Pengenalan: Mata pelajaran di sekolah menengah = Subjects in secondary school

Bagaimanakah mata pelajaran sepatutnya disusun di sekolah menengah?

Adakah aliran seni dan sains akan dimansuhkan tidak lama lagi? Pada bulan Februari yang lalu, Menteri Pendidikan, Dr Maszlee Malik mengumumkan rancangan untuk menamatkan aliran berdasarkan subjek untuk murid-murid kelas menengah atas. Baru-baru ini, beliau berkata bahawa Kementerian Pendidikan sedang mengkaji cara-cara untuk melaksanakan perubahan ini. Pelbagai reaksi telah diterima terhadap pengumuman ini. Sesetengah pihak menentang rancangan ini, sementara yang lain menyokongnya. Ramai yang telah menimbulkan kebimbangan mengenai kualiti pelaksanaan dan betapa pentingnya menguji polisi baru dalam kajian rintis.

Sekiranya dilaksanakan, sekolah-sekolah tanpa aliran ini akan menjadi satu perubahan besar dari sistem lama kita di mana pelajar-pelajar Tingkatan 4 dan 5 akan memilih subjek yang akan dipelajari mengikut aliran berasingan iaitu aliran seni dan sains, di samping aliran-aliran kecil yang menekankan pendidikan agama (aliran agama) dan pendidikan teknikal, vokasional, dan kemahiran. Dasar 60:40 yang bertujuan untuk memasukkan 60% pelajar ke dalam aliran sains dan 40% ke dalam aliran seni telah wujud sejak tahun 1967, dan dasar ini juga telah muncul beberapa kali dalam rancangan pendidikan negara sejak itu. Walhal demikian, sasaran ini tidak pernah tercapai, dan kerajaan telah memperkenalkan banyak inisiatif untuk menangani masalah ini. Walaubagaimanapun, sasaran ini mungkin telah menyumbang kepada persepsi bahawa aliran sains adalah pilihan yang lebih baik, dan untuk pelajar yang lebih bijak.

(Catatan: Selain rancangan ini untuk menamatkan pengasingan aliran berasaskan subjek, Kementerian Pendidikan juga telah menghentikan dasar memasukkan pelajar ke dalam kelas berdasarkan keputusan peperiksaan di semua sekolah di Malaysia, seperti yang telah dibincangkan di Dialog Pendidikan pada bulan Mac.)

Cara penyusunan mata pelajaran

Hakikatnya, isu menyusun mata pelajaran di sekolah bukanlah sekadar memilih sama ada aliran seni dan sains patut diteruskan atau tidak. Seperti yang diamalkan di Malaysia, terdapat banyak sistem pendidikan di seluruh dunia yang mempunyai aliran mata pelajaran tunggal untuk sekolah rendah, dan aliran tunggal ini kemudiannya akan dipisahkan menjadi aliran umum/ akademik dan vokasional di sekolah menengah. Aliran umum dan vokasional ini boleh dibahagikan kepada lebih banyak aliran, seperti seni/sains sosial dan sains semula jadi. (Untuk gambaran mengenai bagaimana persekolahan berstruktur di 43 negara Eropah, lihat Eurydice. Untuk laporan mengenai pendidikan di 163 buah negara termasuk bahagian mengenai struktur dan organisasi sistem pendidikan di negara-negara tersebut, lihat Biro Pendidikan Antarabangsa UNESCO)

Terdapat juga pendekatan lain, di mana setiap pelajar boleh mengambil versi yang lebih atau kurang intensif bagi setiap subjek bergantung kepada kebolehan dan minat mereka, dan bukan terikat kepada satu aliran sahaja. Ini dipanggil “setting”, dan bukannya “streaming”. Sebagai contoh, sesetengah wilayah di Kanada membenarkan pelajar di Gred 9 untuk memilih antara versi praktikal atau versi teori/akademik bagi setiap subjek. Begitu juga di Singapura yang baru-baru ini mengumumkan bahawa aliran berasaskan keupayaan akan digantikan secara beransur-ansur dengan satu aliran berasaskan subjek. Aliran baru ini akan diperkenalkan secara berperingkat dan dilaksanakan sepenuhnya untuk semua pelajar sekolah menengah bermula dari tahun 2027.

Cadangan yang ketiga, sepertimana yang dicadangkan YB Maszlee Malik adalah untuk semua pelajar sekolah menengah mengambil subjek teras yang sama tetapi mereka bebas untuk memilih antara subjek elektif tertentu. China sedang dalam proses menggantikan aliran seni dan sains yang terdapat di dalam peperiksaan ‘gaokao’ mereka dengan subjek teras (Bahasa Cina dan Matematik) dan subjek pilihan. Model subjek teras + subjek pilihan sering digabungkan dengan struktur lain. Contohnya, Baccalaureate Antarabangsa (IB) menggabungkan model teras + pilihan utama dengan tetapan berasaskan subjek. Di Finland, pelajar sekolah menengah atas memilih antara aliran umum dan vokasional, dan mereka yang memilih aliran umum akan mengikuti model teras + pilihan utama.

