Are you kidding? Chinese parents furious over 12-page holiday assignment on fallen leaves
An assignment at a Hangzhou primary school prompts a furious response. ‘How would a first-grader understand the concept of a perimeter?’ one father asks
Parents at a well-known Hangzhou primary school were outraged after it asked first-grade students to write a 12-page science report on fallen leaves.
The assignment, set over the recent Golden Week holidays, asked children to collect fallen leaves from their local area “at different stages of growth” and measure their perimeter, colour, size and texture, Thepaper.cn reported on Tuesday.
“How would a first-grader understand the concept of a perimeter? This is clearly parents’ homework,” a furious father of a child at the unnamed school was quoted as saying. “The fallen leaves are all yellow; where will one go to find fresh leaves?”
The children were also asked for two hand-written reports based on their findings, totalling 12 pages. Primary education normally begins at age six in China.
The father, an engineer by profession who was not named, said that he completed the assignment and that it took him two days to do it. “I wrote 600 to 700 words for each report and I still had to make sure the text corresponded with the leaves, it was much more tiring than my usual job!”
He said his son’s only contribution was colouring in diagrams and collecting leaves.
“It’s basically parents who are doing the 12-page homework, the children are not learning anything,” he said. “Also, if children are learning from this exercise that their parents will do their homework for them, it is not great for their values. In future, they might never work hard again.”
“They have only been in first grade for half a month and can barely write any words, but still have to complete a 12-page written assignment that the science teacher never explained to them,” he reportedly posted on his WeChat account.
The private school’s principal, also unnamed to protect the identity of the school, told reporters that the project did not have to be completed within the week-long holiday and that students were allowed to use Pinyin or ask their parents to write the report if they did not know the exact Chinese characters for some words.
“The homework does not have exact answers, but it was designed to make the children participate more,” he was quoted as saying.
Teachers had also explained the lifespan of a leaf to the first-graders in class, one educator said, and wanted them to understand the concept through the homework.