The term “moonshot” derives from the Apollo 11 spaceflight project, which landed the first human on the moon in 1969. “Moonshot” may also reference the earlier phrase “shoot for the moon” meaning aim for a lofty target.
Speaking to En. Zaifulsham bin Hj. Ahmad Zakaria, the chairperson of the Parent Teacher Association/ Persatuan Ibu Bapa Guru (PIBG) of SK Intan Baiduri, you get the sense that this man never really intended to plunge into the world of education. Despite that, En Zaiful is working with the PIBG to change the face of adaptive, situational education in a primary school in Kuala Lumpur, SK Intan Baiduri – with moonshot thinking!
This relatively young school, founded in 2003, is learning to fly. Members of the school community compare SK Intan Baiduri to older schools nearby that have many years of excellence. They wonder how they can make their mark, especially when they are still early in their journey to being an academic powerhouse.
Growth hacking. Weaving connections. This approach, when put into an outlier school seems to produce results. Why is parent engagement through technology curiously higher in SK Intan Baiduri rather than more established schools in the same area?
A little digging, and the school’s head teacher, Tn Hj. Ahmad Fuad bin Ahmad points to En Zaiful. En Zaiful has had his children move through SK Intan Baiduri, and got involved in the PIBG when he came to the school to appreciate the teachers due to his son’s excellent UPSR results.
A volunteer in many areas including culture and history, as well as a licensed tour guide, En Zaiful shares he didn’t mean to come to the forefront of the parents movement, but gained the trust of fellow parents due to his obvious sense of curiosity.
Uplifting the community
En Zaiful is a quiet man, but when he speaks, you can see his cogs turning. He is determined to be clear in his concepts and set the record straight. Not surprising, considering he has a background in IT. He thinks like an entrepreneur because he is one.
On a mission to refresh the school’s energy and outlook, and create a new positive culture, En Zaiful and the PIBG focused on how they could uplift and support the students of SK Intan Baiduri, 70% of whom live in the surrounding council housing.
Teachers have recently seen improvements and have been sharing their feedback to the PIBG. Students and teachers are now more cheerful, shares En Zaiful.
How to attract parents
“To attract parents we have to have a carnival where the children must bring one of their parents. Our children always bug us parents to get things done!” shared En Zaiful on why the school’s PIBG came up with the idea of a carnival.
Parents came to the school, played games and interacted with each other as well as with the teachers who facilitated the games. The school also involved other layers of community, inviting students from UPM to help improve the design and landscape of the school for the carnival.
“I do believe that more interest from the parents means more enthusiasm from students. Great schools have good alumni with a strong background, and they help to guide the students, too.”
Bridging the gap
En. Zaiful shares that the parents’ carnival and an upcoming science fair is interrelated. Students can get really excited in the classroom, especially with the use of technology, but when they go home and try to tell their parents – there is no point – because parents don’t understand. This, he shares, is why the community is so important.
“I realised that students need to have a supportive environment. They spend 5-6 hours at school. What do they do with the rest of their time? We need to bridge the gap between what happens in school and what occurs in the outside world,” says En. Zaiful.
He shares that SK Intan Baiduri is at the awareness stage of 21st century education. With the Frog VLE, he shares, teachers have been getting students more involved with quizzes and games. The school can get further, shares En Zaiful, because of moonshot thinking – where the community dares to think of innovative new solutions to challenges they face.
One of the ways in which moonshot thinking is being applied in SK Intan Baiduri, is in the setting up of specialised spaces for Science, Technology, Reasoning/Religion, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics education in the school. These areas are being dreamed up for students to immerse themselves into each of these subjects.
Besides helping to reduce the burden on teachers by enriching the environment and keeping students interested, these space also allow students to repeat their exposure to subjects, increasing familiarity and making learning less intimidating.
This then allows students to get more familiar and enjoy these subjects. There is also an effort to utilise all equipment and skills available in and around the school – which means a more meaningful movement, that involves community and makes use of what’s at hand.
En. Zaiful uses the term ‘potential outcome’ to explain that students need to have a balance of intellectual, moral and physical learning. This, he shares, is what the PIBG of SK Intan Baiduri is encouraging in their students.
Watch this video about SK Intan Baiduri’s robotic programme run in partnership with LA21KL and Yayasan Bank Rakyat.