SCHOOL HOLIDAYS? WHAT HOLIDAY?

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SCHOOL HOLIDAYS? WHAT HOLIDAY?

Postby tianzhu » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:56 am

SCHOOL HOLIDAYS? WHAT HOLIDAY?

Two school of thoughts on extra classes during holidays. One group of parents are against them, while another see them as beneficial.
Perhaps, we should stop and let our minds wonder a bit.

1) Are the opposing ones from the higher income and better educated group who are more articulate and vocal in expressing their views? They may have the means to send their kids for tuition and enrichment courses, therefore to them, extra classes during the holidays are deemed unnecessary. Or, maybe, the additional schedules interrupt their travel plan?

2) How about the silent ones, those who are less educated who may not be able to express their views well? Those parents from the lower income group who cannot afford the luxury of tuition may see holiday classes as additional mean to improve their children’s schoolwork. At the very least, it keeps those poor kids gainfully occupied.

3) How about those teachers who are working hard at making a difference in the students’ life and the efforts of the schools in planning for the enrichment programmes? Do we need to show our appreciation?

Balance – Maybe extra classes should not be compulsory. Parents should be given the option to decide for their kids. What’s your view?


http://tnp.sg/speakup/story/0,4136,166026,00.html
May 29, 2008

I AM writing about extra lessons for children during school holidays.
As a parent with a child who has undergone a major operation, I no longer pin high hopes on his academic results.
His interests have always been music, dance and sports. But I do want him to do his best without over-stressing himself.
I understand that it might affect his future, but I consider health and happiness more important.
I feel parents should sit down and have a talk with their children, find out what they want. If the kids have high expectations of themselves, then parents could help by pushing them a little.
For children who might seem not as diligent (though they might have hidden talent, like my son who has been able to drum very well from the age of 3), parents should not give too much revision and homework.
This year, the results of my two kids, who are in P3 and P2, are near 70 per cent. Not very high, but to me, not bad as they don't have extra tuition and I don't have tons of assessment books for them.
But I was upset when the school insisted that my child go back to school for tuition, which could very well be conducted after school re-opens.
My child was also requested to read at least 20 books during the holidays. For children without educated care-givers, who will guide them in the reading? Or do the kids have to stay up late, wait for parents who are working to come home and sit down and read with them?
I feel the schools are the ones who are stressing my kids. Looking at the homework my children bring home every day, I can only shake my head. The teachers' expectations are higher than mine!
Extra lessons during school holidays are not necessary. This period is meant to be a break for the children. It is a time for them to relax after the months of hard work, a time to bond with the family.


http://www.straitstimes.com/ST%2BForum/ ... 41722.html
May 28, 2008

June vacation classes are good for students
I REFER to yesterday's letter by Mr David Soh Poh Huat ('School hols should not mean more classes'') and the report on Monday ('School holiday? What holiday?').
I am puzzled as to why parents object to their children attending special classes during the June vacation.
It is pertinent to point out to parents that schools go all out to conduct such classes for the benefit of the students.
While the June vacation falls smack between the academic terms, it is by no means intended to allow our students to have complete relaxation by doing nothing or going on jaunts.
Those students attending graduating classes must keep up their momentum to prepare for their year-end final examinations.
The extra classes may help them perform beyond their perceived limitations.
This is especially so for mathematics and languages where a long break may hamper students' performance.
Once students are out of touch with these subjects over a long period, they will encounter serious difficulties in catching up in class.
The Singapore education system is unlike those in other countries where students are forced to attend 'cram schools'' so that they can earn places in prestigious universities.
Parents should thank school principals and teachers for conducting vacation classes and remedial sessions with the sole purpose of ensuring that students will do well in their examinations.
Pampering our children during the June vacation seems like an attractive proposition, but let us ask ourselves about the long-term ramifications of such a soft option.
No teacher or principal would go out of his or her way to hold mid-break classes if it were not for the benefit of the students.
Good teachers and school principals always conduct themselves in a manner befitting the ethos of their profession.
Whilst The Straits Times report and the letter by Mr Soh focused on schools conducting classes during the June vacation, we ought to be aware that schools also conduct enrichment programmes and related leadership workshops for the benefit of the students.
I am sure that schools will allow parents the discretion to opt out of these programmes and the special classes if parents seriously object.
But such parents must also undertake to accept responsibility if their children fare poorly in their examinations.
Kudos to our motivated professionals for their selfless dedication in the education of our children in schools and junior colleges.

