Recently, some groups have proposed legislating for “standard learning hours” as a solution to the mounting study-related stress among our students, which they believe could lie at the root of teen suicides.
According to the proposal, the standard learning hours should be set at no more than five to seven hours a day, and students should not be given any schoolwork or be made to attend private tutorials outside their study hours. Instead, they should be allowed to enjoy as many extracurricular activities, or simply, as much fun as they want after school.
At first glance, they might appear to have a point there. Many Hong Kong students do suffer from study-related stress, and having to spend an excessive amount of time studying and doing schoolwork on a daily basis is undoubtedly one of the main contributing factors to their stress.
However, can we really relieve their stress just by imposing standard learning hours?
Just as I am against legislating for standard working hours, I am also against the idea of establishing standard learning hours.
It will not only kill our children’s motivation for learning but will also create a wrong impression that there is actually a “limit” to how good one can get in pursuit of knowledge, when the truth is there isn’t supposed to be any.
I believe the highest form of learning is “happy learning”, under which once a person’s interest in a particular subject is sparked, they will start digging deeper and deeper into that subject and have fun doing it.
And as they are burning with passion for finding out more about that particular subject, perhaps the only thing we as parents and teachers should be worried about is not stress any more, but rather, addiction.
As we can see, education is all about igniting a flame within our kids, which will then motivate them to go on that never-ending journey of knowledge, and putting time limits on learning would totally work against that.
I think the best way to help students struggling with study-related stress is providing them with sufficient counseling rather than imposing a rigid and mechanical learning routine on them.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 16
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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