MOE video about primary school encourages parents, but everyone else is skeptical
For a parent, their child’s first step in primary school can be a daunting experience, not just for the kid, but for themselves. Thankfully, the Ministry of Education (MOE) is here to ease their worries by showing what an 8-year-old named Tania Cheng gets up to in Guangyang Primary School.
It’s cute and all, but netizens are hardly convinced. Most of them are millenials who went through the Singapore education system prior to 2009, when the Program for Active Learning (PAL) initiative was launched, and so maybe they’re just a wee bit jelly.
For the uninitiated, PAL was introduced to create a larger emphasis on non-academic programmes for Primary 1 and 2 students, specifically Sports and Outdoor Education, and Performing and Visual Arts. The initiative is supposed to make learning these non-academic programmes fun, creative and enjoyable (as you can see in the video, Tania looooooves PAL).
There are certainly some key flaws in the video though, and here are a few:
1. The kid is between Primary 1 and 2, and shows mainly PAL activities
PAL is fun. Even Mathematics looks kinda fun.
But Primary 1 and 2 appears a mere teaser compared to what happens at upper primary levels.
2. Primary 3 onwards is gonna get a lot less fun. Poor kid doesn’t know this yet.
Streaming (or “swimming” to all the students who had teachers with less than stellar pronunciation skills) is not fun. At all. Neither is the PSLE for that matter.
We’ll see whether Tania Cheng still enjoys going to school when PAL stops and the mountain of homework and books begin to pile up.
3. If school is so fun and promotes active learning in Pri 1-2…
…why isn’t PAL implemented for Primary 3 and up? Wouldn’t kids be happier going to school that way?
4. The homework and textbooks
PAL is fun and all, but just check out the giant bags to school kids are lugging to school.
5. The teachers’ perspective
The video is told from the students’ perspective.
Showing how much work teachers put in may be a better idea to get parents to empathize with them and give teachers an easier time.
With increased homework comes increased tuition, and this video (obviously) masks all of that, because tuition isn’t endorsed by the MOE. However, tuition is still a reality especially at the upper primary level and parents should really be prepared for that.
7. Help for kids who fall behind
Tania Cheng might not look stressed out, and everything is chill when you’re learning in a fun way. When exams come up and she’s struggling with her work, will the fun PAL classes be any help then?
Rosy picture may be a sign that times are changing (hopefully)
Singaporeans who went through the education system here are probably looking at the video and thinking there’s a lot about school that’s missing in the video.
But PAL is still a new initiative, and to see how education has changed over the years is an eye-opener for us old fogeys. Now, the question is about whether PAL should be extended beyond Primary 2 so that children can really enjoy the time they spend in school, not bogged down by the Twin Mountains of Homework and Exams.
The video may seem too perfect right now, but it could easily become a reality in the future if MOE is willing to take further steps away from the rote memorisation system which has served Singaporeans so well, but stifled creative thinking in the process.
Good luck to Tania Cheng. We hope the rest of your primary school years will be as nice.
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Featured image via MOE Singapore