Recently, there was some debate in the local media as to whether schools are being too kiasu in introducing supplementary classes from as early as p3. To me, this is one of those issues that will never find consensus. It irks me sometimes to hear people (usually non-parents) make dumb comments like, "Parents are impossible to please lah. Have also complain, don't have also complain." Well, duh, it's never the same set of parents!
I feel the parents who want the supplementary classes treat these the same way they treat tuition (which I wrote about here) - it's a crutch, since everyone else is doing it, their kids better do it too otherwise they'll lose out. Others just consider it free tuition, the more the merrier.
Andre's school implemented compulsory supplementary classes twice a week for p5 kids this year. Previously they only had supplementary classes for the top few classes and remedial classes for the bottom few but parents in the middle classes started complaining so they decided to institute a blanket rule for all.
Andre's schedule is already pretty packed, what with badminton training, piano lessons and Chinese and English tuition. So you can imagine I didn't welcome the news that he would have to attend supplementary classes.
Don't be mistaken, I'm not against supplementary classes per se, I'm just against herd mentality supplementary classes. Remedial classes work because they take place in small groups and target specific kids with specific weaknesses. The problem with most school supplementary classes is that they're really just extended curriculum sessions for the teacher to finish what she couldn't cover in class or do corrections, etc. Sometimes, teachers just dole out extra worksheets and then provide the answer key for kids to mark the work themselves.
I can't really blame the teachers, they have enough on their plates. Supplementary classes mean extra time and extra work for them. For the kids however, this is hardly productive. After 6 hours at school and a short lunch break, they have to sit down for another two hours of drills. I'm pretty sure very little real learning actually takes place. Worse still, by the time they reach home, they're mentally exhausted which means it's a challenge just to get them to finish homework, let alone do extra revision.
So after some heavy pondering, I wrote to his English and math teacher asking if Andre could be excused from the two supplementary classes. My rationale to them was that his two hours would be better spent with me doing one-on-one revision with him (which I would have to give up if he went for supplementary due to the sheer lack of time).
I was hopeful but not entirely optimistic the teachers would acquiesce since the classes were supposed to be compulsory. To my delight and surprise, both teachers agreed to my proposal. They were very understanding and said they would hand him any additional materials that were being done during supplementary classes. (Have I mentioned that I love this school?) I suppose one can construe that they're passing the buck to the parent but I appreciate that they're flexible enough to bend the rules when it makes sense. Not every teacher will do that.
I didn't ask for Andre to be let off Chinese supplementary class because that's one subject I can't help him with, and since the science class is held immediately before the Chinese one, it made sense logistically to let him attend that as well.
So now the onus is on me and I'll admit I'm a little nervous. It takes a great deal of gumption to believe that you can coach your child better than the school can and I'm not that brash to not have my moments of doubt. The CA1 is next week and I guess that's the acid test.
Meanwhile, even though Andre has to stay home and be drilled (and yelled at) by me as the price for missing his supplementary classes, he seems to be relishing it. A classmate asked him indignantly, "How come you don't have to go for supplementary?"
Andre replied with a broad smile, "I live a good life."
Performing for Ghosts - Hungry Ghost month came & went. I don't miss the ashes flying about or watching out where I walk in case I trip over some offering. But I do look forward...
7 months ago