Advice from Harvard ex-Dean: Slow Down

Those of you heading to Harvard, or to university in general;
those of you waiting anxiously for SPM/STPM results (have you even taken the tests yet?);
those of you putting in 24-hour days to get those “top grades” to get into something like Harvard thinking it’s the Holy Grail;
those of you pushed into the 24-hour days lifestyle for the Holy Grail by your parents, teachers, peers, the authorities;
those of you that are doing the pushing:

Please heed the words of ex-Harvard Dean Harry Lewis:

Slow Down.

(the above link leads to a .PDF – download and READ.)

Tony Pua (Malaysian edublogger) arrested, jailed

EDIT: Tony has been released and was able to appear in Parliament today.

Tony Pua, founder of one of the first Malaysian education blogs, Education in Malaysia, as well as a Member of Parliament, has been arrested and jailed following his involvement in an anti-ISA peaceful protest.

It’s not immediately clear whether the arrest was purely due to his involvement in the protest, or whether other factors – such as his blog or his involvement with the Opposition parties – also played a part. After major arrests on bloggers mainly for what they wrote, it’s not entirely surprising if they thought his blog was potentially dangerous.

This does not bode well for anyone. After RPK’s release and the ruling of his arrest as “unlawful”, I figured that it was safe to comment on the Government’s education and youth policies, and was about to analyse some laws related to education and young people. But if Tony Pua – who hasn’t even done anything remotely criminal, and indeed is part of the Government now – could get thrown in jail, what hope does a Lain-Lain (racial “other” or minority) permanent resident have?

Good luck Tony; hopefully justice will prevail and you’ll be free soon.

“Schooled” – film on alternative schooling system

The Sudbury Valley School system, started in Massachusetts in 1968, is one of the more pre-eminent and well-known forms of alternative school systems in the world. In the core of the Sudbury Valley system is democracy in education: students and staff are all given the right to vote on issues in the school that affect them – from school lunches to changes in rules. There are also no compulsory sessions, classes, or subjects; instead, the students take their own initiative in deciding what they want to learn, when and how they want to learn it (much like unschooling, just with a structural base). Age groups are mixed and often the students also act as teachers to their peers.

The Sudbury Valley system is in place in North America, some parts of Europe, Israel, and Australia, though it hasn’t really taken off elsewhere. This could be due to different cultural and societal expectations on the purpose of schooling and education. Imagine if Malaysian students were allowed to decide what they wanted to learn, and didn’t have to do exams if they didn’t want to! I would personally love it, but the rest of the country may degenerate into confused chaos as it’s completely the opposite of what we’re used to.

Part of overcoming such barriers is to experience the Sudbury Valley system for ourselves. If we’re not lucky enough to get to visit a school, though, there is another way: watching the film Schooled.

Schooled showcases the journey of Fred, a school teacher facing plenty of problems both in his personal and professional life. To resolve his crisis, he goes out to discover alternatives, and stumbles upon a Sudbury Valley school. The sheer difference of systems shocks him into reevaluating his perspectives and goals.

The film has received positive feedback from the Alternative Education Resource Organisation, the key worldwide organisation for alternative and democratic schooling, as well as other educators and past Sudbury Valley students. Screenings have been held around the US, Australia, Sweden, and Canada.

To celebrate its launch, the people at Schooled are offering special discounts and free offers for every DVD sold on Wednesday, October 15 (Launch Day). The DVD normally costs $25, but for Launch Day there will be a 20% discount as well as a choice of goodies related to alternative education or to Hollywood.

I haven’t had the chance to see the movie yet, but if I do I’ll post a review. This should be interesting – there have been a lot of films about teachers and schools, but not many (if any) dealing with a real-world alternative system. Will this increase awareness and acceptance for alternative systems? Let’s see.

(thanks Erin!)

SOLS 24/7 – Education & Support for the Marginalized

The SOLS (Science of Life) 24/7 organization, founded by the family of young Malaysian social entrepreneur Raj Ridhvan Singh (recently shortlisted as one of KLue’s Blue Chillies) builds boarding schools across Cambodia, Timor Leste, and Malaysia for marginalized young people. In these schools, students learn 2 years of English, maths, business, leadership, character, and volunteering skills, amongst others. This enables them to reintegrate with the rest of society, obtain jobs, and support themselves.

Malaysiakini also has an interview and video profile with Raj about the SOLS 24/7 school in Malaysia.

