Hong Kong Christian Service

This Web Page is updated on 2017-11-24 16:24
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Issue 021
2017 September
The Boundless and Bottomless Sea of Remedial Classes

September 1 - is a day, for many students, best to be forgotten and yet dare not forget – School Commencement Day.

However, many primary and secondary schools have in fact, quietly kicked off their new semester early. The official reason from most schools is to help students adapt to the new school year early in the learning progress, but in the minds of the students, they are being forced to see their summer being shortened with nowhere to complain…

It is not difficult to imagine why students feel helpless. Only if teachers and parents can picture the following scenario: Suppose your boss unilaterally announces that you need to attend remedial classes during your annual leave to improve the overall work performance and business results, and no make up holidays will be granted; you may then immediately think of your "labour rights" that annual leave is the employees’ rights that cannot be denied. However, who is willing to promote the needs of Hong Kong students?

In the mid-nineteenth century, under the auspices of American educator Horace Mann, the United States carried out comprehensive education reforms, including the implementation of the "summer vacation" system. This reform won support from the medical and psychological fields that believed students were at a developmental stage and their brains should not be under long-term pressure. In addition, the schools in Europe and the United States have always encouraged institutes to reach out to the community and expand students’ personal experience during the summer vacation, and that even include exchanges abroad. It is indisputable that such kind of non-classroom learning experience would benefit young people greatly.

In Hong Kong, the local education system has always given people the impression of "spoon-feeding". The prevailing examination system only emphasizes students' recitation of book knowledge and lacks access to society and nature. Under the overloaded system, students simply have little opportunities to cultivate personal and social-cognitive skills. In recent years there is a sarcastic term on the Internet coined to describe students who excel in examinations but are weak in their general skills - they are labeled as "high in scores but low in skills".

Our four Happy Teens Clubs are committed to creating a healthy and happy environment for young people to thrive. However, seeing a lot of primary and secondary students attend different remedial classes and activities in the long holidays, we not only witnessed the students’ multidimensional developmental space being shrunk and limited, but we even saw students being punished for absenteeism in these holiday remedial classes. This will not only stifle students' development opportunities outside their studies, but will also reduce the motivation to learn, the result is counterproductive. We emphasise the encouragement of students' autonomy and diversified learning, that does not mean to completely sever "learning" and "holidays", but rather that students will be allowed to learn in a more diverse way during the long holidays so as to achieve the goal of holistic development.

A famous animation "Alike" said: "You cut off my wings and then blame me for not being able to fly." Most of today's educational reforms or systems, including holiday arrangements, are dominated by adults’ subjectivity. However, whether adults really have a reflection on what expectations they have on the next generation? Young people are our future successors; do we only need elites with high scores, and not multi-faceted development? We can start from here and re-examine our education policy, methods, and even whether the holidays should be filled with homework, tutorials and supplementary exercises...!

Advocate Justice Team of Happy Teens Clubs

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