Bible lessons are not suitable for everyone
Regarding International Christian School's 'hardline' approach (Education Post, March 17), one wonders what the school's leaders mean by the Bible reflecting absolute truth and that this must be believed by all the teachers and taught to the students.
Although in general the Bible is a wonderful spiritual guide, it also embodies some values, such as condoning slavery and polygamy, that are unacceptable in modern society. (Shall we bring back mui tsai?)
But as for the homophobia that is so important to the school's leaders, this does not really come from Christianity. The historical record indicates that Jesus knew gay people, yet he had not a single word to say against homosexuality. His central message was love. School leaders can be homophobic if they want, but the rest of us (especially us Christians) have to ask whether such bigotry should be taught to our children.
Common sense doesn't inspire confidence
To what end do Graham Kennedy ('Fairness built in to English examination', Education Post, January 6) and John Croft ('Grey area fades to clarity using common sense', Education Post, March 10) make what appear to be personal attacks in their responses to the Tutorial School Examiner?
They have both questioned his/her competence and Mr Croft even stoops to questioning his or her decision to remain anonymous. Meanwhile, satisfactory answers to some actual procedural matters are still pending. As to Mr Croft's suggestion that examiners employ common sense in resolving these problem, I would much rather hear how Mr Croft, as a professional and experienced examiner, would employ his common sense in the three specific and real situations raised by the Tutorial School Examiner.
If in fact the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority's policy is to employ common sense in awarding grades, I would like to know by what criteria the HKEAA judges (in their hiring process) whether or not an individual has this quality.
What Mr Croft doesn't seem to accept is that we (the HKEAA, regular school teachers, tutorial school teachers and examiners) are all working toward the same goal of 'mak[ing] the process [of taking the exam] as bearable as possible' for the students.
Teachers attempt to do this by helping candidates know what to expect in the exam. To discover that some decisions which lead to the awarding of grades are based on any given examiner's common sense will shatter whatever confidence is left in students' minds about the fairness of this exam.
Oral exam should ask the same question
When a boy I tutored took his HKCEE oral exam in Form Five three years ago, I was surprised he scored an E grade even though his English is of a higher standard (he got C or above in his other English papers).
However, despite being willing to pay to have his mark reassessed, his family was told it was pointless since there was no way for the markers to do so because there was no tangible material to be rechecked.
Now another student of mine will be taking her exam this year, and I am shocked that the exams authority is going to make the English oral exam even more subjective. I can think of no other subject where each student is given a different question (of varying difficulty), and the decision on what to ask is made on the spot by the examiner!
According to what my student told me, once the question is asked, she must begin her minute-long answer immediately. Any 'thinking' on her part is counted as 'dead air' so marks are deducted.
I strongly object to the way the authority is conducting this test. I urge the authority to put all students on a level playing field by asking the same question, as was done in the past and is done in all other exams.
Even exams authority cannot get it right
Is the word 'take' a transitive verb most of the time? In the Secondary Five Speaking Practice Papers our school purchased from the HKEAA (which we used as our mock exam papers, as most secondary schools did for students to familiarise themselves with the new HKCEE English format), I found the instruction 'DO NOT TAKE AWAY', advising candidates not to take the exam material away from the exam venue.
What is wrong with 'DO NOT TAKE IT AWAY' which was in use for many years?
This is one of several mistakes found in the four-skills papers and marking schemes of the same practice exam package. If an authority which assesses our students is wrong, what hope do students have?
Dr Anson Yang
Vice-principal, SKH Li Fook Hing Secondary School