Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reconsidering homework...

I think it should be banned.... at least all those senseless copying and drilling types. I just counted 9 homework today; plus extra class which ended at 3.30 p.m. My gal came back and immediately got down to work... fell asleep half-way and I had to shake her up.

Extra classes, homework, tuitions.... from Std 4 they toil.... for the three days of UPSR, which doesn't mean much except to 'stream' them into selected secondary schools. So they 'study' and 'study'. For these kids whose parents make sure they complete their work, it's also homework for us too. Even as I type this, I sit beside my girl and keep her company as she copies away one of the passages from the textbooks.... senseless!

No time to read, no time to idle, no time for anything. And we pride ourselves in our ability to make teachers stay back to give extra classes... to show that we are prihatin (caring) about the child's education. They stay back for more rote, drilling, copying... even before they begin their extra classes, everyone is tired. So everyone just wants to get it done and over with. Blur of rushes.... meaningless educational pursuits. Those A(s) will not teach them how to think.... (some smart alec will probably pipe in and say that without the A(s) too you cannot gain entrance to a good uni)

Play??? Daydreaming? Read?? We also have nice sounding programmes at school like NILAM... supposedly to encourage reading! Hello!!! Anyone there with brains? Where do they find time to read? Over the years, I've watched some of my students copy the synopsis from the back to the book they were supposed to be reading.... LOL! They wizened up!!! Most kids would have spent so much time with books that they'd prefer to have a different companion at the very first free time they have. The TV makes a more interesting companion. The computer... no need to say will win hands down, not for reading but for the games. Now if homework were to include book reviews... maybe that might be good. Then again, given the blur of rushes for everything else... how to find time to read.

Results oriented we are. So we drill and keep on drilling.... till their heads have so many lubang, which leaks out what would have been stuff that makes up the EQ or creativity. Those have to be leaked so that more space can be made for all the facts they must remember.

I had a most interesting conversation with a friend's daughter (she's in F5 this year) who just came back from a 2-month student exchange programme to Italy. One of the things she told me she was impressed with was this; the kids in Italy speak their mind. They are not afraid to voice their opinions. And kids her age are taking Psychology, Liberal Arts, Social Studies... subjects of practical use. Unlike ours which is a very subdued, timid and 'voiceless' environment, ever afraid to speak out... cos all of us are rushing to do as much work as possible, no time to develop the mind really.... what more character. Maybe longsuffering counts as one....

Her foster family brought her to Florence. She saw the Statue of David and said it was awesome. She came back and for the first time actually made practical and real connections with her History lessons on European history; the transition into the golden age from the Dark Ages... And a light went on when I told her that life is like the European History too... in order to have our own renaissance.. we to must reform from within. Only then can we achieve greatness.

She told me that her History teacher at school just told them to read this and that, memorize this and that.... the rest is history. History is a subject with great opportunity to change a society for the better. But pity that ours is a double jeopardy cos apart from History being written with a bias bent, we also have teachers who are unable to spark the interest in the kids to see the connection it has to offer the kids to life itself. Teachers are also harried for the many, many papers to push.

Life in a Chinese school for a kid is full of homework, though I think the national schools are also trying to do the same.... Types of schools.... there isn't much option for us actually. Private schools, there's none really worth looking into where we are. National schools, they'd be many times when she'd be left out cos everything is so religion based, plus the brainwashing also.... it's a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. Either one also....'si'

But homework... I think it should be banned. Save for assignments of the practical kinds like looking for materials for write-ups, I think all work should be done during school hours...

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Time flies... that's when days are filled with things to do. 24 hours feel rather short now but some day, I guess 24 hours in a day will...