Monday, June 27, 2011

Professional Development Opportunity: Weekend Script-Writing Workshop in July 2011

Title: Weekend script-writing workshop 

The Malacca Theatre Group is organizing a 2-day (one week-end) Drama script-writing workshop for interested adults.  It is aimed at potential creative writers who are keen to develop their ideas/skills in script writing of stage dramas (note: there will be tips on writing for TV, radio and film, and conversion of a written story to performance theatre).


The Workshop will be facilitated by playwright, film director, ex-journalist, and academic Patrick Yeoh of Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Dates: 16 & 17 July, 2011 (Saturday and Sunday) - Time: 8.00a m to 5.00 pm

Venue:  Semabok Inn,   396 Jalan Semabok, 75050 Melaka, Malaysia.

Workshop Programme
The workshop will cover the various stages of script writing, from idea to full execution. Participants will get to understand the theatre environment, learn story development, play construction, character development, the technique and secrets of writing good dialogue, explore presentation techniques and generally learn to appreciate the full potential of stage drama.

Come with an idea suitable for development or come with nothing prepared but an open mind and lots of enthusiasm and curiosity. 

Participation Details:

Participation Fees: RM120 (Refreshments and lunch for two days supplied).

You will need a laptop & pen drive, and you can work alone or in groups of three.

Places are limited to 25 participants, on a first come first served basis.

The closing date for applications  is Friday, 1st July, 2011

How to Apply:

Interested participants should send an e-mail to MTG Treasurer, Dr.R.Panicker at Your email must include your full name and IC,

your telephone number and a current CV.

The Treasurer will revert to you with details of how you can make payments to MTG

For Enquiries, contact Org. Chair -, h/p  012-3762552

or Audrey Lim h/p  016- 6430520   .

Outstation participants needing accommodation can call Ms. Tan for special room rates. Tel:   +606-2838877     Fax: +606-2837299

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Professional Development Opportunity: Honeywell NASA Educators@SpaceCamp 2012 in USA

Please apply for this once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the Honeywell Educators @ SpaceCamp for the year 2012.

The dates of the two cohorts will likely be in mid-June 2012 when the summer holidays in the USA begins.

Please read my detailed report about my experience especially report number 4 to help you in your application.

All the best & do inform me through the comment form in this blog or email me at if you have been successful.

Details are included below.

Rodney Tan Chai Whatt
(aka the Spaceman Teacher)


Top of Form

2012 Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy Application

Honeywell Hometown Solutions is proud to partner with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center to provide science and math teachers from around the world with a terrific opportunity to learn new ways to bring science to life for their students.

The Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy (HE @ SA) program provides 45 hours of intensive classroom, laboratory and training time, focusing on space science and space exploration. During the program, teachers participate in astronaut-style training and simulations, along with activities designed to promote life-long learning in a classroom setting. All lessons and activities are correlated to National Science and Math Standards and are ready to use in the classroom.

Scholarships to the program are underwritten by Honeywell Hometown Solutions and the donations of more than 1,700 Honeywell employees. Each scholarship covers:

1. Tuition for the 5-day HE @ SA program at U.S. Space Camp in Alabama;
2. Roundtrip airfare (from home airport to Huntsville and returning trip from Huntsville to same home airport teacher departed from only);
3. Meals and double occupancy accommodations;
4. Program materials for teachers;
5. Flightsuit.

To be considered to receive a scholarship for the 2012 Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy program teacher must meet the following requirements:

1. Must be a current and practicing educator that is teaching science or math to students ages 10-14 years old and will continue to teach these subjects areas through 2012;
2. Certified teacher in a public, state, or private school system;
3. Is not a spouse/family member of a U.S. Space & Rocket Center employee;
4. Has not previously attended Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy and/or a Space Camp educator program.

The 2012 program will take place at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama; however the program dates have not been determined.

If you have any questions about the application please e-mail them to

Three hours of Graduate Credit is offered as part of this program for an additional fee. More detailed information will be provided after you are accepted to the program about earning and paying for the credit through the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Scholarship recipients will be contacted in March 2012.

Additional information about the program can be found at You can also find more information on Honeywell Hometown Solutions and our commitment to science and math education at Thank you for the interest in the HE @ SA program.


Honeywell Hometown Solutions and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Helpful hints for applying:
1. Teachers may only submit one application and only one application may be submitted per computer;
2. Applicants may make changes to their application on the same computer until December 31, 2011;
3. The application will take about 20 minutes to complete.
4. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed for selection.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

News: Why Finland Has the Best Education System in The World Today

Dear All,

The world acknowledges that Finland has the best education system in the world today.  This is proven when their students outshines other nations in international examination rankings and competitions.

What is the secret to their consistent success as compared to other Western nations and developing countries such as Malaysia.

The answer lies in the whole structure of flexibilty in their educational policy implementation and positive values that the people of Finland placed on teachers.

The article below summarizes what is good about Finland's education system and challenges us to reflect on our own "traditional exam-based, top-down" system of eduation.

