Mrs Ghazali (Former GIS Teacher)

Mrs Carole Ghazali is one of GIS’ most well-known and best loved teachers. Mrs Ghazali worked with GIS for twenty three years, beginning in 1970! We were lucky enough to have Mrs Ghazali share some of her experiences of GIS in the ‘early days’ as well as some of her wisdom and advice.

Mrs Ghazali, when did you work at GIS, and what did you teach?
I started teaching in GIS in July 1970. I was attached to the junior department of the
Primary school, and my first class was ‘Junior 2’ (8-9 year olds). I spent a total of 23 years in GIS (13 as a class teacher and 10 years as head of the Primary department).

How was the GIS campus different in the 1970s?
During my time there, the primary school grew so quickly that we moved buildings three times: from a bungalow in Bukit Bintang to another, somewhat larger, bungalow in Jalan Tun Razak (known then as Jalan Pekeliling) and finally into a purpose-built school in Cheras, where Primary and Secondary were both on the same premises for the first time.

The GIS Primary school was based in a converted bungalow, so the only playground was the garden of the building. The classrooms were the rooms of the house, so they varied considerably in size. We had no canteen and no hall, so assemblies and PE were held in the garden – weather permitting, of course! Our ‘library’ was a cupboard at the top of the stairs, since we didn’t have a spare room or enough books to fill one.

What was the teaching and learning like at that time?
Teaching then was very different from now in many respects. Firstly, school hours were from 8.30am to 12.40pm – so students went home for lunch. Despite the short hours, I feel that students learned just as much in those early days in a relatively stress-free environment, and we certainly we had a lot of fun!

Lessons could be any length of time, because apart from recess and PE, there were no set timetables. Our textbooks for Science and Geography were the same as those used by the English-medium Malaysian schools (yes, there were such schools then!) but as teachers, we were free to add any extra topics we wished. We had no textbooks for History, so we had the freedom to teach whatever we thought would be interesting and appropriate for our students.

Are you still in touch with any former GIS teachers?
Yes! I am still in touch with several on Facebook and have met up with several more, including Cathy Dalton, Sylvia Leggett, Deanna Lopez, Theresa Bangah, Julie Anderson and Loretta Magness. I remember fondly so very many more from over the years, but they are far too numerous to mention here.

What about your former students?
Since I left, I have been contacted by quite a few students, including one who has been writing consistently for more than 40 years and who has visited me several times, most lately from India! I have also recently made contact with one of my ex-students from Japan, and also a number of my two daughters’ friends from the same period. A few weeks ago, I was approached by someone in Plaza Mont Kiara who I had taught many, many years ago – I knew immediately who he was when he showed me an old GIS class photo!

I love meeting up with old students, as these encounters bring back so many happy memories. I would be delighted to hear from any of my old students who would like to contact me. You can find me on Facebook or Messenger, both Apps that I have recently learned to use!

Do you have any advice to share with our GIS community?
My first piece of advice is to work hard, play hard and enjoy yourself! You might never be perfect, but you can always strive to be the very best you can be.

In addition, choose a career that genuinely interests you; it will become a huge part of your life, so it’s important to choose a field that you think will satisfy you and bring you happiness. Money should never be the sole consideration – personal satisfaction is far more important.

You all use computers, smartphones and other technology, and I’m sure that you cannot imagine life without them. Maybe it would surprise you to know that I had to learn to use them after the age of 50, and if I hadn’t been willing to learn then I would not be typing this now!

Travel also broadens the mind, so if you get the opportunity to do so accept it enthusiastically! I have now been to 67 countries and shall be visiting two more before the end of the year.

At the ripe old age of 75, I’m still learning. New opportunities and experiences always present themselves and I enjoy embracing them. You need to keep an open mind, and realise that however hard you try you cannot possibly ever know everything!