Academic success

speaking about high schools…

there’s been some moves lately to abolish the centralized exams that students take, especially at high school level. There is one centralized examination all students take at Primary 6 (around age 12), Form 3 (around age 15) and another one at Form 5 (age 17), and for some, yet another one at Upper Form 6 (around age 19).

although any radical move like this has to be taken with caution, I support it to a certain extent. The current education system of emphasizing on nothing but examinations tends to create an unnecessary culture of kiasu’ism (refusing to lose out) and undue emphasis on memorization.

as an educator, I notice several things about this system.

1.    students can goof off the entire year and just quickly start studying towards the end of the year just before the exams, and usually still come out alright

2.    the emphasis is on memorization, not understanding. There is an old saying that is still revered in educational circles, and it goes something like this: tell me, and I forget; show me, and I remember; involve me, and I understand.  How many essays have I gotten that are basically a regurgitation of my notes, without any proper understanding of the material involved? The educational culture here is as such, memorization is rewarded, if the essay or answer is worded exactly as the examiner wants it, the marks are awarded. It doesn’t really matter if the student actually understood what was asked or taught, only if they remember it.

3.    the parents push their children to score as many A’s as they can, when A’s are not enough, they even push their children to score high A’s. I’ve had parents say that they’re concerned because their children were scoring 92’s and 93’s, when they should be scoring 100’s. And so they send their children to tuition classes every day. Sending them to Chinese schools (I am extremely anti-Chinese school… but that’s a post for some other time) where their homework actually weighs more than they do. Making their children learn and do homework well into the night. I know kids whose daily schedule involves nothing more than school, homework, and tuition classes. No time for play, no time to be a kid. It’s really sad, and robs them of the joy of living. Plenty of time to be stressed out and worry about everything as an adult. No, I’m not advocating ditching homework and all. Just to be reasonable.

Anyway, maybe a review of the educational system wouldn’t be bad. Award more marks to projects, presentations, assignments, etc., instead of all emphasis being put on the examinations. Abolish a few of them, you really only need one centralized examination to determine entrance into university, not 4 of them just to give parents something to gloat about to other parents.


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