Topic 98: The computer is widely used in education and some people think that teachers will not play important roles in the classroom. To what extent do you agree?
Computers have been favoured by more and more educators and teachers as a key component of a perfect educational environment. Its role in a traditional classroom is nevertheless a subject of debate, with myriadarguments being advanced both in support of and against its impact on the role of a teacher.
One of the major drawbacks of the computer is lack of flexibility. Due to its programmatic limitations, its teaching is uniform, repetitive, standardised and therefore unsuited to the specific needs of a student. For example, it can only answer questions which have been programmed into it but fails to answer any unusual, non-standardand unprecedented question. By contrast, a human teacher is able to respond flexibly with giving well-tailored, persuasive and inspiring answers. For this reason, a computer hardly functions as effectively as a human teacher does.
Another disadvantage of the computer, which makes it unaligned withthe philosophy of the contemporary education, is its failure to interact with students. Out of technical constraints, the computer is interested in elicitingthe desired response only. Students' unexpected performance, potentially exceptional and distinguished, is not recognised by the computer. It is fair to say that computers achieve nothing but make all education into an uncriticaltype of vocational training. Students are conditioned to absorb information without questioning and given no chance to express their personal opinions.
There are some other problems inherent in the computer-based teaching, such as inability to discipline students and failing to attend tostudents' emotional needs, making this model of teaching not as competent as the traditional style. However, the contribution of the computer as a teaching aid can never be underrated. It not only assists teachers to present educational materials in diversified ways but also provides repetitive drillsto improve the students' command of knowledge. With the computer, the teacher can spend less time on paper work and concentrate more on the development of a student in other aspects, such as creativity and teamwork skills. It is essential to advancing rounded education.
Taking into consideration those above-mentioned characteristics of computer-based teaching, one can conclude that the computer can only serve as a teaching aid, facilitating students' interest in a topic and assisting them to take in information faster, rather than taking the placeof the teacher.
Topic 99: Although it is generally prohibited, corporal punishment persists in many families. Do you think corporal punishment is an acceptable way to regulate children's behaviours?
Physical punishmentis of concern for many researchers. A subject of broad interest is how physical punishments link to the internal and external influences that a child may be exposed to. Either from studies or people's experience, the use of corporal punishment can cause short and long term effects on a child's personality, identity and behaviour.
Although many parents attempt to control the intensity of physical punishment, their behaviour, in many instances, increases the likelihood of causing remediless harm to their children. The distinction between discipline and abuse is hardly clear-cut, and there is no assurance that parents can control their discipline properly. Physical injuryseems to be an inevitable result in most cases. For example, spanks are widely accepted by many parents as a method of discipline, but, unfortunately, most parents hit harder when children recommit the offence. Injuries are therefore well-documented.
In addition to physical harm, corporal punishment has been considered as the facilitator of many kinds of emotional harms. For example, children who are exposed to intense and frequent physical punishment are more likely than their peers to suffer depression, unhappiness, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. The accumulative effects of these problems have a profoundinfluence over most survivors of physical punishment. They lose courage to venture and have no desire for being creative individuals, as they only try things their parents permit them to do.
There are also some other negative outcomes, such as behavioural problems. Corporal punishment is perhaps not the sole factor responsible for delinquent behaviour among children, but there is no denying that it increases children's tendency to act out and attack their siblings, peers or even parents. It is particularly true when children receive physical punishment intensely. Even worse, victims of physical punishment might use violence as one of the main parenting methods when they become parents. It is a vicious cycle.
In conclusion, physical punishment can affect a child's life forever. It is imperative that every parent control the extent to which they physically punish their children in order to avoid any negative behaviour problems.
1. physical punishment = corporal punishment
2. in many instances = in many cases = under some circumstances
3. clear-cut = clear = definite = straightforward
4. injury = harm
5. profound = overwhelming = intense = deep = great = extreme
Topic 100: It is not uncommon that children are required to obey the rule of their parents and teachers. Some people are worried that too much control over children will not prepare them well for their adult life. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.
Adults' intervention plays a pivotal role in a child's development. Despite this general knowledge, people are very often confronted with the arguments about the appropriateness of some traditional teaching styles and methods, such as enforcing rules and requiring children's compliance. I agree that rules set by parents contribute greatly to the shaping of children's behaviour, personalities and all other personal characteristics, although I question the view that it is definitely beneficial to children.
There is no point in denying that rule setting is possibly the most effective method in overcoming some upbringing difficulties, such as protecting children from dangers and guiding them to act rationally. Children are adventuresomeand full of curiosity. They attempt various activities, either with deliberationor on the spur of the moment. Imposing rules is therefore imperative, as it prevents many problems from occurring. For example, forbidding accessing knives, medicine, microwaves or ovens can minimise the risk of accidents and injuries. Some other rules, such as forbidding spitting, nose-picking and foul language, lead children to develop proper demeanourin different social situations, and to adhere to strict rules of professional etiquettes from their early childhood.
