Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Doing Time At Schools

Great write up from The Economist: American children have it easier than most other children in the world, including the supposedly lazy Europeans. They have one of the shortest school years anywhere, a mere 180 days compared with an average of 195 for OECD countries and more than 200 for East Asian countries. German children spend 20 more days in school than American ones, and South Koreans over a month more. Over 12 years, a 15-day deficit means American children lose out on 180 days of school, equivalent to an entire year.

American children also have one of the shortest school days, six-and-a-half hours, adding up to 32 hours a week. By contrast, the school week is 37 hours in Luxembourg, 44 in Belgium, 53 in Denmark and 60 in Sweden. On top of that, American children do only about an hour’s-worth of homework a day, a figure that stuns the Japanese and Chinese.

Americans also divide up their school time oddly. They cram the school day into the morning and early afternoon, and close their schools for three months in the summer. The country that tut-tuts at Europe’s mega-holidays thinks nothing of giving its children such a lazy summer. But the long summer vacation acts like a mental eraser, with the average child reportedly forgetting about a month’s-worth of instruction in many subjects and almost three times that in mathematics.

Some thoughts from muah: we should structure school hours to encourage both parents to be working, or rather that the structure be there to allow parents to take that option without being penalised unfairly. Of course there are some who say the school hours should be structured to discourage that, so that the mom stays at home with the kids.

As competitive as the world is, let's try to allow kids to be kids. They will be young only once. Don't fill up their spare time with tuition classes, piano lessons, karate lessons, squash training, ballet lessons, etc... and then still have to do homework. Must allow kids some time to lepak, relax, do nothing or just be kids. You need well adjusted kids, not all nerds or computer geeks running the world later.

You don't want your kids to tell you when they are older: "Dude... where's my childhood??"

p/s photos: Suki Tsui Suk Mun

1 comment:

Philip Lee said...

I think there are no straight forward answers to how a child spends his time or how a parent encourages his children to spend his/her time. Some children are more motivated than others, more passionate, more active, more curious, more intelligent. They yearn to seize each day with activities. They feel satisfied to fill their childhood with new lessons each day.

Other children may prefer to lepak and still learn through the same process. The parent needs to discern which suits the child better.