PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 12:00am

Q Would mid-sized classes of 30 be a better option than classes of 20?

For decades, teachers have been fighting to have smaller classes. The need for small-class teaching is much more pressing now than ever. A more student-centred approach to teaching means youngsters are expected to take a more active role in learning and problem-solving.

However, a standard classroom of 600 sq ft has to hold 40 students, a teacher, desks and chairs and now computers; for peace and order, students are not encouraged to move around too much. Facing a room with four walls, how can one think and engage in group activity without feeling restricted both physically and intellectually?

Modern facilities such as printers, computers, overhead projectors and so forth are meant to improve the quality of teaching and learning. Unfortunately, the size of our classrooms has never been changed to accommodate these. Even 30 in a class is a big improvement from 40.

However, it will indeed be a blessing to society if five groups of four students can learn in a more relaxed environment where they don't have to compete constantly for teachers' attention and space. We need more emotionally healthy and intellectually curious individuals. Working on small-class size is the very first and important step.

Tammy Hsu, Yuen Long

Education officials are pursuing two contradictory policies and I have no doubt which will win. To run smaller classes, you need to commit more public resources, and not just taxpayers' money. But the government has been gradually shutting down under-enrolled schools which in fact provide perfect settings to experiment with small-class teaching, as some already have smaller than average classes.

Don't be fooled by the government's lip-service to running smaller classes. It has neither the will to carry that out nor the honesty to abandon it. My child will be entering primary school in a year. I do not expect to see smaller classes for the duration of his primary and secondary schooling.

Name and address supplied

On other matters...

We should pray for a world, as J. Boost was right to say (Post, March 11), where men and women work towards a decent living, instead of victimising one gender and using sexual discrimination as a pretext to struggle for power beyond equality.

Men have borne much of the brunt of the upheaval from so-called feminism. Feminist scholar Fanny Cheung (Post, March 8) has presented a misleading case of what women face in Hong Kong. It portrays a picture in which women are vulnerable to physical abuse, badly paid at work, discriminated against in the workplace (the article cites examples of pregnancy and mainland-related work) and unfairly treated in other aspects such as time spent on housework, representation in government etc.

Her specific examples are just as unsound. If the decision to delegate housework to migrant domestic helpers is seen as shifting the duties from one women's group to another, then it is more likely than not to be a decision of wives or couples rather than husbands only. It is likely that women choose not to take on jobs involving mainland travel rather than saying women are disadvantaged by such jobs. It is also unjust to blame it on social attitude and culture for women not choosing the sciences or engineering studies, which is made out of their free will after all.

Women no longer play second fiddle to men. Nowadays women play just as important roles as men in society. It would be hard not to notice women holding senior positions. Historically, men hunt and women rear children. As time passes, society has transformed from one requiring brute force to one requiring communication skills, in which women outperform men as they are naturally gifted. Women outdo men in marketing and sales as they lend a sympathetic ear to clients. They close deals better than men because of the 'soft' skills they possess. In this sense, can we argue that women have an unfair advantage over men?

Sexual inequality can indeed be found, but it is in favour of women. Fanny Cheung finds it stereotyping when employers think women are more suitable for cleaning. On the contrary, is it not just as valid that this is a case of discrimination against men? It was not long ago the Post had an article on how a husband needed his wife's introduction to find a cleaning job. Besides, why do some jobs have a particular attraction to women? On a smaller scale, it is baffling that many women still expect men to pay the bills, send them presents and provide for pick-ups when they are advocating sexual equality. I find this kind of 'sexual equality' hard to swallow.

What is worrying is the possibility that rational women are affected by this small bunch of feminists who are pursuing ever-more power under the sexual equality pennant. They despise housework and shun their share of domestic responsibilities altogether. Hailing the sexual equality slogan, they are demanding far more than their equal share.

Andy Lo Chun-wah,

Tseung Kwan O




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