Thursday, 4 June 2015

Teachers Day Celebration- my choir group

Early March 2015, I was called by my superior department, requesting me to form a new group of choir, this time restricted to only teacher-members, to specially perform during the state-level Teachers Day celebration. Having the experience of training students, and conducting them, for the same occasion, for two consecutive years, I sensed then that the people up there were expecting a miracle; as pooling 30 talented teachers, as needed in a good singing team, is a mountain climbing task. Not to mention discipline and commitment.
Seeing the list of names in one of the handouts distributed during the meeting, all music teachers, some already established names, I braved myself to decline the list, citing the reason that I would not be able to handle them. Instead, I suggested non-music teachers but talented, mostly young and energetic and would be able to serve for at least 10 years. The strategy was to get all in the meeting, mostly people who have been involved in the business for some years, to determine talented teachers whom they know would commit themselves.

Everything was then agreed, including the training schedule that only involves school hours, and that the training venue should be my school, cause I hate travelling. So the 10 to 1.00 o'clock training started, every Monday and Wednesday. Each session saw only 70 -80% of attendance, forcing me to slash some names off the list to be replaced  by new names suggested  by the committed members which were only confirmed in the third week. 5 songs being practised, starting with the usual National Anthem and the Guru Malaysia, followed by Akal Budi of the JPN Terengganu, Transformasi  Pendidikan of the Ministry of Education and the new state government corporate song Transformasi Terengganu Baharu.
The vocal training, the voice arrangements and step practice went smoothly for 8 weeks, with minus one accompaniment. So far this team is the best I have ever trained, each group of voice  mastering its very own part, except of course the memorising of the lyrics that seemed difficult for some of the guys. Officials of the education department came visiting the sessions, with compliments for the commitment and great progress made after listening to the vocal performance.
One week before the actual performance, for the first time the group joined the woodwind orchestra of SM Sains Sultan Mahmud. Suddenly all the harmony and singing skills went chaotic. The orchestra had arrangements that are totally different from the minus one arrangements that we used during the practice. Some members came to me, insisting that we go back to the minus one accompaniment. Everything changed, however, on the second day when everyone started getting the hang of the orchestra. They sang even better during the rehearsal, and superb on the actual event, with the help of the expensive audio system of course. The day ended with everyone feeling contented, compliments coming through the Whatsapp application for the next few days.
Opps… forgot to mention the beautiful batik baju kurung by the women, and the black and white suit of the men, with red neckties. I salute them for their willingness to fork out their own fund for the costume, which, in most of the compliments texts received, seemed to be highlighted more, compared to the singing performance.
At the meantime, before they dispersed, I reminded them the single practice session and the dates of rehearsal and Teachers Day celebration for the Kuala Terengganu District level exactly a week after. The practice was very informal, as there was less tense. Time was spent more on discussion over the costume. While the men decided to stick to the same black white and red, the women followed suit. Deciding on black blazer and skirt, with white blouse and red scarves, once again I saw them spending some money for costume. Women are women I guess, willing to spend whatever amount just to look beautiful! And they achieved in doing just that. And above all, the performance, this time was just as superb, only this time without the woodwind orchestra.
The day was especially meaningful to me as the group leader, as I received a special PPD award, which was given the loudest applause among all the recipients. Yes, the choir group clapped and the audience followed suit!
The occasion ended and everyone went home thinking that was our last activity. Days went by, that saw everyone still in contact through the Whatsapp. I guess they really got acquainted through the 2-month activity. Surprisingly, one week later, I received a call by an official of the JPNT, requesting the group to perform once again, this time only the national anthem and TTB, to start the APC- the Excellent Service Award Ceremony of the state education department. It wasn’t a surprise when everybody was excited to come for the rehearsal on the 15th of June, and the actual event the next day, a day before the fasting Ramadan month, as I have started to know them as close dear friends. This time there will be no practice, let us just see what happens during the rehearsal. And this time around, I think they are deciding on purple, after the red in the event last week.

After that it will be the fasting month and the Hari Raya Festival. Would there be any more request for the choir? Let’s just wait.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Young graduates are jobless because they are being choosy. Discuss.
When asked to discuss the issue, most of my students prefer to agree, meaning they rationalise the idea that graduates being choosy is the reason for them being jobless. In training them to think out of the box, I have come up here in this article with arguments that do not agree with them. Some do not sound strong enough, but it’s a good practice anyway for the brain.

Despite the undeniable fact that young graduates are being rather choosy in applying for jobs, it is however inappropriate to cite this as the reason for them being jobless. The present economic uncertainty, the intense competition, and the inability to fulfil what employers expect from employees are among the few factors that I see contribute towards this much worrying social issue.
First and foremost, it is their right to be choosy in deciding for their careers. After years of mugging in the pursue for the degrees of their chosen fields, you just cannot expect them to simply pick any jobs available in the street, unless, perhaps, for a temporary basis, while waiting for the right job to come. The locality of the working place, the salary, the colleagues, the prospect that they foresee in the organisation, the need to be near families and loved ones, are just to name a few more factors to justify this issue.
The uncertainty in the country’s economy has contributed to companies unable to provide jobs for new graduates. Even established organisations are resorting to retrenching workforces due to bad business, as can be seen in the latest move by Media Premia Berhad, the mother company of the prominent TV3, the first non-government TV station in the country. Exxon Mobile, an international corporation dealing with petroleum is reducing its scope of operation in the country, leaving professional personnels jobless. With this becoming the trend for other organisations lately, there is just no place for new graduates. Hence being choosy is definitely not the reason for them being jobless.
With the much improved education system, with private tertiary education centres making their impact besides the public universities, we see more graduates in the various field produced by the years. More and more professionals are rushing for the few jobs available. This results in intense competition, with insufficient place for everybody. Once again it is not about being choosy.
The high expectation of quality in  future employees by employers is another reason young graduates are unable to secure jobs. Most job-seekers fail to realise that with the intense competition as mentioned earlier, employers are expecting extra qualities from them. Besides the degrees, soft skills in the form of inter-personal, public speaking, decision making, and IT, just to name a few, would outstand them from other candidates during job interviews.  They are just not qualified enough, going by the employer’s standard, leaving them without jobs.
To conclude, it is not being choosy that young graduates are jobless, but the situation they are caught in, as well as the failure to show the extra qualities expected by employers. Perhaps if things do not turn out as expected, then they should start not being choosy, and start doing any jobs, to make ends meet.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The main cause of stress among youngsters is relationship problems. Do you agree? Explain with suitable examples.

