I wonder…

This is the novel that has been designated to the state of Sarawak to be taught in Form 5 starting next year…

Novel 1

I managed to get hold of a copy and read through it. The language is simple enough for the average and above-average students, so that is one good thing about it.

The story is interesting but I find that there are too many characters and students may find it difficult to place their finger on who’s who as they read. Perhaps the teachers would have to draw up a chart indicating the names of the characters and their relationships with one another.

Another thing that may make ย it difficult for the students to follow is the frequent use of flashbacks. It may be of some help if the teachers can get them to plot a time-line and jot down the significant events in the story in chronological order.

One thing that struck me was the absence of the author’s name. It is not on the cover, unless it has been hidden from view by the school’s SPBT (Skim Pinjaman Buku Teks or the Textbooks-in-loan Scheme) barcode sticker. I did not see it in the inside cover page either…

Novel 2

It only appears on the spine of the book and in very small print where the copyright is indicated. There is, however, a write-up on the author at the end of the book but I wonder how many will actually bother to go through that. After all, I have seen with my own eyes candidates in the examination writing something like this, “The novel I have studied is ‘The Pearl’ by K.S. Maniam,” even though the names of the novels and the authors are listed in the question without fail every year.

They did not neglect to add the 1Malaysia logo on the cover though…

Novel 3

…and the Rukun Negara on its inside page. I wonder how patriotic that would make the students become in the end.

In the text proper, one thing that caught my attention was this:

Novel 4

I like the phrase used: “…that country of white ghosts and falling bridges,” but I wonder how many of the students these days do know about the bridge that is falling down. There may be some, of course, owing to their home background…but I do not think many of the kids today, if any, play those “childish games” that used to give us so much fun and joy during our time. As a matter of fact, I wonder how many of our young teachers know…and whether they do know also that the bridge is not the Tower Bridge of London, but another less impressive one beside it.

I had something similar in one of my comprehension passages about an old settlement in a setting similar to Sungai Merah here in Sibu way back in the colonial days:

“…Sometimes, it was so quiet that one could hear the voices of the children in the Christian mission-run school a stoneโ€™s throw away, reading the story of Little Red Riding Hood or chanting about the house that Jack built. At other times, they would be singing, despite being in broad daylight, about twinkling little stars, or reciting the timetables in chorus…”

Unfortunately, when I was teaching that, to my dismay, I discovered that most of the students did not have the slightest inkling as to who Little Red Riding Hood was nor were they in the least interested in whatever house Jack had built…and some probably knew of the twinkling stars but in a language other than English.

This programme has been going for a number of ย years now and I wonder how effective it has been in inculcating the love for reading and Literature in the students and in raising the standard of English. I guess we all know the answer…

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

34 thoughts on “I wonder…”

  1. haha. I read it as The curse-form 5. cursed indeed

    Yup…the author’s name should be directly below the title and they could have put the “Form 5” somewhere else. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    1. It’s very sad that the MOE paid very little attention in honouring the authors. I think… if one of my novels is chosen to be in the syllabus… I’d probably decline the ‘honour’. You see… we crazy and lunatic authors do not exactly appreciate the lack of acknowledgment. It drive us nuts.

      Well, if it’s any consolation, the name is on the spine…and there’s a two-page write-up on the author at the back of the book. Probably the fault of the publisher who designed the cover and all that and the ministry did not see/know (usually, it is the latter…they always seem quite ignorant/blur)…and I guess the author would be pleased to no end that she will be getting royalty for the use of her book…and laughing all the way to the bank.

      1. Ishhh, dono who design this chapalang cover. *pengsan*

        There, you can see…Utusan something, and I do not see the significance of the rose tainted with blood at all – no rose in the story. Symbolising the pretty girl that was slain, I guess… Tsk! Tsk!!!

