Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Facebook : To Add Students Or Not?

FFacebook poses a special problem for teachers... from my point of view.  The advantages are many and multifarious but so are the diadvantages.

As usual, the most nagging headache would be TMI or in full, Too Much Information.  Especially information about personal things.  Information is always good unless interpreted in a way not expected or not wanted.  As a teacher, I most especially do NOT want this, when it comes to students.

Allow me to illustrate.  And I shall use the example best known to myself : Me.

By default, I tend to be relaxed, sometimes flippant, almost jolly most times :).  But I knew I couldn't be 'relaxed, flippant, jolly' at work.  It was practically an imperative at my first posting : SM La Salle.  The boys in La Salle were a motley bunch; mostly rambunctious, mostly interested in earning some certification but mostly in need of rigid supervision and monitoring.  You can't monitor boys very effectively with only smiles and sugar.  I'd like to meet anyone who has tried and succeeded. 

So, over the years, I learned to 'compartmentalize'.  In class, I was more strict and, according to my cousin Wesley, I had a 'scary face'.  Outside, I would be more friendly but still kept a distance.  But outside school, I would be myself.  And this worked very well for me.  The students who were related to me found it a bit weird at first but, after a while, adjusted.  Wesley used to play with me a game of 'I jump off the stairs and you catch me' but at school, he ran away from me. 

Facebook, however, blurs all the demarcation lines.  My Facebook wall used to reflect the default me more than the professional me.  But, when students started adding me (it took a year or two before I added them), I began to censor my comments.  But I couldn't censor friends and cousins' comments, could I?  So I restricted the students' access.  Why add them in the first place, one might ask?  Well, at first I only added them after they left school.  But some came back for Form Six.  After a while, I got muddled up as to who was still in school and who had left.  And those who left had brothers and sisters in school anyway.  So I gave up and added them, but restricted their views and access.

But now I'm not quite sure what access they have.  This Mark Zuckerberg keeps messing with the settings.  Sigh. 

My dilemma is : I don't want to 'unfriend' all my ex students and students.  Some of them have become good friends and some still keep in touch with me.  But some I hardly know and some I know a bit of...

Again, what are the criteria for unfriending students and keeping them?

The problem for me is this.  I like things to be clearcut in my dealings with my students.  And in the classroom, I mean BUSINESS.  With caps.  But some kids don't seem to be able to handle the difference between the Teacher Roslyn and the Facebook person Roslyn.  Some try to interact with me as the person they see on Facebook.  But when I'm on school grounds, I am unable to switch out of Teacher mode and into Friend mode.  It sounds funny, doesn't it?  But don't get me wrong, I am not a total martinet in the classroom.  Just ask my ex students :)

Maybe it's a non-issue.  Sigh, I don't know.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Malaysian Immigration Black List

Last year, I heard about the case of a lady who was stopped at KLIA and not allowed to board a plane for Europe.  Despite having a valid passport and visas galore, she was not allowed to leave Malaysia because she was on the Immigration blacklist for not paying a student loan!

I'd never heard of such a case before.  Well, maybe people don't talk about it... not exactly something you'd want others to know, right?  I thought Immigration blacklists were only for terrorists and bombmakers.  Obviously I don't travel much out of Malaysia.. heh heh.

I wondered if I were on this black list... coming from Sabah with rampant identity theft, it's a legitimate concern!  So I went to the Immigration Dept (Counter 16) to ask.  Lucky for me, I am 'safe'!

But just to make sure, I checked online as well at  Yep, I'm still 'safe'.  I also checked at the PTPTN website  Yep, nobody stole my identity to get a loan.

I wonder if this blacklist gives the reasons for listing anyone.  Blacklist sounds so fascinating, you know... I sound like I don't have any work to do.. in actual fact, I'm under extreme stress.  More stress, more blog posts!

SSPN So Far... A Mighty Good Deal!

After saving money in Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional (SSPN) accounts for a few years, I can say that it was a good decision to begin.

First of all, the RM3000 income tax relief has been very useful.  And on top of that, I got dividends too! Here's a table I got from another blog.

They don't look like much but if you add that on to the income tax relief, the numbers look pretty good.

Second, the tax incentive has helped me to keep saving the money in SSPN and the account terms has discouraged any withdrawals.  Well, since withdrawals can only be done one year after the account is opened and only ONE withdrawal (maximum 10% of total amount), any thoughts of withdrawing will be effectively squelched.

Third, I am able to use this opportunity to teach my nephews about savings and university.  Plus, the possible uses of PTPTN loan.  Of course I also stressed the fact that a PTPTN loan is still a LOAN.  The way some students talk about PTPTN loans... it's as if the money is theirs free and clear.  I was also able to show the young boys the meaning of 'matching grants' by promising them a matching grant for whatever they could save.  I was floored when they brandished their Chinese New Year angpows at me ... and had to overcome a feeling of faintness.  But luckily that was the only time they did that to me.  And I suppose it was a good thing they saved their money as they normally finished off their angpows at toy shops. 

And seeing their expressions when they viewed their account balances online was priceless.  And now and again, they'd check their accounts..'to make sure the money was still there'.  Ha ha... no embezzling allowed!

I think the best thing about SSPN was the chance to teach the kids some financial knowledge.

To check accounts online, go to
To print out SSPN account statements for income tax, go to

The latest info from the website, beginning January 2012, it will be compulsory for all PTPTN loan applicants to have a minimum of RM20 in their SSPN account.