A Day with
The Dame of Our Hearts
Full Name: Maimun bt. Hussin
Date of Birth: 10 December 1952
Place of Birth: Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Primary Education: Zainab Primary School
Secondary Education: Zainab Primary School (Forms 1-5)
University Education: B.A (Hons.) University Malaya, DIP ED (UM)
Career: Kolej Islam Kelang (1977-1982)
Initiatives and contributions to the V.I.:
Was it your ambition to be a teacher?
It was my ambition to be a teacher. I grew up in small town Kota Bharu where almost everyone was a teacher and the teachers who taught me were inspiring. I could have joined the diplomatic service, or the civil service, but the calling is in teaching and I have no regrets. It has been a fulfilling career.
Can you share with us your experiences in educating Victorians?
I have no problems with Victorians or children for that matter. I subscribe to Gandhi’s philosophy in many areas, “There is no question about the teacher’s responsibility for the errors of the pupil,” said Gandhi. I take it as my responsibility to correct, to guide and to help turn around the child. Impart love, impact life, a slogan which I reminded myself when dealing with “attention seekers.” They are a small minority. They have their own share of problems which we teachers need to know to help them. As for the achievers, we need to stimulate them, to make them think and not make them purely rote learners. That was the challenge which I enjoyed.
Can you share with us the fond memories that you had since becoming a teacher at the VI?
My daughter said that the school was my playground. Of course, after spending 23 years of my life in VI, I have both fond and not so fond memories. Among the memorable ones would be the setting up the History Corner which later evolved into the school museum (I made a courtesy visit to the late Tun Ismail Ali, the chairman of PNB to get the ball rolling) and, of course, the visit of the most distinguished guest to VI, the former Prime Minister, YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2005. For many years I organized the Annual Founders’ Day by bringing distinguished ex-Victorians back to their alma mater as part of what I call VSR (Victorian Social Responsibility). For this year’s Founders’ Day, we had YBhg Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam as the guest of honour. Apart from the events, other memorable moments were the times spent with my students. I found most of them witty, active, proactive and reliable. It was not difficult getting things done. A number of them are just born clowns or jokers. I guess they have helped me become 58 years young. Thank you, Victorians.
Any not so nice memories?
After 23 years in VI, I feel so much for the school that I cannot condone the desecration of the school. For example, the felling of the royal palm trees that once lined the road to the car porch was heart breaking. The trees were felled and none were spared for reasons only the authorities know but which I will never forgive. The trees had their history. They blamed the termites for their action. In truth, it was a case of ignorance and no respect for the historic trees. Next, the School Hall. A so-called make-over resulted in the sound system gone wrong. That happened when people in authority wanted to show that they had brought about change. Indeed there was change, from good to bad! The desecration picked up with the upgrading of the school to a cluster school of excellence and a heritage school a year later. With the funds that came with it, the ceilings were plastered, hiding all the heritage beams and the pretty cornices. The irony of it all, the hall and rooms were labeled “Heritage Rooms” and “Heritage Hall.” The make-over seemed more important than the education of the students. You asked me a direct question and I give you a brave answer. How I wished that money had been spent in upgrading the school library and making a world class resource centre rather than money spent on beautifying a meeting room and even a toilet for just one person. Some people do not seem to know what heritage is, unfortunately. Restoration is what is required not renovation for heaven’s sake. It’s so sad.
What did you like about the V.I.?
First, I like the beauty and heritage of the building. The architecture is beautiful, the site is perfect. The green makes other schools in KL green with envy. The students are ONE VI; you know what I mean. They are colour blind .They call their seniors “abang” and the respect for their abangs know no boundaries. I really love to see their camaraderie especially during co-curricular activities. I just hope that the younger generation of Victorians foster close ties with each other just like the old Victorians. One must note that there are many talented students in VI. It would be a waste, if they are only expected to score A’s in the public examinations.
What do you like most about teaching?
I like educating the students. It is about getting them to read between the lines, the lesson to be learnt and the values to be appreciated. The teaching part has to be done first, you know, the what, why, when, where and the how… but the thinking process has to be encouraged and guided. The KBKK (creative and critical thinking) curriculum introduced by the Ministry of Education is definitely good but if it is not done properly it remains an acronym without much meaning. Teaching is an art as well as a science and that is why it is not that easy. It takes passion to develop the skill which is not simply measured by the documentation you have “done” because documentation is only just another skill (the yardstick of excellence in today’s system of education). I am afraid I have still not arrived after 33 years of teaching.
