Hey, if this doesn't make you wanna jump on the next boat to Canada, I don't know what will. I'm talking about YY's comments on my LATBG post. Canada sure sounds good doesn't it? A friend tells me there's free health-care and education and it's pretty easy to emigrate there. I don't know much details though, maybe YY could share. But that's all wishful thinking on my part, Eddie would never entertain thoughts of living in what he considers an angmoh country.
So YY, 20 kids per classroom? Is this public or private schools? Yes, I agree too that test-taking shouldn't be so excessive in the early years. Working life isn't a series of exams or tests; what's important is to instil a lifelong love of learning,
an inquiring mind, natural curiousity, the ability to work well with others, the art of giving and taking. Tests do have a place in schools, they can be used to help teachers gauge how much a child has taken in from lessons; however, they can be done in a way that's stress-free (no preparation required), and emphasis is put on how to help the child who's not catching up, and not on who's topping the class.
Here in Canada the kids have no pressure from school until they're in grade 11 (~ JC1 in Sgp). Last yr in G1 my son had no homework except a 10-word spelling test every Friday and a home-reading program, about 3 books a week. But they did write journals nearly every day in class.
Despite some flaws in the system I somehow feel the approach over here is more 'age-appropriate' than in Sgp where kids are drilled in test-taking skills right from... K2? This may be impt to train kids for the all-impt 'O' & 'A' levels examinations where how many A's a school gets is really really crucial in some circles (*smirk). But I really don't think test-taking skills is all that impt when it comes to graduate, post-graduate level or the rest of the kids' lives for that matter.
My kid left Sgp in the middle of K1.. Whew! 'Siam'-ed the P1 lottery and also 'siam'-ed his extremely 'ngiao' K1 teacher who traumatized me with frequent parent-teacher chats in which I'm berated on how my little one wasn't toeing the line exactly the way she wanted. Funny, he never had this problem with previous teachers before and never had it ever in Canada either.
Anyway, I like the approach the teachers have over here. PTC's are invariably happy events and the teachers always greet you with a huge smile & talk positively about your kid in any ways they can think of. If there's an area of concern it's discussed encouragingly as something that happens to kids frequently and suggestions are gently hinted at as to how similar scenarios have been effectively managed before, in a very confident & upbeat way. There's never any undercurrent of woe or recrimination.
On the other hand in Sgp I was always made to feel like an inept parent. I guess there is so much stress & expectation in the system that everyone feels insecure--teachers included, which is then passed on to other points of contact.
Over here the class size is small--20kids per class--which can account for teachers being able to give more attention to each kid which in itself would have probably prevented a lot of behavioral or learning issues. And when you start off on a good note, teachers feel they can and are doing a good job for each kid, so they're generally in a state of better morale.
The whole society generally does not expect people to work as long hours or be half as productive as in Sgp. There is no need to--I've asked many Canadians this question before: which country does Canada compete with for economic survival? And no one could ever think of any. The only competition is found in the ice-hockey rink, I concluded! This may account somewhat for why the men are so crazy about ice-hockey over here--at the end of the working week they have excess energy that they have to somehow dissipate somewhere.. (quite unlike Sgp, I must say!)
So if you don't pine for the 'high-life' and you're happy to stay put in Canada for the better part of your life --i.e. the country with one of the largest natural-resource reserves in the world--you don't ever have to hear anyone tell you that you or your kids must learn to be competitive & to stay competitive :-))
Some comparisons to boggle your mind:--
British Columbia (the province where Vancouver is in) has a population of 4+ million (close to Sgp’s) yet the land are is larger than France, Germany & the Netherlands put together!!
The entire country of Canada has a population of 30+ million, which is about the population of the state of California.
There is more than enough natural resources to spare for everyone (including the 2nd largest oil-reserve after Saudi Arabia, btw), I always feel that humans are such a scarce resource here that everyone is 'pampered' by the state. Hence many of the things that people have to angst about in Sgp are largely ‘alien’ and irrelevant here. But I don’t blame the ethos in Sgp because Sgp can't have more different geophysical realities and competition IS a fact of survival there and the kids do have to learn it from very young. And the pie IS getting smaller in Sgp. We have had to work much harder for a house and a car than our parents did, and it’ll only get harder still for our kids.
Why emigrate to Canada & not Australia—some have asked. Well Canada is right next door to the U.S. of A. which is the Happening Land of Opportunities so if my future generation(s) can’t heck the slow life over here they can just drive over for the bright lights & the adrenaline rush.