus.

Then there's the report that a total of 4311 students got straight As in SPM.

Then there's the collective news about the students achieving 16A1s and 14A1s etc etc.

There is completely no news about the normal you and me who study hard and get the normal range of 8-10As. It seems a long time ago that getting 10As is a big thing. It makes me feel stupid that I felt it was so hard to get all the A1s a mere 5 years back. Wonder what our parents are thinking? It was an achievement for them to get just a A in their years.

About the certs. I was like wow! 300 man... that's no mean feat. I have trouble getting 50.

I hate to say this but seems that Malaysian students are being subconciously trained by the government towards being record breakers. It's always about As and As and more As. I knew, because I was a product of this system and I always feel like wanting to be the best. I lived and thrived in competition. In school, they only award you for being good in exams. They only reward you for being good in co-curriculum activities, provided you also did well in exams. They only praise you when you managed to get 1st or break records for the school. If you didn't win, it's not your fault. It's a conspiracy theory. Like a dog, you are trained to fetch, to sit, to jump and fed with a piece of meat when you do them. They train you until you only feel successful and happy when you got the first prize in school and being the president of a club.

Only when you grew up then you realised how much you had missed in life. 'Opportunity cost' is what the economist name them. Instead of spending the time making friends, you used it to study. Instead of spending time learning the soft skills needed to improve your quality of life, you used it to show why you merited the post of president in a small, dysfunctional club (and of course, it comes with a cert). Reality will only kick in in the later part of life when you are alone in the world, with no idea how to cook or wash your clothes, and no friends to turn to for help. Hopefully by then, it is not too late.

What I wanted to share is that breaking records and earning certs is not everything in life. In fact, even if you managed to be a record holder, you are more likely not to be the best. The best usually don't like to compete with fools. They live in caves. For example the beauty queens contest. I always look at the gals at the contest and ask where did all the beautiful ladies go. Then I go to the supermarket and they are there, on the streets.

And yeah to put the nail in the coffin for those of you who still think that good results = intelligence.. there's apparently this anecdote shared by Chang Yang and Xuan Ni: When asked what she is going to do after getting this excellent results, the supposed-to-get-19A1a-gal apparently said she wanted to go to study pharmacy in Cambridge. But there seems to be a problem. Cambridge doesn't offer a pure Pharmacy course.

So much for good results = resourcefulness and intelligence and general knowledge and... but fair enuf, I didn't know Cambridge didn't offer Pharmacy also...but she is THE GAL - the gal who is supposed to super clever, the one supposed to score 19A1s and who wrote a book on how to get it. If she didn't know, will us lesser mortal know? (of course some of us did).


youngyew said...

For me, not everyone needs to know that pharmacy is not offered in Cambridge. As a matter of fact, I didn't know as well before someone pointed it out in ReCom.

However, the problem I have is, as someone who is ambitious, is initiated and is paving her way towards a tertiary education in Cambridge, she should at least have found out about her course before saying it in a national news. To make matters worse, she didn't only say it when she was thought to score 19A1; one week later, when the result came out and she ended up getting 14A1, she still said the same thing. No one has bothered to do some fact checking for her.

And she actually wanted to "increase neurons in human". I expected more from a national top scorer (or a supposed-to-be national top scorer).

It just shows how lacking our education is. Looking at some of the Australians here, I am rather amazed, and humbled at the same time.

king ung said...

300 cert is like wow!!

malaysia education is very weird... just like your say.

Edmund Yung said...

Blame on the scholarship selection (or the university intake for STPM ppl)that looks on numbers of 1As. For some people, it's their chance to get a prestige scholarship or a real short cut to study their course of dream.

I like your post, reminds me of my time in secondary school that I really don't care about subjects like Moral, History, Biology, BC, BM. The idea of getting straight 1As is nonsense. I think like that mainly because the reward (scholarship for courses) that comes by isn't what I'm interested. And I thought that my parents can afford for me to enroll into a private college that only need me to have not more than 5 credits...

So for those who can't afford private education, the only way is to get JPA, and for them, sacrificing their "youth" isn't that big price to pay.