Saturday, April 23, 2011

KMB & IB, an unbiased perspective for juniors.

Dedicated to the juniors asking me about IB and Kolej MARA Banting.

Cautionary note: None of you are allowed to cast this up to me/ blame me for this in the future.

I shall try to be as objective and unbiased as possible, but, as you will soon learn in TOK, as humans this is not completely achievable.

The Program

The IB Diploma Programme is designed as an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepares students, normally aged 16 to 19, for success at university and life beyond. The programme is normally taught over two years and has gained recognition and respect from the world's leading universities.
Through the IB Diploma Programme, students gain rigorous and balanced academic preparation, an ability to draw on knowledge and understanding of various cultures and histories, and the experience of learning how to think critically and apply what they have learned in different contexts and across disciplines.
The IB understands that success in higher education and beyond involves thinking critically and creatively. The IB Diploma Programme’s challenging curriculum educates the whole student, developing the capacity for inquiry, research and problem-solving as well as essential skills for communication and collaboration
To summarize, it means that IB is focused on more than academic achievement only.
If you're studying style is pretty much like SPM, A-Levels is a better choice cuz it is academic oriented and your subject combinations are focused on your field of choice. 
If you're looking to be all-rounded students and are interested in concerning yourself with more than just studies, than IB's just the thing for you.

Kolej MARA Banting itself.

Studying at KMB: 

MARA offers:
Medicine (bound to any of the following: UK, Ire, Aus, NZ, India, NuMed, PMC, IMU etc) 
Engineering (bound to UK, US, Canada, Aus etc)
Biotech (UK, US, Canada, Aus etc) 
Economics/Finance (bound to US)

JPA offers:
Medicine, Dentistry and Engineering

Petronas offers:
Geology, Petroleum Engineering (bound to Canada, US)

FELDA offers:
Biotech, Engineering 

The class system is Monday-Thursday, 8.00-2.20pm on CAS week or 8.00-1.30 for non-CAS week. Fridays is till 12.30. The system is a lot like school BUT do not mistaken the subjects or the teaching style or workload to be like SPM again. Paradigms have to be shifted, no matter how much this place feels like school, it is, in its essence a college, and thus demands more from you.

Living in the College

Ex-boarding schoolers should have no problem. KMB's pretty great for boarding school standards.

Laundry service is STELLAR! The Ko-op and the Cafe and DS food provides enough sustenance for 2 years (ha, I hope!) There's a gym, excellent jogging track, 2 people per room....

If you're expecting private college comforts, this ain't the place to go. The key is to focus on why you've come and be thankful :)

The community is very supportive, especially spiritually. One of the reasons I'm most thankful for KMB.

No matter what you hear, if you do get IB, it proves you're tough and can withstand anything IB throws at you. 

I look at my seniors and I see heroes and warriors who've held strong and made it all the way to the very last hurdle. Drawing inspiration from them, I'm sure if you've landed in KMByou're going to be a survivor too!

10 things I love About KMB

10. Breathtaking views during sunset and sunrise! And the rainbows....
9. Uplifting Usrahs
8. Doing class projects (G4, International Fair) when everyone's stressing out at the concourse, while setting up our boards
7. There's a different week all the time (Int. Fair, Mental Health, BM, Social Sc....)
6. When mak cik DS lets you take 2nd helpings of kuih if you ask her nicely :)
5. The way so many things happen in one week that last week seems like a lifetime ago
4.Co-Q class (terbaikkkkk cause we haven't had one this semester!)
3. The really nice Lab Assistants and LRC librarians (such sweet people)
2. Thursday night ceramah
1. The teachers who stay on till 5.30 just to help you during consultation. Really the most dedicated ones I've ever met. 

Additional Components
Lets just say, this can be pure pleasure or pain depending on how your outlook on life is.

Creativity. Action. Service. 
This would be your thing if you want to fill your college days with meaningful/creative/challenging experiences outside the classroom.
The best part of IB to me. I know 180 hours seems like a bulk, but it really isn't. Mr Latiff's favourite quote on CAS: "4-5 hours a week and continuous involvement!"

Who's Mr Latif? Come to KMB and meet him yourself.

You get to work with kids with special needs, teach Orang Asli kids, and help out people with Downs' syndrome fortnightly for External CAS (which is one school day where you go out and be help out the community!Wicked, no? I'm going to miss CAS day)

There are the usual sports clubs, with a few cool additions like lawn bowl, and FRISBEE (my current fave) and other clubs like GEM, Performing Arts, English Club, Creative Club, HOPE, Taska etc. If you're really enthusiastic, there's stuff like Fish4Life, Cambodian Project, Sehati Serumpun, Love Symphony and Smiling Soul which are different groups who organize their own service projects overseas (Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam) and locally (Sabah).

