The more, the better?

In school teaching, is it the case that ‘the more, the better’?

I’m getting more and more worried by the never-ending trend in our schools in Hong Kong of adding more and more stuff to the ‘curriculum’ – More lessons a day; more supplementary readers to read; more grammar worksheets to plough through; more supplementary exercises; more exam drilling; more homework ……

The common conception seems to be that the more we squeeze into the ‘curriculum’, the more students will learn. But does that happen?

We don’t need to have majored in psychology to know that that is not how human beings learn. If you spoonfeed chickens and ducks, they will grow up faster (though probably with an ecological price to pay). But if you spoonfeed school students, they will lose their appetite for learning. And soon, they will stop learning altogether when they become adolescents or even earlier, when our sticks and carrots won’t work any more.

The ridiculous situation I’m seeing is that everyone is suffering. Children and teenagers spend more and more time on homework and exam drilling while they become less and less interested in learning. Teachers have less and less time planning for effective teaching because they have more and more stuff to mark, and more and more non-teaching chores to deal with. After a few years of going to school either as a place of learning or as a workplace, how many students can genuinely admit they still enjoy learning? How many teachers can unreservedly affirm that they still enjoy teaching?

And yet, few of us in society seem to realise the abyss that we are falling deeper and deeper into!


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