I look at my two boys who are fast growing up, and sometimes, especially in recent months, I question the purpose of their endless drills and stuff they do in school.
“I don’t like school. School is boring,”
“I don’t want to go to school,”
lamented my boys, especially the tween.
I look at their lives and the lives of some of my students, and I feel a tinge of sadness today. It could be because this is the examinations period, and kids are mugging for their papers.
It could also be because of the conversation I had with one of my students’ mom recently. “He has to be drilled. There’s no choice,” she said, “Every child in Singapore is studying this way.”
Hearing that makes me feel sad. I questioned myself: Do I have to drill my students, just so that they can do well for exams? Is this what learning is all about?
Somehow, I feel disturbed.
No, this is not how children should be learning.
And I am inspired to write this poem:
We Don’t Do Much Playing Anymore
I remember the days
when I played all day
I’d ask my mom,
“What are we playing today?”
My days were filled with
walks in the park
looking at bugs
and tiny ants and beetles
wondering where they were going
and what they were doing.
Splashing in tubs
Staring at snails after the rain.
“Go play,” mom would say.
I folded papers
Fixed an airplane out of cardboard boxes
Made parachutes out of tissue papers.
Now, my days are filled
Math problem sums
that don’t make sense
remembering Science facts
when did Science become so boring?
“There’s no time to play!” hollered Mom,
“You have classes to go to today!
Exams are coming,
have you prepared?
Where is your homework?
Your tutor is coming!”
I miss those days
when I could play all day
Don’t they know
that it is when I play
that I learned the most
and the world made sense?