  2. I know the novel by K S Maniam, ‘The Pearl.’ Very good book! LOL Beautiful book cover though, but it sounds very generic ‘local writer’ genre. I gave up on reading local writers a while back, found them to be too affected and lacking in real local color, most of them just exercises in showing off the author’s wonderful vocab. On the other hand, I do enjoy reading local food blogs! Actually, just one, to be precise.

    Flatterer!!! But it’s true what you say – the local writers seem to love flaunting their array of “impressive” vocab – I always tell my students…like a China bride, loaded with gold but no style, not appealing at all. It’s KS Maniam’s The Return lah…the students cannot even tell one from the other. I had that book but never read it…or never finished it. Period. There are some good local writers – but I prefer short stories…even in the case of Catherine Lim (Singapore) – not a fan of her novels but her short stories are really good!

    1. Pssst… I’m a local author… kekekeke… I’m good enuff til Kat and Cyn wanna buy my book and beat me up wif it. LOLOLOL!

      Huh? Have they got a table that has a leg shorter than the rest? Muahahahahaha!!!! ROTFLMAO!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. No la… they tarak syok I torture my characters… so wanna piakkkk me! LOL.. well, i know at least Kat wants to cekik me for that. =.=

        The sadist in you, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. I love stuff with local color, like Sepet, I wish someone would write a novel like that, full of local color, characters eating nasi lemak, kampua, hanging out in Wisma Sanyan, maybe Chinese boy meets Melanau girl, inevitable conflict between parents which gets resolved and for their wedding, famous blogger singing Misteri Cinta. Now, that’s a real Malaysian/Sarawakian novel. Cleffairy, (pokemon?) sorry about the comment. Just a generalization. Many good local authors out there and I’m sure you’re one of them.

      Ya…I love Sepet too, and most of the late Yasmin Ahmad’s commercials. Hold on…hold on…don’t let your imagination run wild now. Huh? What comment? I’m lost…

  3. “The Curse” sounds spooky to me, what actually is this book about?

    Shame to say, when I used to be student, I also was not very keen of English Literature, I prefer chinese’s which I found the storyline more interesting… kiahahaha! This explaint why my english is so…. ‘so so~’!

    Have a great weekend!

    Nothing spooky. It revolves around the theme of superstitions, the narrow-mindedness of small village people and their belief in them… Plot’s quite o.k. – the suspense was well done, the who dunnit part and the ending was not that predictable…on the whole, it was not bad, not bad at all.

    They do have literature in private colleges and universities here and abroad… I heard that even medic students will have to do it and I got a message from one of them – a student formerly from my tuition class asking me whether I knew “To kill a mockingbird”. I just replied yes and told him to google – lots of study notes available and he could go and study those.

    1. Alice… you read Jin Yong’s ah? Yunno… Arching Heroes, The Return of Condor Heroes… all those? Yep, they are interesting. Very addictive, in fact.

      Eyewwwww…..and I thought my missus’ addiction to those on tv is bad enough! LOL!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. Cleff Like that i can pass you the book Lady in white hair or something la. That one i read till pening. Cannot masuk otak. Something like the Jin Yong book

        Cikgu. K.S Maniam..sounds familiar. During Form 6 we read something like that. So boring. I finished the book in a day and it’s a torture to go thru the book page by page in class for the whole year. Wanna vomit already.

        Lady with white hair? Sounds familiar – I think there was a movie or a tv series or something. Was it KS Maniam’s The Return that you read? I was not too familiar with the Indian culture…and at least you finished it. I gave up after a few pages… Lots of flashbacks – I think they did it in Form 6 for Literature…before it was included in the literature component for Form 5.

      2. LOL… I got addicted at one point… but it’s those English translation novel. Really not bad… LOL. Penuh aksi and sebagainya! LOL!

