Malaysian royalty is surprisingly awesome.

This excerpt comes from Wikipedia but references a Bernama article, which doesn’t seem to be working at the moment:

On July 2008, Regent of Perak Raja Nazrin Shah said that getting a string of As is meaningless if students fail to understand, appreciate and practice good values, and describing that excellent results as mere pakaian luaran (external appearance), there would be uneven development of human capital if students failed to inculcate good morals. “This will lead to society and the country to suffer”. He also said that people with good moral values always hold firm to life principles especially in defending truth and justice. Students should be taught not to lie or rely on leaked examination papers just to obtain higher grades. He noted that while positions and posts could give one power, one would be judged by the people. “There are many people who obtained positions and posts but there are not many who die with a good name.”

I wish school administration officers had his common sense!

Rites of Passage

We don’t really have all that many rites of passages in Malaysia.

Each religion and culture has their own rites, sure. But there aren’t really that many that apply to the whole country.

Take graduations, for example. In many countries (particularly Western ones) high school students are sent off with a ceremony – acknowledging their effort, celebrating their success, and having someone from their community pass on a few words of wisdom as part of the graduation speech.

In Malaysia, you do your SPM/STPM, and that’s it. Yeah sure, three months later you pick up your results, but there isn’t much of a ceremony there. There aren’t any workshops, classes, or speeches on how to live as an adult. How to manage outside the boundaries of school. How to take care of yourself. Some private schools in metro areas do have proms and graduations, but not many can afford them – and they’re often glitz and glamour.

It’s not a wonder that quite a number of Malaysian students can’t deal with failure (such as the not-perfect results sheets or not getting a scholarship), or that they don’t often take risks and explore unorthodox territory. They have not been entrusted with the skills and knowledge of moving forward, moving on.

We coddle them and spoonfeed them throughout their school years, expecting them to always bow to authority, follow rules, go on the straight and narrow. Then we thrust them into the real world with nary a Goodbye, where they have to make their own rules and authority – and they have no idea where to go.

It’s not so much that they can’t think for themselves, or that they’re not able to be independent. I feel that the larger problem is that we don’t allow them to do so – we shelter them from the myriad of challenges of the world, making them believe that the world only operates on grade scales, and so they can’t deal with its complexities. It’s so alien to the tight school environment.

I propose that we introduce a Rite of Passage in school, after SPM or STPM. Something to herald their completion of 11-13 years of formal schooling. Something to give them support for the later years.

Let’s educate our students on life after school. (I did this and it was majorly successful.) Let’s give them some time for them to stop thinking about exams and try something else instead – an arts week, or a fun excursion, something different. Let’s build up strong alumni networks that support these students no matter what. Let’s provide resources for these students to tap into once they leave school.

And when the chaos of exams is over, let’s throw them a party, a celebration to commemorate their achievements – not just academic, but also personal – and their selves. Give them time to relax. Acknowledge the greatness that lies within them. Reaffirm that no matter what the exam scores say, they will still be OK. Send them off, and wish them luck.

How can we build a Rite of Passage for our school students?

USA For Students Education Fair

From Education in Malaysia, because Tony’s summarized it so well:

USA For Students , a US Education Fair would be held this Saturday, 14th June 10am to 4pm at Wisma MCA.

This event is co-organized by US Embassy, MACEE, American Universities Alumni Malaysia and Discover US Education – KL.

This is the 3rd year such a US Education fair is held in Malaysia, and this year, there will be 51 top US Universities, including Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford etc. A series of seminars would be held too, covering topics from US Education System, Visa, Applications for undergrad and postgrad, interviews, job prospect after graduation etc.

Do check it out at USA For Students !

KaosPilots: Now This Is Learning

Imagine a business school where all your assignments are real-life projects from real clients. Imagine spending your second year in a different country working on community projects. Imagine your final exam being a sustainable project for change.

For the KaosPilots, this is reality.

I’ll just quote the post I made on MetaFilter about them:

The KaosPilots, deemed “the world’s most adventurous alternative business school“, teaches social entrepreneurship and leadership through real-life situations.

Part of their education involves international outposts in Vancouver, Buenos Aires, and Bahia, working on projects related to business, community, and sustainability. The final exam is an operational project of your own.

Many former students go on to the private sector or create projects and jobs of their own (though creative industries and non-profits are very common).

They have been nominated for design awards, are considered as worldchanging, and have published a book about their methods. New web technologies are highly utilized by both students and board members alike.

The KaosPilots have been based in Aarhus, Denmark for 15 years, but there are also schools running (or about to start) in Sweden, Norway, and The Netherlands, with more coming in other continents.

The KaosPilots are my new obsession. They are EXACTLY what I have been looking for education-wise. I’ve been looking for ways to actually learn how to run projects and gain first-hand experience, and while I was hoping to get that in QUT, I’ve been getting more theory than anything else. This actually makes things RELEVANT – your work actually matters, and your passion is rewarded. Their core values aren’t gooblyspeak, they’re six simple but powerful aims: real world, balance, being streetwise, being playful, risk taking and compassion.

I’ve applied for the Stockholm (Sweden) program, which starts next year. This would be a major change as it means I drop out of university and I have to work out how to support myself in Sweden for about three years. It also costs a LOT, and I’m not sure I can afford it. But the sheer value of the education I receive would be priceless. That’s if I can handle how hardcore it is, anyway. There will be a 2-day workshop in Stockholm in November for those shortlisted, so I’ll know pretty soon if I make it.

I know the people over at the Stockholm KaosPilots have seen this blog, and may still be reading it – HELLO! I’ll also be meeting one current KaosPilot, Kamilla, at the Youth Enterprise Symposium this weekend, and I’ll have tea with Michael Doneman, a KaosPilots board member and founder of Edgeware who also happens to be a postgrad in my faculty. How convenient. I can’t wait to pick their brains and find out what they’re all about.

Do you have any more information on the KaosPilots? Please share them to me, because they’re awesome and I want to know more. Otherwise, watch this video to see how awesome they are: (you might need to amp up the volume on your computer, as the video’s volume is very soft)

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