Fri, Jun 27, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Junior high school kids overworked, foundation warns

By Hu Ching-hui and Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The nation’s junior high school students spend too much at school at the expense of personal time, a group of educators said yesterday, warning that excess study hours have adverse effects on a student’s cognitive and interpersonal development.

The Humanistic Education Foundation (HEF) yesterday released the results of a poll surveying 1,433 junior high schools students at 229 schools. Of the students, 81 percent spent more than 45 hours at school each week.

That means students put in more hours than the maximum work week set by the Council of Labor Affairs, the foundation said, adding that Taiwanese students spent twice as much time at school than their peers in Europe and the US.

“Prolonged study hours have zero benefits on a student’s ability to learn. Moreover, students have less time for an adequate sleep and leisure activities. The pressure that students face is no different now from what they faced 15 years ago,” HEF president Shih Ying (史英) said.

The foundation advocates a “3-8 plan” in which eight hours of a student’s day are spent on schoolwork and eight on sleeping, leaving another eight for leisure time.

The group also said many schools had unbalanced curriculums, sacrificing electives to make students put more hours into subjects like math and science.

More than 57 percent of the schools polled did not offer a well-rounded curriculum as required by law and at least 76 percent regularly allowed teachers of Chinese, math and English to take time from students’ physical education and art classes for extra lessons.

Mental health expert Teng Hui-wen (鄧惠文) said the junior high school period marks the most formative years for teenagers because it is a crucial time to develop independent and critical thinking.

The “fill-in-the-blanks” teaching method impedes a student’s intellectual growth, Teng said.

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