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Digging through kids' school bags, looking up all the assignments, sitting beside them going through each item, and finally having all the homework checked with a name signed is a daily routine for most Chinese parents, as required by teachers. An arduous task especially after a long day's work at office, isn't it? Luckily, some parents in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, have been liberated. A local primary school recently announced that parents will no longer have to sign their names on their kids' homework, as students should be responsible for their own assignments. |
To be honest, kids, instead of parents, are the prime beneficiary of this policy. Is it really love and responsibility that parents check and make sure all answers are correct before returning the assignments to school? Obviously not.
Making mistakes is an indispensable part of the process of understanding. Who cares how much you have scored in your homework after you have settled down in life and found your bearings? The ability to realize one's mistakes and learn from it is what matters, which is also the main purpose of education. Why not give students a chance to find out and correct their mistakes themselves?
Worse still, parents' daily supervision is sending a subtle message to children that it's better to be right than independent. The loss will outweigh the gain if kids are unconsciously "educated" to be reliant on others for their so-called good performances.
With undue importance attached to high scores, students have gradually learned to turn to others to get the answers right without independent thinking. What's the point of high scores in this case? Only a few can remember a specific piece of mathematical concept after growing up. The process of independent learning is much more important than the knowledge itself in kids' development.
Admittedly, there are a large number of parents who are willing to play the role as the teacher - not only going through every item of the assignment, but also trying to inspire kids to think independently. Despite such good wishes, most parents are not teachers. Knowing a subject doesn't necessarily mean being able to pass on that knowledge to others, and efforts to inspire kids to think independently may instead dampen their enthusiasm for studying. Good wishes may not bring about good results.
This is not without reason. A New York Times study on American families over three decades from the 1980s to the 2000s suggests that most forms of parental involvement "yielded no benefit to children's test scores or grades" regardless of socioeconomic standing or ethnic background.
What's worse, when parental involvement does seem to matter, the consequences for kids' performances are "more often negative than positive." Children who started off as high scorers ended up doing worse with parental involvement. Ironic, isn't it?
It is by no means parents' duty to go through the kids' assignments. Schools should stop asking parents to intervene and even sign their names on each item of the assignments. The primary school in Jinhua has set a good example.
What parents are supposed to do is to create a friendly studying environment for kids, and teach them to be responsible for their own work. After all, independent learning is much more important than high scores.
The author is a reporter with the Global Times. firstname.lastname@example.org