Monday, December 29, 2008

Life is 'truth, truth beauty,—that is all,
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

I am sick of life. It's just nauseating. Especially when I realise life is just a stretch of space between the first breath and the last. And all that we do apart from the basics of eating, drinking and sex, is just to make life bearable.

Bearable. What an utterly ugly and depressing word. Fit for what we call our life. Even sex has to be spiced up to make it bearable when it is suppose to be enjoyable, especially with all the precautions one has to take and the limitations one has to consider. Pity.

We end up having to construct institutions after institutions to compose our lives into an order that is bearable for us. Competition after competition, the rat race which makes most people as kiasu as they can get, stringing them so tightly on the rack that a knife can slit them at just a touch.

Where is the sanity in this, fundamentally in those who have all their basic needs covered yet crave for prove themselves? Blindness is an infectious disease everyone suffers from. We ignore the fact that we are the 'insane' ones to fill up this space between - a great emptiness as Yates puts it - with more and more.

Sadly, many of us would keep silent at this outburst of raw truth and then, arrogantly, shove this raw wound to the pitless bottoms of the fragile fortress of our minds so as to not be depress, frighten, or angry.

But, this is the bare truth - as naked and as mad as Shakespeare's King Lear.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Shakespeare and the Malaysian Society

So far in the 26 years of my life, I have had the opportunity to attend only two out of the several Shakespeare’s plays staged in Malaysia. They were Twelfth Night in 1999, and Merchant of Venice in 2001. It is the latter which I remember till today, especially when Shylock was putting away his weighing scales and the rest when the court rule he forfeit all he had. By then the audience also knew he had lost his only child, his daughter as she had eloped with her lover. So, the right form of reaction from the audience would have been silence as a sign of empathy and sympathy for the humiliation Shylock had to go through, despite the fact he had been unreasonably cruel. However, no man deserves the loss Shylock had to endure. Regardless of the interpretation, the right form would have been silence from the audience, but what do our Malaysian audiences do?! They laugh! Unbelievable! I don’t know how in the world they can have found that heart wrenching scene funny. It was so embarrassing, especially when the actor playing Shylock had to look up sternly from what he was doing to cue the audience to silence, the appropriate reaction towards the scene. It was then I realize how ignorant our Malaysian society is when it comes to Shakespeare’s plays.

The only explanation I can find is that our society has not been exposed to Shakespeare as widely as they should be. This is due to the fact that not only is he perceived to be difficult and all those involved in designing our education system are just not doing enough to make him easy to understand, but also the reduced exposure will ensure the non-existence of neo-colonialism in our society. However, what those-who-know-best do not realize is that, if they are sending our students overseas and even in their own global interaction where trade and commerce are concerned, they are definite to encounter some form of Shakespeare’s work, be it in conversations or in the least significant gesture or phrase.

If we Malaysians are to have the mindset that Shakespeare is a bore because he is difficult to understand, then how are we to expect foreigners, especially the English, to take our children seriously when teaching them Shakespeare, let alone having the faith in our local students staging the plays to our local audience? The main excuses given for this are that our Malaysian audience will not understand it because they are not ready for a Shakespeare play, and our local students will not be able to project the play as it is because they lack the understanding of it less they are taught the play beforehand. I have heard this first hand and it irritates me immensely because I believe our students are capable of it and I have faith if tried really hard, our Malaysian audience will be able to willingly receive Shakespeare’s plays.

How can anyone, let alone a foreigner, comment that our Malaysian society is not ready where Shakespeare and his plays are concerned? How can one predict that to stage a Shakespeare play in all its authenticity will lose its effect on a society like ours? To have his plays accepted as they are, we have to take the risk. A society is never ready for anything unfamiliar until they encounter with it face to face. It is my belief to change the perception of Shakespeare amongst Malaysian audience, and the ability of our students and our society in understanding Shakespeare is to stage it. In staging it, the type of audience has to be considered. To stage a play as challenging as Shakespeare’s I do agree it has to be staged in all its authenticity but it has to be introduced little by little and in a language easier to understand, not only verbal language but also body language. It is a challenge for both the audience and the actors but this challenge comes in stages, for I believe to stage a whole Shakespeare play in all its authenticity would scare the audience and it would make them believe the pre-conceptions on how difficult Shakespeare’s plays are. However, if the play is condensed using the important scenes which are the fuel of the play and the language is altered without losing its original meaning, or either one, then the play would be enjoyable and conceivable. In that way, Shakespeare has breached another gap between generations and societies.

