Friday, March 29, 2013

No PMR...

I think we really need to rethink this no PMR thing for our 15 year olds. The whole idea sounded appealing when it was first mooted... no exams so that students will not be too exam oriented. Well, going into the second year of its implementation, I have my reservations and wonder too whether it's really the best thing for our kids.

First there is the problem of credibility. How credible actually are the school based assessments? On paper they look very nice, with students placed in bands according to their abilities. But in reality, the assessments aren't all that accurate. Classroom size is still too big and teachers are still too burdened with many unnecessary duties which simply take their attention away from their core duties. Co-curricular activities and other extra duties draw their attention away. A subject teacher should just teach and do just that. And excessive and long meetings too drain their energy.

The present ranking of the schools too have caused a rat race of sorts. Points are awarded for co-curricular excellence and it's only normal that school heads want to see their schools climb up the ranking. I've seen how students missed classes for weeks because they needed to practise for upcoming competitions. I've heard how administrators shush the complaints of teachers who bring out such matters. I've observed the degradation of the teaching environment through 'noise pollution' from school bands affect the learning of the school population... And after weeks of missing classes, the kids lose their focus in their academics. These days, I think parents have to be really watchful of their kids who join co-curricular activities which demand lots of their kids time. It's easy for them to get lost in their own raging hormones as well as the fun moments.

Co-curricular activities are good. But it's so easy to get lost in action these days. Teachers are less bothered to watch out for the kids. Everyone feels that the tuitions that the kids are taking will see to it that they are okay academically. The thing is, I think tuitions have become their Waterloo of sorts sometimes. The knowledge that they have tuition has also caused the kids to become complacent. Many students don't pay attention in class these days. One of the things I noticed when I went to my new school is how much they talked and talked and keeping them quiet took a lot of effort. When I look around, I noticed that it's the norm. The students are generally poor listeners and they are bored too.

The good classes are bored because many of their teachers feel that they aren't making much difference or getting their attention. The average classes get buried in their over confidence that the tuitions they are taking will see them through. In the end, the education system becomes stuck in a quagmire of our own doing.

Many teachers resort to giving the assessments to their students to be taken home to complete. Some kids take home stacks to be done. And then they are those who just give answers straight on the board for the students to copy. I am sure if one were to really dig around, one would many other methods of getting the assessments done. I am not sure whether such practices are in the minority. Given that teachers are tied to a syllabus it's also hard for them to find the time to carry out the assessments too.

Anyway, what I feel is many are going to find out that kids will be learning much less. It should be the other way round because the the freedom from the stress of examination is supposed to make learning so much more relaxed. Ah... just one more way how our first class education system works!

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