Thursday, March 5, 2009

Quizzes of Yesterday

The other day, while waiting for our food to arrive, son Joe popped this question out of the blue; “Can you name all the 50 states of the USA?”

To our credit, Pak Abu and I managed to name 34. We were mighty pleased with ourselves for remembering, even as we fell 16 short of the full number. Prodded further, we could even manage some of the better known capital cities as well.

On the other hand, go ask any American high school or even college student to name the states and federal territories of Malaysia, and the likelihood of him responding with “Where the fook is Malaysia?” is probably greater than getting the right answer.

I read somewhere that Americans in general are very inward-looking. They have this notion that the United States is the centre of the universe, and that the world revolves around them.

As such, they do not feel the need to breach any learning boundaries to learn how the likes of us, existing here in the fringes of their civilisation, live.

It does seem to me that had it not been for the protracted wars they got themselves involved in, the Yanks would never have be able to differentiate between Asia and Arabia.

The Vietnam War had helped open their eyes to Southeast Asia (and some, their loins to the goodtime girls and boys of Bangkok/ Phuket/ Pattaya), whilst the Iran and Iraq Wars had enabled them to spell Mesopotamia and Euphrates correctly (if at all).

If you notice the derision in my tone, rest assured it is very much intended. There is no love lost between USA and yours truly. But enough of 'Big Brother'.

In our household, quizzes were part and parcel of our daily existence when the kids were growing up. It became a mark of honour for them to be able to collect as many points as possible for answering correctly.

How we transversed the world those days playing the game of geography, naming countries and their respective capitals and locating them on the map.

The kids became adept at identifying the highest peaks and longest rivers, biggest lakes and deepest oceans, the seven wonders ancient and modern, the continents and the deserts.

From geography, the quizzes would move to historical events, and notable figures and their respective achievements, from Abe Lincoln to Churchill to Gandhi, From Darwin to Edison to Bell, and everyone would be toppling over each other to come up with the correct answers.

And then there were those spelling bees; impromptu episodes that usually evolved from sibling squabbles which would require Mom as the referee-cum-arbitrator. Because of these games, our long car trips were never boring.

The stress, however, was on me, to be able to provide the right answers at the drop of a hat. THAT was tough, so I always came armed with the necessary books for reference; this was, after all, during those pre-internet days.

The thirst for general knowledge has never been quenched for me; I have always wanted to know more of everything, no matter how trivial (maybe it was the kaypoh gene in me).

When I began servicing the Tourism Authority of Thailand in 1992 (here), the first thing that I did was make a list of all 76 provinces in Thailand.

At that time, I had yet to learn Thai, so it was a real tongue-twisting effort to pronounce, let alone memorise, them.

The day when I could reel off all 76 names, plus the 20 names of Bangkok, and identify them all on the Thai map, was a day to remember.

To all and sundry, it was probably nothing much to shout about, but I felt a small measure of achievement and that was good enough for me.

My kids are no longer in school but old habits die hard. Sometimes, quizzes fly hard and fast when we get together (and Mom is still expected to be Puan Serba Tau...tough, eh).

The beautiful part is they still remember most of the answers after all these years. I wonder if, in the wake of the Internet and computer games, kids still play these simple yet highly educational games today ....


Pak Tuo said...

Recover from the grive Mak Aji? me what is Article I(one) of our Federal Contitution all about?

Family game.Nice,flower power.

Kama said...

Hehehe Pak Tuo, dalam Islam tak boleh grieving. Kita redhakan saja dan get on with life. Aiseh Pak Tuo, bab bab Constitution ni kurang ariflah. nak kena pi mentelaah dulu..:)

Pak Tuo said... more or less anaylising our own backyard Mak Aji with todays senario.Our wanna be politikus or politikus berdekah-dekah bagi nak rak argue,Sect.inilah Sect tulah Article inilah Article tulah tapi bila tanya what is Art.I I bet 20sen most tak tahu.
As compare to young American children.Dia orang hafal their contitution.
Kita kat sini,bila tanya student or lay person what is HUMAN RIGHT,jawapan yang diberi.
Human where got right!!!heheheh....

Yeap agree with you on greving.
Hasbun nalallah wa nikma waakil.

Nong said...

Dear Puteri,
I am sorry to hear about your brother. Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat ke atas rohnye.

I was at your other brother's funeral in Ipoh a few years back. I dealt with him quite a lot then. He was a big man with a big heart too...

Kak Teh said...

Puteri, I went to a convent. Every morning before the start of lessons, prefects wld come to our clasrooms to give us a session on general knowledge - at that time, we found it very boring, but later on we found the value of drilling those infos into our head every morning.

Desert Rose said...

Kak Puteri,

Tak yah la tanya d Americans tu about our country, berapa kerat sangat rakyatnya able to name all fifty states correctly LOL

I came across a video of a survey of d Americans answering general knowledge of their own country and it was hillarious I tell u, sungguh n*ok dia org ropenye.

I will alwys sort to quizzes for my kids to deviate them from bercekau dalam kereta or flight esp during balik kg journey .Samapaikan I pulak yg hangin sebab dah tak ada question nak bagi

Anonymous said...


This national level quiz competition was broadcasted live on CBS in New York a few years ago:

Q. In which continent is Nigeria located?

A. Brazil

A wrong answer to a cekai question is one thing, but it is quite unpardonable when the undergraduate who answered it is from Harvard.

So senang, whaddaya know! Might as well stay back and do a 4+0 in Batu Pahat.


Theta said...

Dear Puteri,
First time dropping a comment. I always snigger whenever George Bush reads his speech on Iraq.

He would always pronounce it as I-RAQ, not EE-RAQ. :D

Same goes with Iran. Goes to show how insular and clueless some Americans are.