For example, Julius Caesar was supposed to be staged in our college. The plan was to do it all in 30 minutes. Firstly, there was the problem of the magnitude of the play. Secondly, in doing so, there will be lots of important scenes which are crucial to the progress of the play left out. As a result, our Malaysian audience will not be able to grasp and savour the magnificence of the play, neither will they be able to actually grasp what the play is all about since they are not familiar with all of Shakespeare’s plays, especially since most would only be acquainted with the name Shakespeare. Lastly, there were the players who were the students themselves. These students were fortunately more than acquainted with just the name Shakespeare, for they were actually studying Julius Caesar. Therefore, they knew the play inside out. However, not all good scholars are good actors. One needs to actually scout for good actors. Do not get me wrong, amongst those good scholars involved with the play, were also good actors. Anyhow, due to these few glitches and the passion those involved had for Julius Caesar, it was understandable it had to be called off the last minute. However, the reasons given were that the audience would not be ready for it even if the actors were and when suggested altering the language to make it comprehensible for the audience benefit, it was rebuked for if Julius Caesar cannot be presented in its original language then it would be pointless staging it even in its condensed version. It boiled me to hear this because so what if the audiences do not grasp what is being said because it is the actors’ duty to help and guide the audience in understanding the play. If you want Malaysian audience to love and cherish Shakespeare, so help them even if it means modernizing the language, even if it means condensing the play. Why blame them for something which is not their fault? If that is the case, then when can one be sure the Malaysian society is ever going to be ready for Shakespeare?

In my opinion, if one wants to change a perception, the time to act is now. Society will never ever be ready unless they are forced to. In this case, start off in small steps in a small society like the college I am teaching in. At the moment, Hamlet is in the planning stages to be performed hopefully by 28th August. Initially, it was planned for the seniors to perform, especially for two very passionate Hamlet fans of which one of them actually spent an amount of time condensing the play, so that they had something they could cherish in remembrance and leave their mark at college with. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, it is now down to the juniors to perform this play they are as much as unfamiliar with as a regular Malaysian audience. Nonetheless, this may be a good start for not only we have a condensed script, but also actors who will be able to identify with the audience unfamiliarity with the play. This will theoretically help in their body language and speech when performing their parts, for if they can relate to the audience and at the same time grasp the condensed play, then they will be able to present Hamlet admirably. They will be performing to a small college community, ranging from locals to expatriates. Therefore, it is more intimidating for part of the audience is familiar with Hamlet therefore there are expectations to live up to especially when these expatriates may have low expectations since staging a Shakespeare play has never been done before in our college and we also have a Malaysian audience. Hopefully, the students will enjoy practicing and performing it because when they do so then the passion will flow in, and with that newfound passion they will be able to perform as well as they should for this play. We may start off with a small community but this community have connections like family and colleagues. With these connections, the education of Shakespeare will hopefully begin. There are definitely risks involved but how can a reformation of mindset be in motion without taking any risks.

Rethinking Shakespeare is what our society should be doing. Or rethinking about any unfamiliar playwrights for that matter. The best way to deal with this is to research the plays one is attending so that one is not completely in ignorance. Shakespeare, as stated in Times, breaches all layers of society, generations and politics in all areas. What is the harm of taking any amount of time to understand a playwright who indubitably speaks to all of us in one way or another? Anyone disagreeing with this is definitely in the dark about Shakespeare and has never ever touched a page of even his sonnets.

English Language and its use amongst students of a kind

‘Considering English is not these students’ first language, the results they gain in their A-levels are pretty good.’

The above comment is one I constantly hear (well not every single time) when the students’ performances in their academic or debates are discussed during meetings or between certain teachers. I am disappointed in those who have uttered this. To me the students we teach have by far better command of the English language than even some of the expatriate teachers and their families. Almost all of the students we have at the college use the English language as their first language even though they are of different races and should be using their mother tongues as their first language.

