Give us a break? Take our own!
Posted June 20, 2016on:
This is the last week of the mid-year break for most schools in Singapore. I do not think that it is my imagination that the breaks are broken.
A nearby library is like a second office for me. I find it harder to get a seat there with every passing break. The kids there are not reading for pleasure. They are doing school-assigned and tuition homework.
I do not have to be a child in school to feel it. While the number of days in the June break hardly varies every year, the number of disruptions to it seem to rise.
My son had two weeks of extra classes in school over the first two weeks. Each day of schooling during this break was as long as (8am to 2.30pm) or longer than (8am to 4pm) the typical school day.
You might forgive this intrusion and even admire his teachers if you consider that he is taking his PSLE this year. You would be less forgiving if you realise how much his school mismanages curriculum time. Let us not forget that teachers need a break too.
Addendum (21 Jun): I forgot to add that my son’s school also has a three-day leadership camp on the last three days of the school vacation.
The DSA processes are also in full swing during this period. This means briefings, entry tests, and interviews that took away even more time.
My wife and I did not put our son through DSA preparation that some enrichment centres offer. We did this not to save on money or to sabotage his chances. We keep believe in our son’s abilities and we hope that a few selection committee members are able to distinguish between the schooled and the educated.
My son already has his own e-portfolio. I started one for him when he was in utero and he has his own YouTube videos and pixel art galleries.
I do not think that things will get better even though the current rhetoric seems to de-emphasise academic grades. Not every school is brave enough to dump homework and re-educate parents on this matter.
Homework is an staple like rice on our table. Homework is given and it is a given. Homework can be done but not done away with. This is despite the research and critical practice that questions its value.
Like it or not, schools will resist change and turn a deaf ear to rhetoric. How slowly do schools change? Consider how lectures as a concept and practice have not changed for hundreds of years despite the evidence stacked against them.
Short of becoming an education minister who rules with an iron fist, there is little each of us can do. But the little is also what is the most empowering.
These are the little moments of time relating to our children and what they do.
It is a little movement to turn your head away from tuition ads or to throw those flyers into the nearest recycling bin.
It is an even tinier movement of the computer mouse to not click on tuition bait or kiasu parent stories in Facebook.
The little people in our lives matter and they have important things to say and do. All we need to do is set aside a little time.