Let children learn to think

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 February, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 February, 1999, 12:00am

I could not agree more with Anthony Kung's letter 'Cultural mix' (South China Morning Post, February 1) in reply to Elaine King's column 'At the mercy of the little devils' (Post, January 26).

My perspective on the matter is not that of a parent, but rather that of an instructor at a Hong Kong university. King suggested that there is a wide dichotomy of child-rearing styles between Western and Asian parents and that the Asian style was desirable if it produced well-behaved children. That children need discipline is undeniable. However, I think Mr Kung's point is well-taken. Children's creativity and curiosity must also be nurtured, and an authoritarian style of child-rearing may not accomplish this very well.

How does this issue relate to the problems I face in my classroom? Many of my observations echo complaints that many columnists and letter writers have made - many students who cannot, or are not willing to, express their opinions, think creatively or analytically, solve problems independently, take responsibility for their own learning.

I have to wonder if there is not a connection between these deficiencies and the way the students are being raised. A teacher can only do so much to foster these skills, but if they are beaten out of children at home then that effort is doomed to failure.

So let us discipline our children by all means, but let us also instil in them the ability to question, to analyse, to create.

This is perhaps the single-most effective way to produce the students, and workforce, that Hong Kong needs to be economically successful.




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