Thursday, October 7, 2010

Is Writing a Death Knell?

7 October 201 (28 Syawal), Thursday

I'm at wit's end. Why is it that these days, students find writing so difficult!!! More often than not they get mental block when they hear the word WRITING.

When it comes to the topic on WRITING, they'll be squirming, writhing and thrashing. Some would be puffing and gasping, while others would start having cold sweats. Why???

Today, I have a class with a Form 4 student and the topic was Writing. You guessed right what prompted me to touch on this topic. For two solid hours, all the student did and managed to come up with was a few liners when asked to write supporting details to Topic Sentences. When asked to write on "Why I Hate Writing", she managed to wrangle a few sentences such as "I don't know how to write in English", and "I don't know why I hate writing but I think writing is important."

Oh boy!!! I wonder how such students fare in their class and in their exams. How can they come up with 350 - 500 words essay if it's already such an arduous and daunting task for them to come up with simple supporting details to support what is written as the Topic Sentence.

Personally, I would attribute it to the declining state of education in our country. Children and students no longer have the passion for learning. They are in school because they have to, not because they enjoy doing it. And to make matters worse, students are not encouraged or motivated to read. Hence, they find it such a chore to write. Each time, they are asked to write or when I reach the topic on Writing, it is as though it is their death knell.

During my time (back in the 60's and 70's), writing comes naturally. We don't even put much thought to it. Writing was a part of our student lives back then. However, I remember the drills that our English teachers drilled into us. Spelling was something compulsory and so was Dictation. And we were given History quizzes on almost a daily basis.

And books were aplenty in the Class Library. I remember laying my hands greedily on the Enid Blyton books, which were the rage those days, way back in the 60's. Oh, the likes of The Famous Five and Nancy Drew. I reckon the environment back had been rousing and inspiring in cultivating our reading interest and passion amongst people my generation and those before me.

Back then, we didn't have internet, nor blog, nor e-Games. There were no Facebook, nor Twitter. Basically books were your closest companion, and believe me, I thank Allah for that.

And playing creative games was the norm, games where you practically use things that were around you, the likes of chicken feathers (to make a Game called Chapteh), slippers (a game known as "Curi Ayam" (Stealing the Chicken"), the ground to draw lines and boxes to play Hopscotch and "Ibu Ayam" (Mother Hen), and many many more appealing, alluring and charming games that not only excited us, but stimulated our brain too and kept the brain active and allowed us to think creatively.

Mastering two or three languages simultaneously was a breeze for most people those days, but, today!!! They have difficulty grasping not only English but Bahasa Melayu or their mother tongue too. What's gonna happen to our future generation if this slide is not arrested? Only time will tell.

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