Ending anxiety in schools begins with MOE
PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong's remarks regarding kancheong, or overly anxious, parents struck a chord with me ("PM: Happy Children's Day, and parents, don't be so kancheong"; last Friday).
I fully understand their well-meaning intentions, as I am also a parent of three children. But I am certain that most parents do not wish to be overly anxious.
I dislike the idea of tuition for my children and resisted it for the longest time, until it became clear that the teachers and staff could not adequately help my children achieve above-average grades in the crucial landmark exams.
It's not that the teachers were incompetent, but that they were overwhelmed by administrative duties and class sizes that ranged from 35 to 40 children.
Is it any wonder that parents resort to tutors who teach five or fewer students per class, or that tutors achieve better progress than school teachers?
There are excellent school teachers, but the system stacks the odds against them with large class sizes, co-curricular
activity duties, administrative work and the trying syllabuses of national examinations from the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to the O and A levels.
In this respect, it may be worthwhile to ask whether the system is burdened by a kancheong Ministry of Education.
And, after all the rigours of an unforgiving education system in Singapore, what do we produce?
Examination-smart kids who have little finesse in music, the arts, general knowledge or even the necessary skill of decent public speaking.
I teach a public speaking course at a local university to adult learners, many of whom cite their greatest fear to be that of public speaking.
The reason is that they have had so little practice in such a vital, fundamental requisite while they were schooling.
I hope that the ministry, in its quest to re-balance the system, will eliminate its own kancheong element.