Rodney Tan
Finland’s education riddle

Finland may represent a different administrative and social culture to Israel, but the operating strategy it has chosen is relevant for Israel as well. Will Israel find the political courage to get rid of traditional centralizing patterns of education, to release the creative and innovative energy that characterizes Israeli society and to grant broad powers to teachers and schools?

By Ami Wolansky

The education world is amazed at the exceptional achievements of the Finnish school system, which leads in international exams. These achievements stand out because this country is dealing with difficulties that characterize many Western countries, such as changes in youth culture and family structure, problems of discipline and violence, parental pressures on schools and a relatively low salary for teachers. A survey recently conducted by the Finnish teachers' association found that 40 percent of teachers are considering retiring from the profession. So what is the secret of Finland's success?

There are two opposite strategies in the world for promoting education. One dictates a uniform curriculum, considers competition among students and educational institutions as a means of improving achievements, uses comparative exams to rank students and institutions and, therefore, labels them as well.

A second, opposite strategy can be found in Finland. Finland abolished the supervision of educational institutions and transferred state and local budgets to schools' authority. The school is responsibility for developing, improving and renewing a compulsory curriculum. Every student has their own personal program for progress, and teachers use exams as a tool for planning students' path to success. Thirty percent of students receive additional help and support.

The concept of choice also takes on new meaning in Finland - not as an idea for motivating competition among educational institutions, but as a tool that enables students to choose among a tremendous variety of fields of interest and study. This is meant to enable development of the sum total of the child's abilities and preferences. Above all, the Finnish education policy has been able to build a culture of total confidence in teachers and principals.

As a result, the best young people in the country turn to teaching. There are 12 teachers applying for every available position, and only those with master's degrees in education are hired. Those who turn to teaching are imbued with a sense of mission and acquire the status of "builders of the nation." This is a society that is dedicated to the education of its children.

In an interview, a student of education explained that family, friends, the country's leaders and the media attach a halo of sanctity to the profession. When I asked how they did away with supervisors, one of the principals asked, "And does the doctor you use have a supervisor?" Regarding the purpose of the exams, Prof. Lea Kuusilehto of the University of Jyvaskyla explained, "We don't believe in standardized tests, which push toward mediocrity." Teaching study skills, critical thinking, judgment and creativity, while nurturing students' various abilities, is the essence of the pedagogical worldview in Finland.

Flexibility is also a key word in running the system. For example, in the secondary school that I visited, where there are 2,500 students, hundreds of students take courses that interest them from other schools in the area. There are no specific class groupings. Instead, students accumulate credits for the purpose of receiving a final certificate. The matriculation certificate is not an exclusive condition for acceptance at an academic institution, and a variety of tools make it possible for students to study higher education even without this certificate.

Although Finland represents a different administrative and social culture, the operating strategy it has chosen is relevant for Israel as well. Will Israel find the political courage to get rid of traditional centralizing patterns of education, to release the creative and innovative energy that characterizes Israeli society and to grant broad powers to teachers and schools?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fun: Alliterative Absurdities

Alliterative Absurdities

This comic poem originally appeared in the anthology Such Nonsense! edited by Carolyn Wells (1918). Try reading the poem aloud to appreciate the apt alliterations of the anonymous author.

If you caught a captious curate killing kippers for the cook,
In the cloisters with a club yclept1 a cleek2,
Would you say he was as wily
As a cunning crocodily
Catching cockles with a corkscrew in a creek?

If you beheld a battleboat bombarding Biscay Bay
While the big guns bellowed bold from brazen throat,
Would you say it was as funny
As a bouncing blue-backed bunny
Blowing bubbles with a bobby in a boat?

If you saw a driveling dreamer drowning ducklings in a ditch,
And deducting data dry as dust to see,
Would you say that this death-dealer
Was of ducks and drakes a stealer,
Or of Darwin's dead ideas a devotee?

1 An old-fashioned word meaning "called" or "named"
2 A hook or golf club

Survey: Primary English Teacher Survey by British Council & University of Essex

To All Primary School Teachers,

The British Council is conducting a worldwide survey on primary school teachers who teach English.

Please respond to survey. It will not take more than a few minutes and its anonymous.

Rodney Tan

Dear Primary English Teacher

If you teach English to children aged 5 - 12 in a primary school, we would like to hear from you.

As part of a research project the University of Essex, in partnership with the British Council, is carrying out a global survey of Primary English teachers' qualifications, experience and career development.  

You can access the survey here - it only takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Many thanks for your help!

The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are a registered charity; 209131 (England and Wales) SC037733 (Scotland). We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. We call this cultural relations.

Drama: Shakespeare Demystified - Julius Caeser at KL PAC (29 June - 3 July 2011)

Dear All,

Just got this note from Marina Tan about an opportunity to watch a very accessible Shakespearean drama for the general public being staged in KL from 29 June- 3 July.

Please watch and give our support for a worthy local producation. Arrange for your class/school/ college/university to watch this presentation. It will be especially meaningful for students who are studying Shakespeare in their literature classes.

For more info please contact the organisers.

Rodney Tan

P.S. Click on the picture to get a larger view.

Dear Rodney,

Greetings! Hope your week is going well.

