Do away with Schol altogether

28 July 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Religion is the business of the parents and the home. It is NOT the business of the school.

 

 

Religion (and culture) is bred in our hearts and bones by daily practices, by home observances, by parental guidance and example. 


 The Daily Mirror Editorial gave a horrendous picture of the average day of a Grade Five student.
 

It is a time for them to be CHILDREN not crammers hell-bent on getting into an elite school after the results are known.

 

 

The continuing folly of the Grade Five examination has been attacked in the Daily Mirror of July 26 with great force but as usual the pundits of the Department of Education will take no notice. 


On another page of the same date Minister Eran Wickremaratne has suggested the importance of an ethical education for children. Again, who is going to do anything about actually ensuring such a thing?

 

It cannot be ‘taught’. Value Education on the other hand can be handled by teachers with a fair amount of general knowledge and a desire to read. Subjects like ‘Abortion” are discussed and every child gives a view. 

 


Most educationists agree that the Grade Five exam is a ridiculous test of the future aptitude of children. 


I have written about it several times but always with a sense of hopelessness since I well know that my views will never be even read by those who are in a position to change the course of Education in our country.


So, let me take the question Ethical Education first. I was probably the first person to actually teach it during my tenure of Principal of Asian International School. When the school was founded there was absolutely no Government interest in the syllabuses of the schools and no ridiculous enforcement of religion being compulsory. 


Ergo, Principals were free to teach ‘Ethics’ or something along those lines if they wished.


Being influenced by the sage Krishnamurti from an early age I looked around for a system which would help out students which was acceptable to all faiths. 


I was able to access what was termed ‘VALUE EDUCATION’ in Krishnamurti’s school in India (the highly regarded Rishi Valley School) and my daughter, Khulsum Edirisinghe, visited his school ‘Oak Grove’ in Ojai, California and brought back the syllabuses taught there. 

 

One hopes the Grade Five exam will be done away with altogther. There must be a better way of giving bright children placements at better schools more to their liking. 

 


We implemented them at once and never has any subject been so popular with the children. 


The classes we selected for this course were all Middle School children and to this day they recall the subjects discussed, the facts they learnt about other faiths and the open opinions they were allowed to give with gratitude.


Unfortunately the teaching of this subject depended on the one teacher who had been to the Krishnamurti schools and knew how to teach it. 


It was not possible to continue for more than a few years. The teaching of religion on the other hand sent most kids to sleep. 


Syllabuses are boring specially when memorization of Gathas are necessary, and the failure of religious education is clearly seen in the rising violence among the youth of this country. 


Religion is the business of the parents and the home. It is NOT the business of the school.
Religion (and culture) is bred in our hearts and bones by daily practices, by home observances, by parental guidance and example. 


It cannot be ‘taught’. Value Education on the other hand can be handled by teachers with a fair amount of general knowledge and a desire to read. Subjects like ‘Abortion” are discussed and every child gives a view. 

 

But one wonders what ethical values can be taught in Sri Lanka when our teachers are assailed almost daily in the press as engaging in the most egregious activities?


Nothing is forced on a child but they can learn to think for themselves.


But one wonders what ethical values can be taught in Sri Lanka when our teachers are assailed almost daily in the press as engaging in the most egregious activities?


I come now to that Grade Five exam and the effect on our youngsters. The Daily Mirror Editorial gave a horrendous picture of the average day of a Grade Five student. 


They are only ten years old for heaven’s sake. Why all this regimentation at a time they should be enjoying themselves and enjoying being at school? It is a time for them to be reading, playing games, being naughty perhaps, engaging in one or two extra-curricular activities. 


It is a time for them to be CHILDREN not crammers hell-bent on getting into an elite school after the results are known.


Matters are further exacerbated by the publicity given to those children who get the highest marks. All those who NEARLY made it to the top get nothing. The anger and frustration of parents who have probably spent a fortune of tuition has to be imagined.


Then the Press gets into action with pictures of the top scorers printed in the papers and all sorts of prizes being also highlighted for the general public to see. Frankly, how many of us care? Those children may or may not be the successes they are expected to be. I am told (but have no proof) that they can be very unhappy at these elite schools where they are nowhere near the top of their classes when faced with their better prepared classmates. They therefore, allegedly, spend all their time studying and have no time for sport or any school activity like drama, choir etc. Is this true?


What is more relevant at this point is a follow up of the scholarship winners of about ten years ago to find out whether or not the system has worked in their favour and if it has been worth it. Are there any such statistics?


As for the psychological impact this Grade Five exam has on children of ten years I hesitate to even comment. It must be appalling. Ten years old and pressurized by parents and teachers to study, study, study. Truly, is this education?


One is reminded of the Mandarin Exams of China where candidates were put into little cells and the exams went on for a few days. They memorized great tracts of information and the results earned them high offices. But they were adults. They were not children of ten. One hopes the Grade Five exam will be done away with altogether. There must be a better way of giving bright children placements at better schools more to their liking. 


Or are our opinions treated like the famous Bob Dylan song just ‘Blowing in the Wind’? 

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