Wednesday, March 25, 2009

English in Maths and Science saved?

Going by Najib's speech at the joint opening of Wanita, Pemuda and Puteri UMNO assemblies will the issue of the teaching of English in Maths and Science be put to rest once and for all?

I certainly hope so.

Brother Rocky seems to think Najib is taking a "huge risk" by endorsing the use of English since it posits Najib against "the likes of former DPM Anwar Ibrahim, Malay laureatte A. Samad Said, and PAS boss Hadi Awang who are dead against the use of English for the two subjects".

My own estimation is that on this issue, the stand Najib is taking is, to paraphrase former U.S. President Bill Clinton, "on the right side of History".


Anonymous said...

Mr. Najib sure has some good ideas, but they're very hard to implement. I want to see how he's going to achieve his goals, very curious about the outcome. I don't see anything wrong with the Malayans learning the most used language in the world. It would only serve as an advantage for them.

Take care, Jay

hishamh said...

What Jay said.

We're living in an increasingly integrated world. It's not so much that English in maths and science is an advantage per se (though there is that), but rather having more subjects in English. English class alone is insufficient to prepare our youngsters, considering that the lingua franca of business in Malaysia is English.

Anonymous said...

Please lah, how could learning obscure scientific lexicons in English improve the students' grasp of that language or even science for that matter? Go and check out the current science and maths textbooks before talking cock!

hishamh said...

As far as the scientific/maths terms are concerned - no, there is no difference; most of is latin anyway. And as far as understanding and assimilating science/maths concepts, again no difference.

But teaching in English, that's a different matter.

walla said...

It's the size of the science and maths knowledge written in english after one has learned science and maths in one of the local languages that is the problem.

Say the student graduates from uni knowing only science and maths in bahasa and he goes on to postgrad or industry; in either case, the science and maths are in mostly in english; in some other countries, they can be in japanese, korean, mandarin, russian, german, italian, spanish and so on. But if the author wants recognition to be cited in a premium publication, he would nowadays write in english (or get it translated). If he wants to write anything on the subject in science and maths, too often he would have to refer to something written in english...

Let's say you're interested to know the maths of tackling someone in a football match..

Being able to comprehend is not good enough. One must be able to use, interact, transmit and recycle it in a multitude of ways. Even if you process non-english knowledge, those are the things which make one stand out. But if we are going to use non-english knowledge, we need to first ask ourselves how much of that we have at the moment, and what's the rate of getting all that big and growing pile of knowledge translated from english to local. Unless one wants everyone to remain seated all the time while the rest of the world rushes headlong to progress.........anyway, we are not a japan or korea or germany.

When you clicked the above link and then the first 'download' article, something must have dawned in the head.

Anyway this is just something for the blogger who's a football fan. While we are trying to have that article translated, and trying, he's already impressing everyone on the maths of tackling.

Footballers, that is.


de minimis said...

bro walla

By the way, I'm into football as in Association Football not, American football, which was the thrust of the article. But, the psychology and mathematical principles are universal in application.

This language in education issue is obviously an emotional matter. Left to the cacophony of voices of the wide plebescite it's not going to go anywhere. That is why I am heartened that Najib has come up to stamp his imprimatur on the issue. This issue needs leadership and vision.

In the 1970s and 1980s there was a sense of linking education to nationalistic objectives. The ethos has changed. Today, the ethos is about skills and knowledge that can compete internationally.

I hope political leaders of all shades take a visionary stand on this and, exercise restraint on pandering to whichever gallery that they hope to endear themselves to. This is about the economic future of young Malaysians. Let's not "gadai" their future for the sake of the lust for political power and position.

walla said...

i am not so confident that status quo won't be defended on grounds emotion, as opposed on grounds reality.

Take the papers two days back; on the front page, Najib bravely champions change. Turn a few pages, the youth volkssturm want to corral blogging on grounds of race and religion.

So you see, even within the same party, and they wear nice uniforms, there's inchoation. Nothing uniform there.

It's not just about getting fascinated with knowledge. Also, open minds. If the mind has preconceptions and is already set in what and what not by ignoring real reasoning and reality, how then can the knowledge get into the head even if it is available? It is said of the jews that when they reason something, they reason it to its logical end, regardless where the line of thought goes. Even if the end is not sacrosanct. Some would say that's quite a scientific method.

You know the first national econo-political experiment was done thirty years ago. It has led to some progress but that progress is built on weak foundation and at humungous cost on everyone. "Try" is an extremely expensive word in this country.

