26 June 2006

Much Ado

Remember this old discussion on Mr Wang's blog? About the possibility of schools starting a little later (for example, at 8:00 am or 8:30 am instead of 7:30 am), so that students can get a little more sleep.

Surprisingly (surprising to me, at least), there was some fierce resistance to that idea (see comments on my old post). The basis for such resistance? Allowing students to come to school later than 7:30 am would somehow deny them of character-building opportunities and cause them to degenerate into ill-disciplined hooligans.

Well, some schools have nonethless gone ahead with the idea (with some variations). And when you actually read about the idea being implemented, it doesn't sound so very shocking, does it? No, I really don't think Singapore's juvenile delinquency rates are going to shoot up because of this.

A 9am wish come true
More sleep and flexibility for Kuo Chuan students thanks to launch of 'Manic Mondays'

TODAY • June 26, 2006

Lee U-Wen
u-wen@newstoday.com.sg

AT 9am on Monday mornings, most school students are well into their first — or even second — lesson of the day. But life is more leisurely for 15-year-old Rosazlin Rosli, who just about begins her day around this time.

She is not being tardy. She is just celebrating her family life and thanking her school.

Under an initiative launched by Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary at the start of the year, some 1,150 students — from Secondary 1 to Secondary 5 — can start school at 9am. They call it "Manic Monday".

Kuo Chuan Presbyterian is one of the few schools — but the number is growing, it seems — that are becoming more flexible with their school hours.

One could put it down to greater autonomy for schools, the five-day work week effect, the Teach Less, Learn More slogan by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and, yes, the long-standing calls from parents.

Last year, some parents had written to this newspaper to complain that in some cases, their children had to wake up before sunrise to make it to school by 7.10am.

There was another series of letters to the media earlier this year, in which parents claimed that their children were being deprived of a good night's sleep, and their families, of sufficient time together.

These days, with schools gaining autonomy on many fronts, the 9am wish of some parents is coming true.

"Even if it's once or twice a week, it's a change, and it means a little bit more sleep. And that's something most parents would want for their children," said Dr Mary Lai, whose son is in Primary 6.

"Manic Monday" at Kuo Chuan Presbyterian came about after its management took a look last year at its school hours. Despite starting school later, students do not have to stay back to make up for the lost time.

Vice-principal Grace Chua, 38, said: "We restructured the timetable, but not by extending the day. We had to take away two periods, one from Mother Tongue and the other from English. And even after doing so, the number of periods left was still well within Ministry of Education guidelines."

While her students have the luxury of strolling in at 9am, her team of 57 teachers, however, continue to report in by 7.30am.

Not necessarily to mark assignments, though. They use the time to interact, play games, tuck into a catered breakfast and even exercise together at the nearby Bishan Park.

"It's always hard for everyone to meet as a big group because of various commitments. But now, we have this one-and-a-half hour window for bond-building. And it's on a Monday morning when very few people have commitments," said Ms Chua ...


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4 comments:

Anon Scaredycat said...

"There are no stupid questions, only ignorant fools"

How true.

Actually, I think it stems from resistance to change, and finding ways to rationalise the status quo. They don't believe in what they say, they just don't want to have to change their lives.

bluegoddess said...

I'm AGAINST kids going to school at 9 and coming back at 730: More unecessary fighting for space on the busses and MRTs with those pesky little kids!

"Children should be seen and not heard"

Whoever said that!? They shouldn't be seen either, in my opinion. They're nothing but a bunch of trouble making pests behaving badly.

G said...

Coming back at 730???
How the fcuk school takes so long?
Is it effective?

John Riemann Soong said...

When I used to go to the MOELC I would take the 40 minute train ride to Bishan, start French classes at 4:30, end at 6:30, and usually by the time I arrived home it was 7:30 or 7:45.