Don't make kids rush their learning

I share Mr Bobby Jayaraman's insights on the primary school experience here ("Let's kill the drill approach in schools"; Feb 17).

The drill approach has become so deeply entrenched in our education system that it overrides the need for cultivating interest and curiosity in learning.

My daughter took the Primary School Leaving Examination last year.

The "drilling" started in Primary 3, intensified in Primary 4, then doubled and tripled in Primary 5 and 6.

In the days just before the PSLE, there was no time to catch a breath, with all the intensive revision that took place.

Compulsory supplementary classes began in Primary 5 to cover more of the syllabus.

Some schools begin supplementary classes even earlier. Why is this necessary when sufficient time has been planned by the Education Ministry for teachers to complete the syllabus?

Mr Jayaraman mentioned the "model drawing" method of solving maths problems.

While proponents will argue that it explains problems visually and, thus, provides a clear and simple solution, compared to the more abstract algebra method, the teaching of it is like a "rushed job".

Children are forced to quickly move on to higher-order problems before they can fully comprehend the method.

Time and space to reflect are necessary to understand how the method works and how to apply it appropriately.

Our children spend more than half their time in school. I hope the Education Ministry and school heads will look into going beyond drilling, and make learning more lively and meaningful.

Tan Geok Kim (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Don't make kids rush their learning'. Print Edition | Subscribe