24 MAY 2004


School without tears

School and tears are synonymous. Kids today are generally quite united on that. The results of a survey on Chinese students published by a local daily recently show that the number of students in China who have developed a strong distaste for schoolwork is increasing alarmingly. A leading psychiatrist there describes the situation as 努orrying. She says: 典he symptom used to be common among primary and secondary school students. But now we池e seeing it in many college students too. What is shocking is that among those who are tired of school are students who池e making straight A grades. It is understandable if a child hates school because he is timid, has difficulties socialising and is frustrated with low scores. But it is almost unpardonable when high-flyers loathe school too. The report ends with the psychiatrist痴 statement that 妬ntense competition from society and high expectations from teachers and parents have deprived many children of the fun they need.

Just to get an idea of what kind of fun some children have in mind, it is reported earlier in the article that of 44 students interviewed, only five enjoyed reading and doing schoolwork. A dozen listed football, badminton, martial arts or physical education class in school as the most enjoyable. Another 10 students said they would rather sit in front of the computer or TV all day long. The findings are based on a survey done in China, but many parents here can relate to the situation.

Recently, I asked my Secondary One students to write a composition on the subject they liked most in school. 哲one, they chorused. 添ou池e kidding, I laughed. 哲o, we really don稚 like any subjects! Is school so boring? 添es, was the common reply I received each time I posed the question. That was too much of a coincidence, I thought. I had a suspicion that some of the students were not being truthful, as most young people tended to be rebellious.

Nevertheless, I got two of my Year Six students to express their idea of a 都chool without tears. This is what they came back with. Zechariah Lau, who has had five years of primary education at a national type Chinese school and is now studying at a private school, wrote: 典op secret: Why this school has no tears. My ideal school is like any other school, just slightly different. What is this difference? It is that it makes kids forever happy by ? brain washing. 的t works like this: A kid arrives. We make him sit on a chair. Then we put a brain washer on him and brainwash him. So simple. Fear not that the child will be a zombie forever. We will give him back his brains after school.

鉄o, don稚 worry that kids will lose their minds. This way kids won稚 know what happened in school. It seems like school lasts for five seconds only. They have no homework, too. So, do you know now why they will never be sad? Ha! Ha! Ha! I laughed at what Zech had written. So his idea of a perfect school is one where the kids have no remembrance of what they had studied. Coupled with no homework, they would be blissfully ignorant. 敵ood thinking, I wrote in the comments column.

Erik Lim, who studies at a Chinese school, wrote: 溺y ideal school has many qualities that other schools do not have. It is supposed to be a place where students study happily. It is like other schools, just different in one way. 典he teachers are robots. They don稚 have any emotions. They don t get a nervous breakdown and we don稚 have to seek their permission or consult them to do anything. If we don稚 like any teachers, we can re-programme their brains. Or we could just pull the plug on them. 典hen, the students will be able to do what they want every day. They can dress like anyone or in anyway they like, a prominent politician, a celery stick, and so on. We can also do the projects or study the subjects of our choice. As long as we hand in our work, the teachers shouldn稚 care.

鄭s for lessons, you can do what you want. Just ask the teacher and he or she will teach you that subject or anything you like to learn. Furthermore, the teacher won稚 cane a student even if he doesn稚 do his work. Besides, the headmaster shouldn稚 give detention class and all that stuff. 典his way, schools will be better and students won t complain because they will feel relaxed and free. This is my ideal school. Just wish that it will be built one day, hopefully.

This is indeed another piece of good writing. As long as we have students like Zech and Erik, who can see the lighter side of life and understand the issues at hand, we will be inspired to give our best to help create a better world for them to grow up in. Of late, we have been reading a lot in the newspapers that Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been working tirelessly with his appointed officials to improve the education system. Complementing the government痴 efforts are many organisations and individuals who also have the interest of the future leaders at heart.

By June Chan


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