Friday, August 20, 2010


In yesterday's front page: "So far this year, 66 babies, including 25 girls and 15 foetuses, were dumped."

Another headline reads: "Total of 472 babies discarded since 2005"

What is happening to the world? :(

How could a mother dump her baby so cruelly? A baby that she has carried within her for 9 months?

Have you read Mitch Albom's For One More Day?

I haven't (!). But I've seen the movie. It tells of how a mother's love can heal a person.

And I guess everyone can relate to that. Though we may not be suicidal like the book's protagonist, all of us have experienced our mother's unconditional love.

Below are quotations from the book which sum it up nicely:

-"[My mother] wasn't easy on me, don't get me wrong. She smacked me. She scolded me. She punished me. But she loved. She really did. She loved me falling off a swing set. She loved me stepping on her floors with muddy shoes. She loved me through vomit and snot and bloody knees. She loved me coming and going, at my worst and my best. She had a bottomless well of love for me."

-“I saw in her expression that old, unshakable mountain of concern. And I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.”

So how could a mother (who's supposed to have this boundless love for her baby) discard her newborn like it's worth nothing?

Instead of loving, cherishing and protecting their babies, a growing number of teenage mothers inhumanely dump them instead.

How can we solve this problem?

Is meting out the death sentence the answer?

On one hand you want to punish the perpetrators for taking away a precious life.

On the other, the punishment seems too harsh for girls of incredibly young age who made very poor judgements out of sheer desperation.

A book by Amy Efaw entitled 'After' explores this very issue (read the review here).

The book deals with these matters:

-"How can one tiny event, one mistake, spin a life out of control..."
-"What drives a young mother to carry out such a drastic, terrifying act?"
-"...the extent of consequences, and how in life, there are never any easy ways out"

Personally, I feel that today's teenagers are bombarded with sexually-explicit content from the media that they consume (TV, movies, music, magazines, the internet). The images and innuendos are everywhere.

But while they are overexposed to the images, they are woefully ignorant of the consequences of engaging in the risque behaviours.

How do we make them see the whole point behind the command: La takrabu zina?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hebatnya Ramadan

I can't stress this enough: I LOVE RAMADAN! :)

Ramadan is amazing, isn't it? I read this article and its opening paragraph really struck me:
"Berbicara tentang Ramadan, kebiasaannya itulah detik-detik terbaik seorang muslim dalam setahun. Selama hampir 30 hari ia akan habiskan sebahagian masanya untuk beribadah kepada Allah SWT. Rela atau terpaksa. Musim is mengingati Tuhannya, Penciptanya, Pemberi rezeki dan nyawanya. Sedangkan ia seringkali lalai mengingatinya di bulan-bulan lain. Hebatnya Ramadan."

I kept rereading the paragraph while nodding, "YES!"

I am deliriously happy for reasons I couldn't quite put my finger on. You know when sometimes you get stressed, anxious, sad and out of sorts? Well, I don't anymore since the start of Ramadan. Maybe it has to do with the combination of the following things:

-I love waking up early for sahur. And since I started the day early, I reached school earlier than usual too. Thus, I don't get stuck in a traffic jam which usually leaves me ruffled by the end of it.

-When I step out of the car, I needn't rush to sign in and have my breakfast. I can take my own sweet time to breathe in the fresh air and take in the beautiful morning sight.

-My students seem nicer during the fasting month. Perhaps they are too tired to get into any major mischief during the day? Haha

-I love breaking fast with my family. I've yet to go to any Pasar Ramadan this year. Why would I? Mum's cooking is the best!

-Oh, and the feeling of anticipation when it's nearly time to break fast! After setting the table, I cannot help but salivate over all the good food and glance at the clock every few minutes.

-I love the simple dua: "KeranaMu aku berpuasa, dengan rezekiMu aku berbuka". It puts everything into perspective. You're not fasting because of culture or tradition. You're doing this for Allah SWT. And all the good food on your table is from Him. His reward for your perseverance. It reminds people that "for every hardship, there is relief".

-And when in other months you struggle/are content with the absolute minimal (the 5 daily prayers), Ramadan makes you realise you're capable of so much more. After Isyak, you can now do 8 or even 20 extra rakaats! Isn't that amazing?

Ramadan really is the month of barakah. You can feel it, can't you?

So tell me, what do you love about Ramadan?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Home Stretch

My students are still playful and taking it easy even though their PMR is just 52 days away. I tried to mobilise them into action by illustrating how Oct 5 is fast approaching.

-They have just completed their Ala PMR 1 exam (Aug 2-6).
-Their PMR Trial is next (Aug 16-20).
-Followed by Ala PMR 2 (Sept 20-24)

In between the Trial and Ala PMR 2, they'll have a 2-week holiday for their mid-sem and Eid-ul-Fitr break.

PMR will commence on Oct 5.

But the tactic only worked on some students. For most of them, the reality and sense of urgency still haven't sunk in yet.

Since I teach five Form 3 classes, these past (and following) weeks have been (and will be) very hectic. For each exam I have to mark 186 exam scripts which always drive me to the edge of insanity... haha. I would groan/moan; "Weren't they listening to what I had been teaching in class?!" and other soliloquies teachers usually indulge in.

Is having a lot of exams a boon for students? In an exam-oriented system like ours, the answer is a resounding YES. But as a teacher, I disagree. Students cheat all the time. Not just those from the weak classes but those from the front classes as well. I guess they share the same goal: "I have to do well at any cost".

And some tried to cheat AFTER the exam as well. They doctored their exam papers and claimed that teachers had overlooked their "correct" answers.

When such things happened, I just couldn't help but support the decision to abolish PMR. What's the use of producing straight 'A' students if no meaningful learning has taken place or when their integrity has been compromised?

Plus, scheduling exams so close to one another made it hard for teachers to provide good feedback and for the students to learn from their mistakes. Are we having exams just for the sake of having exams?

I don't aim for all 186 students of mine to achieve A in PMR. What's more important is that they become highly-competent English-language users in the future. I mean if they can use the language with ease, then the 'A's will come automatically. So I try not to teach to the test.

I also hope that my students will stop cheating. Yes, very few got caught. But "it is impossible for us to break the law. We can only break ourselves against the law". Your good result would mean very little if you had gained it dishonestly.

I guess the point of this whole entry is to nag at my students because I don't do it very well in real life... haha