Monday, June 8, 2009

Sinatra_Z - Limiting SPM Subjects.

Recently the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin suggested in limiting the number of subjects in SPM. The suggestion is to limit it to 10 subjects and the core subjects are down to four compare the previous six. This way a student can opt for more elective subjects depending on their interest. Not all can agree to this, for instance Dr Khir Toyo believe that in limiting SPM subjects it would also limit the potential of the student. You can read more about it at

I on the other hand agree with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Like PPSMI I think limiting the SPM subjects may have more benefit than the open cert system.
Actually this issue is not something new, as I notice that lately the trend is that students try to get as much A’s as possible so that they can get in the front page of a newspaper.

Of course I am not denying the right for a student to be the best as she or he can be. By all means I am fine with that. Nor am I pissed that I couldn’t get that many A’s (I am after all a product of the SPM open cert system).

At first it was all fine, I mean we all took subjects that we wanted and some of which we were interested but were not in the package (I took economics but I am in science stream). But then kids starting to go for 15 A’s and 16 A’s and even up to 19 As. I blame this to the girl who got 16 A’s and started to appear in Astro ads, after her all the kids would target as much A’s as possible so that they would get into Astro ads as well.

The thing is I don’t think this trend is healthy. Seriously, look if a kid gets 4 As out of say 10 subjects and the subjects that he did well was Math, Additional Math, Physics and maybe chemistry then I know exactly where he should be or where his interest is in. The same goes with someone who gets maybe just 3 As, just 3 but it’s in English, Malay and Arts. This kid should fit in Liberal-Arts. But when someone who gets As in Malay, English, Pendidikan Islam, History, Math, Add Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Economics, Accounts, Mandarin, Arts, Tamil, Engineering drawing, Music, Islamic philosophy and Literature I would go like uhmm….. What the hell do you want to be? A Mechanical Engineer who makes home made medicine while travelling along China and Southern India and in the mean time write a philosophical book to record the journey with lots of drawings in it?

You know, its not that I am jealous or trying to belittle this sort of achievement. But I believe that many of you out there agree with me when I say wait this is just too much or even weird. I want a student to get an A in a certain subject because he or she are very much interested in that subject and not for the sake of just getting an A.

Things get worse when some teachers tend to push their students to do this for the sake of making the school more popular. Well come on when the kid gets 23 A’s I am pretty sure they are going to mention the school thus higher funding in the future.

Notice that they usually write a motivational book after achieving the impressive amount of As. It’s like it was all planned.

If there is one thing that I learn in Uni is that SPM results do not necessarily translate into success in college life. Especially to those who don’t really know what they want to do. Just because one is capable of getting an A in math that doesn’t mean they are interested in becoming a mathematician. One of my course mate quit Engineering to pursue a degree in music. These days society and PARENTS yes PARENTS demand that they must get as much A as possible. The danger to this is that we would create a bunch of students who are very good at answering tests but not at thinking.

Tons of tuition classes and workshops out there which offer things like “Soalan Spot SPM” in which they teach the students to anticipate what would come out this year. Students would frantically study as hell and would vomit out everything that they memorise to the test paper.

Don’t we ever wonder at why we can have so many students with stellar results in SPM yet produce so few scientists or technocrats that are of high quality. There’s a saying used that Asians would get Deans list on the first 2 years in an American university but falter in the next 2.

I say that let’s limit the number of subjects one can take in SPM, make it 10 for non muslims and 11 for muslims (because of Pendidikan Islam). This way it is less stressful on these kids and more time for them to excel in extra curricular activities. To make sure that quality surpasses quantity we should opt for more project based marks and merits yet increase the difficulty in the test papers. Make the subjects more advanced one could say.

In conclusion, we do want student to do the best and exert their capability but not for the sake of glamour or school reputation. We need to get rid of this “Kiasu” mindset and not simply produce students who are good at answering test papers. We want students who are critical thinkers, who knows that they want and actually love the subjects that they choose.

So I say let’s start it from here and figure out the rest as we go along.

P/S - I am pretty sure there are some grammatical and spelling mistakes in here but be assured that It's 1.30 am now and I am not bothered to do the corrections. Maybe later.

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