Wednesday, June 24, 2009

nothing's changed

here's a gem from tun dr.m (paraphrased many times over):

"i never said that the teaching of science and math in english was to improve the standards of english language among malaysians. it is to enable us to understand scientific lingo, considering it's the lingua franca of science right now. in the past, the greeks were the forefront runners of science and technology. scholars in the arabic world were far behind because they could not understand greek. so what did they do? they studied greek. eventually, they could translate greek texts, understand science, and then conduct experiments of their own to add to the available knowledge. that gradually put them ahead of the greeks. the greeks then took that knowledge, translated it all back to greek and with the rise of the roman empire and the more widespread use of latin, scientific texts were written in latin."
- overheard at the international conference on thinking

i'm no language scholar, so i can't verify the whole history of language and whatnot (yes, i know a google search would yield sufficient information but i am lazy, can?), but it does make sense.

what doesn't make sense, however, is the fact that it took 6 years for the ministry of education to realise that the implementation of teaching of math and science in english has been a flop. the idea itself wasn't a bad one, but the execution certainly was.

when i told my father about a friend of mine who struggled through university because she couldn't understand the journal articles she had to read for her course, he pointed to himself and said that he went through the exact same thing when he was in university more than 30 years ago. he was from a chinese-medium school, which probably accounted for the difficulties he encountered. however, my friend was from a national school in an urban area, and she still found it hard to read scientific texts.

there is something seriously wrong when students in malaysia are facing the exact same problems our parents' generation did. if we're not moving forward, we'll be regressing pretty soon. or perhaps we're already in regression?

lishun at 9:44 AM