Who are the people in VI who have influenced you to be a better person?
I admire Tuan Haji Rahim and Tuan Haji Baharom (both are Datuks now) former principals of VI. They both were hands-on CEOs. I enjoyed working with Mrs. Loo. She was the Head of the Math and Science Department who was very committed, disciplined, systematic and professional. We complemented each other as I, being an Arts person, helped fine tune the programmes and events we plan together. It was good for the V.I. for that duration.
Any suggestions to improve the current education system?
I would very much wish that the Minister of Education or the Director-General of Education would make surprise visits to schools just like the Chief Justice does. Go and see what is happening in schools today. Do not be overwhelmed with reports and documents that are too good to be true! Seeing is believing. As for the education system, I am from the old school who believes that there must be soul and not just statistics in education! I was lucky to have had fun during my schooldays, even in small town Kota Bharu. We had food and fun fairs, exhibitions and concerts during the annual prize giving day/week. We had singing classes which helped make going to school enjoyable. Of course times have changed but we can well adopt some of the good old ways. Oh yes, I introduced Victorian Idol, held during the Language Month. The boys enjoyed the programme a lot.
Do you think that extra-curricular activities are important to students?
Without doubt! Parents must realize the importance of co-curricular activities and give the children their strong support and strike a win-win formula with their children. Only then will parenting and schooling be meaningful.
How can we get students to enjoy learning history and empowering themselves with a good command of BM and BI?
For language, it is simply reading. Read, read and read! Read good books. The man who does not read good books is at no advantage over the man who can’t read them, said Mark Twain. I am sure you agree. The Learn-A-Word-A-Day Programme helps! Just make the effort and show interest, after all it is for one’s own self. Please realise the importance of both BM and BI. There are many graduates out there still unemployed for not being language competent. As for History, it’s a different story! The job market does not look for historians. That is why some students do not find it necessary to learn history. Teachers will have to make it interesting by showing power point presentations, brainstorming, group work, quizzes, school trips, debates, mock elections, etc. A lot of preparation can be outsourced actually. I enjoy getting students to ask questions because that will reflect their understanding and knowledge of the events of history. Unfortunately, history in most schools is not taught the way it should. Students are not taught to think but to remember.
What are your plans after retirement? Travelling? Teaching in a private institution? Or simply taking it easy?
Traveling after I retire? I say, I do it before I retire and will travel for as long as my health allows. I have done it. I have travelled and I shared my many trips to many parts of the world with my students. The mesmerising Taj Mahal, the mystical Borobodur and Prambanan temples in Jogjakarta, the magnificent Parthenon/Acropolis in Greece, the amazing Great Wall of China, the mysterious pyramids of Giza, the wonderland of Disney, the Gold Coast of Australia, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, romantic Bali and many more. I brought the countries I visited to the classroom as I wanted to develop the interest to see places in them. I would love to go to South America, to see Machu Picchu. I have plans to go to Kazakstan to attend my daughter’s friend’s wedding next year. After all now everyone can fly! I have to disclose that I performed the haj in my early thirties and the umrah several times. I may not look pious though!
Can you share with us your main principles in life?
I like Winston Churchill’s quotation. “You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” And Gandhi said, “There is always enough for the needy but never enough for the greedy.” I work more for others than for myself as I believe that God works in mysterious ways. I count my blessings and I thank HIM by giving and I pray that HE will continue giving me good health, harmony and happiness.
If you have the opportunity to make a significant change in the V.I. or even in the education sector, what would that be?
I have had the opportunity. I did what I wanted to do, like honing the oral skills of the students, language skills, thinking skills and to a certain extent soft skills too. I gave them the stage to deliver speeches and poetry to boost their confidence.I hope I have impacted lives but of course I wish that I had done more. It is my wish that senior and experienced teachers guide the younger teachers who are good but need guidance especially in critical and creative thinking. Do not just focus on paper work.
Are there any words of wisdom that you want to share with the Victorians?
