Shanghai’s primary school students will have thinner textbooks beginning this semester as part of the city’s effort to reduce their academic burden.
The revised Chinese textbooks for first-graders have deleted all eight classical Chinese poems that were in the previous version. The vocabulary requirement has also been lowered.
Shanghai education authorities said the move will give students more time to consolidate other knowledge and let them study and learn subjects that interest them.
“We will have further revisions in the near future. We will carry out a series of interactive activities with parents, such as open classes, inviting parents to attend the classes and assess them,” said Zhu Lei, an official of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission.
The commission said the revised English and mathematics textbooks for primary school students will come out soon.
The amount of text in the revised English textbooks will be reduced, and students will also learn English through a series of games. Ability in oral English will be a major part of the curriculum. Meanwhile, the mathematics class will be more practical and focus more on cultivating students’ quantitative thinking abilities, Zhu said.
Education authorities said they will invite a third party to participate in the assessment of the revised textbooks.
They will also solicit opinions from society and parents. The results of the investigation will be released to the public.
Not everyone was enthusiastic about the changes.
“We welcome and support the education reform to reduce students’ burden. But it should be noted that some precious parts of Chinese education cannot be ignored when talking about reform,” said a man surnamed Hu, whose son will attend primary school next year.
“Reducing the classical Chinese poems in textbooks will not help students to understand traditional Chinese culture. Actually, I want my child to learn more about the country’s history and culture,” he said.