The definitions of first language and mother tongue remain as they always have been: the former is a language an individual uses from the time they were born whilst the latter is a language used by a certain tribe or race, and it has always been presumed that the mother tongue would always be the first language in any household especially in multiracial and multicultural countries. However, in this 21st century, intermarriages are definitely hard to avoid in societies such as those. Additionally, the environment where one lives makes it hard not to have one’s language intermingled hence our ‘bahasa rojak’. Anyhow, due to the increasing demand our nation should improve their use of the English language, most Malaysian families try their best to use English as their communicative language in their household especially those of intermarriages and those who can afford foreign maids. In other words, mother tongue is now gradually diminishing as THE language used in a household. Instead, the English language seems to have replaced mother tongues as the language for communication. It has also arrived at the stage where it is in stiff competition with BM as the nation’s most preferred language. However, our nation is wise enough to realize the national language will always be BM whilst their communicative language will indefinitely be the English language because they have no choice if they want to be proficient in the language which is the communicative tool in the 21st century global trade and commerce. Additionally, Malaysians also realize that to be multilingual is an advantage in this globalization age. It will get one far ahead, or so I have been told.

The use of the English language as the main communication tool in most households has families introducing all kinds of materials to improve the use of the language. Observing the students at this top notch college, Shakespeare and other classical writers seem to have pervaded most of this students’ world. It was even surprising to see non-literature students singing along to the My Fair Lady’s musical, and students who have not been exposed to literature take such an interest in the subject that they take the initiative to research more in depth about subjects concerning anything they themselves think they would like to know about a particular text. You also have science students who although have just come out of our public schools right after their SPM or STPM adapting easily and swiftly to a whole new language teaching system for their A-levels. How can we forget their performance in their IELTS….we have most of them scoring bands 8 and above which some teachers may struggle achieving.

Why stop only at their academic performance? In their everyday interaction with teachers, these students are mostly conversing in English even the most problematic ones because we encourage them to for the sake of improving. They also make it a point that most of their stage performances are in English, and even if they are doing Dikir Barat or Bangsawan performances, it is always noticed these students have an English translation for the benefit of the audiences they are performing for. And at each and every one of these, the students’ use of the English language is as good as its native speaker and maybe better. Even if there is a glitch in their use, it is their courage and confidence in their proficiency to use the language that should be admired and taken note of, not their flaws.

What is frustrating beyond words is that these teachers would praise these students in private meaning either in person to the student or to me but when it comes to praising them out loud like in meetings or debate competitions amongst adjudicators I hear them saying the students’ use of the language is not up to standard and its because it is their second language. Hypocrites. I want to scream at these teachers but they are all seniors and more experienced, and besides I was still new and inexperience. Be silent, say nothing. It is courtesy. Pathetic.

Being teachers and guides to students, shouldn’t these students be given credit where credit is due? What’s the point of being and saying something else in front of these students and something else behind them? Teachers should bear in mind students are humans too. If you don’t treat them with respect or trust them with the truth, then how do you expect them to trust in you and your teachings? If one wants to be treated with respect, one should earn it. Martin Luther King said that character and intelligence is the true goal of education. Isn’t that what we are unknowingly doing; moulding these students into one character or another? If these students are not given the true perspective of their abilities, then wouldn’t the raw truth hurt when they are out in the real world? And if these students are incapable of using the language as they should do, then would it not be the teachers’ duty to teach and guide them towards it? In this case, the truth of the matter is that teachers who complain about their students performances in the use of the language are actually drying their dirty linens. It just shows their failure as a teacher in his or her duty to help and guide students. Additionally, it is as though the teachers are blaming the students’ natural abilities and efforts in improving themselves to cover up their (the teachers) inadequacies. Besides this is the English language, if a teacher complains then he/she should be good in the language to actually have the right to complain, but to the students’ face; not praise the students to their face and bitch about their shortcomings behind their backs. How is this character building and intellectually inspiring? If this is the case, then what is in the name of a teacher?

