Addicted to As-Tacy


Written on 3/16/2007 10:36:00 pm by sikapitan

It’s been a bit slow in the World of News these past few days. And readers will be surprised with this early update. It’s nothing actually. I just feel like trying to update twice a week, though I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference to my 4 readers.

Since my last update, Malaysians have been gripped by the phenomenon I would like to call ‘As-litis’. It’s a syndrome brought on by a drug known as “As-tacy”. It happens four times a year, though one of its generic, known by its street name as “SPM”, gets more people high than the average As-tacy. I mean, most newbies start with “UPSR”, which gets you mildly high, like taking Panadol with Coke. Then you move on to “PMR”, which is a bit like marijuana.

But SPM is the real deal; with people so addicted to As that you see the number of shots needed rising each year. No longer content with 8 or 9 shots, they now aim for 18 to 19. It’s equivalent to cocaine, but at least with cocaine you know you’re messing with your life. “As-litis” is more subtle, making you think that you’re actually clamoring for vitamins when instead you’re taking a dangerous drug that clouds your mind and hides it from the truth. Am I being over-dramatic? Hear me out…

First and foremost, it’s great that we have more and more people with more and more As. It probably indicates that we are having smarter kids. But maybe, just maybe, it also indicates that there’s something fundamentally wrong with our education system. Maybe after years of teaching the subjects the same way, and framing questions the same way, it gets easier to know what’s coming out. It’s easier to “spot” the questions. And when it’s easier to predict what’s going on, it’s easier for the students to simply memorize the answers.

Now, personally, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of memorizing. It’s one of the attributes of intelligence. Those who usually condemn people who memorize their subjects are usually jealous, and incapable of memorizing things themselves. But it’s only one aspect of intelligence. We have comprehending, analyzing, and finally sorting it all out so we arrive at an answer. But syllabuses that emphasize on merely finding ONE correct answer, rather than different paths towards MULTIPLE solutions, will someday, like it is now, eliminate all other thought process except for memorizing.

Secondly, there is this myth that the more As you have, the better your chances are at succeeding in life. I used to believe this myth, and I got my As, but as I started analyzing my surroundings, and looking at the realities of life, I realized that it’s not the amount of As you have, but the quality of the As. I believe that getting the right As for the right subjects is essential towards achieving your goals.

Take for example one high achiever who stated in the newspaper that her ambition all along is to take up pharmacy. Then why the heck did she sit for subjects totally unrelated to pharmacy? I mean, Tasawwur Islam is as related to Pharmacy like Mawi is to Bill Clinton – 100% NO RELATION.

So you get a situation where a student takes all the subjects available in her school, both science and art subjects, just so she can cover her bases in case pharmacy didn’t work out. Right, like you need tasawwur Islam to go to college and study business. It just doesn’t make sense the subject combinations that these students are taking. That is why I am not against As, but I’m against those who wants As simply for the sake of the score. Where is the value in that A?

Then again, is it their fault for wanting all these As? I believe that there is a fear amongst our students that no matter how many As they get, it's not good enough to get them the education they desperately want. Can you blame them for these thoughts when every year we read news about top scorers not getting the course of their choice? If there is a system of transparency in determining the intake of students to public universities and the allotment of scholarships, then perhaps students would be more secure in their 8 or 9 As then simply going for the jugular just so they could go to the university of their choice, taking the subject of their choice.

I am NOT one of those people who say that As are rubbish, that education does not mean anything, that As means you’re just a bookworm. This line of thought, when expressed, normally comes from people who didn’t do well in school, but manage to succeed anyway. So if it happens to them, why can’t it happen to the rest?

For one reason, people like to view themselves above others. I do too, sometimes, but I am always acutely aware that there are many paths towards success, and it doesn’t mean that since the path that I chose worked, other paths are dead-ends. So to these people who didn’t get As yet are more successful that some people who did well – congratulations, you are one of the lucky ones.

I think that academic success is an important gauge on a person’s development process. A person who does well in school are usually knowledgeable, hard-working, disciplined…the list goes on and on. And these attributes are also attributes that most successful people possess. So it’s wrong for the successful entrepreneur to start generalizing and discriminate against a successful student simply because he managed to succeed without the As. Life is never black and white, and roads are seldom just left and right.

I applaud those who did well. Maybe you won’t all be the richest people in Malaysia, but at least we know that you would contribute towards the nation. For those who didn’t, let me assure you that life is not over just yet. Life is beyond a piece of paper. You can succeed, but you must take note that to succeed you must have the drive, determination, effort and knowledge – things that you probably lacked in the first place. So look into the mirror, find out your flaws. Improve on it. And move on…because in five years time, nobody cares how many As you got for your SPM.

I should know, because nobody cares anymore how much I got for SPM...go figure.


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