I want the Victorians to read and to keep up with the times, in terms of news, knowledge and ICT. It’s not just about getting the string of A’s. Students must know the challenges of Vision 2020 and be a dutiful citizen of the country by rising to the challenge. Do justice to the V.I. by living up to the aspirations of the founders. Don’t just walk the corridors of V.I. and bring no glory to the school nor self. Do V.I. proud! I wish all Victorians success and excellence in whatever they choose to do.
T R I B U T E S
Dear Datin Maimun,
Mortals live a complacent life. They seek their comfort in standard chores, the bliss of ignorance and the comfort doing enough. But I do not envy them.
I envy the selfless deeds of a teacher whom I know. A teacher that lectures are not limited by the textbook but are unlimited by the discussions engage by her students. Envy do I, her resilience to enlighten her students of the soft skills that they lacked. Day after day would she remind them that it was not enough to be good with their studies alone but challenged them to rise to the occasion of being better than the common man.
Difficult are your lessons to digest but these are the lessons of an immortal. For forever would your words and guidance live in me and appreciate. Thank you for the constant believe you had in me and I apologise have I had not been to keen or polite at times in class.
Wishing you a great retirement.
Dear Datin Maimun,
Life may be short and fleeting, but it is that brevity that gives value to the people we meet. And so while I'm glad and thankful I had the chance to be your student, my gratitude is surely nothing compared to the number of students you've touched throughout your years in VI.
It is humbling (and somewhat of a downer) to reflect on the fact that no matter what I do in this life, I almost certainly will never be known as a 'pillar of VI'. In fact, is probable that no one else will ever be thought of in that manner. They say that the true value of a life comes from the legacy you leave behind. Well, in the eyes of those lucky enough to know you, you will always be a Victorian legend.
Hope you have a great time post-retirement. I wanted to retire from university, but I hear that's not how it works. Retirement is one of those things you have to earn, and no one has earned it more than you.
Gone were the days where the glory of VI used to shine above the crescent moon. However, I’m ever grateful that there were some legacies left within us that will last a lifetime. Being one of your students was truly an experience that many could only envy. All these years, you have crafted the sense and the true meaning of being a scholar, sportsmen and gentlemen in us as we walk through these doors of excellence. With that, I hope that this route of being an educator shall not end for you as learning is a life-long experience to all. On behalf of my batch in 2007, we wish you a brilliant journey ahead and may the spirit of the VI lies in us forever. Thank you for all your helpful advices and motivational thoughts that you have given us.
All The Best,
Reminiscing your touch in Victoria Institution...
Datin Maimun’s classes were the highlights for my upper forms years in VI. Instead of discussing the merits of Umayyads and Abbasid, we spent more time discussing reformasi and NEP. Her style of lectures, direct and confrontational, was refreshing in an era when teachers were just dictating from the textbooks. Her strong beliefs along with her desire to challenge her students had broadened my mind much. Without her nurturing in my formative years, I believe, I would not have got to where I am today. So, thank you Datin Maimum. I shall never forget you.
I would like to wish you all the best after retirement and your contributions to us would never be forgotten, I salute you!
Jasamu dikenang dan menjadi lipatan sejarah dalam hidupku
Dear Datin Maimun,
Thank you for believing in us, for believing in me, when there was not much to believe in. Thank you for your perseverance, and your patience in moulding gentlemen out of naughty, bratty boys.
And I don't think it will be said elsewhere, but thank you for the arguments too! Nearly a decade on since we first met, I must say that it's hard to find people you can argue with today, and tomorrow still fight alongside one another for a common goal, a common good. I'm sure over the years you've made your fair share of friends and enemies in school, and you and I have had our high and low moments, too. But it has been a pleasure and a blessing to do all that we did (and a good number of things together) for the sake of our school, and for the good name of the students who are called both Victorians and Malaysians.
With best wishes upon your retirement,
Benjamin Ong Jia Ming,
Kepada Puan Maimun,
Were my BM at the level it was when I was a fifth former, I would go on, but at its standard (or substandard) now, I would just embarrass myself and be a discredit to you. For all the witty repartee, mental sparring, opportunities and challenges you've provided, thank you so much, and may Allah Almighty bless and keep you always.
Loh Kok Kin
Last updated on 23 March 2012.