Hmm. So cute! Anyway. Just a bit more on our education system, to wipe that smile of his face.

Now school ends at 1.20-2.30, depending on which school you're from. Currently, workload at the school I'm teaching at seems pretty ok, other than the occasional make-up lesson, most of the students to get to go back at a sane hour.

Lately there have been many parents complaining to the forum that schools in Singapore are too stressful, the hours are too long. I have to agree with them, especially if your kid happens to be in one of the top schools. If he's in a Sports CCA or some other one which takes up a huge chunk of your time (and energy), or in council or something to that effect, he could be returning as late as 7-9 pm at night, (for a secondary school student, pretty late). If you do bother finishing all your homework you end at 12. This, was at least, not really a recent development, because these were the hours I had in Secondary One, and with 3rd language and all, you really look forward to weekends.

I understand why schools would want to keep children in schools. One child in school is another off the street. And, if you look at what children can do in their free time in Singapore, it's some variation of computer game (MapleStory/ DoTA?), hang around in Orchard, watch movie, etc. I don't even know what girls do in their free time (talk on the phone?). Well, the facilities are there to play street soccer. That's if your other friends are not in school training for debate/whatever they're involved in.

Ultimately, it's about how fast kids mature. For a large number of our rather resilient students, coping with extended hours is natural, part of the system, and only for their own good. They learn to enjoy and see the benefits in what they do, and if you ask many of the overachievers Singapore has produced they would definitely look back and say "that was time well spent." But for those not so driven, it's really a big torturous process which they'd rather have much later.

The only other alternative is to drop out. Don't attend your CCAs if you're not interested in them, or at least, schools should reduce barriers to entry between them. (In the school I'm teaching at, there are sports classes, which get the cream of sporting talent in Sec 1, and the rest get places in other non-sports CCAs). A danger then is you don't capture the talent which develops when some of those scrawny would never have made it in Sec 1 guys become lean and athletic and etc after their puberty.

And you see the problem is not with schools, but rather with a lack of spontaneous activity available that's organised by things other than schools. Where would I go to play beach volleyball at 13? Where do I bring my skateboard? So you have to go to places like church to find bands and everything. That's why school just really lost meaning for me for a good 4-5 years of my adolescence.

This, admittedly comes from my rather myopic view. Our education system is really rather fantastic and engaging in the classroom, but I just have issues with the fact that we have an undue reliance on it, that we're not trying to find ways where children can learn not only out of the classroom, but out of school! Because there's "out of classroom" learning in CCAs and activities in school, but I think kids should learn to exist in a independent framework of their own, at least until we're reasonably sure all of them are mature and know what they want (from the choices they've seen by interacting with the world), then we can fill their damn brains with all the knowledge they ever need.

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