Thursday, 9 August 2012

About national education

This only reflects my personal feeling towards National Education. It is a sharing, and you are welcome to have your personal point of view.

One country, two systems…there are a lot of differences between Hong Kong and China. I don’t feel that I am 100% Chinese, or British (I was born before 1997). I prefer to write my nationality ‘Hong Kong’. I am living in a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures from my childhood, a place which has been ruled by Britain and now belongs to China.

It is not difficult to find that most of the people in Hong Kong are against the coming National Education. I found there were a lot of arguments between Mainland Chinese and Hongkongers, towards their cultural values. There are good and bad people in all cities.

I could not agree National Education is completely bad, since the Canadian education is doing well on this subject. The main point is the objective of this subject, and so on the direction of the syllabus. Why did the Government(s) impose this subject to us? What are the backgrounds of those people who write the syllabus and what are the study criteria, and what will be the marking criteria?

In my generation, we studied the famous Chinese articles in secondary school and we have Chinese cultural study in A-level. We had same number of Chinese history and Western history lessons every week. We were encouraged to write essay to analyze what happened in different countries. However, the approach of National Education gave us the impression that it will be a ‘brainwashing’ education. We have to love our so-called motherland.

I am a Chinese (Hong Kong is inevitably part of China geometrically), it came obvious when we compared ourselves with foreigners on our family bonding, diets, medicines, philosophies such as Confucius study and balance of Yin Yang. These are the traditional values from ancient China.

 ‘Culture embraces all the manifestations of social behavior of a community, the reactions of the individual as affected by the habits of the group in which he lives, and the product of human activities as determined by these habits’ (Franz Boas, 1930).

It is good to know more about a nation, but it is more important for us to see what’s happening in the whole world. Even in China, will we be allowed to see the whole picture, in their tradition and history, in different aspects? To learn that paper and printing were invented in China, and realize what totally happened in the Cultural Revolution without information hidden.

We are necessary to know history, and also learn from critical thinking and civil education. It is mandatory and complementary if we hope to improve our city. On the other hand, you’d also say ‘Hong Kong is the best’, but what are the supporting reasons, and in which aspects? Are there any comparison between Hong Kong and other cities?

What you haven’t seen doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in the world. For both educators and students, we have to be neutral, but not explaining the culture of other cities with our own cultural value. This is applicable to other countries too. I met some people overseas who looked down other countries’ cultures without prior understanding. It only shows their arrogance and narrow mind. Every place has their good and bad things, based on their geometry, history, ethnicity, religion and economy. The culture goes around with these, and much more than these.

Meanwhile, we enquired if the education system nowadays fulfilling the teaching standard. I’ve heard that there is paper examination in Physical Education (sports) in primary school. It is miserable that the students can’t escape from the fate of academic results. They won’t be allocated to their favorite schools if they don’t have excellent results and piles of certificate of ‘leisure education’. The students as well as the teachers are pressured to achieve the outcome by getting high scores in this keen competition. So the ‘solution’ is standard answer, and students provide similar answers according to the marking scheme, while the study schedule is extremely tight in Hong Kong. There is not much chance to criticize and share freely in the courses. Diversity, possibility and flexibility in our studies are being questioned.

So, can we guarantee that the students can be allowed to analyze independently, argue and question what they have learnt from National Education? Or, they will only be allowed to provide the high graded stream answers, which the government hopes to listen? It’d be a struggle in other subjects, but the influence will be more serious in National Education. What happened if the students just simply said ‘there are lots of fake products in China’? And, there are more potential answers, which come up in our mind towards this country. I experienced very low mark when I haven’t supported religious belief on my paper in my secondary school, and it is common without reason. That was just writing about our feeling towards Christianity, liked diary. Religious belief should be personal.

It couldn’t be a short-term decision to put this subject up. If this ‘big country’ subject is coming, there should be ‘big education system’ and ‘strong educator’s instinct’ to support the students to learn and analyze with their maturity and prior knowledge on critical thinking. Can our government be daring to look at what the other countries doing? Or they think this nation is the center and powerful enough?

I believe the educators, students and parents have clear mind.

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