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in some countries, they are trying to do away with homework; in others, with exams. i think to take such draconian measures is a mistake; children need to feel that someone has mapped out some direction and aim for them; they also need guidance, challenge and goals. In each of these, they want to compare first with their peers, then with others. What is important is to bear these points in mind in the background while working out how to improve the situation. If the workload is too heavy, one must ask what is being taught or needed to be learnt that will be useful in the future, so to answer that, the education system must have a clear idea what sort of world it will be in the future in which the students later as adults will find themselves.|
For instance, in my time so many years ago, i found that i had to learn about, oh, Nova Scotia's geography. But that's because it's in the textbook. So the problem, thinking back, is that first they have the textbook, then they decide to cover all of it, then the students had to go through and learn about this obscure part of Canada, which is basically a US hinterland. Sitting here, i realize that if asked about Nova Scotia i can remember nothing about it, and also i have never been asked to use anything i had learnt about it, but if it was needed, i guess the internet would provide the ready answer, else i would have used my experience to figure out how to research that place... or..anything else in the universe. In other words, teach life skills as part of the basic and sew it into the fabric of education ...but the core knowledge (science, maths, social sciences, arts, languages, reasoning, hand skills, creative thinking, 3Rs from AtoZ to essays and precises and critiques..these must be taught until perfect mastery, and then students must be examined on them to find out what they know, what they think, and how they can be creative in looking at the world and applying what they've learnt.
While the other countries are moving to make it easier to pass exams, or to even do away with them, and their course syllabi are ridiculously low-standard, i think the motherland should maintain high standards, even exceed them. On the matter of parents adding new loads onto their children after school, that calls for a separate teacher-parent, nation-parent, communication program. Parents will feel more confident that their children will not lose out if there's (a) achievement they can see (b) new programs to replace the unneeded, (c) better coordination of schedules, timetables and resources by the teachers.
What is needed forward is to break down all assumptions and walls, and re-constitute a new model for education so that children will find new enjoyment in learning. Once they have that enjoyment, step back and see the new engine of growth.