For the students at where I teach, they have the energy and they are more broadminded than the previous as the batches keep coming in every six months. They are tough intellectually and they do not care how emotionally disturbing it is as long as their teachers are there to support them and discuss with them their performances. They want control over their destiny and their lives’ choices. We as teachers should be there to help them realize their responsibilities even if it means playing the devil’s advocate. Sometimes to be kind, one has to be cruel but not brutally cruel, more of an encouraging one. These students are at the points in their life where they have to think for themselves including the consequences their decisions will have on them and those around them. If we cannot cope with telling them the truth, then our job as teachers are as pointless as it is made out to be. We have experiences which they don’t. We have to impart them to the students whenever possible. There are so many ways to teaching students and helping them improve in their education. Teachers should help those who deserve it as much as they can. Give credit where credit is due.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The People and their responsibility

One of the main mistakes leaders make is that they lock themselves up in a bunker and forget about the rest of which matters to them. They lose sight of what assisted them in acquiring their titles in the first place and they also overlook the little things that matter to the mass which helped get where they are. However, my ignorance in this matter halts me from elaborating on what leaders should be looking at and how they should be handling certain matters. What I do know is this: Leaders are afraid of the people. Deep down in them, leaders have a conscience cautioning them what the impact of their decisions may have on the people; mainly if those decisions will cause a chaos amongst their people who may turn against them eventually. It is this fear which has most Leaders on their toes, which has them backstabbing each other and which has them committing the most despicable of acts to maintain at the top. In other words, greed for power breeds fear. This greed blinds the Leaders, having them disillusion of what is important to them consequently they forget to cooperate with those who matter. As a result, the realization that something must be done amongst the people should be encouraged.

The fact is there is a way round this and it mainly lies in you - the people. Your leaders can only do so much to better your condition and your surroundings. If you do not take the initiative to improve your selves, then how can you expect your leaders to help you? The progress of a nation and its country lies in the hands of its nation, meaning you. If you do not progress then your country will be stuck in its present condition and not advance any further, in fact it will be in shambles in the long run. It is only when you work towards improving yourself, only then your country will move forward. With this also, you will provide your leaders with something to work on to either improve the country’s progress be it economically or socially, or change whatever systems are there to change to keep you, the nation, happy, and at the same time steering the country in the direction it should be heading.

Your leaders are only your supervisors overseeing what you want run smoothly or better. If you do not voice or show what you want or how you want something to be taken care of, meaning if you do not show your leaders you are worthy of their attention, they are not going to care about you. Even the most genuine of leaders will be patient up to a point, after which they will take it for granted not only are you happy and contented with your present situation but you are also self-developing. Here you are not only deceiving your leader but also yourself especially if you are not happy with your situation and not self-developing in anyway. Eventually, the ones on the losing end are you, the ones you love, and those who depend on you. So then, do not blame the government you choose but blame your selves. If you do not help your selves, how can you expect others too, even if they are the slightest bit obligated to you? Each individual is responsible over his/her own actions. Do not expect anyone with authority to define your worth or value or your significance in this life. It is all down to you.

And Leaders should sharpen their listening and thinking skills.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blogs, Bloggers and Blog Interpreters

Writing a blog is just like writing a novel – there is a dateline to keep to although it is not explicitly stated. Once a blogger starts, he or she will have to keep writing no matter what – it is a responsibility they hold not only towards their writing but also to their readers. It is to ascertain that the blog is active; it is to ensure that their string of readers is loyal. Making a mark is one thing but maintaining the reputation it has gained the bloggers is another. The latter is the most difficult because flow of thoughts are as unpredictable as the weather (am not using the phrase with ‘woman’ in it less I cause another riot online!). Ideas and thoughts do not come when we want them to but when we least expect them. It is at this point we have to make a mental note as to what should be noted down to paper later on or if possible right there and then. I suppose the most idealistic thing is to keep a pen and paper at hand, or even a mobile phone because as it is we have mobile novels these days so a mobile phone would be just as useful in this current age.

I realize thoughts and insights come in many forms. Anything and anyone can be a subject for a piece of writing, for everything is like literature – they are all down to our interpretation. One thing which may be common in one’s writing is the form ideas and thoughts take, in other words - a common theme. There maybe one theme which one may have passion about and will use in almost all their writings. This may be the one theme that one uses to start off one’s writing and it may be the very theme which may attract readers. Readers, on the other hand, will expect this same theme to occur in this entire one writer’s writings, which may be a good but also a negative point mostly where readers are concerned. This is due to the most constant thing in life - change. One cannot run away from it. So, one should expect a writer to fail in being constant with their writings; a writer will indefinitely have a change in opinions and points of views. The writer will fail almost indefinitely because times change, ideas change, and so will the method of looking at a particular subject matter. There may be different subject matters treated under the light of different themes. However, there is the possibility that a particular subject matter, which has already been written based on one theme, will be revisited under a different point of view and a different theme. These are the changes readers should be expecting from writers especially the bloggers. Ideas will remain ideas and they will never die neither will they change even when they are reformed. The only ones changing are the ones who created those ideas and they are humans who are true to the nature they exist in and regardless of what they do, they will change one way or the other. Therefore, to take action upon the ideas and thoughts one holds onto is to act now while it is still fresh and active, for the longer one waits, the less the idea would appeal. And eventually, nothing will be done to make a difference in this life we currently live in. ‘Nothing will come out of nothing’ – so the time to act is now; the time when one gets an idea and writes it down. Hereafter, all one has to do is to contradict one’s self to either dispute the original idea or refine it further.

