Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too much?

What does too much do to us? Diabetes, heart problems, hypertension... these are all outcomes of too much. Too much good stuff apparently kills. Too little also stunts and eventually kills too. We see plenty of that in Africa.

So, too much or little of everything seems to be a problem. The answer is obvious... striking a balance. But the way to this obvious solution doesn't seem to feel so obvious. It's been 5 weeks of unrelenting pursuit of my lil one's lessons. As much as I try to minimize tilting the balance, it was just not possible with so much to catch up and a limited time frame. I've to give credit to my girl for her compliance. If it had been my boy, he would have balked and there would have been many sessions of wall hitting.... or 'long piak'.

Up to 12 homework a day, that's what my primary going girl comes home with some days. And there are only 5 examinable subjects and other 'unimportant' subjects like Physical Education, Pendidikan Sivik and Kemahiran Hidup. So, it's quite amazing to me how she gets more than 5 homework each day. Perhaps it is this 'too much' that causes them to later ignore their homework at secondary school.

When a kid is in Primary school, it is easy to make them toe the line. That line becomes very crooked in secondary school. Just compare the school bags of a primary kid and his secondary big bro. The kiddo's bag will probably be 2-3 times heavier than his big bro's. And in the worse case scenario, the big bro's bag might even be empty except for some writing materials. Many just leave their books in their drawers at school or don't bother at all. I've had students who can turn their Science book into an English one and then , all in the matter in one day if need arises. Too many....

And as if school is not enough, there are always the extra classes. School starts at 7.40 a.m. And it's supposed to end at 1.10 p.m... Primary that is. These days, kids as young as Primary 3 have to attend mandatory extra classes carried out by the school. Some drag up till 3.30 p.m. By the time a kid gets home, he is extremely bushed. And if he's slow, there is this constant need to play catch up. Add that to us, parents' punya kiasu-ness, there is the after school extra lessons... or tuitions. These usually take place at night. I look back into my own childhood. I cannot ever remember being this busy! Yet again too many....

I've been sitting with my girl lately. I discovered that her teachers make efforts to give as much work to them as possible. I think her teachers are very hardworking. But then I realized this... for my girl to do well, she has to be really good at memorizing and regurgitating the answers. She grapples with language issues because Mandarin is not her first language. It impedes her comprehension. The system has no place for kids with such disadvantage. One just has to catch up. And this is where more boys languish since a great deal of them are faced with language issues. Most boys just don't have their language side of the brain fully operational at that age. My boy went to Chinese school too, took the Chinese paper for his SPM and now his little sis reads better than him. Yet again, too much...

Language... boy or boy! BM is tough. Chinese is just as tough. The only language that is not hard is English... at school that is. Yet, many of students have poor grasp of the language. Many find it tough at school. Easy syllabus but poor mastery. When you compare English to the other 2 languages, you can see how inadequate it is. I don't know whether it's because of our racial politics but I feel that there is this effort to memartabatkan each language from diehards from both sides. I am struck by how little real information passages in both languages contain. Yet for BM and Mandarin, the difficulty level is high. And mastery remains so-so. Too much? Too little? Too many languages to learn. Jack of all trades, master of none.

Too much or too little... It's about striking a balance. Give too much here, expect too much there, something has to give somewhere. There used to be a balance somewhere.

As my lil one, she has way too little time to day dream. Everyday, she is just as tired as us. A kid's life... it's not much different from ours. I thought 21st century living, with all that technology has to offer us... rupa-rupanya, it turns everyone of us into a consumer, waiting to consume the next new thing to replace the not so old new thing. And we slog for that material replacement.... UNESCO has an interesting study about materialism, the London riots...

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