Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese parents are renowned for their high expectations for their children, especially when it comes to education.
Once a child starts in education, they begin a long and arduous road, led by ambitious parents.
“Anyone let your kids learn at a maths teaching centre? My child is a first grader and is slow at maths. I want to enroll him in a maths class as it is supposed to improve his way of thinking and make him learn better,” wrote one anonymous member on a parenting forum.
Answering the question, some parents said that their kids started learning maths at the age of four.
While some children are hoped to achieve better studying records, others are expected to boost their intellect, a vague concept indulged by maths teaching centres that interests many parents.
However, disappointment soon follows.
“My child calculates fast and accurately yet does not understand the essence of mathematics,” H., a parent whose child is a first grader at Hà Nội’s Lê Ngọc Hân Primary School told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
Professor Đỗ Đức Thái, editor-in-chief of mathematics books in the new general educational curriculum, said doing maths and thinking mathematically were two different things.
“I used to solve math problems in an online contest for primary school students and found myself slower than other contestants. However, parents should not be satisfied with their children’s results. To achieve prizes, many parents create different accounts and ask their children to practise as much as possible. Practice made perfect, they might get what they want, but it might not help to improve their way of thinking,” he said.
Not an amazing race
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education is an emerging trend at Vietnamese schools.
Many parents, with great expectations, are pushing children into these subjects, regardless of their interest and ability.
“At the beginning of each semester, my child’s teacher introduces several courses on applied sciences, product design and development. Everyone talks about Industry 4.0 and how children should learn science as soon as possible. However, it seems like we need to learn thousands of skills in the digital era,” said a parent of a seventh grader at Cầu Giấy Secondary School in Hà Nội.
On an online parenting forum, a group of parents discussed about how they feel impatient when around them “others’ children seem to learn things related to science.”
A member said that she registered her child for three STEM courses, hoping to help him develop comprehensively.
Besides the STEM rush, foreign languages are another cause celebre for demanding parents.
As from 2 to 6 years-old is the “golden time” to learn languages, many children are forced to learn English at kindergarten.
The phenomenon peaks in public secondary schools that prioritise admitting candidates who hold international English certificates.
Chu Cẩm Thơ from the Việt Nam National Institute of Educational Sciences has developed a maths learning method through experience and said that thinking mathematically started with observing, imagining and playing games.
Children will learn to compare, generalise, specialise, analyse and form their own ways of thinking for different maths problems.
She said that many parents had the misunderstanding that having extra maths classes would help their children earn better scores.
Nguyễn Quốc Hùng, an English language expert, stressed the individuality of learning.
By pushing children down certain paths, adults create pressure and obstruct the natural learning process, Hùng said.
“Children need to be taught based on their capacity. Expectations cannot do anything but make children scared of studying. Their potential can only be unleashed whenever they can learn what they are interested in,” he added. — VNS