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Postby ChiefKiasu » Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:12 pm

Interesting post. You are definitely right about the 2 schools of thought regarding extra classes during school holidays, but I'm not sure if I agree with some of the assertions.

"Better educated people who are crying foul with respect to these extra classes." If I read between the lines, what you are saying is that this group of people are selfish and do not want the extra classes because they only help to equalize the standard of every student in the class. So better not to have the extra classes so they can use that time to send their own children to private enrichment courses while the poorer students stay home and do nothing.

While I'm sure there are some parents who think that way, I don't believe there is any real correlation between wealth and parents' real concern regarding the possibility that their children may get burned out. It is over-generalizing the problem. It is easy enough for the less educated parents to pay for tuition (which is not really that expensive these days) to help their children.

The root cause of the situation is really the high standards that primary schools have put upon themselves, which means they will have to push their students to meet their expectations. So teachers were expected to put in extra effort to push their students, conducting extra classes during holidays, while parents are told to get into the act as well by providing tuition and other external help. This is REALLY happening in many of the top primary schools. So concerned parents respond by pushing their kids just so they can pass their exams, which of course put kids who do not have such involved parents at a greater disadvantage.

The call by parents for schools to stop the practice of loading non-graduating students with extra classes is a geniune call for schools and other parents to come to their senses when it comes to education, and break the vicious cycle of the search for academic excellence gone out of control. It is the same call for MoE to scrap programmes such as the GEP which serves no real purpose other than to create an elitist environment and make parents who do not know better think that their children must get into GEP in order to do well in life. If getting into GEP becomes an end by itself such that parents do all they can to "prepare" their children to get into GEP, the entire GEP concept should be considered a failure and detrimental to our society. But I digress.

Remember how we once looked forward to our school holidays? All that free time to do... absolutely nothing. Kids need to unwind too. Making these classes optional will not help, because parents will definitely not want their children to lose out by not attending these lessons which are conducted by their school teachers.

Extra lessons during school holidays simply means cutting short the holidays. Why not simply do that officially and extend the school term, if that is the intent?

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Postby jedamum » Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:09 pm

ChiefKiasu wrote:
This is REALLY happening in many of the top primary schools. So concerned parents respond by pushing their kids just so they can pass their exams, which of course put kids who do not have such involved parents at a greater disadvantage.


Bottomline is that if parents want to go through all the hassle of securing a place for their kids in the top primary schools (through PV, moving their homes), why all the complaints about the tough standards in school? :roll:

There are a few types of extra classes during the holidays:-

(1) Tuition - for the weak to catch up with the peers
If your kid's result is poor, be thankful that the teachers are willing to conduct tuition.

(2) Makeup Classes - for the teacher to catch up with the teaching
If you think that your kids can self-study at home, there is no harm missing the classes, right? Unless you worry about being blacklisted.

(3) Enrichment - extras extras!!
Have extra, still want to complaint?

In a nutshell, my personal views are that those who complain are really the kiasu parents....instead of opting out of these extra classes, they hope that by complaining, the whole 'extra classes' syndrome will be removed for their 'convenience sake'.

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Postby tianzhu » Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:40 pm

Hi ChiefKiasu

You’ve missed my point. I’m more concerned about the more vocal ones crowding out the silent majority.

There is absolutely nothing stopping one from calling up the schools to tell them that extra classes are not needed for one’s child. Why deprive others when you think you don’t need them. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

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Postby ChiefKiasu » Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:52 pm

tianzhu wrote:Hi ChiefKiasu

You’ve missed my point. I’m more concerned about the more vocal ones crowding out the silent majority.

There is absolutely nothing stopping one from calling up the schools to tell them that extra classes are not needed for one’s child. Why deprive others when you think you don’t need them. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.


But on what basis do you think that the vocal ones represent the minority? And what is to stop the parents who are for the classes from speaking up in support of the classes? We have seen those too, as evident from your first post on this topic.

