Education is the gateway to success so it is said, but should it be all-consuming, to rob the young of the carefree days of childhood?
These days education is accepted as a common right for children despite their gender, class or nationality, throughout the world. However, with the expansion within schools that such a policy inevitably leads to, this situation does in some countries as in Taiwan, create great pressure on students. In order to attain their goals in life, they have to attain acceptance into the best schools available.
This scramble for academic excellence has created the phenomena of the ‘cram’ school, where students may be literally ‘crammed’ with extra knowledge in order to outdo their fellow students in the race to the top. It is, however, a double-edged sword; although students strive for excellence they are missing out on their childhood. The race for knowledge is all-consuming. Researchers from the Write My Essay SOS service are still arguing about this.
Parents too are pressurized into working long hours in order to pay for this extra tuition. However, the cram schools themselves offer the further service of minding the children while parents are working, so they do, in fact, double as child-minders and education facilitators.
Young students are therefore collected from school and escorted to the cram school where they are given snacks before launching into lessons which can continue until late into the evening. Only after this, students are at liberty to return home before the whole process begins again the next day. Some older students however still have to face homework after their extra classes, delaying bedtime still further.
My memories when teaching in such cram schools or 'buxibans', remain vivid. Well, I recall the image of a small boy of five or six, sitting atop a high stool, trying to complete some mathematical exercises while his teacher endeavored to keep him focused and alert despite the late hour.
The question that keeps coming to mind is, “When do these children play?” The older they get, the less time there is for relaxation; high school students study almost continuously throughout the academic year, even at weekends, so very little free time is available to relax and enjoy any form of recreation. Life in the east would seem to be taken very seriously as the importance of education is stressed from preschool to university level as advocated in Confucius' teachings.
This attitude although culturally-based might also be said to be influenced by social conditions; the size of the population must inevitably dictate the way education is approached; if there are many hundreds if not thousands of students competing for a limited number of places in the best school in the country, then inevitably competition is going to be tough. All effort must therefore be made to ensure that each student stands the best possible chance of achieving their goal.
Increasingly, to be able to speak English is considered to be the key to future success. Accordingly, since my arrival in Taiwan, the number of ‘waiguoren’ or, more precisely, westerners in the area where I live, has noticeably increased over the years. Young university graduates wanting to explore the world and write an essay difference between countries, travel to this island as would-be English instructors to work in cram schools for one or two years. The very number of needy students provides plentiful work opportunities for western adventurers, causing education to become a booming industry in its own right.
Schooling is the given right of all children, enabling them to live life to the full. However, it would seem that it is necessary to make a choice: to push students beyond the boundaries of what may be judged as being acceptable levels of study in the pursuit of excellence or to maintain the status quo. If the former, then there is a danger of sacrificing something of the carefree quality of youth which may never be recaptured once it is past.
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