Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rombongan Meminang

Delaqroux Inc Updates!

Now this blogpost was supposed to be made this morning when i was so friggin pissed at something (Anger - fueling blogpost since... blogs were invented). But it's 6.34pm in the evening and the anger's pretty much all put out by today's awesome rainy weather.

And then, i watched some Bro Team episodes and i think i can get my rage back on.

To start it off, it was a Sunday morning, aka a weekend morning. Considering the fact that i have LDP (stands for Latihan Dalam Perkhidmatan) the day before, Sunday's pretty much what's left of my weekend. And because there's only two days on a weekend, Sunday's pretty much what's left of my weekend. And being a 23 year old gentlemen living an active, adrenalined fueled lifestyle, i wanted to stay in bed at least til 12pm. After all, Sunday's pretty much what's left of my weekend.

That is, until a hear some really effed up, infinite honking outside my house. Like, seriously, super loud honking of hundreds of cars all at once. Now, it's either something really awesome was taking place outside (like someone thought of a flash-car-mob revolution) or something really terrible that the people inside those cars cant do anything else but to honk for help. So, me, woken up from my sleep, peeked out of my window.

And what do i saw?

Rombongan meminang.

Yeah! Fucking ZING! I dunno what sort of happy pills these people are taking but somehow, they replaced the ol' graceful, poetic slammin' between the rombongan meminang and the house's host with dumbed-down, highly retarded, chain of endless car honks - and all at 7am in the  morning! It's that supposed to be cultural? Or you guys are so happy that everyone else's happiness (of sleeping on a weekend) doesnt matter anymore to you? Seriously, death of a Malay culture? Happy pills? All their cars are belongs to theirs? I dunno what the hell these people are thinking but I invite the whole world to agree with me that what ever they were doing was retarded.

Frankly, married people are not so much in my favourite people list.... well, yeah, okay, i dont have a favourite people list. But the point is; i often see married people (or those related to married people or a marriage) can be quite ignorant in aplenty of scenarios (i'll cover that sometime later in the future). And this case, just topped it all.

Til then, Sunday's pretty much what's left of my weekend.
Delaqroux Out

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

English t33ch make mediocre meeting da shizz

Delaqroux Inc Updates!
It's safe to say now that i have been on my first course-that-new-teacher-are-forced-to-go-despite-still-being-financially-unstable-for-3-days. It's this thing on PBS, which stands for Program Berasaskan Sekolah (which in English, translates as School Based Assessment...nothing new) and yeah, i had to go to SMK Sri Kota Puteri 2 in Pasir Gudang.

Despite PMS.. i mean, PBS sounding like really serious business, why do i put aforementioned blog post as such? Well, coz that's really what happened; English t33chr make mediocre meetings da shizz (read as "English teachers make mediocre meeting the shits). I mean "shizz" here in a very awesome way.

See, normal government servant meetings would open up with MCs, MCs doing all that "diumumkan ketibaan blah blah", bacaan doa that nobody are really doa-ing coz i'm pretty sure all they are praying for is "please let this meeting end early", and the speaker/VIP trying to make himself sound hip by making pervy jokes towards the single ladies and/or being overhyped with the topic his/her bringing coz it's something totally 'rad' when all he/she is stating are the obvious 101. So yeah, that's how it works.

But this course i'm attending was different. The speaker was my senior from IPBA who just came in to the room, says good morning and get on with things - no MCs, no bacaan doa, no VIP, no special seat for VIPs, no kata alu-aluan (or kata-kata aluan depending on which is more; the kata or the alu). her language was pretty informal, jokes were subtle and the pacing was pretty fast. Is this professionalism? some would say "no". But to me, this is professionalism. Professionalism is getting things done. Ass-kissing is for foreplay (if you're into that kind of foreplays). and making pervy jokes should get you whacked in the streets. We are government servants after all. We are supposed to be government professionals.