Where ideas are concerned it is quite disappointing to know the futility of humans in actually thinking them up, for although most of us know sooner or later we will rethink them and possibly even ruthlessly discard them, we still want to have ideas and opinions because that is the nature of humans: curious, intrigued and above all, thinking all the time. And, at the end of the day, we then commit the very vile mistake of actually writing them down and later on contradicting them one way or another. One of the reasons for this is the fact we are interacting with different people everyday, reading up on different things every minute daily ( well teachers and students alike mainly), and we are faced by the tide of change in the very society we live in as well as the personal experiences we deal with.

‘Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so’ is the best phrase to describe what we write here on the blogs. Nothing we write can be substantiated because they are merely views and opinions. We are living in a world where everyone has the divine right to voice their points of view on anything, regardless how little it matters to them. No institution or even constitution can snatch that right from us. We may have rules and regulations or some sort of obstacle stopping us from demonstrating what we want to voice but nothing can stop us from thinking. Our mind is our own and no one can take that away from us. We can write (because the pen is sharper than the sword) what we want in whatever way we want but who is to say we should or should not write about something? Of course we as writers have the responsibility to know how to word what we want to voice so as to not be misconstrued but then again, like everything else, like literature, it is all down to interpretation. We as writers can always twist our words and defend our true intentions in our writings. Readers can read what they read but whatever they deem they have understood is down to their interpretation of our texts. And the most crucial mistake most people make is to take an excerpt or a phrase and use it for other purposes, in which case the writer cannot be held accountable for what that phrase or excerpt has been used for or interpreted as such. The phrase or the excerpt only means something when used in its original text. On a lighter note, all these seem to make writing and reading a lot more like a game and definitely more fun.

Blogs may seem a casual tool to reach to the masses, and yes to a certain extent it is but it is also a tool which actually teaches us our rights to exercise our freedom of thoughts and speech. It teaches us the responsibility we undertake as readers as well as writers; it teaches us the humility to be humans in exercising our divine right in thinking and voicing our opinions.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Meritocracy vs Punctuality..?

Meritocracy Vs. Punctuality…?

Oh dear. I had a tiring but fulfilling experience dealing with students and their parents this week. However, one disturbing issue kept cropping up amongst most of the parents, something along the lines of: ‘Is my child punctual? Because some teachers are complaining about it?’ I had to stop and smile to think.

As a teacher, it would be completely irresponsible to say punctuality amongst students is of little concern to me – but there you go, it is. One reason is that I am in a college where the students are the cream of the crop. Secondly, these students are young adults with minds mature beyond their age and who are not going to stop at anything to get what they want. Thirdly, they are also students who refuse to conform…they would rather have authority entrusted to them than to be followers. If they are left untended to as individuals, there will certainly be chaos. These students need to be understood and worked with, not asked to do as they are told. They have to be guided and refined so that they realize their responsibilities and do what they have to do in order to achieve what they aspire to achieve. This is where the teacher comes in.

As long as my students attend lessons, perform and participate during lessons, hand in their work and do not offend me, punctuality and other personal matters do not matter to me. However one may argue punctuality is a sign of respect, I will never think it is. Respect is to be earned not demanded; if a teacher cannot cope with the students, how can the students be expected to cope with their teacher. As aforementioned, these students know their responsibilities and they also are aware of the consequences of their actions. If they are late for lessons, they are definitely on the losing end. Then, it is up to them to catch up. My belief is that they have to exercise their rights as adults; to not only think of their responsibilities and executing them, but also live up to the consequences of their actions. Only then are they truly adults; only then they have no one to blame but themselves. This is the point where I hope they will be aware of their strengths and weaknesses as well as take steps towards developing the former and overcoming the latter.

