Don’t let your little ones get wind of this lest they start pestering you to move to a Communist (OK, more Communist) country, but China’s Ministry of Education is toying with the idea of banning homework for elementary school students.
MSN News writes that the proposed guidelines would replace written homework assignments with field trips to museums, libraries, and cultural facilities.
The goal, apart from alleviating the stresses most students experience, would be to improve students’ hand-on capabilities through handicrafts or farm work.
China Daily is quoted as writing on Sept. 2, which was the first day of the new school year, that the proposal has sparked debates, adding, “For primary school students who start the first day of the new semester today, nothing is more important than the pending decision.”
The level of stress for Chinese children should not be underestimated. Competition to get into the best colleges is so intense that a typical school day in China includes 9 hours of in-class instruction, followed by a “mountain of homework.” Most children have little or no time for leisure activities, prompting one parent to say of her daughter, “She will have plenty of time to play after she enters university.”
Yong Zhao, an education scholar, explains:
The Chinese culture is operated in such a way that you are only good when you are better than others. Every parent wants their child to get into the best university — so there’s a race to send them to the best kindergarten, the best middle school, the best high school, and so on. The race begins when the child is born.
Even if the government is successful in banning standardized tests and homework in schools, Yong Zhao further notes, private tests and tutoring will take their place, he said.
So far, MSN reports, the Education Ministry has received nearly 5,956 comments on the new guidelines, 90 percent of which are in support.
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