There are competitions, and activities organized by clubs, and you'll never have nothing to do in the IB. It will never leave you alone. Seriously.

Theory of Knowledge.

Don't worry if you're first response to this was "Heh?!" I've been at it close to a year and it still never fails to make me go "HEH?!" often. It's basically like philosophy and aims to try to get students to THINK.

Which we're surprisingly terrible at. Reminds me of the joke that says Malaysian brains are the most expensive. Why? Because it's rarely used. =___=

You get to question knowledge, in all areas, and discover the ways of knowing and your perception of the world will change.

And your perception of the word "perception" will too.

You don't have TOK exams, but you have to submit a TOK essay on any of the 10 prescribed titles and you'll have to do a presentation which will be recorded and sent to the IBO. All this accounts and EE accounts for the 3 marks in your final IB exam.


Extended Essay.
For all the ex-MRSM-ers, it's akin to Project SEM, only longer, more specific.
It's a research paper done in any subject that you take that analyses elements of that subject.

Like you could do research on Bio about the effect of acid rain on the growth of Mung beans. Gotta be more specific though.

Or you could do one in the languages, like English, and compare the syntax and diction of 2 magazines in Malaysia and how it appeals to teens.

(These are just examples of EEs done by seniors so no plagiarism here)

Your research has got to be 4000 words and has to be thorough and contributes to society in some way. 

EE will introduce you to a handful of emotions you never knew you possessed. (And I haven't even gone pass the table of contents yet ...)

World Literature 

In Malay A1, you learn world literature novels in your 2nd sem so at the end of it you have to produce 1200-1500 words on a comparison of 2 of the novels you learnt.

I love learning the novels in IB, simply because it's like actual literature, where you're free to interpret and analyze without having to memorize the given themes and other aspects from reference books. The novels themselves are, well, matured to say the least like Madam Bovary, Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice etc. You really get different insights from all over the world as it stresses on Cultural Interactions

There are other parts of IB but I can't expose too much for fear of allergic afflictions and premature panic. (I remember panicking myself when I first heard about IB...)

IB will give you plenty of moments to make memories. When you solat berjemaah, study berjemaah, stress berjemaah, you realize that you're not alone on this journey.  

Any further questions, just drop 'em in the FB inbox. See you loves in June. Secretly, the would-be seniors are anxious to see which one of you guys will take our place and join us in this IB World School.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Maaf, jawapan tiada dalam skema.

Read this letter written to the editor in the STAR recently about this girl in Form 5 who wrote an answer that used her logic in her Moral paper (What qualities does Mother Teresa possess? = Caring) and got it marked as "Incorrect" because it wasn't in the answer scheme.

Honestly, it doesn't take a genius to know that Mother Teresa is caring. The limitations of an answer scheme doesn't make this wrong.

But, according to the Malaysian education system, the answer scheme is always right. 

Thus, as far as Moral Education goes, Mother Teresa isn't caring.

Oh ha, what does this say about the Malaysian education system?

What does this say about MALAYSIANS?

I remember the "Zaman Kegemilangan" post SPM results when I was reassured that I was "smart" and that my future was going to be "OK".

Then IB happened and the truth of my SPM education was revealed.

a) I've just been memorising answers and workings all this while, cause thats a fail safe way to a sure A right?

b) Imbibe the answer scheme and you shall triumph.

c) Thinking is limited to certain subjects only.

d) You cannot challenge the knowledge. The textbook is always right. So be it if it was last revised 5/8/10 years ago. It is the truth. Period. And what's with the undecided language for Maths & Science? Still questioning to academic reasoning versus the political rationale for this. I know I'm going to get haters for this statement but I don't see what's wrong in the English system. Come to Pre-U and tertiary level, English is still the medium of instruction, no? 

e) SPM results means NOTHING once you're in IB. Not an assurance of continual success. Trust me, I should know a lot about this one.

No offence to the awesome high-flyers in the recent SPM, you guys did great, but before you rest on your laurels when entering pre-u, reevaluate the system you guys have just left. Note that it is an exam-oriented (memorize and regurgitate) system that puts most emphasis on studies. 

I don't remember studying without a major exam to pass as the ultimate goal back in high school.

I didn't even have Sports Day in Forms 4 and 5. Most of my Form 5 year was spent cooped up in my room surrounded by books and past years.

It's really not surprising why breaking out of that mindset and dealing with IB takes ages. We've been trained like this for 11 years, much change 2 semesters's gonna make. 

So I know stellar SPM results are to die for, but high school and scholarship apps is where it ends. 

In the harsh reality of pre-u (ok fine, maybe just IB) it really doesn't measure up to much. 

The thing that I never understood till IB:
Education is about learning, for knowledge's and God's sake.