When during exams, is punctuality taken into account when examiners mark and grade students’ work? No, excepting the fact students must be on time for their papers, which they are proving they are responsible when the time comes for them to be.

So, meritocracy or punctuality…meritocracy any day for me.

As a teacher....

My only defense in writing most of my blogs is that I am a teacher. I want to support the causes of my students which I think are all worthwhile. These students are of variety. However, all of them have one goal in common: to live as one nation, with no differences whatsoever.

It is refreshing to find a generation who is willing to discuss issues which are at the very core of our society and the base of its construct. Without any qualms involved, these students calmly raise issues and discuss them even if it means touching matters considered society sensitive. They willingly question one another’s views and maturely reply to these questions with a broad mind. A heated argument did occur once but they manage to resolve it amongst themselves. Religion, politics, you name it and these students have attempted discussing them as thoroughly as they can. Some even go to the extent of researching the matters beforehand and also after the fact so that they have an accurate view and broad scope on what our discussions are.

From these discussions and my daily interactions with these students, meaning 24/7, I observe the changes in mindsets from one batch to the next. I perceive changes in their thinking which is quicker than lightning. In them, realize our country is led by a generation whose mindset is miles behind that of the generation it is leading. These students are thinking way beyond what our leaders are and they can foresee the mishaps as well as the advantages their leaders are capable of. In my opinion, it is high time, the current leaders gave the younger generation a chance to rule the country. Our leaders are living the past and we younger generation do not even know how to relate to the past, let alone follow what our leaders are aspiring! The world is as we see it and we should try to cope with it in its current state, not return to the past and relive it to understand how to rule the country. The present generation just wants to live in peace, why bother them with issues which can be buried by now. Time to start afresh.

Globalisation is one of the causes for this emergence of new ideas and outlooks amongst most of our youths. The average ones are in a transition phase between old ideas and new ones, while the more advanced ones are those who can foresee how the country should be led to avoid future mishaps but these are still a minute minority; a minority nonetheless sufficient to cause an upheaval to society’s old schools of thoughts when challenged.

One of the disadvantages of globalization is that it demands societies around the world to be in uniform to one another. If one country has Starbucks than so should others around the world. This is an example of a globalised mentality where to be in on par with one another, countries should have the same things. This has also influenced the thinking of societies around the world, having them compromise the very cultures, beliefs and customs their societies were built on in the first place. It is ironic though when we look at our country in this light. Malaysia would do anything to be on par with other countries but in its practice of democracy?

There are times, I wonder if society should have a leader but we do need a certain form and function. Martin Luther King brought changes without having to be at the top and that is the kind of leader one should respect; an individual whose main concern is the society one is part of. Work from the bottom to the top would be the ultimate success in reforming a society and its thoughts. To extend change to a bigger audience, it has to begin from the individual first. The beliefs each culture and society holds need to be reformed because they oppress the oppressed even more in this current age. Everything has to reform to time.

True. What I write here are all idealistic, impossible to be achieved by a mere a human. However, ideas are not to be taken word for word. They are to be adapted to time and place as well as in relation to other ideas. I may believe in Marxism but to a certain extent that I realize there is a flaw in his idea, and that flaw may be overcome using ideas from another great thinker/philosopher. Whatever it is, they are just ideas which can never fail – unlike men. The core of an individual, is a free spirit which will do as it pleases as long as they conform to society and in doing so, they fail. And it is because of this flaw that I don’t believe in men/women entirely. I will trust them but I will give allowances for a brief period of weakness which I, too, experience. So therefore, I will have no faith whatsoever in anyone ruling the country. Nonetheless, being the balanced individual that I am, I dare to have faith that at least one person will make a difference in all his/her righteousness. It is never always about doing the right thing but always about saving the lives of the people in your hands.

Anyhow, being a teacher, I want to see things from my students’ points of view, learn from them their take on the world as it is, I want to understand them and I want to give them the opportunity to have the authority over their thoughts and actions, help them be heard regardless what their views are because I believe as long as they are not afraid to voice, they will not be afraid to be criticized and to rethink their thoughts as well as ideas. An individual has to be balanced; one cannot take the stand of an extremist, one has to allow for contradictions to be balanced. If my students can do this, they will acquire what they wish to achieve.