On 15th August 2009, the Malay College Old Teachers Association (MCTA) held its first ever hi-tea as a soft launch of its effort to bring the ex-teachers under one banner. Class of 94 donated RM5,000 for the event – RM3,000 to buy t-shirts as souvenir and another RM2,000 as a capital for MCTA to start its activities.
After spending 6 years coaching various teams and carrying out many activities in MCKK, we realise one thing – most of the efforts and resources were channelled to the students or the infrastructure. There is a big disconnect between the expectation, understanding and ownership of what MCKK is between the old boys, parents, students and the teachers.
As a result, usually each group works separately and more often than not they are at loggerheads, let alone trying to harness the synergy.
Many teachers will always see MCKK old boys as a bunch of stuck up, arrogant and bad influence on the boys, so many instances some teaches become self-righteous in trying their best to “curb” this bad influence of MCKK old boys on present boys. There are cases where their irritation is justified, especially in the manner that some old boys do not know how to behave appropriately when around the boys.
However in many other circumstances, most MCKK teachers can never conquer their inferiority complex when dealing with old boys. Suddenly it becomes a competition, so one way to hide the inferiority complex is to over exercise the authority over the boys in either painting a bad picture of old boys, or putting obstacles to reduce interaction with old boys. Many times, the definition of morality and appropriateness (e.g. in terms of dressing code) differ greatly – and instead of trying to understand that the world changes by the day, some teachers prefer to hold on to a set of pre-defined codes; which obviously does not match with how the general mass of old boys defines morality and appropriateness.
Instead of two parties understanding each other and working towards a common goal (knowing how each party has a strategic place and function to mould the boys), in many instances they compete against each other. Over the years it creates a sense of mistrust especially among the majority of the teachers, whom I also realised are super sensitive to any comments made by any outsiders (parents and especially old boys).
It was on this basis, that we encouraged a group of ex-teachers to form a grouping and if possible register a formal body. The understanding of what MCKK is and its place in the national education scene must be fully cascaded from one generation of teachers to another, so that the current teachers understand that they are custodian to an institution. On that basis alone, they have to be open to opinions and views about how things are run in the institution, because an institution belongs to the nation and everyone.
The big disconnect happens when the understanding and appreciation of why certain things have to be done in certain ways, or why MCKK has to be over and above the normal expectation, or why it is OK to be different, or why the teachers need to understand that their duty is to bring out the best of the students and for that they must form a partnership with other parties – have slowly eroded over the years.
MCKK of my years was governed through a leadership by persuasion. Of course, certain wardens and teachers took this by way of chasing us down the hall way with sticks or belt, but most of the teachers and seniors put reasons above rules. Even during fire drill or Common Room sessions, we had to endure long speeches and lecture while being punished physically, because it is the appreciation and understanding of idea that is more important, than inflicting punishment. Persuading a party in disagreement with you to be on your side of argument, is a beauty of a civilised grouping.
I was told in the 60s the practice was even grander – there was even mock parliament session to discuss issues. The debating heritage that MCKK boasts off so often does not stem from our traditional strong showing at debating tournaments, but 100 year of allowing free debate that most MCKK boys fancy themselves as good speakers. The highlight of KPKM or BRU AGM is when the EXCO has to face the students and explain their accountability (for example, on how the collection in surau has been spent for the year).
I wonder whether over the years MCKK still practises this notion of leadership by persuasion.
It was our hope that MCTA soars high and can gather as many ex-teachers as possible and begin having their annual Old Teachers Weekend, or when they come down during Old Boys Weekend in full force. They need to engage and connect with the new generation of teachers, so that they can impart why MCKK is special to them or what does it take to appreciate the essence of MCKK that is shared by old boys, teachers, the boys and the parents.
Old boys or parents can intervene so much – and when the intervention avoids one of the most important stakeholders i.e. teachers, it’s very difficult to effect change. The perception that the only value old boys bring to the table is as “a banker” to whom the school can run to to ask for donation; must change. It’s really embarrassing when on one hand old boys are generally regarded as a bad influence yet on the other hand you go after their money – it does not build trust or credibility.
In the future, the other stakeholders must engage the teachers including organising a sort of induction week for the new teachers for them to understand what MCKK is, before they start their duty. The support system, to be provided by ex-teachers, should be introduced so that the present teachers can relate to the experience of the ex-teachers, much like the present boys draw inspiration from the old boys. Only then we can have some hope that we’ll do justice to MCKK the institution.
Some of the video clips should bring back some memories and you’ll realise how much things have become so uptight over the years, comparing how these teachers recall their time with what you may see on the ground today.
- About 80+ teachers agreed to come, but the actual turnout was only 40+
- Badut represented his dad, Datuk Rashdi Ramlan – an old boy and ex-HM who couldn’t make it on that day
- The oldest ex-teacher was Datuk Ghazali Hanafiah, ex-HM and ex-Perak Education Director who woke up early in the morning, wanted to take the train by himself to Ipoh (but his son decided to send him) and took the train back by himself to KL the next morning. He promised with 2 other teachers of his generation to come but the other 2 could not find their way. He was close to 80 years old I think.
- The function was supposed to be graced by Tan Sri Alimuddin, DG of Education and ex-HM as an avenue for ex-teachers to exchange ideas on how best to improve MCKK. Unfortunately TS Alimuddin couldn’t make it at the last minute.
"Sepandai2 Tupai Melompat Speech" by Mr Purushotanam"