Now the question is whether the lessons are really learned.

This country's roads are full of potholes. If we look only two meters ahead, we will fall at the third where the pothole sits. But there will be people who will say don't talk about potholes otherwise we will think you have hidden motive to make sure we don't advance.

But the pothole will still be there even if there is no hidden motive in the first place and you know there is no hidden motive because, knowing there is a pothole there, people who have hidden motives only need to do one thing - keep quiet. They didn't.

i must change my writing style. ;P

btw what is 'umbrage'?

de minimis said...

According to Merriam-Webster, "umbrage" is a feeling of pique or resentment at some often fancied slight or insult e.g. took umbrage at the speaker's remarks.

I guess "No England in New England" took umbrage at certain remarks although it is unclear whether it is directed at Najib, the blog or it commentators.

And, yes, I agree that emotions will still be present every time this issue is raised.

As to your road disrepair metaphor, I suspect that it may be a Freudian link to a recent annoyance that registered in your peripheral vision and, somehow, embedded itself in the writing side of your brain. Hey, it's Friday. So, I'll just write what comes to my mind :D

walla said...

My goodness, Friday, is it? How time flies.

There's a pothole on that road. It has become bigger and deeper. You can see the underlayer of sand. When it rains, water fills it. The road is unlit. Someone on one of those short gauge motorbikes carrying two more may one day drive into it. Especially in the early morning when it's still dark, and the headlights of the oncoming, equally fast, cars are the only lights. If he drives over it, the children will fall. The helmets are too big for them. Helmets may protect heads. But they don't protect fragile necks. If he swerves away to the left, he may be banged by the car trying to avoid it too by going to the left. If he swerves to the right, he will get into the path of the speeding cars. Everyone's speeding to take their children to school. On an unlit busy road with a pothole. If you fill it with cement, it will settle down on sand. Water will seep in and move the sand because of the weight of the cement on top. Which will then crack. If you fill it with sand, cars running over it will run the top sand layer out of the rim. Their tyres have teeth. Bloggers who drive 4-w's or hummers will roll out more sand. Over time, the pothole will be dug out again. The sand at the rim will de-grip small tyres of motorbikes. They will slip. Coma cannot be discounted.

A problem that starts in the beginning will stay to the end unless proper maintenance is done all the time. Maintenance standards are needed. They are something you write on paper or a whyteboard, tell the workers, monitor the work, look at the budget, materials, care applied.

People are always looking elsewhere while they are doing something. The cashier, the assistant, the politician, the... the mundane humdrum-ness is avoided, like skirting around the pothole, by actually looking for something to distract...

There is a traffic light along the road in front of Ikano@The Curve; it's at the junction of Ikea, McDonalds, Tesco and the Curve. That main road traffic light allows only 6 seconds green. Which may explain why there's always such a big jam along the highway leading to the area. Why did someone program it to be six seconds only when it is the main road?

How time flies. Durian Sebatang. Only one durian tree. The name of a road. In Teluk Intan. Such a sweet small town. One of those heartlands of this country. There is a century-old cemetery in Durian Sebatang. That cemetery is interesting. The islamic and taoist sections are adjacent to each other. Death has leveled everything. Harmony prevails. There's no politics. And only one right. The right of peace. Over a hundred years.

So you meet the old lady; she can hardly walk; used to sell vegies. Her eyes sparkle in memory. She said the old malay man had owed her fifty ringgit long ago. On his last day before leaving the town, he said he will try to pay back, knowing she too led a hard life. She says he was a good man. Because he sent his son, ten years later, to search for her, going by the number plate of the old van. When the son saw her, he immediately paid back that fifty ringgit for goods taken ten years ago. An equally poor malay man. Unlike the other fella, a lady who drove an expensive car. She promised to pay her back but she never did.

The old chinese lady lives in a hot tinshed by the road, full of those plastics, brushes, what-not, of a broken small advertising shop.

In the real heartland, there is no race, no politics, not even religious divide, only focus on the future of the young, the peace of the country, the principles of human coexistence and genuine understanding and sympathy one for the other.

There is a heartland in each of us.

And one can learn a lot of things at cemeteries. Time may fly, but there, time always stands still, to tell you what's really important. many people read this post? has it been of consequence? no matter, it's friday.

another year has passed; go to malaysiafinance blogspot; he's written something on income tax.