Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bring back the Brinsford-Kirby English teachers!

Bring back the Brinsford-Kirby English teachers

by Azly Rahman


I had the opportunity to work with many of them when I was teaching at a Malaysian university a decade or so ago. Some became a central influence in my life as an educator. The Brinsford-Kirby teachers are amongst the finest English teachers the Malaysia produced in preparation for Independence. This group of gifted teachers are well-versed in the Grammar and Mechanics and Literature of the English Language. They are, most importantly too, multicultural and enjoy each others’ company -- like brothers and sisters.

Their commitment to teaching the poor and the underprivileged of the newly emerging Malaysia is admirable; teaching became their calling. They take pride in their profession; like how they were trained at the two best British teacher-training institutions. Many of them have passed away, some of the pioneers of Brinsford-Kirby are in their eighties. I hope they are reading this piece and giving advice on the importance of the English Language and the need for the different races to live together and to learn from each other.

Had our prime ministers come from the like of Kirby-Brinsford teachers, we will have a different Malaysia – we will have a population well-versed in English, proud of all the languages including Bahasa Melayu, meticulous and stylish the James Cagney and Katherine Hepburn way, cultured, imbued with wisdom, and most importantly imbued with a no-nonsense kind of nationalism that will nowhere be near any slogan of OneMalaysia we are now hearing. You could enjoy the music of Matt Monroe, Nana Mouskouri, and Frank Sinatra with them. You could also sit and watch Gone with the Wind and enjoy nasi kandar the next hour.

You could sit with them for hours and discuss English grammar, talk about Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights, Middelmarch, Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare, and literary work of the different time periods of the English Language. And next, you could adjourn for teh tarik and listen to their advice on how to see the world as a gift and enjoy their wit and their jokes as well. The Malays, Chinese, Indians, and Sikhs amongst them are like brothers and sisters.

They are the earliest example of true Malaysians that strive for a Malaysian Malaysia. They are strict disciplinarians to their children and instill deep sense of pride of their culture to the latter. Undoubtedly, coming from poor families themselves, they instill the importance of academics and for the love of learning in their children and grandchildren. Poverty is no reason for the loss of pride and dignity. Being poor does not mean leaving your child to roam around playing truant and giving reasons for the school to practice "social promotion" just because you are of this or that racial group. Many became respected members of their communities, giving back what they cherish most -- their experience as members of the Brinsford-Kirby class and their passion for teaching.

Okay -- maybe we can't brink them back, Nor is Kirby any longer there. But we can learn from that time period when English used to be taught well to Malaysians, according to demands of those times.

One has to read the publications such as "Suara Brinsford" to analyze the nature of nationalism and teaching in those early years of Merdeka.

May God bless them all.

5 comments:

vinnan said...

UMNO only cares about education for themselves. The UMNO elite can always send their kids to internatinal schools and private schools. The ones being screwed are the Malay dolts who think UMNO actually cares for the Malays by raising the 'Ketuanan Melayu/Islam' banner. I have had the opportunity to speak to the 'elite' kids of these Melayu UMNO. Believe me, these kids are anything but Melayu when it comes to their language of preference. At the same time I have also had the horrific experience of teaching those 'rural' Malay school students. Save for a few words and phrases these students have memorized, their English is non-existent.

Strangely, the government classifies SMK's with an overwhelming population of Malays as 'rural' schools when many of these schools are only a few kilometres from town centres. One is confused as to whether the classification is geographical or racial. One thing I did notice about these so-called rural schools is that the quality of the teachers are in general substandard. Even the better Malay teachers do not want to teach in these schools simply because most of the students are 'too Melayu' to be taught another language or anything at all. How do you expect these students brought up in the world of 'Ketuanan Melayu' and civil servants to understand the fiercely competitive nature of the real economy which most of them will find themselves in. This is where Mahathir's PPSMI comes in.

Mahathir knows that given the mindset of the Malays, making a credit in the English language as a must to get a SPM certificate so as to force the Malays to take the English language seriously is impossible. What he has done is to use Science and Math as way to make the Malays learn English while minimizing the objections from the language Talibans and at the same time time garnering the support of many non-Malays for BN. Najib, suffice to say does not have Mahathir's wisdom when it comes to the very complicated matter of education and politics.

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

BRING BACK GOOD OLD DAYS WITH FREE SAY

Don't we all really miss the good old days
When all races can freely have their free say
On any topic openly whether by night or by day
Until after the unfortunate tragedy of 13th May

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 120709
http://MotivationInMotion.blogspot.com
Sun. 12th July 2009.

Satish said...

Would be nice if they did that..but will they ?

BN sucks.

vinnan said...

Samuel Goh,

No one is talking about unfettered debates here. Please do not oversimplify matters. Education and politics is a powder keg for all countries in the world. Mahathir has offered us a way to bring the races together hidden in the PPSMI. His is a political solution, not perfect but a solution nonetheless. By the way, I do not like Mahathir.

Anonymous said...

Dr, you are in New York so you have seen people of many background and the American society per se but I think you have not seen the world but you have met people from all over the world directly or indirectly through your reading.
The problem with Malaysian leaders they jet setting around the world and see the wrong people and when they are back in Malaysia they feel they are a class above the rest and they become selfish and protect self interest rather than national interest.
So what next?!!! Sleep like Pak Lah or continue what current PM is doing engaging the people with his populist manuver, dunno how long he will survive or may be Malaysia will not survive. Beyond imagination but may be about time to be a little bit revolutionaire!!!!.....

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

VideoBar

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.