Education

I stood in front of this painting in the Pompidou Centre in Paris for a full 10 minutes before I was dragged away from the canvas.

Education

This reminded me of all the painful exams I undertook when I was a teenager. Recitation after recitation. It was more important to memorise the sequence of a biological pathway than to understand each step.

I, myself have been the victim of Hong Kong’s old education system. Seeing the letter “A” next to “Chinese Language” on my HKCEE certificate, I felt as if I have scored a victory goal in the World Cup Final. Instead of screaming my head off with joy, I nearly soaked the bit of paper with tears. Afterall, it is difficult to remain sane after a full month of cramming paragraphs after paragraphs. “Answers to questions” on those  exam guides were the most merciless. If I had any imagination it would have been ironed out of my head straight away. Of course, the “answers” escaped via my ears from my folds lacking brain the minute I exited the examination hall.

If you have exam phobia, my consolation goes out to you for you are doomed in a stressful setting such as this. The old education system defines a student by the amount of As they achieve. Kisses fly your way from your parents and teachers if you have done well in your exams.

If you have exam phobia, my consolation goes out to you for you are doomed in a stressful setting such as this. The old education system defines a student by the amount of As they achieve. Kisses fly your way from your parents and teachers if you have done well in your exams.

I went back to this painting. I stood in front of it lamenting the time I wasted on useless education. There are many ways to interpret a painting. I saw it as “a vicious cycle”. Messing with a child’s brain they’ll end up messing the next generation.

Now that my education is relocated to England, a massive impact of my past is imposing on my present. Say, in a group project, my instantaneous creative response is never as sharp and intuitive as my colleagues. The old education system in Hong Kong “prepared me too much” and I’m terrified to “make mistakes”.

In real life, there is often not a black and white answer to problems. One arrives at a logical deduction via trial and error. In life, you only get wiser by making mistakes. It seems too lucky to me if someone never has to learn by mistakes.

Every mistake you make on paper a glittery point is taken away from you. Success or failure almost ties itself with how many points you get. This is where the old education system in Hong Kong deviated from reality.

The new 3-3-4 school system is ready to replace the old one. Whether or not the teachers – who were all victims of the old system are ready to agree with the ideology behind the new system is questionable. With less emphasis on exams and tests, teachers from my old secondary school are sceptical. I inquired if more coursework is going to be a happier ending for the new generation. They, teachers and parents, simply wonder if this is going to be a lazier ending for the new generation.

Understanding the significance of this change traverse the longstanding cultural beliefs within the Chinese communities. We have been ladened with exams since the Emperor’s Annual Exams to select government officials 1000 years ago. To make people appreciate a more diversed and balanced education that is brought about by dynamic teaching certainly requires more than mere PR skills from the government officials.

Teachers and parents play huge parts in a child’s education. Redefining a school system is only a small part to transforming “Education”. Not only students, but our older generations need to understand this change too. I am hopeful this time. I think they have finally got it right. Time will allow everybody to realise that in real life, spoon-feeding doesn’t do anyone any good.

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