Schools do work at instilling a sense of critical thinking
I wish to clarify matters raised by Regina Ip in her columns, 'Patriot games' and 'Critical thinking' (July 16 and 23 respectively).
Contrary to Mrs Ip's assertions, Chinese history has never been replaced by an integrated curriculum. It has always been available as a school subject. The Curriculum Development Council has spelt out clear requirements for the teaching of Chinese history and culture in all schools.
Chinese history is one of the elective subjects in the new senior secondary curriculum to be implemented in 2009.
Students will also learn about China through liberal studies. Their horizons will be broadened by studying the module on modern China. This module is closely linked to modules on Hong Kong and globalisation.
Mrs Ip suggests national education is not emphasised sufficiently in the curriculum. The curriculum reform and design does not rely on Chinese history alone. Since 2001, when developing national identity among students was set out as one of the seven learning goals of the curriculum, all schools have attached importance to it. Several sources of feedback over the past few years indicate there is an increased sense of national identity among young people in Hong Kong.
Mrs Ip challenges our Chinese translation of the term 'critical thinking'. However, the Chinese translation adopted in our curriculum documents for the word 'critical' in the context of 'critical thinking', is in line with education documents of the mainland, Taiwan, Singapore and other Chinese-speaking communities in the world.
It has been stated very clearly in our curriculum documents that critical thinking is about drawing out meaning from given data or statements, examining their accuracy, generating and evaluating arguments, and seeing things from different perspectives.
Our curriculum documents, which are the basis for day-to-day teaching in our schools, show that the development of critical thinking needs to be grounded on the knowledge base of different domains/subjects. It is an essential skill for young people to embrace a knowledge-based society and to learn how to learn.
Dr Catherine Ka Ki Chan, for secretary for education