28 January 2010

Acts of desecreation unacceptable

All Malaysians condemn acts of desecration carried out against places of worship, all places of worship, in the country.

Whether it is stomping on a severed cow head or leaving severed wild boar heads at a surau; these acts are unacceptable to all right-thinking and peace-loving Malaysians who love their country and have seen Malaysia grow to celebrate 52 years of independence.

We can only hope that the government and police force are able to quickly, effecitvely and fairly conduct their investigations to bring those responsible to book and to expose their malicious agendas.

May cool heads, rational thinking and the spirit of unity prevail.

16 January 2010

Pros and Cons of Homeschooling

While homeschooling is more widespread overseas, it is also beginning to take root in Malaysia. Given the state of our national education, it is not difficult to see why. Parents are just exploring options.

Just today over breakfast, a friend informed us that a mutual friend had decided to homeschool their chidren. I also know of friends who send their kids to homeschool centres (which I think defeats the purpose of homeschooling as it more resembles private schooling).

I have, off and on, given thought to homeschooling. This afternoon, I had a brief talk with my 8-year old and he decided he didn't want to be homeschooled by Mommy and risk being scolded even more fiercely than his teachers at school! A short stint of teaching phonics to my 4-year old was already a test of my patience.

I looked up what some people said about the pros and cons of homeschooling. Some of the comments seemed very naive to me. Perhaps putting down the list might be helpful:

Children are taught according to their learning styles and interests. Parents have more control over how, what and for how long their children are taught.
Parents must help children improve upon their weaknesses and not just cater or pander to their strengths. Parents take on sole and total responsibility for their children's education.
My take: There is a risk of restricting teaching to certain preferred areas or topics that the parent/child is comfortable with.

Children can progress slowly or quickly, according to their abilities.
Parents may feel inadequate to address the needs of gifted and special needs students.

Schedules revolve around family and allow time to bond with parents and siblings. Flexible schedules allow time for breaks, field trips and off-season vacations.
My take: It would take a tremendous amount of discipline on the part of the teaching parent not to give in to the temptation of a day off here, a movie day there, let's bake together instead of study day etc.
Extended time with family can strain relationships or lead to burnout on the part of the teaching parent. Family crises, illness and lax supervision by parents can interfere with learning.
My take: Too much time spent together may not be a good thing. When will the independence and separation for the children come?

Children spend time in a diverse, real world environment.
My take: I find this reasoning laughable - is a homeshooling parent actually saying that kids who attend public schools in the mainstream system living in an unreal world? I would say the reverse is true!
Parents must search for activities such as sports and music that are easily accessible at public schools.

Parents can transmit their values to children and shelter them from negative influence.
Parents must give children increasing independence and a chance to learn to stand for their values.
My take: Will homeschooled children be able to function in a real world that is imperfect where not everybody will treat you as well as your family?

Sadly peer pressure, competition and bullies are all part of a typical school day. Homeschooled kids are free from these kinds of pressure and can act and dress the way they want without fear or a need to "fit in". They live in the real world.
My take: Again, I wonder just how well homeschooled kids face up to real life pressures.

For families who feel their religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of their lives, homeshooling provides the opportunity for parents to incorporate their beliefs into their daliy lives.
My take: This can just as easily be achieved even if the child attends regular school. The risk for homeschoolers is that they are exposed only to the religious and cultural practices of their family and close relations, without the chance to mix with and learn from other peoples in the world. How is tolerance to grow and bigotry eliminated? The homeschooling parent must make special effort to expose their children to the existence of other races, religions, cultures, languages and ways of life. Your way is not the only way.

Homeschooled children can accomplish in a few hours what takes a typical classroom a week or more to cover. In a recent interview, John Taylor Gatto, New York City Teacher of the Year and a 26-year teaching veteran, said that in many classrooms less than one hour out of each school day is spent on "on task" learning. No wonder these kids have so much homework. And that brings us to a major "pro" of homeschooling: No more homework!
My take: Well, if this is true, then I am all for homeschooling!

13 January 2010

Secret Recipe's price increase

Do you like Secret Recipe's food? I know some people say it's real bad, but we quite like some of its cakes. And my kids love their black pepper lamb pie - moist filling with peppery chunks of lamb and onions. If you haven't tried it, you should. And we always thought its pricing was very reasonable at RM6 per pie.

That is, until tonight.

When I went to get some black pepper lamb pie, I was surprised that the price tag said RM6.80. I asked the staff and they said "Sudah naik harga, dari hari Isnin" (all prices have increased as of Monday). Well, that's a rather steep price hike of almost 15%.

Is Secret Recipe raising its prices on account of the 20sen increase in one kilo of sugar?

I am certain that you don't need one kilo of sugar to make one black pepper lamb pie, neither do you need one kilo of sugar to make a cake. So what's the rationale behind the 80sen increase in the price of Secret Recipe's pie (I can't be certain of the price hike for its other products as I am not as familiar with their prices)

I am disappointed with Secret Recipe's new year resolution of increasing its price by almost 15% for its lamb pie, and as much as my kids like it, well........maybe I just have to learn to make it.

08 January 2010

Malaysian churches fire-bombed ahead of demonstrations

This headline was carried on BBC's online news.

Well done, to whoever and whichever party is behind these attacks on churches in the Klang Valley today.

You have successfully portrayed Malaysia as a dangerous country full of extreme and violent religious fanatics who do not and will not respect the rule of law. You show Malaysia as a country that does not honour or value its peace, prosperity and multi-racial (multi-religious) gift.

You do not improve international perception of terrorism that sprouts from this part of the world.

May all the Gods of all religions bless this country, for we need it now more than ever.