        Yup…I know, I know…and I think I’ve seen them…at where else but Popular! LOL!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. The first thing that crossed my mind when I read this blog posting was, “what? another change?? First, the government policy reversal on the teaching of science and math in English, then PMR and etc…” But there again, changing to a newer version may be a good thing.. At the very least, it takes away the monotony. (Just that I have heard some educator friends ranting about how they know all the F4 and F5 poems and short stories at their fingertips and done the powerpoint slides for their classes, and with this change in syllabus, they would have to start all over again- building their own resources for thier classes. Would not be able to enjoy the year-end holidays!)

    Anyway, whether the book is interesting or not, depends very much on the students themselves. During my time, we were doing Jungle of Hope as our F5 literature component and some of my school mates did not even finish reading the book at least once. They depended on the teacher to read the book and tell them the story. Well, at least they passed their English with a credit (the M’sian grade- I didn’t ask them about the GCE O-Level grade)..

    “โ€ฆand the Rukun Negara on its inside page. I wonder how patriotic that would make the students become in the end.” – Lol. Likewise, I am thinking how is making History a must-pass subject in the SPM examination going to instil patriotism in the students… Personally speaking, I think making English a must-pass subject would have been a better call, looking at the appalling English proficiency and writing skills among students (in general) nowadays…

    Anyway, have a good day and enjoy your break. Oh yeah, do enjoy drawing up the chart indicating the names of the characters and their relationships with one another!!!

    Well, the teachers can count their blessings. It was supposed to be a 5-year cycle but since the ministry is providing the books free of charge on the Textbooks-on-loan Scheme, it has dragged on for a whole lot longer…unlike in the case of Literature in English, the big L – every three years, they will change and the teachers will have to study a new set of texts in order that they may be able to teach. Well, if it’s any consolation, this one is a whole lot better than Jungle of Hope; didn’t your teacher switch to The Pearl? I thought most schools did?

    As for the powerpoint and notes, I heard that there are kind and generous teachers who have come out with their own and shared them online. I wouldn’t know the links though – I never use those things. I’m old school – somebody who believes in interacting with the texts and appreciating the beauty of the lines and the content. I guess there will be a mad rush to the bookstores as well – plagiarising all the practice exercises for the students to do and going over them, giving them the answers from the back of those workbooks. I wonder how much actual reading of the texts there is actually…

    Re.: “Anyway, whether the book is interesting or not depends very much on the students themselves.” Very much depends on the teachers as well…to teach with passion, to make the texts come alive…but sadly, these are few and far between.

    1. *sigh* Some teachers (point to myself) can teach with passion… but most students are not keen. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Unless you tell them “Oi, this one ah, is a spot question, bla bla bla”… they will look at the novel as if it’s yesterday’s news. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      That’s the trouble with students these days…with all the technology around them, their creativity and imagination are as dead as a door nail.

  5. Oh! As an author myself… the lack of visibility of the author’s name is as good as a blasphemy! And not knowing who was Little Red Riding Hood (or Mr. Big Bad Wolf for that matter) is quite a sin to me. Even my little boy know who she was… well… at least he knew Mr. Big Bad Wolf and his little cross-dressing little hobby and how gender confused Mr. Big Bad Wolf was. LOL!

    Good grief! What have you been teaching your kid? Hmmm….if you’ve read Roald Dahl’s version, you must tell him to watch out for little girls in red riding hoods…with guns in their knickers? Guns? In their knickers? What guns? Muahahahahaha!!!!!

    1. I got bored while telling bedtime stories ma…. my uh… fairy tales abit twisted lorrr… just like my dad when he got seriously bored of telling me bedtime stories and I dowan to sleep. My version of little red riding hood is like this:
      One upon a time, there lived a Mr. Big Bad Wolf. He’s abit stupid. He dono he is a boy or girl, so he goes around wearing a grandma’s pajama and lipsticks…He’s also a lazy bum. He NEVER work for food, so he go around and rob people with an M16 machine-gun for food. One day he met Little Red Riding Hood…she’s a bakery owner…. (dies… I should never be allowed to tell fairy tales)

      Humph!!! Guess who had to tell my daughter stories every night before she went to sleep…and I had to make up new ones all the time. You must ask her about “The Princess and the Chicken Bone”. She was so horrified that she vomitted all over the bed…and I had to get up and clean up the mess in the middle of the night. Hahahahahaha!!!

