Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Facts Of Life

I studied Biology and Chemistry at Universiti Pertanian Malaysia and upon completing my studies, I was posted to Sekolah Menengah Abdul Rahman Talib Kuantan (SMART). I requested to be transferred to Kuantan because my husband was based at RMAF Kuantan at that time. However, the Ministry decided to post me to Sekolah Menengah Clifford, Kuala Lipis. I remember crying my eyes out upon receiving the directive. My geography was bad and still is. Datuk Siti Nurhaliza wasn't even born yet, so how was I to know where Kuala Lipis was. Fortunately, my husband managed to convince the top guns at the Ministry to squeeze me into SMART. So, I began my career as a Science teacher.

With all this fuss on whether or not to introduce sex education  in schools, I found myself being transported back to the time when I had to teach human reproduction for the first time. I can't exactly recall whether the class was a Form 3 or Form 5, most probably Form 5 because way back in the 70's, human reproduction was incorporated in the Form 5 Science syllabus. I think it was only in the 80's that they brought it down to Form 3.

My first lesson on this particular topic was a complete disaster. I was in my twenties and recently married and my students were only 6 years my junior. I remember introducing the topic cautiously and haltingly to a class of about 40. Of course, attendance was 100% on that day because they knew I had to move on to this chapter whether I liked it or not. I know they were all eagerly waiting for this lesson not because they were completely ignorant (though some pretended complete innocence), but they were waiting to see how I was going to handle this very "sensitive" topic. Everything went on reasonably smooth the first 10 minutes until I started hanging the chart depicting the male reproductive organ. Suddenly, all hell broke loose. There were oohs and aahs all round from my male students amidst giggles from the girls. Of course, they had the same diagram in their textbooks and many a time I caught them ogling at it while I was busy teaching something else, but this was different. This was a huge "replica" openly exhibited for all to see.

I was so embarassed that I stood transfixed facing the chart, giving my back to them. I didn't know how to continue. I longed for the bell to ring but this was a double period and I had  about one solid hour more to go. I regretted dabbing the blusher onto my cheeks before leaving the house that morning. I was all red from head to toe. I was  still trying to regain my composure when I heard "Cikgu, cepat Cikgu, masa dah nak habis!". I had no choice. There was no way I could wriggle myself out of this so I turned slowly to face them. Forty faces, all with huge grins on them, stared back at me, challenging me to continue. I faltered and flinched as I decided my next course of action.

I decided that I needed a "weapon" to proceed with my explanation of the various parts of the male reproductive system so I took a metre rule to start pointing at the parts. The ruler provided a sort of a buffer between the chart and me. At least that way, I avoided being in "close proximity", I reasoned out. As I traced my way, the oohs and the aahs started all over again, from the boys, of course. I noticed these guys stealing glances at the girls to see how the girls reacted to their male anatomy.

After covering all the parts, I had to explain the functions of these parts. This was even more gruelling for me but the kids seemed to be having a whale of a time. Despite my poor delivery, I was able to hold their attention throughout the entire 80 minutes. By the time the bell rang, I was soaked to the skin with my own perspiration, not because I was exhausted but my sheer inexperience on how to tackle such a delicate topic had me in jitters throughout the entire double period. At an age when I, myself, was still fumbling with these intimate facts of life, I had this formidable task of passing on the facts to others. It was  horrifying, terrifying and petrifying all rolled into one but I pulled through, blunders and all.

Subsequently, I was able to cruise through the chapter quite admirably, albeit numerous interruptions in the form of excited laughter, spontaneous exclamations and a continuous barrage of questions. As the years rolled on, I became more and more thick-skinned and the topic was just another topic but to the kids, it was still  their favourite topic. I evolved from being a shy and inexperienced young teacher into a bold, no-nonsense Cikgu who was not the slightest bit affected by their cheeky oohs and aahs any more.

Frankly, I think the kids have seen it all but as teachers, our role is to formalise the learning of this interesting facet of the human life, to lay bare all the facts and to dispel all the fallacies.


  1. funny.. i thought teachers are eager to share it all with students, as much as we are eager to learn.. hahaha!
    wait, you have a replica of male reproductive organ to show to your class? in my class all we saw was a cross-section sketch in the textbook! not fair! ;-p

  2. Dieya,
    What i meant by "replica" was just a two-dimensional diagram, not a model of the reproductive system.

  3. Hello..my first time here and I just had a whale of a time grinning from ear to ear reading your very amusing entry!I can't imagine how much the students must have 'enjoyed' your classes..the boys as usual!
    So nice to meet you.

  4. Have been silently following your blog for quite a while now. Could no longer remain silent after reading your latest entry. Nice meeting you, too. Salam.

  5. Salam Pn. Roffini,

    Have been silently reading your blog for the past few days. Hope to finish all the entries soon. :-)

    By the way, your photo looks familiar to me...

  6. Auntie Yan, welcome. Greatly honoured that you are trying to read all my entries. Now then, have we met before?

  7. Auntie Yan, welcome. Am honoured that you are trying to read all my entries. Now then, have we met before?

  8. Salam Pn. Roffini,

    May be pelandok dua serupa..... :-)

    Pernah sekolah kat JB ke??..I remember those years when the sixth former joined our school, I spotted one 'kakak senior baru' wearing big glasses and mini skirt (popular fashion those days)and every makan time at the dining hall I used curi pandang at her....and... she was so...like you....!...Sorry if I was mistaken.
    Have anice day Kak... :-)

    p/s: almost finish reading your entries. :-)
    Im not that good in English. Please correct me if I made any mistake.

  9. Auntie Yan,
    I am amazed that you could still recognise me after 40 years. Wow! Either you have a superb memory or better still, I have not changed all these years. I prefer the latter, of course. He..He..He. Yes, I joined STF, Johor Bharu in 1970. Yes I wore very short miniskirts those days. Sekarang dah insaf dah. He..He. I think you got the right person. It is not a case of pelanduk dua serupa. Small world. Now, it's my turn to figure out who Auntie Yan is. Tapi biasalah, juniors boleh ingat seniors but the other way round, susah sikit. I'll visit your blog to see if I can remember you. Salam.

  10. Salam Pn. Roffini,

    Wah!...I'm so happy....after 40 long years, I tak silap orang.He!..he!...how could I forgot that cute 'baby face' of yours. :-)
    I don't think you could recognise me...(its ok)....(I was Form One in 1970).

  11. Auntie Yan,
    So, both of us were freshies in 1970, you a form one freshie and I, a lower six freshie. Well, whatever it is, I am truly glad that I found a long lost sister. Do keep in touch.

  12. made me smile, this. i went to an all boys school. we reacted the same way you described. i think my biology teacher had it worst being the only female in class.

  13. Noir,
    I had my share teaching in an all boys school, too. I taught at St. Gabriel Kampung Pandan for 10 years. It was hell at first but over time, I learnt how to deal with them. Unlike the Kuantan school, these boys were bolder. But, overall, they were good boys.