Assalamualaikum. Hi there. Analysis of the previous batch of the students’ performance in MUET clearly shows that writing, especially Extended Writing, is where they fumble the most. While not  forgetting the other components of the test, I have decided to focus  on this part. The students have to simply admit that their biggest problem is generating and developing the ideas. After the recent topics about parental negligence and being materialistic, here is another one to help you in the thinking process. Do not forget, of course, to also study the writing style, tone, structure, and the language.

The main cause of stress among youngsters is relationship problems. Do you agree? Explain with suitable examples.
While relationship problems among youngsters is common, as it is one of the learning process of their young life, I however disagree when it is said to be the main cause of stress. A normal youngster faces a lot of other problems in life that cause stress, in the likes of examinations, parents expectation on their academic performance, and even the yearn to look beautiful and presentable, just to mention a few.
From the time when they are being reminded again and again by teachers and parents to prepare for examinations, the mugging sessions, the examination days itself, until the moment of truth when result is out, it is all about stress. It is only the way youngsters handle the stress, which is decided by their own level of mental strength, plus the guide and understanding from teachers and parents, that make them survive.  Some manage the stress well, while some are badly affected. This stress that examination brings, if not well managed, is a lot more difficult to cope compared to a relationship problem.
Another stress factor that comes along with examinations is parents’ expectation on their academic performance. The reminder, as early as Kindergarten days, on getting all A’s, works on some children, but proved otherwise on others. A child who is not capable of producing the A’s, especially one who has siblings with straight A’s records, will definitely be downed by the stress. This has been proven to be one of the reasons why some children rebel and protest, and later become  indiscipline. While stress caused by relationship problems can be cured by simply the proper attention by loved ones, like the family, stress caused by parents’ ridiculous expectation seems more complicated.
It is only natural for a normal growing teenager to have the yearn to look beautiful, or good and presentable, to attract the opposite gender. Anything that would affect her or his look would be very stressful. A single red pimple that pops up early on the cheek in the morning would make a girl scream in panic, and perhaps be the reason not to attend school for days. The crave for beautiful updated dresses and hairstyle would be just stressful if objected by parents, be it for financial reason or simply conflict of opinions, on fashion that is. Parents would have to either simply forget their opinion, and fork out the money, or watch their adorable children lock themselves in their rooms, skipping meals and missing school. A relationship problem would not be as  difficult as this, as after a few days the youngster would forget everything as soon as he or she meets another youngster for a new relationship.
These few problems that youngsters face, and perhaps many others, have proven to causes of stress. A relationship problem, if not handled properly, would causes stress too, but it is definitely not the main cause.
481 words.

Monday, 9 February 2015

People are becoming more materialistic. They are concerned with making money and what money can buy. What is your opinion on being materialistic?

People are becoming more materialistic. They are concerned with making money and what money can buy. What is your opinion on being materialistic?
With the rise in the cost of living, it is not surprising that people are more concerned with making more money, not only to make life comfortable, but to be able to provide the basic needs for their families. Besides food, clothing and shelter, money is needed for education, health maintenance, transport, communication and even entertainment. In other words, every little thing in life requires money. However, working hard in making a living, and being materialistic, are two different things. I do not see why one need to be materialistic to survive as it will bring more harm than benefit.
When life is too focused in making money people neglect other responsibilities like love, family relationship. When both parents are obsessed in earning as much money as possible,  children are left to grow on their own. Pampered with luxurious life without the proper parental touch, they would resort to alternatives to their parents attention, in the form of unlimited access to media and negative peer influence. This leads to social problems that we see happening today, from smoking, drug taking, illegal racing to illegitimate sexual relationships and dumping of babies. It is a fact that all these are related to people being materialistic.
Being materialistic makes people greedy that they will do whatever possible to become rich, putting moral values aside.  As a result, crime rises to its maximum lately, from highly classified activities like trading of army weapons for terrorists,  and the white collar crime that involves money in billions,  to robbery, thefts and other petty crimes that result in  people getting killed and live in fright. Nations  become politically and economically and socially unstable. Poverty seems to exist even in rich and developed countries. If only people can be contented on their living style to a certain extent, and work on to be rich at the same time abiding the law and rules of their religions, these would not happen.
Being materialistic also leads to people living the life more than they could afford. The desire to live lavishly, despite their mediocre income has forced them to live in debts. With the monthly payment that they need to make for the hire-purchase of cars and houses, and the never ending interest of credit cards, people sometimes find themselves short of money to get by way before their pay-day. Some would opt for part-time jobs, while the more desperate ones would turn to crime, resulting to all sorts of social problems.

There is definitely nothing wrong in working hard to make ends meet, and going on to become rich. However, it is best done the proper way, by taking into consideration other elements of life, thus leads to a happy and peaceful life. Being materialistic has proven otherwise.