I’ve met Raj briefly and heard him speak about his project, and I find him really passionate and sincere towards his cause. I do have some questions about the Science of Life system itself (some of the students talk about it being an actual subject, but there’s no actual information on it specifically) but overall this initiative is doing a lot of good to those that really need the help.

SOLS 24/7 is in great need of funding, support, and volunteers. If you can help, contact Raj at +6012 6398 442 or email him at raj@sols247.org.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki: Changing the World Since Age 9

If you think young people don’t have the capacity, interest, or drive to make the world a better place, watch this speech and think again:

That powerful speech (transcript here) is by Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who started the Environmental Children’s Organization in Canada when she was nine, and at twelve delivered the above to world leaders at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Her passion for environmental awareness still lives on today, with the creation of online think-tank The Skyfish Project and her current studies in ethnobotany.

I’ve heard from quite a few adults – some who should really know better – who lament the idea that young people are too apathetic to care about the world. However, as examples like Severn show, passionate socially-conscious young people are out there making a difference every day. Indeed, the Social Citizens project has published a paper detailing the efforts and consciousness of the Millenials (the current generation of 15-to-29 year-olds) and their important social change work. Severn is on the edge of this generation, but she is a great representative of the power young people hold.

Do you know of any other young people like Severn? Share your examples here.

Edublogger Tony Pua now Member of Parliament

Tony Pua, co-writer of top Malaysian education blog Education in Malaysia, won his seat in PJ Utara in Malaysia’s recent elections, and is now a Member of Parliament. He is one of a handful of Malaysian bloggers that are now officially involved in politics.

This will be interesting. I knew about Tony’s nomination, but I didn’t think he’d win mainly because he’s under DAP and the Opposition hardly wins in Malaysian elections. However, this year’s elections have been surprisingly good for the Opposition (now not Opposition? haha), and Tony’s one of the beneficiaries of that good fortune. Another factor against him was that he didn’t have any political experience – and who expects a blogger to get into Parliament? Now we have 2 in federal and 2 in state assembly! Crazy!

Tony and I have been acquainted due to our similar blogs, and we’re often crossposting from each other. We sometimes have diametrically opposing views on education (for example, Tony’s big on determining the value of universities by their rankings; I think rankings are bunk) but we still respect and quite like each other.

Hopefully Tony will be able to introduce some changes to the Malaysian education system, making it more open and varied and supportive of students. Will Tony be Minister of Education? I doubt it (wouldn’t all the Ministers have to be from BN since they are the majority?) but I’d definitely like to see it happen – at least he knows what he’s doing!

Good luck Tony and all the best!

Nominees for Young Entrepreneur eBook are up!

Daniel and I have shortlisted the nominees of our Young Entrepreneur eBook project and they are now up for voting.

Click on this link to vote for your favourite young entrepreneur here now!

Malaysian can’t get Filipino stepson into school

From The Star:

I AM a Malaysian citizen who has taken a Filipino wife four years ago. Since then, I have also been raising her son from a previous liaison as my own. 

But my stepson, who is now seven-years-old, is unable to enrol in a government school to begin his Primary One education. The Education Ministry has denied him permission to study in a government school although the school in question had already accepted him in principle.  

The reason given for the rejection was because my wife was stated to be “single” in our marriage certificate and it is impossible, in the eyes of the ministry, that my wife could have kids before our marriage.

Ah, Government. You and your strange ways of determining citizenship and school eligibility. And you say you want to arrest parents who don’t send their children to school?

Gerald, I suggest homeschooling.

Edgeware’s Do Well Conference – 80% Discount – Two Spots Left!

If you’re a social entrepreneur, activist, thinker, idealist, young achiever, or anyone else in between, come by to Brisbane this weekend for Edgeware’s Do Well conference!

In Do Well, you will be able to:

  • Hear from other entrepreneurs on how they make their ventures work
  • Share your stories and ideas on your projects
  • Work together on practical hands-on workshops to boost creativity and energy
  • Share your expertise with eager learners
  • Network with people from varying industries
  • And much more!

Do Well will take place from Friday 22nd February to Sunday 24th February, at the Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre in New Farm.

Tickets usually go for $500, but as part of a special “Little Legends” offer (especially made for me!) you can gain entry for just $100 – an 80% discount! I have TWO spots left for this discount, so quickly drop me an email at tiara.shafiq@gmail.com for further instructions.