I'm not saying that it's unimportant to be praying before the start of a meeting or acknowledging the speaker/VIP of course. But i do not find things meaningful if we're doing it only bcoz "that's how things has always been". It dumbs down professionalism to formalities and forced formalities are meaningless. Seriously, you hardly pay attention to the prayers recital, you stood up when an unknown 'very important' person walks into the room and you have MCs saying all the formalities when the MCs dont really like or know what they're saying. Is this professionalism?

Anyways, my course starts at, what i regard as a professional pace and ends earlier than scheduled. I'm not being in favour of this course because it ended early. It's because of the rate we can get things done and be done with it. I didnt feel bored at any part of the course and we were engaged, we asked questions, and most importantly, i felt like i was at a meeting. Sure, we cracked jokes, we argued about stuffs, and we sometimes talked when the speaker is talking. But it's all part of a meeting. This is a meeting after all.

So what does English teachers have to do with this kind of meeting atmosphere really? Well, i guess we do things our way. We teach a language that most would regard us as being foreign. But being regarded as a foreigner because we teach a 'foreign' language is part of our occupational hazard. So, sorry if we're not following a preset rules of things. We are ourselves most of the time coz that's how we're trained to be. That's how you teach a language. So when you get a bunch of English teachers to run a show, we run it our way. And that way, it's not pretentious, it's professional.

Anyways, i might not be able to have this same good feeling after i attended another meeting anytime soon. Coz that's how things work in Malaysia. We love them formalities coz it's part of our 'culture'. But if i ever become a VIP or a speaker one day, i'll walk into the room, tell the audience to stay in their seat and start my speech with "good morning, my name is John and let's get this shit done".

Delaqroux Out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dark Delaqroux vs. The World (of Education)

Delaqroux Inc Updates
So how am i coping with school? Well, i can say that unfortunately, it has been similar to that shitty "Reality Bites" graph shown to my cohorts during our back from overseas orientation. The graph shows that you start out high on the Y axis, having high hopes and expectations from your experience overseas; and as time progresses on the X axis by a wee bit; your hopes and expectations will be shot down upon realizing the reality of the teaching world (paperworks, students being not profficient enough for your activities, etc.). But as more time progresses, your Y axis goes up by a lil bit coz you've start adjusting and adapting yourself more and more to the school.

And here's one thing i would like to say;
"Fuck you, graph"

Yeah, that was appropriate. My life in teaching did started out much alike that graph. But, the rationale of it is NOTHING like in the graph. As a matter of fact, i think that graph thing and the whole reality bites crap; they're shit and they fuck you in the ear. So here's the story.

I started out with high expectations and hopes. But indeed, the students' proficiency level was very very low and the kids dont listen to you. I'm teaching lower classes and if there's one thing that i learned is the difference between kids in upper classes and lower classes; it's their attention span. You come in class, they hear you speak in English, they give up, they make noise. They dont try to understand you. They simply just give up without even trying.

This was when i start thinking that maybe reality does bite. Maybe all those awesome things you learn while you're overseas cant be applied to your class. Maybe it's theory versus reality and reality is winning? I mean, how do you teach using English songs if the kids never bother listening to any English songs? How do you use videos if the school dont have a projector or a multimedia room? How do conduct an only English classroom if the only thing the kids do is laugh at your every word?

This was when my Y axis line dropped. My expectations were shot down definitely - no question. And, asking and observing how the other teachers work at school; i found out that their teaching method is; exercises, ask kids to copy down, discuss (but normally you're the only giving the answers) and repeat. It's not the most ideal teaching method, but it keeps you sane. You dont get burnt out or disappointed. You play safe and its the easiest n safest. It keeps your Y axis line go up by a lil bit - the adjusting and adapting phase. So I did the same thing.

Now the question; did my Y axis scale went up at all?

I thought that it would. But it didnt. I hated my classes. Not my students but i hate the ME in front of my class. And in two weeks time, i blew off my lid with the students. I yelled at them for being disrespectful and playing around in my class. But honestly, i was pissed with the whole situation. I am not happy with my teaching; what i am teaching and how am i teaching.

