Commercialized (Noncompulsory) Education

One day, a mother pinched her son forcing him to enter a classroom full of girls. His son refused and cried because he didn’t want to be the only boy in the classroom so he preferred to wait for his male friends outside. After minutes of crying and shouting, finally another boy came and the struggle ended. Teaching in a class where the students are not willingly study on their own account will usually have this kind of drama. If we’re teaching children who are still in lower level of elementary school we usually say “babysitting?” to each other.

I happen to teach in an informal education institution. Here, the students have foreign language courses for one to 1.5 hours. In this setting lie problems. First, the students don’t usually have bonds with the teachers, due to short term exposure to the teachers and the study environment. Second, if they spend too much time here (studying for a lot of levels), they are likely to be bored and exhausted to the extent of sleeping in the classroom because of their school and extracurricular activities. Third, it is quite uncommon for school-age children and teenagers to have the initiative to study this “extra” course, and it is usually their parents who are eager to put their children here. Yes, some children are quite attentive and enthusiastic, but the rest are just spaced-out in a place where the teacher is speaking a language they don’t understand, or they just study half-heartedly. A student (kindergartener) said “mommy is the principal, so it’s up to her if she wants me to study here or not. She put me here, and if she forgets to take me here i just let her forget,” as she answered my question about her late comings.

The teachers are also supposed to give comments about the students’ progress, but because they only have very limited time of interaction, not to mention that they also have so many students, it is intriguing. On the other hand, some parents might feel that the comments are not quite favourable due to the fact that teachers only meet students for an hour every once in a week. Another problem arise when the students don’t act in accordance with what the teachers expect in a class. There’s nothing much the teachers can do except to sometimes tolerate certain disturbing behaviour just to keep the learning pace. Another problem is that, because it is the parents’ eagerness to have the children study here, and is not supported by enough skill and knowledge of the parents about what their children are learning, it is hard also for students to retain what they learn here at home. It would be nice if both parents and teachers are in line towards the goal while at the same time the students also have motivation to do it. And it would also be nice if all of the teachers understand or are equipped with educational psychology (not all teachers majoring in Education understand how to handle such situation), which requires the teachers to be qualified or is made qualified, and this in turn would likely to increase the “production” cost or “improvement” cost of the human resources. Not likely to be favoured economically speaking.

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