I’ll also be presenting on Saturday afternoon, so it’ll be great to see some of you there.

Thanks and be quick!

Young Malaysian Entrepreneurs eBook – Where are the WOMEN?

Daniel and I are sorting through the nominations for the Young Malaysians Entrepreneurs eBook, and there’s a glaring omission:

Where are the WOMEN?

We have about a gazillion male nominations, but less than a handful of female nominations. We are sure that there are wonderful young Malaysian females out there being enterprising – we just want to know where you are.

We would be very happy if you visit one of our site which is Female Whizzinator.

Go and nominate some women now!

A Vision of Students Today

An extremely thought-provoking video from the Digital Ethnography class at Kansas State University – does the current education system really work with the reality of student life? Or is it stuck in the past? (thanks ExperienceCurve):

I particularly liked the part towards the end where, after one student holds up a sign that says “After I graduate I would likely be hired for a job that doesn’t exist today”, one student holds up a filled-in exam answer sheet and responds “This won’t get me there”. Now this is a university class I’d love to take.

Young Malaysian Entrepreneurs WANTED for upcoming eBook

Daniel CerVentus, co-founder of Ideapreneur and myself are looking for 21 candidates to be featured in our upcoming eBook about young Malaysian entrepreneurs.

We are looking for the following:

  • Malaysian – doesn’t have to be a citizen, but has to be connected to Malaysia in some way
  • Age 30 and below by 31st Dec 2008
  • Self made or revolutionary in an an existing business/organization – for profit, non-profit, social enterprise
  • Highly respected in their industry
  • Have great passion for what they are doing.
  • A great example what Malaysia have to offer.

Please send all your suggestions to Daniel or myself before 14th February 2008. Thank you!

Know a kick-ass indie designer/event manager/promoter?

(cross-posted to EducateDeviate, Wanna Be A KP, and Facebook)

I’ve got some plans to develop EducateDeviate further (to make it more self-sustainable) as well as to boost my chances at getting KaosPilots funding.

To do that, I need help with the following:

  • Web design and development – particularly those who can take my list of “I need my website to do this, that, and the other” and develop a nifty CMS that makes the job easy (more details later) while keeping to a certain aesthetic.
  • Graphic design, particularly for postcards and brochures – I have ideas, I just can’t design all that well
  • Event management – someone who can take my ideas and work out how to make it happen
  • Promotions/marketing/publicity – the maven who can get all that above OUT THERE
Now I am a simple college student, which means I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on this endeavour. (I was looking around yesterday and one company quoted $15,000 for a simple website. DUDE. I could go to UWP again and have change with that money.) However, I would love to support indie young up-and-coming artists/designers/practitioners. I’ve been doing that with fashion and I want to do that with more aspects of my life.

I’m looking for someone who can relate to all this as personal projects – too many other options I’ve seen assume I’m a business and get into business-speak. I want someone that’s human. Someone creative and daring. Someone who would pull me out of my box. Someone young is a bonus.

Know anyone who fits this? Are you willing to help? Drop me a line.

The List of Youth Speakers and Inspiring Young People to Invite to Your Conference or Event

In response to tech conference Tokion‘s lack of women speakers, women bloggers everywhere banded together to create a list of women speakers for any conference, hosted at Personism. The ever-growing list contains hundreds of inspiring women in design, the arts, entrepreneurship, activism, non-profits, business, and everything else that would certainly be an asset for any conference or gathering of minds.

There’s another group of people often missing at these conferences though: young people. Sure, there is no end to youth conferences, but look at the big ones like TED or ideaCity – how many of the participants are under 30? IdeaFestival is testing out a “IF Kids” section, which was apparently quite successful in the 2007 festival, but might be a little condescending to young adults who aren’t actually kids but who aren’t quite old enough to blend in with the other adults. And even if those big events were more inclusive socially, many deserving young people won’t be able to afford them. Tickets are upwards of US$500 a piece, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to get them before they sell out. Factor in travel, visas, accommodation, and all other costs and you see a very pricey proposition that turns away many young people from otherwise being the biggest contributors.

What young people need are more opportunities to be represented, more exposure to wider groups of people (and not just their peers). Young people should be taking the stage more often in those big events, they should be the ones being listened to by big minds such as Al Gore or Richard Branson. It’s their voice that should be heard, particularly since all the big chances will be handled by us anyway.