But a week after, i brought my laptop in class and showed them a video of Sleepyhead. i asked them to tell me how many items in that video they can see and say them in English. I got a zero. But the most awesome thing is, the kids were paying attention to me for the very first time. They want to know all those things in the video in English so they can say them. I went out of the class happy for the first time. On the next lesson, i brought in my laptop again with the Preposition song, and played it in the worst class i ever had. At the end of the class, they made fun of the video for being annoying and kiddy. I agreed. I laughed WITH the class for the first time. Did the lesson actually worked then? Yeah, they completed the worksheet i gave them nonetheless and they can explain to me what all those prepositions are. Happiest. Class. Ever. Also, i thought the kids are not ready for the bigger world. But i took the risk and brought in KONY2012 video. My class was all fired up. They loved the video and they were asking how they can take part in big things like that. I said "just pay attention to my class".

So my question after all of this was; why the hell did i not conduct these kind of lessons earlier? Why didnt i bring my laptop sooner? Why did i fret about the school not having a projector or the multimedia room? Why did i let the kids low profficiency level stopped me from being awesome in class? And most importantly, WHY DID I LET THAT STUPID REALITY BITES GRAPH DETERMINE WHAT SHOULD I FEEL IN MY CLASSES?

Here's the morale of the story. Yes, reality may bite you when you first step in school. You'll get paperworks, you'll get shitty working hours, your kids profficiency is at rock bottom, and you may end up sleeping on the floor for three weeks- but reality bites you only if you let it. Do not let your expectation or hopes die off and you resort to mediocre teaching methods. That mediocrity doesnt keep you sane. Your Y axis isnt going up a wee bit coz you're 'adjusting' or 'adapting'. You are being pacified from being awesome. So here's my word for new teachers. I know i'm just a teacher by a month old but please, go out there with guns blazing. You might get disappointed, yes, but bring better guns the next time. The kids will notice that. Dont EVER let your Y axis line drop and you'll find out that despite being tired and a lil burnt out from all your lessons; at least you're happy.

Delaqroux Out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dark Delaqroux vs. the World

Delaqroux Inc Updates!
Can you believe that? Just when i was about to start updating my blog again, i got posted for my teaching in Johor and i got so caught up with.. uh... stuffs (that's definitely not bowling, renting a house, shopping for furnitures, karaoke-ing, Kenny Rogers, Pizza Hut, Jusco etc) that i totally forgot about updating my blog. But here i am at a little Indian-Muslim shop called Thoufeeq that has ze free wifi and i'm blogging up a storm again (hopefully). So lemme tell you what has happened so far.

On the first few days of posting, things were shitty. Like seriously. I cant find a house around my school and I was never too keen to be renting a room (yeah, ego issues). Why no want rent room? Well, let's just say, i've spent three years of my life squatting in Room E of IPBA dormitory with at least 3 to 4 more people and, after experience a year in sydney with a room i can call my own, i just want to feel a sort of a progression in my life; i'm no longer studying. I'm working. I want a house on my own.

But yeah, finding a house turned out to be harder when you dont have a car and you refuse to stay somewhere too near to the school. Thing is, my school is listed under "luar bandar" and i want to stay "dalam bandar" so there again, my ego. So things went a lil lucky that i had this chanced encounter with a fellow teacher that lives in the town-ish area and had his school someplace near mine. So, not being able to find a house and not having a car, i resorted to crash in with him... for 3 weeks.

As much as I am thankful, it was shitty. I came home to an empty room that i cant call my own and as i still have this twisted intention to get a place on my own, i refuse to buy any furnitures for that room. After all, i'm just "tumpang-ing". I want my own room. I want my own house. But there I was, sleeping on my sleeping bag with my clothing bag as my pillow for three weeks. Oh, and did i mention that the floor was one of that cement floor that, no matter how many times i moped it, it seems to stay cement-y dusty? How did i manage to stay sane? Well, Foster the People. I put that shit on replay and for some reason, i just felt better.

