Monday, October 26, 2009

Cram School Nation

It's been a while since my last post...been busy. Currently I have stopped teaching kids and only teach at an adult school. I only mention this because I came across this article in the Taipei Times...
It's a report from the child welfare board saying that children in Taiwan are being overworked. The report mentions that 74% of kids go to cram schools after their regular schools...among those; 58% go to cram schools everyday. Think about those numbers for a second. 3/4 of the children here go to extra school after they finish! As someone who taught for a year and a half to that 58% I can tell you that these kids have it rough. Everyday those kids were miserable and clearly stressed.

We had a rule at my Chinese work in class. One day a girl raised her hand and said: "teacher can I please please please do my Chinese homework?" I said yes and the poor girl (11 years old) spent the ten minute break frantically writing her homework. At my former school the kids would arrive at 450....we would work until 530 and then they would get a 10 minute break. We would continue to work until 620. After that many of the students would go to other cram schools (math, Chinese etc.) others still would go to swimming practice, taekwondoe etc.

It's hard to watch as a roomful of 11 year-olds, a group you would think would be full of energy, are so exhausted that they literally pass out, and fall asleep at 530 during their allotted ten-minute break....a time when they should be alert watching cartoons, playing baseball, relaxing at home. ....whatever.

This is a main reason why I stopped teaching kids. I just felt horribly guilty that I was part of these poor kids' stress and pressure. I couldn't take being a part of this system that adds so much pressure on them. Don't get me wrong I love kids...and I really enjoyed teaching them, but I couldn't face myself knowing I was making their lives that much more miserable.

The article continues with a quote that really vividly and frighteningly describes the system and pressure on some of these poor kids :

While regular school classes for third and fourth graders begin at about 8am, the survey showed that 65 percent of the students stay at cram schools until 8pm and 11 percent stay until after 9pm before they can go home.

If that wasn't bad enough:
Last week, instructors at a Tainan cram school — which was actually registered as a business consulting firm — were accused of asking students to eat fire and glass to train them to overcome fear.

Cram school nation....where education, getting ahead and reputation are far more important than actual education. I'm glad I'm no longer part of a system that puts so much needless pressure on kids...

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