Sunday, February 3, 2008

From 17 1A's to 19 1A's for SPM; A Call to My Junior TUNAZians

And yet another history has been unfolded in the history of education in Malaysia where Amirah Nadiah of Johor had scored 19 1A's in SPM 2006.

The young lady has taken a daring effort; she quitted herself from an SMS (Sekolah Menengah Sains) and moved to a normal secondary school to achieve her goal: to take the extra eight subjects in the SPM.

Not only that, she is active in extracurricular activities especially in public speaking (she joined the Red Crescent as well). She won the 'Pertandingan Pidato Piala Diraja Peringkat Negeri Johor' for two consecutive years since 2005.

Indeed, this young lady is an icon for today's excellence in Malaysia's secondary education.

Now, reflections must come to mind. What about the Tunazians? Can we breed students of such extraordinary achivements? This is a call to my fellow juniors who call themselves Tunazians who is now studying in our beloved school, SMKA Tun Ahmad Zaidi Kuching, regardless of whatever Forms you are in. Interested about the reflections? Read on...

It is undeniable that our school has produced the best students for our state, Sarawak. In the recent years, there has been a sudden boom of the teens A's SPM scorer in our school. To name the few, Siti Kamilah (13 1A's SPM 2005)and Dzul I'zzat (13 1A's SPM 2004) are surely familiar to us. Izzat was my fellow playmate and classmate and Kamilah was just a year younger than I and my fellow member of the Students' Representative Council (MPP) during my time. When I pondered back to history, this excellent result seemed unlikely, but in truth, our school has managed to produce the very cream. Now, as a student currently studying in SMKA Tun Ahmad Zaidi, ask yourself - can I be like them? If so, how? ... in light of the current event with astronomical 19 1A's national record.

First, I would like to bring your attention to the background of these so-called excellent students. Based on my experience of mixing and playing around with them, they are much like you and I - they played hard and they laughed hard. We went to school 5/6 days a week - some lived in the hostel while others commute daily from their houses. The majority of our parents are in the middle or upper middle class. We ate nasi ayam and french fries at the school canteen (masih ada jual ka?) and much so doing things like you did in TUNAZ. My point is - there is nothing much difference in terms of your background and their background. But, what makes the difference between the average students and the excellent students when their background is almost the same?

I believe the answer is the attitude, the will, the strategy and the action. Let's talk about the attitude, first.

The attitude towards success for these high achievers is that they are optimistic in achieving their goals. That's why in our school pledge, one of the creed being 'optimis dalam mencapai kejayaan masa depan', is what I saw in them. Not that they always say that it is plain sailing all along the way from Bahasa Melayu to Additional Mathematics, but there is always a certain degree of hope that they instill in their heart and actions that reflect they can get the A's in those subjects. I still remember, when I asked I'zzat, "how was the exam?" - and he giggled. From the giggles I knew that he indirectly replied to me, it was good!

The second is the will. As I said before, to it is NOT easy to get the straight A's result. No, this is not pessimism, this is reality. That is where the will comes into play. I WANT IT THEREFORE I WILL WORK HARD FOR IT! That is the key phrase for it. Do you think that these students always get a 90 and a 100 in each and every time for their exams? Do you think that they always smile and be happy while they were in TUNAZ? No, not quite. They in fact did fumble like you and I. Sometimes their mark got 'crashed' and they whine about tedious and loads of homework also. Not only that, the had other commitments, a number of them. I'zzat was often busy with his poems and poetry because he was the representative for the school at the time while Kamilah was a dedicated School Prefect. Believe me, those activities were not the only activities they were engaged in - they were many, many more! So how did they manage it? It is the will! I WANT to be a champion in the poetry competition THEREFORE I WORK HARD FOR IT. I WANT to score 1A for History THEREFORE I WORK HARD FOR IT. Does the strong opposition from rival school lessen my effort to be a champion? No! Does getting only a 50% in History in the Mid-Term means doom to my SPM? No! Make sense?

Third, the strategy. I am always intrigued with the quote "a bad plan is better than having no plan at all". Yes, this all spells out the strategy. With will and attitude alone, it is not enough to reach the intended goals. So, how do I set the strategy? Well, first, plan! Make a plan... I plan to be a doctor... therefore I must be taking Biology and be excellent in it. And in order to get an excellent result in Biology, I am to make study group with Alia, Bashir and Ahmad who can help me with the subject. Second, capitalize your advantage. I'm good in arts. Why not I DRAW my notes instead of writing them all with words? It makes revision much more interesting, right? So, discover your strength and use it! Third, neutralizing/minimizing the effect of your weaknesses. Well, we are not always gifted in every field. Sometimes, they are certain things that are just not cut for us. For example, some people are consistently putting Math as their least favorite subject (one of them is me!). But that is not the excuse of not working on it at all. So how do we overcome it? I found two ways - utilize the strength to cover the weakness or work out something from the weakness to minimize the weakness. Confusing? I'll explain in a minute. To utilize strength, say you have strength in memorizing, and you have weakness in calculating, u can memorize the Math formulas and some of the math solutions and then recall back what you have memorized and apply it back to the exams. There is a drawback for this, though. Not all types of strength is suitable to cover all types of weaknesses; I just can't relate the ability to draw and how it helps in calculating. But now comes the second part; work on your weakness - do it, the hard way (Hey, life is not always easy, remember!). Do lots of Math excercises. Spend more time for it. Buy reference books -those are some examples of "sacrifices" needed to work on your Math. Hard? Well, wanna get 1A?

Last but not least, the actions! Don't just have the attitude, the will, the strategy and sit there like ducks! The actions are simple; do whatever you have planned! And don't forget to pray and ask from Allah. And after that, tawakkal. If you have done all the right effort, Insya Allah, I am very confident that you will get what you want. And if you feel that even that you have worked hard and you still do not get what you want, do make reflections - perhaps there are things that require corrections. And in the very ultimate end - be thankful of what Allah has given to us. Redha... Don't wail on it.

So, now, don't you think Nadiah, I'zzat and Kamilah share these characteristics that I've mentioned? If so, you may certainly join their ranks if you possess these similar characteristics, right? Why wait? If you WANT IT, NOW IS THE TIME, GO FOR AND WORK HARD FOR IT! (And stay away from distractors: i. excessive doses of TV's, Movies, Musics etc. ii. unhelpful & bad friends iii. mind poisons (i.e. drugs, cigarettes, gossip media etc.) iv. heart poisons (i.e. hating, slandering etc.) and Insya Allah you're on your way to the shooting stars!)

If you have been reading thus far, congratulations! I pray may Allah grants success to us in our future endeavors!

Don't just be Tunazians, be successful Tunazians!

Written by,

Mohd Shazani bin Masri,
Tunazian Batch SPM 2004,
Freshman in Economics,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,

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