So what happened after three weeks? Well, i finally got a place of my own. It was this one family that happened to have decided to stay at this one place for years to come but circumstance has it that they had to move away. So yeah, i got their house for rm350 a month. It's a flat unit nonetheless but the flat building is still spanking new that it doesnt look bad at all. But at least, my ego was pleased. And i was only left with a cushion set. The house wasnt furnitured. But trust me; when your back was on the cold, hard floor for 3 weeks, being able to sleep on the cushion was heaven.

More of the story to come :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Johor and the Four-Headed Snake.

Delaqroux Inc Updates.

Good news; i know where i'll be posted to. Bad news; not Sarawak.

Yeah, two days after my trip to Kedah and the news came in that our posting will be done on the 20th of February. Several days after, as I just got down from meditating at the peak of Mt. Jerai, i got news that I might be informed of my actual state of posting by the following Friday. Several days later, I dreamt of a four headed snake while i was meditating on Maxwell Hill (dafuq?) in Perak. And just three days ago, me and most of my cohort mates was informed of our posting states respectively. And so there; Johor Darul Takzim.

Reminder: I seriously have to find out what Takzim actually means.

It wasnt all bad of a deal i suppose but on the night when i was informed, i was in shock. I mean, Johor wasnt at all in my choice of posting (which was Sarawak, Selangor and Melaka) and what are the odds of me being put in some random state in this country? And on top of it all, I have voluntarily chosen Sarawak as my choice. So i was almost positive that i will get Sarawak or Sabah by the very least. And to make things worse, i have heard of stories where a senior of mine resigning after getting posted to Johor, solely because he/she regarded that the school he/she was posted to had rendered her teaching profession "intellectually unchallenging". Then there is news about Johor being famous for its shitload of paperworks, high cost of living and generally anything that will put one amateur high-spirited teacher of his/her mood to continue on teaching in such circumstances.

Of course, it's too late to be judging Johor and the future of my teaching career just by knowing the fact that i will be teaching in Johor. Also, i supposed it's never an excuse to not teach in Sarawak anymore anytime in the future too so there's always the probability of getting a transfer request approved - if not now, then sometime in the future. But for now, it's Johor for me i guess. I know i have been over-using this line a lil bit too much but once again, it cant be all that bad.

Then there's the four-headed snake.
Delaqroux Out.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Preparing students for which real world?

Delaqroux Inc Updates
This blog entry is in regards of my colleague's interesting status update on Facebook that i came across which questioned whether if the Malaysian curriculum preparing students for the real world? And if yes, which real world?

I was particularly intrigued by the question "which real world?" It was not further elaborated in that status update but from what i understand (and my familiarity of my colleague), this question is focusing on how much are we preparing our students to think from a global perspective and to deal with the REAL real world? And based on my observation on the curriculum and the syllabus, am i wrong to think that it seemed as if we're preparing Malaysian students to be good Malaysian citizens (which I'm not denying how important this is), but not as a member of the global community? This doubt of mine came about when i realized there's not much content in the textbook that touches on global issues, world histories and.. worldly stuffs. I'll get to that in a second.

Yes, i know it's the responsibility of the teacher to bring such matters into classes on their own initiatives and i really respect the teachers who did. But in regards to our teaching material, - let's focus on the textbook for this matter - are the contents enough to have ALL teachers thinking "i should have my students thinking about 9/11 incident, or oppression of a culture or a community to develop critical views of real world problems"? To put this in a view, I seemed to realize that we are teaching our students more on writing complaint letters about the lack of trash cans in a local park. Dont get me wrong. Writing complaint letters is quite "real world" but if we provide the context of students writing to be as littlest as lack of rubbish bins, what of other "real world" issues like; debating a stand, make a politically correct statement or changing the opinion of the masses?

