What with first graders in Chicago Public Schools — among many other U.S. locales — having homework every single day and a proposed ban on homework in China, American parents may need to update their dinner table lecture points.
The Ministry of Education in the People’s Republic of China has put forward new guidelines aimed at ending written homework of every kind for students in grades one through six, reports MSN. The proposal would also end standardized exams for students from first to third grade.
The rationale for the unambitious new law is to ease the intense academic burden placed on children throughout the country. Currently, Chinese schoolchildren frequently are assigned several hours of homework each week.
In place of homework, the guidelines suggest field trips to museums and outings designed to help students learn how to make crafts and perform farm work.
This new rule isn’t the Chinese government’s first stab at this kind of education reform, notes an editorial in China Daily, an English-language newspaper published in the country
“It’s hard to say how successful it will be this time,” said education scholar Yong Zhao, according to MSN. “China is such a big country. How are they going to enforce it?”
The main obstacle is going to be the proliferation of ultra-competitive parents, the scholar said.
“The Chinese culture is operated in such a way that you are only good when you are better than others,” Zhao added. “Every parent wants their child to get into the best university, so there’s a race to send them to the best kindergarten, the best middle school, the best high school, and so on.”
Zhao said that he expects an increase in private testing and tutoring if China bans primary-school homework.
According to China Daily, even kindergarteners have it rough. Li Yan, who runs a kindergarten in a province bordering North Korea, estimated that about 60 percent of all kindergarten classes are spent covering academic subjects such as math and English.
Some parents say homework should not be eliminated.
“If he has no homework to do, how could he review the knowledge learned at school and how could he handle the pressure when he enters middle school and high school?” asked Lu Qian, the mother of a third-grader.