Sesetengah sekolah juga mengambil langkah untuk memansuhkan pembahagian subjek sepenuhnya, di mana pengajaran disusun kepada unit berasaskan topik dalam pelbagai bidang. Ini biasanya berlaku di sekolah-sekolah tertentu atau sekumpulan kecil sekolah, dan bukannya dalam sesebuah sistem sekolah sepenuhnya. Sebagai contoh, dua buah sekolah menengah di Norway dan England masing-masing mengajar pelajar-pelajar yang lebih muda dalam unit dan projek yang merangkumi semua mata pelajaran. Walaubagaimanapun, pelajar yang lebih besar masih lagi akan melakukan persediaan untuk mengambil peperiksaan awam berdasarkan mata pelajaran yang diajar di peringkat kebangsaan. Sesetengah sistem sekolah mengekalkan subjek tradisional tetapi juga mewajibkan pelajar untuk menyelesaikan projek merentas kurikulum, seperti di Finland dan Singapura.

Isu untuk dipertimbangkan

Cara terbaik untuk membina subjek sekolah menengah bergantung kepada banyak isu termasuk sumber dan ekuiti. Mana-mana struktur sekolah yang ingin berjaya memerlukan guru yang mempunyai kepakaran dalam subjek mereka. Selain itu, jika terdapat lebih banyak pilihan subjek, maka lebih rumit untuk menetapkan jadual waktu, memberi ruang kelas, dan memenuhi semua pilihan pelajar. Struktur sekolah boleh mempunyai akibat yang tidak diingini untuk ekuiti. Sebagai contoh, pilihan antara mata pelajaran yang diterapkan dan akademik di Ontario, Kanada bertujuan untuk menjadi lebih adil daripada sistem pengasingan aliran sebelumnya, tetapi kajian telah menemui jurang dalam latar belakang sosioekonomi dan tahap pencapaian antara pelajar yang mengambil matematik akademik dan yang diterapkan.

Satu isu utama ialah keseimbangan antara latihan dan pengkhususan antara disiplin. Sesetengah orang mengalu-alukan dasar “sekolah tanpa aliran” yang dicadangkan kerana mereka percaya bahawa kanak-kanak perlu mengembangkan kemahiran fleksibel merentasi kurikulum untuk disediakan untuk pekerjaan masa depan. Selain itu, kebanyakan majikan menuntut kemahiran teknikal yang biasanya dikembangkan dalam subjek STEM serta kemahiran komunikasi dan kolaborasi yang biasanya dikembangkan dalam bidang seni dan sains sosial. Walaubagaimanapun, oleh kerana otak manusia mengembangkan kepakaran secara beransur-ansur melalui banyak latihan, mungkin sukar bagi pelajar untuk memupuk kemahiran peringkat tinggi bagi banyak mata pelajaran sekaligus. Selain itu, struktur subjek mesti sejajar dengan pendidikan menengah dan tertiari. Sebagai contoh, pelajar sekolah tinggi Amerika boleh memilih untuk mengambil kelas yang berbeza setiap semester. Begitu juga, kebanyakan mahasiswa Amerika mengambil kelas dalam banyak subjek yang berbeza. Walaubagaimanapun, aliran khusus di sekolah menengah mungkin menjadi persiapan yang lebih baik untuk kursus universiti khusus yang ditawarkan di kebanyakan negara.


Jadi, bagaimanakah mata pelajaran sepatutnya disusun di sekolah menengah? Kongsi pendapat anda di bawah (nama, e-mel, dan website tidak wajib), mengikut polisi komen kami.

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How much choice should students have about their subjects in secondary school?

Will the arts and science streams soon be a thing of the past? In February, Education Minister, Dr Maszlee Malik announced plans to end subject-based streaming in upper secondary schools. More recently, he said that the Ministry is studying ways to implement this change. Reactions to this announcement have been mixed – some oppose these plans, while others have been supportive. Many have raised concerns about the quality of implementation and the importance of testing new plans in a pilot study.

If implemented, these streamless schools will be a big change from our longstanding system in Forms 4 and 5 of having separate streams for arts and science subjects, alongside smaller streams emphasising religious studies (aliran agama) and technical, vocational, and skills studies. The 60:40 policy of aiming for 60% enrolment in the science stream and 40% of all enrolment in the arts stream has been around since 1967, and has been appearing in our education plans ever since. By any measure, we have never achieved those targets, and the government has introduced numerous initiatives to address this. However, these targets may have contributed to the false perception that the science stream is better, and is for smarter students.

(Note: besides these plans to end subject-based streaming, the Ministry has already stopped the practice of streaming into classes based on exam results across all Malaysian schools, as we discussed here at Dialog Pendidikan in March.)

