Plan to teach pupils prac­ti­cal skills welcome

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

The fresh em­pha­sis by ed­u­ca­tion author­i­ties on a cur­ricu­lum aimed at im­prov­ing stu­dents’ prac­ti­cal skills is ex­pected to shift the author­i­ties’ ap­proach to China’s con­tro­ver­sial ed­u­ca­tion model and pro­mote all-round de­vel­op­ment of teenage stu­dents.

In a re­cent cir­cu­lar jointly is­sued by two agen­cies work­ing for the bet­ter­ment of teenagers and theMin­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, the lat­ter says a prac­ti­cal skill-re­lated cur­ricu­lum will be set for the last six years of stu­dents’ nine-year com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram. The cur­ricu­lum will in­clude house­keep­ing, cook­ing, hand­i­craft, gar­den­ing and non­ma­te­rial cul­tural her­itage, and schools will as­sign stu­dents home­work like wash­ing dishes and clothes, sweep­ing floors and sort­ing items.

Ac­cord­ing to a min­istry of­fi­cial, the cur­rent ed­u­ca­tion model that overem­pha­sizes stu­dents’ aca­demic per­for­mance while ig­nor­ing the cul­ti­va­tion of their la­bor skills and prac­ti­cal abil­i­ties has prompted the author­i­ties to shift their ap­proach and opt for the new cur­ricu­lum for the nine-year com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion. In view of wor­ri­some prob­lems in­her­ent in the ed­u­ca­tion model and among the ma­jor­ity of teenage stu­dents, most of whom are the only and spoilt chil­dren of their par­ents, the ad­di­tion of a prac­ti­cal cur­ricu­lum is welcome.

Be­cause of the ex­am­i­na­tion-ori­ented ed­u­ca­tion model, many schools have worked out pro­grams that fo­cus on im­prov­ing stu­dents’ aca­demic per­for­mance; only a few­pay at­ten­tion to the cul­ti­va­tion of stu­dents’ prac­ti­cal abil­i­ties.

Even the cour­ses that have been set on these lines have laid nom­i­nal em­pha­sis on the is­sue. More­over, they have usu­ally been crit­i­cized both by teach­ers and stu­dents. On the other hand, par­ents usu­ally urge their chil­dren to fo­cus on stud­ies, which they be­lieve will help in­crease their scores in ex­ams, get them ad­mit­ted to top schools and in­crease their chances of get­ting bet­ter-pay­ing jobs. Par­ents ob­sessed with high scores also try to keep their chil­dren away from house­work be­cause they be­lieve it is ir­rel­e­vant to their aca­demic per­for­mance. In the process, they ig­nore the fact that ev­ery stu­dent needs to learn some skills and gain some knowl­edge to sur­vive in to­day’s fast-chang­ing world.

The fo­cus on im­prov­ing aca­demic per­for­mance through high scores and the lack of even the ba­sic la­bor skills have turned our teenage stu­dents into “learn­ing ma­chines” who are adept at solv­ing var­i­ous kinds of math­e­mat­i­cal prob­lems but don’t have the knowl­edge to take care of them­selves. This ed­u­ca­tion model, which ig­nores prac­ti­cal knowl­edge and work, has also given rise to the “high-score, low-abil­ity” phe­nom­e­non among some stu­dents.

For ex­am­ple, there are many ex­treme ex­am­ples of univer­sity stu­dents lack­ing the abil­ity to wash clothes, even socks. Such stu­dents get their clothes washed and ironed in laun­dries or regularly send them home for their par­ents to do the need­ful. Due to this lack of prac­ti­cal knowl­edge they are ig­no­rant about “la­bor con­scious­ness” and, as a re­sult, look down upon man­ual work­ers.

The aim of school ed­u­ca­tion is not only to im­part book­ish knowl­edge to stu­dents. It is also to teach them the ba­sic skills to bet­ter adapt to life and so­ci­ety. Teach­ing stu­dents the skills to do some prac­ti­cal work will not only help them over­come the hard­ships of life, but also prompt them to study harder to pur­sue higher goals in life.

At a time when most Chi­nese par­ents are in­clined to do all the prac­ti­cal work for their sin­gle off­spring at home, the school cur­ricu­lum to teach some prac­ti­cal work skills to stu­dents is not only im­por­tant but also nec­es­sary.

In or­der to achieve the ex­pected re­sults and pre­vent such cur­ricu­lum from be­ing re­duced to just a dec­o­ra­tion, the ed­u­ca­tion author­i­ties should change the cur­rent exam-ori­ented ed­u­ca­tion model and con­sider putting it on par with other cour­ses in the eval­u­a­tion of stu­dents’ per­for­mance for higher grades. The au­thor is a se­nior writer with China Daily.

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