Education system may vary among countries but always be of considerable concern to almost all people throughout the world. Thus, there is a wealth of ongoing debates surrounding its role, its function or its efficiency on a global scale. According to John Holt (1969), “school is bad for children”, which means general schools have deleterious effect on students. This is still considered the current educational situation in Vietnam.First and foremost, it would appear that Vietnamese schools focus on too many theories for students to understand and apply to real life.
Realistically, high school students all have to learn dozens of different subjects such as Math, Literature, Biology, Geography, etc., all of whose textbooks contain an enormous number of details. According to Professor Nguyen Xuan Han, “the current curricula harm students” ¹ in that up to a half of the information in textbooks seems to be unnecessary. Thereby, students will soon become desensitized to what they have acquired at schools and then inevitably forget the knowledge. Besides, unreasonable curricula lacking in practice disable learners to apply the information from their books to real life. Since they stand little chance to practice at schools, they might jump to the conclusion that “learning is separate from living” (Holt, 1969) as well as gradually lose the passion for learning.Secondly, most Vietnamese schools are teacher-centered places instead of student-centered ones, which probably leads to students’ wrong perspective. The teachers are not there to satisfy students’ curiosity about the surrounding world ², which they have already aroused before going to school, but introduce the knowledge and subjects they regard important.
The students are soon made to assume the importance of some subjects and have a clear bias toward them despite their inadequacy. For instance, in Vietnam several disciplines such as Math, Literature and Foreign Language account for more sessions (three to five per week) than others (one to two weekly), which certainly results in students’ belief that those subjects are highly appreciated and the most important. In an event that one is bad at “the three most important disciplines”, he will consider himself as a slow and poor learner, in which case he is setting the limits on his own capacity. It is undeniable that the importance of distinctive subjects cannot be compared with each other’s, and the students’ abilities should not be judged by their marks in only some certain disciplines. Nonetheless, what matters in most Vietnamese schools is what the teachers think is important and what they want the students to know.
Likewise, the lack of interaction among teachers and students as well as the mechanicalness in conventional teaching methods are stifling the creativity in learning of students in Vietnam. Much as people claim that curricula, teaching methods, textbooks, etc. are being renewed to better learners, the fact is that only a few significant changes have been made. Teachers are still providing the knowledge designed in curricula rather than based on students’ desire.
Students are supposed to keep quiet during the lessons instead of being encouraged to freely express their ideas and discuss with fellows. In many general schools of Vietnam, keeping silent is regarded as a regulation in classroom for students to conform. Furthermore, students have to accept the explanations and analyses of the issues from the lessons given by the teachers as their personal thoughts and understanding are usually underestimated. In case one makes mistakes, the teacher will point them out and correct them for him, at which point the student “comes to feel that learning is a passive process” (John Holt, 1969). This may steadily contribute to their unwillingness to brainstorm ideas and the limits on their creative learning power as well.
Some people might be holding the opinion that unless a person attends school, he will never gain enough knowledge and skills to land a job, which obviously makes him miserable. It might be true that schools can help learners form the knowledge base that is essential in daily life. Nonetheless, the vast majority of Vietnam’s schools are providing a tremendous amount of information from various areas, a part of which is too difficult and profound for students to understand. May people need all the knowledge from every aspect to earn their livings? Or just basic background knowledge and the proficiency in their majors? Schools, moreover, appear to have deficiencies in practical lessons that can improve students’ skills.
Hence, it is recent idea that schools cannot provide learners with sufficient preparation for their future. By and large, many limits like unreasonable curricula and irrelevant teaching methods still exist in Vietnamese education systems, which makes schools allegedly become uninteresting and unbeneficial places. Thereby, by providing new advanced schedules based on students’ desire may the government be able to address this heated problem which cannot be tackled in one night.