On another note, my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your brother.

MA and Brood said...

My sons can reel off the names of all Star Wars characters plus the relationships between them effortlessly. But ask them about tokoh sejarah, they get lost. Rasa nak sekeh saja...
I told them to imagine the Force dengan Empayar Melaka.
But I have to agree with them when they said : Sejarah di sekolah diajar cara yang membosankan.

Re the name of states - I remember masa kecik-kecik we used to play the game of nama negara/ibunegeri/buah-buahan etc and we'd started off with the letters of the alphabets. That was a good practice as we learnt from each other.

I doubt if the kids nowadays do that.

Zendra said...

Inter-class Geography quizzes. We had that as part of our Geography Club activities at school. Those days we could not afford field trips, so quizzes and talks were all that we did.

Tommy Yew said...

Yeah, what more can u says about a country that voted in G.W Bush as their leader. I heard about 64% of their people cannot point out USA on the world map and what about their ‘World Series’ when they play amongst themselves..hehe..Gee they loves playing WITH themselves, wink.

I tot I was named after Thomas Jefferson,………..not!


Capt's Longhouse said...

Mak Aji Kama,,,,i salute you and pak aji for being great parents and as example of proper Malaysian up-bring !
Been reading your Mecca trip plus blogging stories,,,,in fact, looks fwd for it daily !.
Berita from such bloggers like you keeps me sane from the crazy politicking presently-lah, don't read the news anymore until sanity comes back to Malaysia.
I feel for your lost too,,,just lost my mother/brothers not too long ago,,,but life must go on yaaa. Allah loves them as such the earlier callings. We awaits ours willingly.

bangkai said...

And while we are on the topic of quizzes, do you remember the local TV quiz show "Ganda Wang Anda"? That was hysterical!

Yeah, I know, I'm such a nostalgia junkie...

ray said...

Komen Pak Malim kucing ray yg alim.

Permainan berunsur pendidikan adalah sesuatu yg amat baik untuk anak-anak, kata Pak Malim sambil menunggu nasi yg siap ditanak. Ia merupakan pembelajaran sepanjang hayat, kata Pak Malim sambil memeluk Minah Gayat.

Ĺaptop™ said...

Hmm quizzes
Now dok terbayang time mentelaah Priodic Table of the Elements dulu.
Me & classmates (a team of otak-not-so-straight students) came up with a not so noble way of naming the 1st 18 elements. (Most of us were able to give back the elements in one breath when asked.... ok, in 3 ;-)).
Isn't it called nemonics?
I wonder if our nemonics is of any help to present science students.
It goes like this.
Hj Herot Lihat Benda Busuk Celah Nenen Orang Famous Neon Nama Mgie Al Si Potong Seluar, Clear Arrrrrrrrgh!
Hj - Hydrogen
He - Helium
Li - Lithium
Be - Beryllium
B - Boron
C - Carbon
N - Nitrogen
O - oxygen
F - Fluorine
Ne - Neon
Na - Natrium (Sodium)
Mg - Magnesium
Al - Aluminium
Si - Silicon
P - Phosphorus
S - Sulfur
C - Chlorine
Ar - Argon
The rest of the periodic table was not that important.... hehehe

Kama said...

Nong - tq for your kind words.

Kak Teh - they did that in convents eh? we never had any of those in our school.

DR - you shoud always come prepared with a list of Qs and As. I am of the opinion that kids like to be quizzed. It stimulates them mentally.

JA - hehehe, that was so embarrassing (to Harvard!).

Theta - tq for dropping by and for the kind words. I couldn't agree with you more about them being insular and clueless. and I-RAQ (sighhh).

MA - Kadang2 we feel frustrated kan? But I do agree that the teaching of history and geography should be revolutionised and made exciting to capture children's intrest.

Zendra - hehehe, during my time not only field trip takder, geography club pun yilek! skolah kampung, pared to the bone..

Tommy - my husband still cannot get over this 'world series' thing. he says it's one big joke (the name, not the event).

Capt - tq for your kind words. So-po blogs are driving me nuts as well..hehehe.. we have to come up for fresh air sometimes..

Mat B - oh gawd, you remember! i used to be glued to the TV those days for 'Ganda Wang Anda"...the series was a hoot..

Ray - wowee! ray peluk minah gayat
dah tentu ray pandai mengayat!
kata kama sambil makan korma
(korma nabi yuuuu! yumyum!)

Kama said...

Wow! you all ni creative betui! caya lahh!

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

My friends and I used to get blank stares when we describe to American classmates where Malaysia is on the world map. Buang masa je...coz their own country pun they don't know much.

Sad to say that my kids don't play any of these quizz games. Not interesting they say. The online ones are more challenging and interactive. So Mama nyer ni...sigh je lah.

Kama said...

Kay - the internet has successfully captured all their attention..unlike days of old when the only "interactive" thing I can think of is having a conversation with another person.:)

Anonymous said...

Masa I sekolah pondok kat bloomington dulu, selalu juga I hung around rumah my gurlfrn's foster parent house. So bila kami citer citer during summer break we drove to NY or LA or Chicago (chicago is about 3-4 hrs drive from there), the foster mom said .. I have not been out of bloomington at all. And she was like very old already .. about 40-ish that time.

Orang malaysia tau banyak pasai negeri luaq pasai kita ni memang suka menyibuk kot?? :)))

Beast - occasional visitor

P/s/ sorry to hear about your brother. May he be among the blessed.

Kama said...

Hehehe beast.. perhaps you are right, we like to menyebok :) tapi this kind of menyebok menambah ilmu, so takper.. menyebok jaga tepi kain orang tu yg tak bagus..betul tak? LOL