Ways of structuring subjects

The question of how to organise subjects in schools is not a simple “yes/no” matter about whether to have arts and science streams. Like Malaysia, many education systems have a single subject stream for primary school, and then branch into general/academic and vocational streams in lower or upper secondary school. These general and vocational streams may be divided further into more streams, like the arts/social sciences and natural sciences. (For an overview of how schooling is structured in 43 European countries, see Eurydice. For reports on education in 163 countries, including sections on “The structure and organization of the education system”, see UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education.)

In another approach, rather than each student being in one stream for all their classes, students can take more or less intensive versions of each subject, depending on their abilities and interests. This is called “setting”, rather than streaming. For example, some Canadian provinces allow students in Grade 9 to choose between applied and academic versions of each subject. Similarly, Singapore has recently announced that it will gradually replace its ability-based streams to subject-based banding, which will be phased in and fully implemented for all secondary school students from 2027.

In the third type of structure, which Dr Maszlee Malik has proposed, secondary school students all take the same core subjects, but are free to choose between certain elective subjects. China is currently in the process of replacing the arts and science streams of its gaokao exam with core subjects (Chinese and Maths) and electives. The core + electives model is often combined with other structures. For example, the International Baccalaureate combines a core + electives model with subject-based setting. In Finland, upper secondary school students choose between general and vocational streams, and those in the general stream follow a core + electives model.

Some schools also go so far as to remove subject divisions completely, with lessons organised in topic-based, multidisciplinary units. This usually happens in individual schools or small groups of schools, rather than whole school systems. For example, two secondary schools in Norway and England respectively teach younger students in units and projects that cut across subjects. However, older students still prepare for national subject-based public exams. Some school systems maintain traditional subjects, but also require students to complete interdisciplinary projects, as in Finland and Singapore.

Issues to consider

The best way to structure secondary school subjects depends on many issues, including resources and equity. Any successful structure needs enough teachers who have expertise in their subjects. Also, the more subject choices available, the more complicated it is to set timetables, assign classrooms, and meet all students’ preferences. Structures can have unintended consequences for equity. For example, the applied and academic subject options in Ontario, Canada, were meant to be more equitable than the previous streaming system, but a study has found gaps in the socioeconomic background and achievement levels between students taking academic and applied Maths.

One key issue is the balance between interdisciplinary training and specialisation. Some people welcome the proposed “streamless schools” policy because they believe that children need to develop flexible skills across subject disciplines to be prepared for future jobs. Also, many employers are demanding both the technical skills that are typically developed in STEM subjects, as well as the communication and collaboration skills that are typically developed in the arts and social sciences. However, because the human brain develops expertise gradually, through a lot of practice, it may be difficult for students to cultivate high-level skills across many subjects at once. Also, the structure of subjects must be aligned across secondary and tertiary education. For example, American high school students can choose to take different classes each semester, and most American undergraduates take classes across many different subjects. However, specialised streams in secondary school might be better preparation for the specialised university courses offered in most countries.


So, how much choice should students have about their subjects in secondary school? Share your thoughts below, and please remember to follow our comments policy. (It is not compulsory to include your name, email, and website in order to comment.)

Next week, we will feature some of the most interesting comments in a new post. You can also read more comments from other readers on our Facebook page. Thank you!

Comments

  1. these are all really good ideas but my main concern is accreditation being recognised by other countries, assuming this affects Form 6/pre-university as well.

    Additionally: How do we ensure that students make informed decisions? The subjects I ended up choosing were because of what I wanted to study at university and what would appeal to the university more.

  2. Is it necessary to train primary school students to be able to make choices in subjects too in their earlier years? So that it’s easier to enable form opinions in secondary school on subject choice.

    The current set of subjects you study at Form 4 and 5 are dated – e.g.: you don’t learn coding or social science type research which are helpful in university for most physical science courses. It’s more safety-netty to do semesters of stuff.

  3. We should follow the IB syllabus from primary to secondary – it’s a more structured version of Montessori education. It sounds like a contradiction but its more choice from young and there’s more student voice because you can choose at a young age what you want to study. You should all visit Dignity because they really live out TFM’s student vision in primary school. They recognise that not every learner excels in academia so they give 60% of their time doing an apprenticeship, and recognise the value in working part time and getting students to earn money.

  4. I wish I had more choice as a student. I would have loved to learn technology in school. I really wish I had the opportunity to study Reka Bentuk Teknologi. Personally I like Physics and Biology, but not Chemistry. I think it’d be more beneficial for the student’s progress to choose subjects that they like.

  5. How do we give students choice in choosing? How do we also create a safety net for students to be able to change their minds and choose to do different subjects? Do schools have the resources they need to provide the choices?

  6. How will students choose subjects, based on what they want to do? What if it’s based on the subjects my friends choose and if the teachers are too strict?

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