16 September 2019
The traditional I-teach-you-follow approach can hardly prepare students for the job market of the future, say experts. Photo: AFP
The traditional I-teach-you-follow approach can hardly prepare students for the job market of the future, say experts. Photo: AFP

An IT expert’s take on what’s wrong with HK education

Lots of parents want to give their kids a head-start in life, a “win at the starting line” so to speak. But their concept of winning is all about getting good grades — basically drilling and preparing the children for exams.

However, what they forget is that the world is changing quickly. Whatever you have learned, it’s going to become obsolete soon, especially in a fast-moving industry like information technology.

An IT boss is suggesting to parents that the traditional following and getting-the-correct-answer education approach is not the way to prepare our kids for the future.

Things that are popular today might not even exist or were just beginning to take off four years ago, points out Yat Siu, CEO of game developer Outblaze. And computing language typically changes a lot every few years.

So the essence of education is not about the facts or skills one learns in the college, it’s the nurturing of “creativity, the willingness to take risk, and getting our kids prepared for something they have never done before,” Siu says.

Like many tech firms, some of the most successful products of Outblaze were born out of totally new ideas. When Stargirl, a game targeted at woman players was launched, games were still very much regarded as a guy thing.

“We don’t want to do what others have done. We want to try something no one has done before,” says Siu.

In looking for staff, what Siu values is the creativity, people who can think freely and look at things in different ways — people who are open to new, even outlandish ideas and not afraid of taking risks, and those who can quickly “unlearn and relearn”.

Citing the success of Finnish education, Siu says it is a model that Hong Kong should emulate.

In Finland, kids are not assessed in the first six years of their education. Rarely do they have to take tests until they are in their teens. The model is anything but evaluation-driven; the national curriculum only gives broad guidelines to allow for plenty of flexibility.

Pressuring the kids with endless tutoring classes is not a good idea. Siu says the best thing for parents to do is to let go, allow their kids to play and explore.

While admitting that it will be difficult to change established mindsets, he says that parents will have to face up to new realities and give their children more freedom to find their own wings.

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EJ Insight writer