Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Laura's homework Monday, 16 Jun 2008

This was what Laura had to do for homework today:

Mathematics Pages 118 - 124 (7 pages)
These pages involves problem solving using division.

Mandarin Page 3
To copy a paragraph/poem with some words in pinyin. Write out the word in pinyin and the Chinese character.

Pasti Skor KBSR (English) Pages 1 - 5 (5 pages)
Additional workbook to prep students for KBSR. As if they do not have enough workbooks already!

Mandarin (Writing) Pages 6 - 8 (3 pages)
To write out Chinese characters, count the number of strokes.

3M magazine for Std 2 Pages 1, 2, 4, 5, 8 & 9 (6 pages)
To do only (only?) Mandarin and Maths in Chinese sections. Some of the questions asked:

Mei Hua bought a school bag, gave the shopkeeper RM50. Shopkeeper gave her change RM3.70. How much was her school bag?

A packet of nasi lemak costs RM2.50, a packet of fried noodle RM3.50. If Hua Ming bought 3 packets of fried noodle and one packet of nasi lemak, how much change will he get back?

How much is RM49.10 - RM21.30?

WTF! Children are taught decimals in Std 2 already?? This is the Std 2 standard?! And why are there additional magazine type workbooks?!

Bahasa Melayu (Tatabahasa) Exercise book
List of 13 items. Give the "penjodoh bilangan"

Music Exercise book
Write out lyrics of a song taught in school and draw a picture to the song.

Laura started homework about 8.30pm (after she had showered and had her dinner). At almost midnight, I stopped her as she was too tired and simply could not think anymore. She had completed almost all her homework except for Music and some of the Writing. Is this not child abuse??

What I am planning to do this week is to list out all of Laura's homework daily. So far, I have made a photocopy of her homework today. I shall be writing her a letter with a copy of the homework to be done. I am not planning on wasting paper to photocopy every day but the principal will need to answer to me. If she doesn't give me a favourable answer, I may be forced to complain to the Ministry of Education that children are being abused in school - mentally and physically. Children are being robbed of their childhood!

Today is Adam's 5th birthday. I would have liked to have some fun time with Adam and Laura. Maybe we play some board games or just have a good cuddle together, so Adam will have good memories of his birthday with his family. We couldn't do that as Laura had tons of homework to complete or she'll be punished by her teacher in school!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

tell me, how do other kids in her class manage?
Unless your daughter is at the bottom of the class, (my impression is that she isn't) how much time does the teacher spend on punishing students? What sort of punishment is meted out? How does this culture/environment impact the psychological aspects of learning? Or help motivate (never mind nurture love of) good academic performance?

7:35 am  
Blogger Min said...

How the other kids manage? Some parents admit to "helping" their kids with homework. From the time Laura started school, she's been above average. She received prize in kindie and from Std 1, moved on to advance class in Std 2. Perhaps being in an advance class she is under more pressure. If it was homework load and teachers are willing to teach the children, I would resign myself to her learning to be disciplined and also learn time management. However, when teachers always make their students feel they are not doing quite enough or not smart enough or hard working enough when they've been putting their heart and soul into their work, then it's not fair.

Examples of punishment, smacking students with a rotan for forgetting to do homework or not completing homework. Someone makes noise in class, the entire class gets punished and they all forego PE for 2 weeks or whatever time period the teacher chooses. There seems to be punishment all the time and almost never positive reinforcement.

12:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what role the PTA plays in this aspect of school admin decisions and policies. I am inclined to believe they have significant potential influence.

If they are in support of such culture and policies there's little hope for change. Much depends on the mindsets of the school's board of directors

School board members are a powerful stakeholder group. I believe their stand can drive the school focus to be either development or achievement oriented. The latter which treats students as mere products of their teaching/classroom policies can be at the expense of the student-human development.

As in all things, money (in this case, school funding) talks. Your best bet might be to approach this through an influential board member, if you know of one.

-kpc stranger-

3:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Min, issit possible for you to look up some private school that emphasized a 'home schooling' method? The way they educate the children there more nurturing and it also emphasizes on critical thinking instead of dumping these children with loads of homework to do and result to not much things but stress. If I'm not mistaken, the school is based in PJ or sth...I saw it on TV a couple of years ago, and it's approved by the education ministry, the only difference is that there are a few teachers in the classroom to assist the teachings. They're implementing the college/uni like kind of education, and seems that the students there excelled as well as children who studied in regular school. This is just a suggestion, maybe you can look it up. I'm so sorry i cant provide much more information. i cant seem to remember. it's been years.

11:55 pm  
Blogger Min said...

From attending PTA meetings and talking to teachers, I am of the opinion that the principal and teachers are on the same wavelength. They are in pursuit of As, so be it if the children suffer.

