HEY, TEACHER, LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE…

Before anyone has an aneurysm thinking that this blog piece is going to be some kind of tirade against teachers, calm yourself. It is going to be nothing of the sort. I have nothing but the utmost respect for teachers, who for the most do a wonderful job under very difficult circumstances, and stringent guidelines. This is not about them. It’s true the title could be seen as misleading, but ever since deciding to write this piece I have been trying to convince myself “NOT” to use that title. As you can see I failed. The urge was just too great. Now, what this blog piece is really about is our kids, our children and the system in place hell bent on sending them off into the world with a nervous breakdown.

For the record, I am the father of two extremely wonderful kids. I love them to bits. And it means I am discussing this very controversial topic from a position of experience. I have, and continue to witness it with my own eyes. And it is both frustrating and a serious concern. Right, out with it David. For the life of me i just cannot believe, nor understand, the amount of school work, homework, studying, examinations and general pressure heaped upon kids at such a young age. It’s scandalous and it needs to stop. 

Based on my experiences with my kids I am going to provide you with two examples. Let’s start with my 13 year old son. During the normal scholastic year his school hours are 8am to 3pm. That is already an eight hour day. On top of that, each day he has a minimum of 90 minutes of homework. This means that every day of the week he has a nine and a half hour work day. Which for the record is the same or even more than most adults. I’ll repeat, he is 13 years old.

Then, there is the exams. During this period, which in reality lasts three weeks (one week pre study and two weeks exams), the schedule goes berserk. For him to even keep up with all the subjects he has to study you are talking about a minimum 10 hour day. Both when he has school leading up, and then during the exams themselves. I am sorry, but for me this is WAAAAY too much. We are talking about a 13 year old kid who should be going out with friends, exploring, playing games, HAVING FUN. You know all the things that help children to develop, hopefully one day, into a balanced human being. But quite frankly, as things stand, there is no time for that. Because if he doesn’t put in the required  work for his studies, he will fall behind his peers and ultimately fail.

Even worse than the actual workload, is the mental affect that this type of pressure is having of one so young and underdeveloped. I see it with my own eyes. At the age of 13 he already shows real symptoms of anxiety and phobias relating to a fear of failure. And even more concerning is the fact that this has ultimately affected other areas of his life, not just his education. It is a real concern for us as parents. As I know every other parent who reads this will immediately admit they share the very same concerns.

Example number two. My 8 year old daughter. She starts her school day also at 8am but finishes at 1.30pm. That is a six and a half hour day. On top of that I would estimate she has 45 minutes of homework a day. Bringing her academic day to a grand total of around seven and a half hours. She, at the age of 8, now also has the pressure of exams. And whilst obviously they are not as intensive as with her brother, they still bring with it a certain amount of pressure. Pressure that a frikkin 8 year old just doesn’t need. Simple.

My grievance here is not with the teachers or the schools. Let me make that clear. My problem lies solely with the education system as it stands today. Currently, I can only assume, the thinking is for the system to be most successful, that is in terms of graduate numbers, this is the amount of work that is required. Unfortunately this could not be further from the truth and there are alternate systems in place to prove it.

Finland routinely tops rankings of global education systems and is famous for having no banding systems — all pupils, regardless of ability, are taught in the same classes. As a result, the gap between the weakest and the strongest pupils is the smallest in the world. Compared with other systems, they rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens. There is only one mandatory standardised test which is taken when children are 16. 93% of kids graduate from high school and 66% go to college. These are the highest rates in Europe. Finnish children don’t start school until the age of 7 and spend a maximum of 4 hours per day in the class room. There it is, the proof is in the pudding. A system which applies minimum stress on children providing maximum results.

Can this not be a system that could implemented here in Malta? Is it that far from the bounds of reality or possibility? Is anyone in the Government listening to what is happening at ground level to our children? Because the situation is far from good. My biggest concern, and I will leave it at this, is the affect that all this stress is going to have on our kids now as well as later on in life. With there now being a greater understanding of mental disease and the triggers that cause them, are we pushing our kids towards a higher risk of a life fighting mental health? If you were to ask me, I think the answer is a resounding YES.

 

 

 

 

 

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Discussion

  1. Sharon

    Agreed 100%

    1. davidoziborg

      Hopefully a lot of people will….

  2. Elly

    Exact same sentiments coming from a 6 year olds Mum:(

    1. davidoziborg

      Thanks for your comments… A lot of people seem to agree.

  3. Christianne

    I agree with you less work so the children have more time for sports and leisure time. Thanks

    1. davidoziborg

      Thank you very much. It is a shame the current situation…

  4. Christianne

    Agree100%

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