Longer school hours does not necessarily result to better learners, this is what administrators of the best schools in the world say. The best schools in Asia have the best performing pupils because they emphasise on more homework and a “meritocratic” approach. The teachers raise this point in response to the argument of the British education minister Michael Gove that it is essential for students to spend more time in classroom lectures and activities.
The British education minister plans to replicate the long classroom hours which he observes is the standard in nations in the East Asia region. The proposal is being met by the ASCL, which is the organisation of British headteachers, with the contention that quality of the learning experience is more important than the quantity of time being expended in the classroom. This argument coincides with what head teachers in Asia has to say.
The principal of Nexus International School which is based in Singapore, Dr. Stuart Martin says that Singaporean children spend their extra time with tutorials and doing homework with amounts which are more than what children in the UK do. Only 2% of pupils in Singapore do not attend tutoring on top of doing homework after school. The principal believes that the meritocratic approach being used in Singapore can be expected to have the same set of other factors and the same results if used in the UK has a social system which is class-based.
For Dulwich College Singapore headmaster Nick Magnus, schools use different methods of teaching and learning. Singapore and Finland differ in the styles they use but they have the same result of excellence. The Headmaster cites that parents across their family of schools would like to have the mix of the academic rigor of the east and the holistic approach of the west.
International schools research group ISC Research spokesperson Anne Keeling says that the UK government should give extra care when making comparisons. She says that thinking of cherry picking among the strategies of other countries can be very easy but we should not forget that culture is a factor in the difference of learning abilities and techniques.
In my opinion, the UK government should take the time to study the case for British students. We can deduce from what the academic experts in the different parts of the world how they believe that the learning experience can be unique in one country and for their racial differences. The best and only way to get insight regarding the uniqueness is by conducting a study of their unique setting, heredity and history and that of other countries and races.
In general, quality almost always beats quantity. The same is true in education. The outright increase in classroom time does not necessarily comes with an automatic improvement in performance. Yes, the extended time can always be used for quality activities; however, we should not overlook the young learners’ attention span, stress limits and the ability to absorb and digest what is taught to them.
Further, we are talking about very youthful citizens here. The school pupils are children and, as such, they should be given enough time to play and rest. They are not soldiers or slaves which should be trained to serve and work. Yes, they are the future builders of the nation and their work is yet to come. Right now, they are here to learn, play, enjoy, rest, be given care, nurtured and loved.
I may not be good at debates; I do not exactly like them. However, I love looking into issues and knowing the facts. I like “weighting things” and making the best decision, answer or solution. I apply judgment in the matters that I am involved in which include among many, my business decisions, settling customer complaints and even the assignment concerns of the students in my tutoring profession.