Anyway, my friends and I are putting up the play of Julius Caesar after all :) it will be 29 June to 3 July at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, and it will be geared towards a "non-expert" audience of Shakespeare. We also have a Narration that will serve as a guide to the story as well as to point out some of the devices Shakespeare used to achieve his intended effects. As you can see, we are really going all out to make it accessible, exciting and illuminating, and "demystify" his work to the public and to the SPM Literature in English students. There will also be a Q&A afterwards, so students (and teachers!) get a chance to ask the actors questions - eg about the experience, their challenges or interest, the rehearsal, Shakespeare, etc.

Hope you can make it, and would be grateful if you could also mention it on your blog, for your readers who may be interested :)

Many thanks!

* Happening this JUNE–JULY *
William Shakespeare was one of the best English writers ever. Seriously: Ever. The Shakespeare Demystified project aims to share the joy and genius of the Bard’s masterful storytelling and curious understanding of humanity.
The play – Julius Caesar - is a searing tale of power and ambition; and of the ideals of the state and of society, with a sprinkle of violence and the odd bit of comedy. This 80-minute no-frills show will feature scenes from the play in their original text, with modern-day narration to help iron out any Elizabethan wrinkles.
The performance will consist of an 80-minute “show” (approximately 60 minutes of Shakespeare text interspersed with 20 minutes of narration), followed by a 10-minute break and 20-minute Q&A session. Click here to find out more!
Photos by Kelab Shashin Fotografi KL
Follow us [my_klpac]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Views: Govt needs to commit to PPSMI for GTP to succeed

The Star Online > Focus

Wednesday June 1, 2011

Govt needs to commit to PPSMI for GTP to succeed

THE Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) believes that the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) in national primary and secondary schools will address the acute shortage of scientists in the country.

It may also encourage more students to pursue a science career, where presently only 20% of students do, which in turn will tremendously boost the success of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the nation’s aspiration to be a knowledge-based economy and high-income nation.

This will also allow Malaysia to effectively tap into the resources and expertise gained from the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council the Prime Minister set up in New York last week.

Surely the exchanging of ideas, work collaboration and interaction would have been conducted in the English language.

It is this advancement in science and technology, creativity and innovation that will make Malaysia a developed nation by 2020.

For the country to achieve this, we have to ensure that the education system produces the desired quality of human capital with the scientific know-how to be able to capitalise on the expertise to be gained.

We should focus on producing home-grown scientists, not just for our own needs but beyond. Over time, we should be targeting a mutual scientific exchange with other developing countries, in English, of course.

While the Government demands creativity and innovation from its teachers, students and rakyat as a whole, here is an opportune time for the Cabinet to impose its own creativity in making the PPSMI option workable, innovative and a success story for the world to laud.

The Cabinet should commit to PPSMI for the GTP to succeed.


PAGE Chairman.

© 1995-2011 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

News: Students weak in two soft skills - Communication and Critical Thinking

Dear All,

This news is nothing new as we have been hearing this since I was in school (70s).

However with the advent of the electronic media and opportunities to be involved in co-curricular and even classroom activities during the PLBS / ULBS (Oral English Tests), our students still cannot communicate well or at all.  I think it has to do with something deeper i.e. the personality and character of the students and the teacher's role in shaping and encouraging the students to express themselves.

Besides, critical thinking is developed through reading and applying the tools of critical thinking (e.g. the Seven Hats) which the teacher can help to encourage and guide. The student needs to be questioning things rather that be a sponge, absorbing all that is spoon-fed by the teacher.

I admit as a practitioner that it is not easy to inculcate these critical thinking values when a third of my own Form Five students are working part-time--coming to school (if at all) sleepy and tired, and drags themselves to school because their parents expect them to.

Another important factor is the relationship between the students and the teacher. Having a working relationship where the teacher is respected by the students and the teacher having a firm but caring heart may help.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Comments are welcomed.

Rodney Tan

Students weak in two soft skills

KUALA LUMPUR: University students’ communication skills, especially in the English language, are not up to par and can be further improved based on the Malaysian soft skills scale (My3S).

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the My3S, which was introduced last year, gauged the soft skill proficiency of 10,828 final year and 39,465 first year university students.

“The scale’s findings pointed to two weak spots among university students – communication and critical thinking.

“The ministry would like universities to engage students both inside and outside the classroom to improve the situation,” he told reporters after officiating at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Third Medical Undergraduate Annual Scientific Meeting.

He said the scale monitored students’ proficiency in seven areas covering communication, critical thinking and problem-solving, morals and ethics, knowledge management and lifelong learning, teamwork, leadership and entrepreneurship.

He added that the students should also be encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities such as public speaking, especially in the English language.

Saifuddin said students need to learn how to argue their point critically and clearly in the English language.

A total of 57 groups from various departments within UKM’s medical faculty took part in the event to showcase their work.

Asked whether there would be an undergraduate representative within the Youth Parliament as proposed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last week, Saifuddin agreed that there should be one.

Last Sunday, Najib said the Government wants to further connect with youths by introducing six initiatives including the setting up a Youth Parliament and a 12ha extreme sports park in Bukit Jalil.