However, rules should be liftedgradually as children grow older, especially when it becomes clear that rules tend to restrainchildren's mental development. In a traditional classroom, for example, rules are set and applied to underpinthe authority of a teacher. Students are not allowed to pose questions at will, nor are they allowed to challenge teachers' answers. Many of their questions remain unanswered, presenting obstacles to their learning process and forming numerous misconceptions. Another problem is that it will discourage students from reflecting onwhat they have learnt, and dampentheir passion for learning. They are trained as mechanicalor rote learners, while their aptitude for creativity is stifled.
As indicated above, whether to impose rules on children is determined as much by the age of children as by the appropriateness of rules themselves. For younger children, strict rules should be set to ensure children's safety and health. For older children, rules should be concerned about children's behaviour on social occasions. When children become responsible and knowledgeable with age, rules should be phased out.
9. reflect on = mull over = meditate on = contemplate
10. dampen = reduce = diminish
11. mechanical = unthinking
12. stifle = suppress = restrain = repress
13. with age = as one grows up
14. phase out = abolish = forsake
Topic 101: The children who grow up in a family short of money are more capable of dealing with problems in adult life than children who are brought up by wealthy parents. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Of those elements that bear a considerable influence on children's personal development, one of the most influential is family background. There is a perception that the children who grow up in an impoverishedfamily are more capable of solving problems than those from an affluentfamily. In my opinion, it might not always be the case.
One's problem-solving abilities are mainly derived from the knowledge and experience obtained during his or her adolescence. Not surprisingly, children from poor families are less likely to maximise their education. First of all, their parents are unwilling to select a reputable school for them, as tuition fees can take up a large proportion of family income. Another reason is that education, in general, requires devoted time and energy, but many children have to work from an early age in order to supplement their parents' income. Because of their poor educational background, they do not have specialised knowledge in solving problems as required in a specific area of work. They are thus at asevere disadvantagein problem-solving in a working environment.
Another problem that plaguesthe children from less advantaged backgrounds is their limited access to financial support and expert guidance. Children with highly-educated and rich parents are more likely to be better off economically, not only because they have sufficient financial backup but also because they can easily seek the support from others, for example, the friends of their parents, professionals in different occupations. It is true that compared with disadvantaged children, children from medium or high class families have many more opportunities to attend social functionslike balls, banquets, and so forth, where they improve social skills, learn professional etiquettes and consolidate their social network. With a larger social network, they are at an advantagein problem-solving.
As discussed above, while children from a poor background are normally socially ineptand less knowledgeable, those from middle or upper class families have easy access to resources. These distinctions corroboratethe assertion that family background has undisputedimpacts on children's problem solving abilities.
9. at an advantage = in a strong position = get the upper hand
10. inept = incompetent = unskilled
11. corroborate = support = substantiate = back up = uphold
12. undisputed = undeniable = unquestionable
Topic 102: One's character traits are strongly influenced by the place where he or she grew up. Discuss the impacts of an urban environment and those of a rural environment on a child's character development
It is well acknowledged that healthy growth conditions in early life are the prerequisite of a child's positive growth patterns. For this reason, some people are concerned about the impacts of living in rural or urban areas on a child's character development. Below is an outline of the potential impacts of a rural or urban environment on a child's personality and behaviour.
Poverty is one of the main problems in the countryside, either entrenched or escalating, leading directly to poor living standards. Because of parents' limited disposable income, children in rural areas are less likely to receive adequate child care or comfortable housing than their urban counterparts. These conditions are crucial to children's physical health and emotional well-being. Likewise, the soaring abuse and neglect rates in rural families negatively influence children's character building. Children in rural areas are ready outlets for their parents, who feel frustrated and depressed in maintaining a standard of living. Raised in an environment where violence is normal and consequences of violence are ignored, children might grow up to be individuals who are less conscious of the rights of others (including family members and friends) and more likely to use violence.
Another problem is literacy. Low standards of education, which seem to be a defining characteristic of rural areas, are attributed to a mixture of factorsólack of public schools, children's early involvement in income-generating activities and inadequate awareness of education. It is quite clear that income disparitybetween urban and rural families leads to the difference in the access to education, which has a bearingon children's characters. While a well-educated child is confident, broad-minded, creative and cultivated, a poorly-educated child is inhibited, narrow-mindedor even boorish.
In spite of the fact that urban children are able to receive an excellent education, it does not automatically mean that they will grow up without character flaws. In fact, it seems that they are more susceptible to bad habits and social evils. Illegal substances are more common among urban juveniles than among rural adolescents. Uniformityand lifelessnessof outdoor environments is another problem. Garden settings, which are believed to have a healingpower for people living under great pressure, are rare in a metropolitanarea. By comparison, children living in the country are more likely to access outdoor play, a recreation activity that can improve moods and prevent feelings of isolation.
Based on the points outlined above, I believe that environment has a direct bearing on children's character development. Poverty and illiteracy are two common features of rural areas and can contribute to children's negative characters. By contrast, children from urban areas are more likely to feel pressured and isolated, which can trigger erratic behaviour.