I'm all for extra classes in June for P6 and Sec 4 students who are facing critical examinations within the next 4 months. But when this is extended to lower primary schools, I just think that goes beyond reason. Can't we just let our kids not think of school for just a few more weeks?

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Postby jedamum » Sat Jun 07, 2008 12:04 am

tianzhu wrote:There is absolutely nothing stopping one from calling up the schools to tell them that extra classes are not needed for one’s child. Why deprive others when you think you don’t need them. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Exactly! There is nothing to stop them from not letting their kids attend such extra classes too, if they deem it unnecessary.

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Postby tianzhu » Sat Jun 07, 2008 6:57 am

Hi ChiefKiasu

If you scanned through the news media, there are probably more people against extra classes during holidays. But this is not the main point of contention.
The key point is parents are responsible of the well being of their kids. They can decide to take their kids out of the classes if they deem them unnecessary.

Can't we just let our kids not think of school for just a few more weeks? Of course you can. Just call the schools to tell them you’ve decided that it is not necessary for your kids.
Why deprive weaker students who are willing to go the extra mile the benefit of additional remedial classes?

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Postby ChiefKiasu » Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:01 am

Well... in this forum already there are more vocal people for the extra classes than against :lol:

The fact is, the classes are not targeted just at the weaker students, but offered to ALL students. Of course there is the choice for parents not to take up the courses, but because these are recommended by schools and conducted on school grounds, no self-respecting kiasu parent will say no to these classes even if their kids don't really need them. So the classes are filled with both good and not so good students and can last more than 3 hours. How different is that from just extending the school term into the holidays?

And there is the other question of why the standards appear to be set higher and higher each year, such that students seem to be unable to cope without additional tuition throughout the entire year. On one hand I have heard MOE education consultants tell parents repeatedly that the school will fully equip their students with everything they need to pass their exams; and on the other I hear of school teachers telling parents to get extra help for their children. And looking at the syllabus and exam papers myself, it is clear to me that children today definitely need to study A LOT more compared to what we as parents had to go through ourselves. So external help is definitely needed, as well as close parental support and involvement. This already places children with parents of lower education levels, or who have no time to help them with their school work, at a great disadvantage. And if the MOE or the school's solution is to simply tell these poorer students to buck up by going for extra tuition during the holidays, that is more of a reactive attempt at patching up the symptoms than to solve the root cause of the issue.

I would love for the MOE to explain how they think the new primary school pedagogical methods are necessary to produce the kind of thinking individuals that are necessary to continue to help Singapore survive and compete in the so-called highly complex society of the future. It has been proven time and again that survival of a species is based on its ability to adapt to changing environments - are we saying that is the reason why the Primary school syllabus needs to be changed continuously? If so, on what basis are these changes made? More importantly, does taking away time from young children to explore their own creative talents (ie. do the things they like doing) to invest in grooming academic excellence necessarily make our children more adaptable to changing environments in the future?

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Postby tianzhu » Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:51 am

Another letter from ST Forum on the need to choose enrichment courses wisely.

http://www.straitstimes.com/ST%2BForum/ ... 46895.html
June 12, 2008

Enrichment classes: Do what suits your family
I REFER to Sunday's letter, 'Kids can be 'enriched' at home too' and the article the mother referred to, 'Oh boy, no break for tots, too?'.
I have three sons, aged eight, seven and 22 months. I do not know whether my eight-year-old and seven-year-old can read books meant for secondary school students or teenagers, but they certainly write only as well as eight- and sevenyear-olds can. That is as much as I would expect. They can learn to write as well as a teenager when they become one.
Do I think the other mothers are wrong? Of course not. We have one thing in common - we do what we think is best for our children. Every child and every family is different, so our solution must be different. What is most detrimental, on the other hand, is just to do what everyone else does. But if what everyone else does happens to suit your child and your family, by all means do it.
For example, my children are attending two full weeks of 9am to 5pm holiday camps this month. Why do I send them? Well, my mother cannot cope with three active boys for the full four weeks of the holidays.
The children came back with stories of their field trips, but questions on what they learnt in class were answered with 'yes', 'no' and 'I can't remember.' Did they learn? I am sure they did, from the classroom lessons as well as the field trips, but as far as they were concerned, all that matters was to have a great time.
Enrichment lessons have a role to play. Parents just need to use them wisely.

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