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Developing childrens' thinking skills--how do you do it?

  1. #9
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by nltempany View Post
    Hi,

    I don't have any suggestions because I have just arrived in HK. I am facing a similar situation to you though because I have 3 children entering the local school system this year.

    Why does HK teach this way? Are they trying to change? Is the EB doing anything to change? I have heard that DSS schools have a bit more freedom in their choice of curriculum. Is this true.
    Well, the history of Hong Kong public education is very interesting. From what I remember from some lectures I sat through, it wasn't even until the 1970s that universal free public education through secondary school became a "basic right" of children. My mother-in-law left school with a primary six (sixth grade education) for this reason because her family was simply too poor to provide her an education. She went to work in a garment factory for the next 15 years or so until she had to quit for health reasons.

    And Hong Kong has always been a very competitive place. It is, as carang, wrote because of this city's roots in Chinese culture but more than that it's the roots in Confucianism. If you want to understand how Confucianism relates to the education system this is a good (and entertaining) video to watch. The specific part about Confucianism starts at: 6:31.

    Hong Kong's educational past is traced to the Imperial Exams. The first "school" in Hong Kong, I believe, was the Yi Tai Study Hall which was built as a training grounds for young men to prepare them to take the Imperial Exams. It still stands and is open for tours on the weekends. Things like the Civil Service in Hong Kong sprang out of this type of formula. So, combined with the fact that Hong Kong was a colony for a long time, most people saw their surest way of getting stability of employment and thus income and advancement was to work for the government. In order to work for the government one had to pass exams to make everything fair. It was quite a remarkable system in the beginning as instead of people gaining places of power simply by relationships, it was a merit-based system. That was fine in the days when the best skills one could have were how to stay organized and be dutiful to the boss. But, in our current world it's better for people to have thinking skills as well and an ability to be innovative.

    There have been many reforms in the HK education system. But it seems that every time there is a reform the exam system tends to lag behind. In the late 1970s-1980s, for example, the curriculum reform was meant to introduce "conversational" ways of learning language instead of the "listen and repeat" method but the exams until, recently have still tested students according to the old methods. Exams still determine everything for students. The exam they take at the end of primary school determines which secondary schools they can get into and the exams they take at the end of secondary school determines if they will be able to get a space in a Hong Kong University. Those spaces are limited and only the top, top, top students get in. For some students, going abroad to study or going to a tech school in Hong Kong are options but for others this pretty much seals their fate as to what they can expect as far as employment in this city. It's a very exam-driven system. And the amount of information students must memorize and process is immense. It's tedious and exhausting. Last year a P1 (first grade) student in my class was carrying her backpack home and I helped her put it on--it weighed as much as she did!

    So, yes, the government is working on it. But, there are just so many stakeholders to please and placate. There is a standard set by the education department detailing what schools must teach and in what amount (hours/week). Classes are large. Teachers are juggling a lot. And honestly, in most classrooms, students are not individuals...meaning, the "success" (marks-wise) of the entire class is more important than the individual student. In some schools parents are over-involved--criticizing and nagging the school at every moment and in others the parents are absolutely not involved in their childrens' lives--never showing up to parent-teacher conferences or helping children with homework or assignments.
    shwetakhanna likes this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  2. #10
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    to clarify....when i talk chinese culture and education i am refering to imperial civil service exams and confucian doctrines. i was in no way referring ti a colonial british paste rather to the history of education in china.

    Sent from my GT-I8150 using GeoClicks Mobile

  3. #11
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    cannot edit from mobile.....

    past not paste

    Sent from my GT-I8150 using GeoClicks Mobile

  4. #12
    AmyH is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by thanka2 View Post
    I find that his personality is quite sensitive. My husband's approach is that he wants to "toughen him up" but I'm not sure if I agree so much with that. But, I also would like to help him not be so affected or sensitive to difficult situations. I was the same type of child--but part of that was from the home I grew up in--when I was young, my home life was very difficult and so I "wore my heart on my sleeve".
    My son was like this and would get really upset over trivial things. He was always a follower in the playground and would be easily lead to playing games that he didn't want to, rather than speak up and suggest alternatives.
    We decided that to give him some confidence we would enroll him in tai kwan do lessons. This has helped him a lot. He is quite small and skinny for his age and I fear that if he lacked confidence he could get bullied quite badly but since he started taking the lessons his confidence has soared.
    Last edited by AmyH; 08-23-2012 at 06:22 PM.

  5. #13
    carang's Avatar
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    we've put our boy into tae kwan do at school, too.

  6. #14
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmyH View Post
    My son was like this and would get really upset over trivial things. He was always a follower in the playground and would be easily lead to playing games that he didn't want to, rather than speak up and suggest alternatives.
    We decided that to give him some confidence we would enroll him in tai kwan do lessons. This has helped him a lot. He is quite small and skinny for his age and I fear that if he lacked confidence he could get bullied quite badly but since he started taking the lessons his confidence has soared.
    Thank you for sharing your story AmyH. My son is actually really outgoing. When we've gone to speak with his teacher about how he's doing in school she has said that he is very popular because he's kind, patient and a team player. I've seen that with my own eyes too. On a recent class trip every few minutes I'd hear his named called by one of his school-mates--everyone thinks he's funny and a he's one of the "cool kids"--most want to play with him. He's really sensitive toward the needs of others and tends to like to help out. He's not a pushy kid. He is and always has been quite gentle with others. As a toddler when others would take the toy he was playing with he rarely cried or got upset--he was always laid-back about it. He "takes a beating" from his younger sister who is only 18-months-old and he never retaliates but simply tells her, "Gentle...be gentle."

    He also is very active in sports as my husband plays sports a lot (he plays on an intramural rugby team as well as a soccer team) and also plays with him (he plays rugby with dadda a lot). He's taken Tae Kwon Do, Basketball, Soccer, Gymnastics, Swimming and most recent Kick Boxing. He really loves Kick Boxing. So, I think he does well when playing sports.

    He cries easily sometimes, though. Not while playing sports. He has really good confidence while playing sports and he is well-liked by his friends and teammates. He's 4.5-years-old and at least 115 cm tall now so he's one of the tallest boys in his class, if not the tallest. He's not timid at all and instead is an entertainer. But, hurtful words from others or when he senses something isn't fair can really upset him.
    carang likes this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

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