Inspired by Personism’s list, I am now creating:

The List of Youth Speakers and Inspiring Young People to Invite to Your Conference or Event

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you want to be on this list, or know anyone (below 30) who should be here, leave me a comment with their name, country, the field they’re involved in, and a brief description. Please also include a link to a website or webpage about them. It doesn’t have to be their personal/business website – a profile or a news article works too, just as long as it has information (and preferably contact details too) about themselves.

Don’t be afraid to self-promote! So many of us deserve better but are too shy or modest to ask for it. I will scan the list for scammers and spammers though.

You may notice that (at least in the early versions) this list is skewed towards a certain geographical area. This is partly because I’m from that area so I know more people there, but also because people in non-Western countries tend to be underrepresented in big events like these. See the diversity of countries as a good thing – you’ll get a very varied set of backgrounds and opinions, information and knowledge will cross borders, and everyone benefits.

List last updated: 26 Jan 2008

NAME COUNTRY FIELD DESCRIPTION
Tiara Shafiq Malaysia / Bangladesh / Australia Youth, Alternative Education Maintainer of youth/alternative education blog EducateDeviate
Suzanne Lee Malaysia Photography Self-made professional photographer and traveller
Poh Si Teng Malaysia / USA Journalism Co-founder of Malaysia youth socio-political magazine theCICAK
Tharum Bun Cambodia IT, Communications Blogger on ITCs
Khailee Ng Malaysia Entrepreneurship Co-Founder of theCICAK and various web ventures
Daniel CerVentus Lim Malaysia Entrepreneurship Maintainer of Malaysian entrepreneurship blog Ideapreneur
David Askaripour USA Entrepreneurship Founder of youth entrepreneurship portal Mind Petal, web entrepreneur
Brett Farmiloe USA Passion Went on the “Pursue the Passion” roadtrip to interview leading people about their passions in life
Hayley Angell Australia Passion, Empowerment Life coach and speaker on youth empowerment
Jessica Kiely Australia Youth, Career Development Founder of FRANK Team, a company that empowers youth through speakers and newsletters on career development
Adam Smith Australia Youth, Education COO of Education Foundation Australia
Bec Heinrich Australia Youth, Education, Leadership CEO and Founder of Rising Generations
Tom Dawkins Australia Youth, Media Founder of youth media portal VibeWire
Simon Moss Australia Youth, International Development, Education, Poverty COO of youth-run development organization The Oaktree Foundation
Hugh Evans Australia Youth, International Development, Education, Poverty Founder of youth-run development organization The Oaktree Foundation
Jennifer Corriero Canada Youth, International Development Founder of TakingITGlobal
Effa Desa Malaysia Film, Activism Founder of Filmmakers Anonymous, organizes film festivals in Malaysia
Renee Dillon Australia Art, Crafts Organizes workshops for budding artisans
Victor Gan Australia Photography, Film Self-trained photographer and filmmaker
Craig Kielburger USA Children’s Rights, Activism Co-founded Free the Children at 12 years old
Aaron Gill Malaysia Web, IT IT entrepreneur
Michelle Gunaselan Malaysia Activism Writer at TELL magazine, co-founder of voter education initiative VoteED
Cally Highfield United Kingdom Art Artist, illustrator, and novelist of Rose Petal Tea
Hwa Yang Jerng Malaysia Philosophy Interested in Machine intelligence, Cultural phenomenology, History of ideas, Bridging/unifying the liberal arts, science, engineering, and commerce
Kenny Koay Australia Entrepreneurship Founder of j2k, a mobile phone plan distributor that provides employment opportunities for international students in Melbourne
Trisha Okubo USA Entrepreneurship, Media, E-Commerce, Fashion Founder of Omiru: Style for All, a style website dedicated to real style for real people. Style expert featured in Lucky Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Disruptive Innovator at eBay, currently focusing on social commerce projects
Kidchan Malaysia Arts, Graphic Design Self-made artist; interesting observations about Malaysia
Darren Lee Malaysia Internet Technology, New Media, Web2.0/Social Networking Founder of Intrivent Global, Internet Technology Evangelist, New Media Specialist in the field of Web 2.0/Social Networking
Bryce Ives Australia Youth, Media, Arts First General Manager of SYN Melbourne, Australia’s largest youth media project. Crrently the online producer of the ABC’s Heywire
