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Friday January 28, 2011

Bring back joy of schooling

STUDIES show that more and more school-going children are emotionally disturbed, as reported by the Health Ministry.

School is no more a fun place. In the old days, we always looked forward to going to school. But students today shudder to think about their school.

The school schedule is one cause of stress. Children spend time doing challenging school work, project work, participating in district events like choral reading, debates, etc.

At home, they have to complete loads of homework. Besides, they have tuition classes to attend; some attend tuition for every subject.

The poor child is deprived of his best moments in life – childhood. Even holidays are not spared. Children have extra classes to attend in school. And again more work needs to be done.

Even the physical environment creates stress for children. In most schools, the walls display slogans like “5As our goal” and “We will achieve 5As”.

They make the young minds ponder: Can I obtain 5As or will I fail to get 5As? What happens if I can’t get the As, will my parents be upset? What will my friends think of me?

Not only are the students stressed but the teachers and parents too. In my recent interaction with some teachers, they say the Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah has created more paperwork, leaving less time for teaching and learning.

Parents caught in the rat race are also in stress mode. Besides having to find a good school for their kids, they also search out renowned tuition centres to send their children to.

Are As in the examinations the only criterion or goal of education? Surely not. Education should be wholesome, not just targeting academic excellence.

What about moral, spiritual, social and physical excellence? Children need to excel in all these domains. Excellence is a word that is always misunderstood by parents, and perhaps teachers also.

I believe every child can achieve excellence. For example, a C grader moving up the ladder to obtain a B or even a C+ is also excellence. But how many of our parents and teachers consider this as excellent?

The Smart School conception talks about this kind of excellence – a child should progress according to his capability and capacity. But, we only acknowledge excellence when the child obtains all As in his examination.

Stress in school is not a new phenomenon, but a story repeated time and again. What action has been taken to reduce stress among the three crucial players in school: students, teachers and parents?

We need solutions to these issues and bring back the joy of schooling.

Dr S. NATHESAN,

Muar.

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