      1. Hahahahahaha… the thing about creating our own stories is… sometimes it backfires… =.= sometimes kids likes to listen to made up stories more, and instead of getting drowsy and going to sleep… they got really big eyed on us and all, and gets really fascinated. I was like that… and my son was like that. One of his fav is that Mr. Big Bad Wolf… lol…becoz the wolf is so funny and stupid. LOL.

        I think they like funny stories. My daughter’s favourites would be my Ah Ngao series – the stupid man/simpleton from the village…. She loved those…and can remember them to this day.

  6. Why no more The Pearl? I love The Pearl? Sounds like this is another sombre kind of a story. :/

    It’s not bad, more fast-paced than the Pearl – lots of things happening, keeps the reader wondering – who killed the girl, why…but I don’t what title they’ll be doing in Malacca. We did not get The Pearl in the previous cycle but we chose to teach it (and buy our own texts) as it was shorter, easier and more interesting. Depends on the zone…and East Malaysia is getting this one.

  7. if i saw a book with the title the Curse, i dnt think i will buy it. :/ failed me judge a book by its cover pula! LOL!

    Yalor…never judge a book by its cover! LOL!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Hi! Chanced upon your blog today and can’t help but to put in my two-cents regarding your latest post.

    “Te Curse”, Form Five??! That would be the first thing any “dungu” would notice when proof reading the novel. Rukunnegara included?? The final straw is seeing the 1Malaysia logo printed on the cover of the book!

    Enlighten me, are the students only to read novels by local authors for Eng Lit, nowadays? Whatever happened to Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte, Thomas Hardy…etc? No offence to local authors, but somehow Eng Lit is not the same without some of the classics..I remember reading “Badai Semalam” by during my days; it was good.

    Ah? You just chanced upon my blog today? What took you so long? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Looks like some of your friends on Facebook are friends of my friends…like Cleff, for instance, who’s pretty vocal today. *winks…winks…to Cleff! LOL!!!

    This is the so-called Literature Component in the English Language Programme – where students will have to study a few selected poems, short stories, a play and a novel… It is not English Literature as we knew it, or what is called Literature in English now as the students may have to study English books written by African, Indian and other writers…like Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and they do get to do Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, G B Shaw and so on. I was teaching this what-is-called the Big L before I retired in 2007…and I heard that in the whole of Malaysia, there were only around 800 students taking the subject. It was dying…dying…and perhaps, it is already dead by now…

  9. The Curse – sounds like a ghost story! Is it scary? I am appalled to know that students nowadays have no idea what Little Red Riding Hood is? My goodness! it’s time to do something!!

    Do what? Have lots of babies…and teach them about Red Riding Hood? Wink! Wink! Muahahahahaha!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. I wonder would this help to “kau tim” our already teruk english… what if the students didn’t the designated book..how lah…..

    I think Cikgu.. you must as well encourage all your students to start a blog… blogging to me it good way to polish up.

    Many students have a blog – but they blog in Chinese. Many are my “friends” on Facebook but they post in Chinese – and since I cannot read anything they say, I just remove them unceremoniously… It seems that everybody’s worried about the declining standard of English…except the students themselves. I wonder why…

  11. I studied part of my high school overseas and remember the English teacher brought us to watch movies and Shakespeare plays and make us to read novels like rainman. The examination questions were based on these.

    I find it frustrating for the decision of the education minister to make history a compulsary pass subject for SPM. The Malaysian history text book recorded the reign of particular people while ignoring the contribution of others. It is more like communism and dictator is singing praise to itself.