Cleffairy, I don't know enough about homeschooling to consider that. At the moment, I have narrowed down to two options which I am happy with.

1:40 pm  
Blogger Suzie said...

Hi,I thinking asking a few relevant questions and participation in the school's PIBG will give you a solution. The questions are :-

Q1. Who decides on the extra workbooks that you as a parent has to buy for Laura?

My answer : It is not the PIBG, not a board of teachers at the school nor is it the government nor any Chinese Teachers Association. The govt chooses the complulsory books that are given free now. Most Chinese schools have additional books that are to supplement those compulsory govt books.

It is these extra books that give the kids the crazy amount of pressure,way in advance of their age. Its ok if the kids are challenged but its obvious to most people (like the tecahers) that kids like laura as really given more than they can handle.Plus, its worth checking how many extra books do the "elite/better" classes have when compared to the other regular weaker classes. You may be surprise to see that it may just be a matter of 1 extra book per subject. So the problem Laura is facing is not confined to the "better/classes".

Also if you check Popular, you will find that you can't buy most/any of all the Extra books recommended.That appears to be some kind of monopoly.

Q2) Why would this person at the school order so many books and force the teachers to teach too much to such young kids?Particularly when MOST teachers are extremely stressed out and say that its beyond the kids to absorb so much.

Possible answer : At some less pressuring chinese schools,parents pay about $30 for the extra books/half year. I am sure you are paying alot more. Assuming every child has to pay $100 per term (=$200 per year)and assuming that the school has 1500 kids, that's $300,000. A 10% cut of that = $30,000 per year.

It is widely known in the local Chinese teachers community that this kind of kickbacks happen quite frequently.A school putting excessive pressure on kids may not be merely a challenging schools w high standards but one where someone powerful is making good side income.

Q3) How are you going to find out who is the person/persons making the very important decision of ordering so many books for the whole school every year?

Answer : You may be surprised to find out that you may not get the answer from most/if any teachers.Headmasters/headmistresses and their assistants wield an enormous amount of influence over the teachers' lives.The HM in many schools awards points or grades based 'supposedly' on the teacher's teaching performance. This info may be in that teachers' file thru out her career influencing his/her ability to get govt approval/aid/promotion. So naturally most of the experienced teachers will say that the excess pressure is coz "chinese schools are like that". I can assure you not all chinese schools are 'like that'!

(i)I guess one way is to ask the HM straight out "who decides on the curriculum (beyond what the govt makes complusory)?

(ii) Of course ask as many teachers/tuition teachers as you can. No harm trying

(iv)The other thing that may give you greater insight into the school is to enquire about duration of service and past record of the HM and assistants. Are they all new/ previously all working at a different school?Just try asking the reception/admin staff. They normally know stuff like that. This will give you a clearer picture of how political a school can be.

(iv) Highlight this at the PIBG so that the decision of deciding on a school's curriculum does not rest on 1-2 people but rather, all teachers for each subject must have the ability to vote annonymously.Parents with influence must intervene. It can make a diffence.

I really hope all this helps .I can't stand it the very people who are suppose to be examples to kids are abusing their authority like this.

8:30 pm  
Blogger Min said...

Suzie, thank you very much for your detailed comment. Good idea! PT and I have spoken to Laura's headmistress to get a bigger picture about schooling in her current school. Will blog about it tomorrow...

1:28 am  
Blogger Suzie said...

gDear Min,

I am glad that you manage to read my comments.So late some more!

Your kids are very lucky,not all parents appreciate that kids should have a kids life when they are young and that academic excellence is only one part of childhood.Of course, discipline and the ability to manage one's time are the advantages of going to a chinese school but not SO many workbooks !!

Also, it does not help that each teacher has so many kids to teach per subject in 30 minutes.It could be that the previous HMs or Assistant HMs may have instilled the smacking culture into the teachers. Of course that is the easiest way to get the kids under control. However if the current HM or assistants are not clear about when the kids can be punished, this leads to abuse.In some better chinese schools, there is a disciplinarian teacher who is allowed to punish the kids after receiving a justified complaint from the teacher.Anyway there are many other ways to punish small kids, not merely hitting very hard.That instills only fear.

There MUST be accountability. Then the "sick/abusive" teachers will think twice about hitting small kids. There is a chinese school in Pudu (I can't recall the name) but they have a disciplinarian teacher and clear guidelines, thus minimizing unnecessary hitting.

I am sure you often wonder why other parents don't really complain ? Well,one thing - not many parents really know how much their kids have to endure. Many just leave it to the tuition teachers. Poor kids! The other is that there are many concerned parents who have asked "why" but did not persist with the RIGHT questions.

Good luck dear and let me know how it goes. At the end of the day its just plain unfair to all the kids so if something comes out of our conversations and your concern, many teachers, parents and kids will be much happier.

2:11 pm  

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