25 October 2016
Some kids begin facing undue pressures from parents and teachers right from the kindergarten stage. Photo: HKEJ
Some kids begin facing undue pressures from parents and teachers right from the kindergarten stage. Photo: HKEJ

Education: Our kids deserve better

Looking at the education system in Hong Kong and the expectations that parents have from their children, one cannot help but feel sorry for local schoolkids.

Pupils are facing increasingly heavy workloads and challenging homework, putting them under undue pressure.

At some kindergartens, toddlers are being asked to master knowledge about human bones and identify different types of joints. 

It’s an absurd situation. People don’t seem to have applied their mind as to whether such lessons are right for the pupils who may be aged no more than six.

Of course, parents are thinking about the future of their kids and it is understandable that they want to give the best for them.

However, what they do not realize is that their parenting is getting more extreme or even distorted in some ways.

In the past, parents were relatively less demanding of the kids, as they just sought a good education and the instilling of sound moral values.

Parents knew of the importance of passing on traditional Chinese moral virtues to their sons and daughters, and they also looked up to the teachers who were entrusted with the kids.

But now, the priorities have changed and moral education is no longer a key focus. It doesn’t really matter to many parents whether the educators preach or instill morals or virtues in the kids.

Schools now serve only one prime purpose: to drill the curriculum outlined by the government and make the children score high marks in exams.

With education becoming commoditized, parents are behaving like consumers who want every penny they spend on the kids to be reflected in the exam scores of the children.

Notions such as getting the kids to be righteous persons who will contribute to society are being dismissed as old-school concepts.

Instead, “helicopter parents” who push the kids for awards and results are becoming the norm.

The “winning at the starting line” mentality, in my opinion, is the worst thinking possible.

Spoon-feeding toddlers with knowledge and skills exceeding their capability is harmful to the kids’ development.

Preschool education should promote creativity and thinking capacity among the kids, rather than focus on prepping the children for exam success.

While the problems are becoming more apparent by the day, what is really disconcerting is the failure of the Education Bureau to take remedial measures.

Isn’t it time that authorities wake up and take some action to safeguard the welfare of our children?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 28.

Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

Parents raise outcry over ‘heavy’ worksheets in kindergarten (Sept. 22, 2016)

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