    There! From the horse’s mouth! Literature is taught overseas – pre-u or foundation…and even in the actual degree courses. They believe that it gets a person to think critically…and be more imaginative, creative, innovative – unlike the rote-learning A-scoring robots that the schools here are producing these days.

    As for History, bad enough that when DSAI was education minister, he made it compulsory for the science students to take the subject (to make them become more loyal to the country – *guffaws and chokes*) and he spearheaded the change in the syllabus to include all those “tamadun” stuff at the expense of much of our own country’s history which is so skimpily dealt with – especially the history of Sabah and Sarawak. As for the compulsory pass bit, there is nothing to worry about – marks are statistics and anyone can tell you that they can easily be manipulated according to one’s whims and fancies…

  12. The only bridges that are fallings are those built by our lousy crony Malaysian contractors!
    What happened to the case where the bridge gave way and some students drowned?

    Either because money is the root of all evil – some people with very fat pockets…or because people get to pass Add Maths & Physics with just 10 marks or less….

    1. OMG… LOL-ed so hard at Pete’s comment. It’s so, so true. ๐Ÿ˜€ Let’s not talk about our very own Bird Nest Stadium in Terengganu. LOL! Itu pun go down! Apa cerita? LOL!

      Watch out… Another tall one coming up and where else, if not over there – nothing for us here. Well, what goes up must come down… Oops! I’m noted for my mulut masin… Oh dear! @.@

  13. it’s funny to see the words “form five” under the title of the book, at first i thot what’s “the curse form five”, doesn’t ring a bell~~

    Must be those graphics people lah… They know the technology – computer experts but they do not even know the basic things about a book…to go about designing a cover.

  14. interesting.. a new book.. i can only remember robinson crusoe.. haha ๐Ÿ™‚

    What? You did another one in Form 3 – what was it in your zone? Phantom of the Opera? And I think in Perak, for Form 5, it was “The Return”. But you do not remember the other two, just that gay-themed one…???? I wonder what he did on Friday…..Muahahahahaha!

  15. About the style of writing with metaphors, I actually used to like reading this kind of book. It is like watching old Malay Film, talking with poems, with metaphors.

    Yes you are right about this new generation, which has no idea with folklore tales. Not many kids watch Disney movies such as Pinochio, Beauty and the beast, sleeping beauty.

    Well, ask them about anime…and they know it all! Metaphors, like impressive vocab and expressions, are nice if used with style…and rhyme and reason. Many, especially students, punctuate their writing with these all over…and in the end, they all stick out like a sore thumb.

  16. I was shocked when my daughters had no clue about the famous landmarks in London when I brought them there a couple of years ago. So I asked them what did they study in geography? I was told that it was mostly about Malaysia. So, I was not surprised that the young generation is like a frog under the well.

  17. Now, I wonder why did they put the author’s name in a minuscule text and in an obscure place. With due respect to the author, I think that they should place it under the Book title in the front cover page.

    You are a teacher through and through eh? ^_^ Like what they say, “Once a teacher, always a teacher.”

    I guess the graphic designers have no idea whatsoever about such things and the people in charge did not notice…or maybe they do not know either. I guess that’s true – once a teacher, always a teacher… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Well, at least the title is interesting enough to want to get students to read! unlike the novel that I had to read last time. (OMG!.. I can’t remember what it was)..

    Jungle of Hope! Dunno why the teachers in your school simply refused to change…but they did in the end, and did “The Pearl” like every other school here…

    1. Yeah.. “The PEARL!” it was BORING!.. Not even a page turner!!!.. it’s like a primary school book that has moral values.. everything seem too perfect.. I never liked the climax.. I felt as though it died the moment it reaches the top.. :P.. like someone having a heart attack.. lol..

      LOL!!! Well, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Some people love History, others don’t…and sometimes it depends on who’s teaching. Count you blessings! You could have been doing “Jungle of Hope”!

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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