Additional Lessons On Academic Days: A LOAD Too Heavy For Us?

Written by Joshua from 08A03

On 8 April 2008, Mr Lim Chok Peng posted an announcement on TPJC.net, stating that JC-1s would have to attend additional lessons on academic days (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday). The additional lessons, which are compulsory, start at 5pm and end at around 7pm. Subject tests will occasionally be conducted during these extra lessons.

This announcement was met with widespread unhappiness from the JC-1s, who posted their complaints in a thread in the Feedback section of the TPJC.net Forum. The thread was started by Dylan from 08S01 and has received over 300 (and counting) replies as of 20 April 2008, indicating the level of discontentment among the student population.

One of the main criticisms of the additional lessons is that students will return home very late. As a result, they will have insufficient time to do their homework, prepare for lectures and do self-study. They may have difficulty understanding what is taught and might be punished (or even suspended) for failing to complete and submit their homework promptly. Those who live far away from the college, such as John from 08S27, are worst off, as they may take over an hour to travel home from school (and to school from home). Besides reaching home at an ungodly hour, they have to wake up earlier to avoid being late.

An article published in the September 2007 edition of Newsweek states that the average teenager needs about nine hours of sleep per day to stay healthy. However, most students do not get enough shut-eye. The additional lessons make our timetables even tighter, forcing us to sacrifice our sleep to finish our assignments. In fact, Sarah from 08S16 mentioned that some of her friends had only one hour of sleep for two days in a week! Due to their lack of sleep, students will be tired and have difficulty concentrating during lessons (especially the extra lessons).

Students also complained that they were hungry during the extra classes and their hunger affected their concentration. Julius from 08S05, who also writes for TPJCian magazine, said that he had gastric problems because the additional lessons pushed back his dinnertime. A quick check of the timetables of a few Civics Groups reveals that regular lessons usually end at 4.30pm or 5pm on academic days. By then, the canteen stalls have closed (and students have inadequate time to purchase and consume food from elsewhere).

In the long run, the stress, hunger and fatigue will adversely affect students' emotional and physical health. Irregular diets and a lack of sleep weaken the immune system, causing students to fall ill more easily. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation increases the risk of obesity, depression and a plethora of other medical conditions. Moreover, student morale has fallen since the extra lessons started. Shaun from 08S09 related how members of the chess club were acting "emo" the day after the additional classes were announced.

We hope that the college administration will listen to our concerns and take steps to improve the situation. Several students have put forward interesting ideas that should be considered. For example, Ron from 08S06 suggested that tutors and students arrange extra classes at times which are most convenient for both, while Joshua from 08A03 proposed that the extra lessons should only be compulsory for the weaker students. A couple of students raised the possibility of holding additional lessons on Saturdays, sparking a mini-debate over whether that would be a boon (since students would be less tired and hungry) or a bane (as weekends are for students to relax).

To prevent our stomachs from interfering with our concentration, the canteen stalls could be closed later or, as Hui Chin from 08S22 recommended, free snacks could be provided for hungry students. Finally, perhaps study groups would be more effective than additional classes, while the additional lessons themselves would be more useful if teachers experimented with more innovative teaching methods and different ways of explaining concepts.


azhar said...

Well-written article. However, regarding your point that canteen should be closed at a later time, I believe the students have a choice to buy snacks in the cafe.

I do understand it may be too costly if remedials are at least 2-3 times per week. If that is the case, perhaps the student should bring his/her water bottle to cut cost on drinks or bring some snacks from home.

Just my opinion. = )

Ng Ruenn Sheng said...

I have to add this: even in my JC, its canteen open until 6pm. After July, it will provide free drinks and food for all as well. Maybe you can suggest to your college's SC?

mel said...

It is a good idea but we have to consider that most tpjc students dislike the food in the canteen and would choose to go out to eat given the choice of time.

Hence opening the school's canteen until so late is not feasible for us.And i doubt the school has funds to provide free food and drinks.

Sarah said...

hey. i really like this article. i agree with every single thing written here especially about the fatigue thing.
the academic demands are just so heavy that i had to resort to drinking red bull in the morning once a week to keep myself awake although i know it's really bad for my health. but seriously, i wouldn't want to fall asleep in lessons and compromise my studies.

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