Nikki Brooker United Kingdom / Australia Youth, Politics, Peace First young person in the UK involved with campaigning to establish the UK Youth Parliament, then a trustee and co-ordinated the London Region. Also involved in Peace One Day
Reynato Reodica Australia Youth Policy, Youth Rights Executive officer of the Youth Action Policy Association, peak body for all youth workers and young people in NSW Australia
Brandon Bear Australia Youth Health, Sexual Health Working in sexual health and drug and alcohol health promotion in the field of harm minimisation for 5 years
Joshua Rayan Malaysia / Singapore / Australia / Indonesia Media, Communications Founder of Words Wizards, a creative communications agency that has become a branding specialist for many corporates
Yvonne Foong Malaysia Health, Neurofibromatosis Advocate for neurofibromatosis awareness, writer
Carol Chew Malaysia Politics, Youth National chairperson for Beliawanis, the young women’s arm of Malaysian political party MCA
Joel Clark Australia Youth Empowerment, Leadership, Poverty, Education Founder of nonprofit organisation, Community Spirit Tours, and wide-covering youth advocate with a number of organisations
Josh Lim Malaysia Media, Advertising Founder of blog advertising company Advertlets
Adelyn Lim Malaysia Children, Health, Cancer Founder of children’s cancer organization ROLF Kids
Joel Neoh Malaysia Youth, Entrepreneurship Winner of The Firm and founder of YouthMalaysia
Jennifer L. Pozner USA Women, Media, Writing, News Founder of Women in Media & News, a women’s media analysis, education and advocacy organization dedicated to increasing women’s presence and power in the public debate
Christine HappySlip USA / The Philippines (?) Media, Video, Web Creator of one-woman YouTube show HappySlip
Zadi Diaz USA Media, Web, Production Co-founder of online production company Smashface Productions
Alicia Curtis Australia Youth, Leadership, Mentoring Assists schools and businesses harness the leadership potential of their young people
Donnie Maclurcan Australia Politics, Community, Social Entrepreneurship Founder of Australian community project Project Australia
Miriam Lyons Australia Youth Policy, Festivals Director of Center for Policy Development, director for various festivals in Australia
Matt Noffs Australia Youth, Drug & Alcohol Dependency Development Manager at the Ted Noffs Foundation
Billie Jean Edwards Australia Youth, Indigenous Issues Young Indigenous leader
Joey Le Australia Cultural Awareness, Personal and Professional Development, Leadership, Mental Health for Young People, Youth Health Issues Former Chair of NSW Youth Advisory Council. Currently working as a medical doctor with an interest in psychiatry and adolescent health
Danielle Begg Australia Social Policy, Youth Activism, Psychology Co-established youth advocacy group Australian Teens Advocating Change (ATAC), aimed to promote multiculturalism, the prevention of substance abuse and a positive image of youth in the media through community service announcements and nation wide tours
Jimmy Kyle Australia Youth Empowerment, Indigenous Youth Program manager of Koori Connect, which engages indigenous young people on a range of cultural activities and events aimed at improving community connection, school retention and providing vocational learning opportunities
Sarah Chunys OAM Australia Mental Illnesses, Youth Health Motivational speaker on the subject of adversity/getting through tough times and mental health issues including suicide
Josh Shipp USA Youth Empowerment High-rated youth speaker, CosmoGIRL columnist, has a TV show in development
Peter Draw Singapore Art, Drawing, Children, Happiness Social Cartoonist
Xavier Clarke Australia Indigenous Youth, Social Issues AFL star and co-founder of Indigenous youth support group Unity Foundation
Linh Do Australia Youth, Environment Youth founder of Change A Million Light Bulbs and Change&Switch
David Toovey Australia Youth, Social Justice Current director of the Oaktree Foundation

Don’t forget to list your recommendations!

AYA Dream Malaysia Awards 2007: Vote For Me!

I’ve just been shortlisted for the AYA Dream Malaysia Awards 2007 in the Most Outstanding Youth category. Check out my profile, which includes a short interview with myself and my mother. I thought they played up the depression/anxiety angle a bit too much, but oh well – it is about overcoming adversity, after all.

To vote, send AYA Y 14 as a text message to 36828. Each text message costs 80 sen and I think you can vote more than once.

The other people shortlisted are:

Hmm…looks like a lot of doctors!

Check out their profiles and if you like, vote for them too! You may even win tickets to the Awards Ceremony if you’re lucky!

Links in Post: