Monday, May 24, 2010

But Then I Should Be Grateful I'm Overworked

Yes, I should be grateful I'm overworked. 

Because that means...

... I have work to do. 
... someone wants to give me work to do.
... I have a job.
... I have a salary.
... I am solvent.
... I have financial independence.

Today was pay day :)

Thank you, God, for overworking me!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's Teacher's Day...and I'm Overworked!

The clock is ticking and soon it will be 16th May 2010... Teacher's Day!  Happy Teacher's Day to me!

I was being sarcastic. 

That is because I'm sick (LITERALLY) and tired from too many hours sitting in front of the laptop and too little time spent doing things that are good for my health, such as exercising, watching movies, playing with my son and keeping away from laptop screen radiation.

The good doctor has noticed that I fall sick on predictable months and I've connected all the months with either preparation frenzies or report deadlines.  He has also reminded me that 'people can only do so much' and 'you're not as young as you used to be'.  Meaning he doesn't want to prescribe me too many antibiotics and such.


You know, I truly truly understand now why so many teachers choose to reject admin posts and remain 'KUPs'.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Options For A School Leaver

Every year, around May or June, I am sure to be asked by a school leaver the plaintive question,"What am I going to do now??" I will normally retort,"What do you want to do?"

After years of dealing with that, I finally decided to list down options so I need only tag them. You see, nobody can answer this question except for the school leaver himself. But of course he needs to know the options first, right?

Option One : Continue your studies; matriculation, A-levels or Form 6. And whatever else is at the same level. If part of your problem is money, then you'd have to do some part time work, such as giving tuition, typing assignments for other people (NOT doing them!) or working in fast food restaurants.

Option Two : Continue your studies with the help of a scholarship or loan. Be diligent about filling in forms, knocking on doors and making phone calls.

Option Three : Work first, save the money and continue your studies later. The danger of this is once you have felt the 'joy' of receiving a salary and spending the money, you may not want to go back to study. Unless you feel unhappy at the salary difference between an SPM school leaver and a degree holder. Let me tell you that there IS a substantial difference.

Option Four : Work first, save the money (both in your bank account and in your EPF) and then use the EPF money to pay for part time studies with universities such as OUM and UNITAR. Distance learning programmes are offered by most universities, anyway.

Option Five : Join one of the apprenticeships offered, where you are given the chance to work and study at the same time. I need to do some research on this first. But believe me, there ARE such programmes around.

Option Six : Take a skills course, such as those offered by JPSM (Jab Pembangunan Sumber Manusia or KPD). Usually you can pick up skills in culinary arts, electrical wiring, hairstyling, tailoring etc. After that, you can open your own business.

Option Seven : Forget about studying and go to work. In places like banks, you can slowly move up into management from among the rank & file. They give you exams to take and if you pass, you get promoted. HOWEVER, the kicker comes when the bosses transfer you any place they like. If you resign, you won't be able to get another job with the same salary elsewhere because you don't have paper qualifications.

Option Eight : Go to work. The 'best' work to do with minimum qualifications is SALES. It is also work with unlimited potential when it comes to commissions. When you do sales, your income is limited only by yourself. But you need to develop a thick skin and learn to be very creative & resourceful.

Option Nine : Repeat your exam if the results aren't what you want them to be. When you have 'made it', nobody ever asks how long it took you.

And while you're reading this, keep telling yourself... 'Life Never Promised To Be Fair' and 'A Quitter Never Wins & A Winner Never Quits.'

Hmmm, I wonder if I missed any other possible VIABLE option.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Best Thing I Can Teach My Child

When I was single and teaching in an all-boys school, I had my eyes opened really wide to the challenges of growing up nowadays.  I saw boys who stayed back in school because school (even if it was empty) was much better than home.  I found out about boys who came to school in a Toyota Prado and waited till the 4WD was down the street before they hopped onto another vehicle (bus or car) headed God-Knows-Where.  But after a while, everyone found out where.  I had one boy (clean-cut and such a well-behaved angel!) in my class who disappeared after a few months.  I found out later that he was helping coordinate the activities of a car theft syndicate. 

The thing was.. I knew most of these boys' families or backgrounds and the majority were from normal middle-class families.   What happened to lead them down such thorny paths?

The boy with the Prado had permissive parents... nothing was too good for their angel.  So he grew up with a self-centered mindset.

As for the ones who preferred to stay back in school, one had an abusive parent and the other had a parent who wasn't around much.  I suppose the teachers became substitute parent figures.

I never found out the whys of the car thief but I can still picture his angelic face.  Just think of a 14-year-old Leonardo di Caprio.

And of course, in the course of teaching, I came across instances of well-dressed clean-cut characters who offered the youngsters free colourful pills just to try and if you like 'em, you can buy.  They hung around the streets leading to the school and escaped notice because they looked so respectable.

Which was why at the relatively-youthful age of 25, I had a discussion with a Kelantanese contemporary about how to protect our future children from such dangers.  After months of arguing, we realised that there was NO way to protect the kids.  Unless you put them in gilded cages.

The best thing we as parents could do would be to bring them up with love and equip them with a strong foundation of self-worth and integrity.  Then whatever decisions they made would be guided by these principles.  Of course my Muslim friend and I also decided that we had to give our children a strong grounding in our respective religions.

However, that will still not be enough.  For disappointments and disasters abound in today's world.  Before, it would have been enough for one to be able to feed a family.  But now, there is so much competition for everything (from food and jobs to homes and loves) that sometimes I think that  the youths are set up for failure.  Even the kids who get straight A's aren't sure of a place in matriculation or university.  Even a first class degree nowadays doesn't guarantee a job in a top company.

So what would be the best thing I could teach my child? 
That would be RESILIENCE, the ability to recover quickly from adversity. 

I cannot cage him, nor can I capture all the 'lions' that may want to devour him.  The best thing I can do is teach him that life is for living... and if he falls, all he has to do is get up again. 

In the meantime, I will simply bite all my fingernails and grow more white hair as he happily leaps over drains and launches himself at trees.  I should be grateful because he hasn't begun launching himself at girls yet.  I'll worry when the time for it comes.