Find ways to ease classroom stress

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 September, 2011, 12:00am


Stress and education seem to go hand-in-hand too often in Hong Kong. Teachers and students regularly complain about having to do too much work in the classroom and after school. As another school year starts, those concerns are again being expressed. In an on-line survey released this week, up to 40 per cent of teachers said they suffered from anxiety as a result of work stress, while in a separate study, almost 30 per cent of secondary pupils said that even before lessons had begun, they were already under intense pressure to perform well.

Students certainly face a lot of pressure to get high grades and many are required by their parents to do after-school tuition. If our children are to become well-rounded adults, their time has to be balanced between study, relaxation and exercise. A proper work-life balance is what we should all be striving to achieve. Teachers are no exception.

The survey of teachers cannot be called comprehensive as only 530 took part. Those who responded said they worked an average of 11.6 hours a day and spent a further 2.6 hours on administrative matters and work-related training or studies, leaving just six hours for sleep, half an hour for meals and 1.7 hours a week for family and socialising. Typical or not, though, teachers have long complained that adapting to new schooling systems and the demands put on them by school boards, principals and parents are stressful. Compared to education in other developed economies, class sizes in public schools tend to be large, usually around 35, and those who work for schools that have to follow government guidelines worry that they will lose their jobs should numbers fall below strictly-mandated levels.

This is not a satisfactory situation. More understanding is needed towards our children and their teachers. Education is important, but it is not all there is to life. Smaller class sizes would help and greater support for teachers would be highly beneficial. Excessive stress can lead to health and social problems and the last place we should find these is in the classroom.