Before you ask "dont you think it's a little too early to be teaching kids about terrorism?", well, i question myself that alot as well. But my answer to that question lies with a google search of "ESL lesson plan ideas for high school teaching". A grade 9 lesson plan requires the students to prepare a presentation based on their research of a cultural history and common misconceptions of that culture. Another lesson plan had students preparing an informational essay on historic events that changed the world and based on the essay rubric, they are to explain more of the incident, talk about how the event changed the world, and what they think of the event and how THE WORLD should learn from it based on their own opinion. Yes, these two lesson plans sound like university grade essay writing task but based on the sample of students' work; while they are not as in-depth as a university student's work should be, they showed much thoughts being put in. For the first LP, a group of students wrote on Muslim community and the misconception of Muslims being all Arabs and violent. The second LP had a student writing about Hiroshima bombing and how it stopped the WWII even if it's such "a 'terrorist' thing to do". If those students can think about all that, why do we think our Malaysian students arent capable of that?

In all, I personally see the English language as a medium for students to connect with the outside world and if we dont start debating on how much of social studies are we bringing in to the students, i honestly think our students will see English as a subject, not as a language, and a school as a place to get an exam cert not as a place to prepare them for the future.

And before i end this blogpost, here's a picture of my students that have nothing to do with the topic :D
Delaqroux Out

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sweet (Jeebus) Potato :D

Delaqroux Inc Updates.
So i was in Jaya Jusco, Wangsa Maju the other day, shopping groceries (yeah, i do shop for groceries. that's how i roll). I was somewhere walking by the foodcourt when suddenly this one (Indian) voice came out loud screaming "SUDAH SIAP MASAK" <-- yeah, it's in capital letters. It was that loud. I noticed that i wasnt the only who heard that call but for some reason, everyone who heard the call had this carnivorous look in them. Their eyes seems to be saying "FINALLY, I'VE BEEN WAITING FO THAT SHIZ" <-- also in capital. the thoughts in their eyes were that obvious. And thus, a stall in front of the Jusco entrance was crowded instantly. Me, being curious, decided to join along the crowd

Apparently, it was this stall selling chestnuts and baked sweet potatoes. The potatoes were the one that was just came out of the oven and people were swarming over that, grabbing at least a kilo each (like, seriously, wtf?). So i was like, seriously, wtf and bought a 100g of them sweet potatoes when the crowd cleared away just to try a bite. I mean, seriously, what was all the hype about right? Oh, and btw, i noticed the Indian guy selling the sweet potatoes asked me "just a 100g?". Pfft.. well, yeah, how good can baked sweet potatoes be that i would by a kilo for myself.

But first, let me get this out of the way. I like fried/baked potato wedges. i mean, i can never get enough of that stuff. KL's mashed potatoes - i worship his recipe and i cant get enough of that too. Sydney baked corn by The Rocks Market, that was quite a bomb. 

And, to our matter at hand now - baked japanese sweet potatoes; IT WAS THE BEST OF BOTH WORLD! Both all soft mash-y and sweet in the flest inside but hard enough on the outside it was baked! I mean, i dont usually like mashed potatoes coz it's too soft that you have to eat them with a spoon. Baked corn? Yeah, you can hold them upright and it's all crunchy but i rather have something sweet and soft (okay, i'm not being complacent here. i just wanna get my point across) But baked sweet potatoes, it's both baked and soft! And on top it all, it's sweet! It's genius! I mean, seriously, my first bite and i was all "WHHHAAADEEFAAAKKK???!!!" <-- SERIOUSLY, IN CAP LETTERS COZ IT'S THAT AWESOME! I mean, who would have phunked?

And if you think i'm exaggerating, just google up "baked japanese sweet potato" on the net and read up all those opinions on people who've tried eating them. If you think i'm exaggerating, then i supposed it's a flash mob out there of people spazzing out on their dose of sweet potatoes.

In any case, how hard can baking sweet potatoes be right? With that in mind, i took shit in my own hands (....figuratively) and bought some raw sweet potatoes from Tesco yesterday. Yeah, imma bake em one of these days bitches. I'm hardcore like that. Maybe the next blogpost is going to be about that. Wait for it :D

Delaqroux Out.