Kathiresan Moorthy has won awards for his innovative teaching methods despite seven attempts to pass his Bahasa Melayu SPM paper.
RAUB: Kathiresan Moorthy is a 38-year-old award-winning primary school teacher with an impressive collection of awards in recognition of the innovative teaching methods he developed. He also coaches other teachers on how to create contextualised teaching innovations for their classrooms.
Last month, Kathiresan, who is pursuing a doctorate in sports science at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris in Tanjung Malim, was named among the five finalists in Pemimpin GSL‘s 2023 Malaysia Teacher Prize, which honours exceptional educators.
However, the road to his success in education has been a bumpy one.
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After achieving a dismal grade of 7D for his Bahasa Melayu SPM paper in 2002, the Pahang-born had to re-sit the paper a total of seven times before he was able to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher.
“My mom always said: ‘Keep working hard even if you have to do it again. There must be a good path for you’,” Kathiresan told FMT Lifestyle recently.
“I faced many challenges during those seven years. I had to fund my own studies and I didn’t have any support. Many people said: ‘you’re too old to be a teacher’; ‘you can’t teach there’; ‘you don’t stand a chance’.”
To earn a living, he operated a modest cafeteria at the Kuala Lipis Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) campus. But he almost threw in the towel after his sixth attempt when two senior teachers intervened.
“They encouraged me to try again and bought books for me to study. I read as many Bahasa Melayu articles and magazines as I could to improve my proficiency,” he shared.
He is also indebted to his Tamil language primary school teacher and his mathematics secondary school teacher, for their support and guidance.
Finally, on his seventh attempt, Kathiresan scored a B+ for the Bahasa Melayu paper. He was 24. “I felt very proud when I received the results. My mother’s prayers were finally answered.”
So was his as he was now able to work as a temporary teacher before pursuing his studies at the Raja Melewar Institut Pendidikan Guru campus in Seremban, where he earned a 1st class bachelor’s degree in physical education at age 32.
Kathiresan is a firm believer that teaching is all about “modifying and improving” existing methods. As such, he has developed alternative forms of teaching to help weaker students in their studies.
For instance, he created a kinesiology teaching aid called “Tapak Kaki Kathi” from recycled materials to support his students at SK Kampong Aur in their footwork for netball. As a result, eight of his students qualified for state competitions.
Additionally, his “8 Konstruk Kathi” teaching kit for SK Bukit Ridan in Muadzam Shah involves reading and games. The kit is divided into two phases focusing on basic skills (constructs 1-4) and advanced skills (constructs 5-8). In six weeks, all students could successfully read their textbooks.
“I conduct action research in the classroom to improve my teaching practices, addressing personal challenges and incorporating the findings as innovative elements in my instructional approach.
“As a teacher, it is essential to self-analyse, as well as understand your students’ capabilities in order to conduct student-centred teaching based on their backgrounds. This ensures that teaching is more effective and captures the attention of the students,” Kathiresan, who mentors nearly 400 Pahang school teachers, said.
Today, Kathiresan coaches and motivates SPM students who are weak in their studies. He also drops by SK Mahmud in Raub, where he taught from 2022 till November last year, to coach his former colleagues.
To Form Five students sitting for their SPM examinations soon, Kathiresan had this to say:
“Set your goals – know what you want to do and where you want to go after your SPM. You need to know where you’re heading and what results to aim for. Your trial exams are over – you now know your strengths and weaknesses. Work on your weaknesses, I’m sure your teachers will help you.
“And keep enquiring, don’t be shy. There are still a few more weeks left. Work hard. I pray that all of you will achieve good results.”