Well, that's the advice a friend of mine got from her (retired) teacher mum. "Why?", you might ask. Well, apparently kids that attend pre-schools way too early are very difficult to manage in class. They give teachers a headache.
The reason is straightforward, kids who have attended some 3 to 4 years of pre-school and kindergarten today would have gone through possibly the typical syllabus of a standard 2 pupil. Hence unsurprisingly, many of these kids won't be the most patient lot sitting still in a class which the teachers are trying the "teach" them things which they already knew inside out.
What will make life more difficult for these teachers is the fact the level of "knowledge" which these kids start school in Standard 1 with, is highly unequal. Some will really know terribly a lot and be fluent with the languages, while others have only a half-decent grasp of the ABCs.
Initially, I just thought that it was just an interesting and amusing problem which primary school teachers face. Well, looks like its more serious than I thought!
According to a ground-breaking 2005 survey by the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), as reported by the New Straits Times, "stress levels among teachers are soaring, with nearly seven out of 10 claiming to be under pressure. And the biggest source of pressure: Parents and students." :)
The polls found that 69 per cent of those surveyed were under stress. Many said pressure from parents and students was the most stress-inducing factor (83 per cent).NUTP secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng elaborated that "sometimes, [the students] are more knowledgeable than the teachers, and this stresses the teachers out."
NUTP has suggested that the workload of teachers be reduced by ensuring that all clerical work is handled by clerks. The union also wants the teacher-student ratio to be revised to two teachers per class.Well, errr... while I agree with the fact that it is likely that students today, with greater access to information are likely to be (sometimes) more knowledgeable than the teachers, I disagree that by increasing the teacher student ratio to two teachers per class is the way forward.
The reason why students are (sometimes) more knowledgeable than their teachers can be attributed to two simple reasons. New, younger teachers are no longer the cream of the crop. The smart graduates today do not have ambitions to be a teacher. That leaves the potential pool of candidates as teachers to be severely short of talent. Hence it's unsurprising that you will find students (sometimes) more knowledgeable than their teachers.
Secondly, the older generation teachers are used to a more docile student population who will accept whatever dished out to them. However, the young student population today are definitely not the typical docile lot. They are more outspoken and more willing to challenge teachers, especially when they believe that the teachers are making a mistake. It also doesn't help that these older generation teachers are likely to be less inclined to gather additional knowledge with the help of computers and the internet, relative to the boisterous young students.
But the solution of two teachers per class is equally hare-brained. There are plenty of classrooms in developed countries which continue to function extremely well even with the same single teacher per class ratio. In Singapore for example, I have not heard of any school which offers 2 teachers per class! And I can safely say that there are no more clerks to help these Singapore teachers with their administrative work. They will just have to become more efficient and productive - there is no other way.
Why should Malaysian teachers be any different, unless of course, we are by nature less efficient and less productive, and hence less capable than our Singaporean counterparts. Is that the case? Do we need to review the quality of our teachers? Hmmm....