July 02, 2008

Syllabus of Social University

I had a long chat with my brother Seong yesterday. We talked about his and my future. Though we don't look alike physically--ok, he is taller and more handsome (based on my ex-students' comments) than me, we do share the same genes from our parents. I always agree with my mom's comment: he is very smart, but sometimes too smart (like figuring out creative ways to be lazy or become multi-millionaire). At heart, I always hope that he could follow my footsteps to enter ivory tower. When he was about to take SPM, I drove all the way from KL to Bahau every weekend to conduct tuition for him, and some of his friends (hoping to make him more comfortable with friends' accompanion). Although after he failed to score in SPM eventually, I still hoped to figure out ways (together with his sisters) to make my hope came true. The problem is, it all about my hope, not his. Am I pushing too hard?

Two weeks ago, I met a big group of Malaysian undergrad students in a BBQ gathering (gosh! I turned out to be the OLDEST of them all). I talked to some of them and asked them what do they want to be after completing their undergrad study. None of them had a clear picture of their career paths. I told my brother that: in a way you are better than them because you do not spend RM500K to RM1mil like them and yet don't know what will the future like. Of course, as Warwick's degrees are generally very "laku" worldwide, their bright future are almost assured once they obtain their degrees. Try not to be Ah Q.

I suggest to assist Seong to design and develop a syllabus for his "social university". Yes, I am serious. Once I get a PhD in Education, I think I dare to offer such kind of consultation service to any Malaysian, not limited to my family members. Indeed, when I was a lecturer in UniKL, I did similar things for selected few of my students, those who loved me and continue loving me as their lecturer. I have various kinds of tools to be used to construct the syllabus, such as mind mapping, stickystorm, 5W1H, Six Thinking Hats, etc etc. As for the content, it should consist of selected Confucian's ideology, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Aristotle's philosophy, theory of knowledge, Bloom's Taxonomy, etc etc. The duration of the study would be life-long, and the instructors of the programmes are everyone he encounters (like me, for example).

I once argued with a colleague about the differences between an instructor / teacher and an educator. I said I am not an educator, perhaps, I am yet to be qualified as an educator. The responsibility of an educator is too heavy, is life-long; while teacher's or instructor's is time-bound, temporary. To some people, being a teacher could be just a job to earn money for living (I think not in Malaysia, poor teachers~). Once a person stops to teach or instruct, he or she will no longer be called a teacher. Of course if the person teach till the day he or she retires, then the title "teacher" could be remained forever.

Being an educator, one should be able to provide insight or advice upon the syllabus of social university. The conception of social university, to me, came from Hong Kong drama series. In general, everyone works or lives in a society enters social university. The day you graduate might be the day you die. I am also a student of such university. I select the programmes or courses that I like (sometimes being forced to choose) and attend classes everyday. I am just luckier than a lot of my "coursemates"--I get Malaysian Government to pay some of my fees (Bachelor degree and PhD). But people normally see my lucky side and ignore those difficulties and painful pasts of mine. I designed my own syllabus in this university and I tried very hard to follow it. Now I am still trying.

So, interested to design one for yourself?


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