Dilemma Of Young School Go-ers……..
Posted by ErnieJean on November 13, 2008
A couple of days ago, my 8-year old came back from school with her report book and she was visibly grinning from ear to ear when she gave me the book to sign. But guess what……her delight had nothing got to do with how well she did and how many As she got for her finals…….rather it was the confirmation that she will get to stay in the same class with all her current classmates aka good friends when they go back to school next year.
Unfortunately, one of her BFFs was not so lucky, for she will be transferred to another class, apparently for missing the cut off points. The poor girl had to be consoled almost the entire day by my child and her other friends, promising to always meet up before school starts and during recess. They couldn’t comprehend how the little friend, who managed to get almost as many As as they did, had to move to a ‘B’ class, just because her overall marks missed the grade.
I spoke to some of these kids, from the lower primary classes and it reaffirmed my belief that there shouldn’t be a streaming system for children of their age, especially those from Year 1 to Year 3 (7-9 years old). What do these children know about the “death and life” situation in getting as many As as possible? Does being top of the class at 8 years old mean their bright future’s set for life?
Most of these kids look forward more to being in the same class every year with their play buddies, rather than whether it’s an ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ class.
I remember when I was in Primary school, streaming in elementary schools were quite unheard of……instead, students of different learning abilities were put together where the perceived brighter child was always made to seat next to a student who needed more help, and the teachers were dedicated enough to ensure every child understands what’s being taught before she proceeds to the next subject, even if it meant spending some extra time after school with the child in need.
Hence my childhood memories of primary school days were filled with school plays, field trips, great teachers, yummy canteen food……etc (ok, ok…..and some not very pleasant ones such as being made to stand in the corridor for not finishing my homework), but never of having to pour over books every nite to prepare for exams or attend tuition (in fact I can’t for the life of me ever remembering what sort of grades I got back then)……and I’d like to think I turn out quite well as an adult, at the very least, I can read and write-lah 😛
Truth to be told, I’m not totally against streaming for it does have its merits, but I’d think it would be more effective if implemented at a later stage, when the children are more mature and able to fully comprehend the reasons behind the segregation according to how academically inclined they are.
We are told by our educationists that streaming allows them to identify the brilliant students from the weak, and by separating them, it will enable the teachers to teach appropriately and accordingly, to cater to the different needs of those students. A very noble concept indeed, I agree.
But, seriously, in reality, especially in Malaysian schools, how many of us have seen the total opposite being practised? How many of us have witnessed teachers and school heads focusing all their energies and attention on the students from top classes, so that the school can boast of having the highest number of straight-A students in national examinations while neglecting students from the not-so-smart classes?
I once came across an elite private school that actually places the students who perform poorly academically in basement classrooms with no windows!!! How’s that for a child’s confidence and character development……
Yes, by all means, have exams, but with an intention to assess a child’s academic progress, and use the exam results to gauge the level of academic intervention as necessary. But please, not as a means to punish an 8 year old, or for that matter, pre-tweens, for not scoring all As or 100%. Children need their childhood and they have a lot more years of serious studying coming ther way, so their memories of early schooling years should be as pleasant and carefree as their parents’, don’t you think?