Are Hong Kong students under too much pressure to be all-rounders?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2007, 12:00am

Each week our two teenagers debate a hot topic. This week ...

Dennis Wu, 17, St Joseph's College

The world is evolving at a staggering pace and a lot is demanded from our students. The public expect us to be intelligent and at the same time capable of doing a million things. As students we dislike this burden placed on us, but sadly we have to face the truth. To maintain our competitive edge, we need to become all-rounders.

The pressure is indeed on us but this is necessary. Versatility ensures that we can face and deal with challenges easily.

What is the use of holding a doctorate if you know nothing else? We need to be able to adapt quickly in this ever-changing world, and anyone who thinks the pressure is too great to cope with is doomed to fail.

Society expects us to be all-rounders and this is a trend that's unlikely to change. For example, a banker who is good at music, sports, or debating will have a better chance of promotion.

But being a man of letters has its benefits. It enables us to know and to understand more and to look at things from different perspectives.

To be honest, the pressure to be an all-rounder is really not that great. Teenagers are fast learners and we could quickly become proficient in any field.

It's a matter of willpower and whether one is ready to step up to the challenge.

Esther Pang, 16, Diocesan Girls' School

School's over, yet no one appears to be heading home. A classmate races off to attend sports training. Another one is off without even a goodbye for her music lesson. Never mind the truckload of assignments and tests lined up for next week, everyone's busy.

No longer can one go straight home after a tiring day at school. The hours are spent on countless classes and practice sessions that leave us with barely enough time for our homework.

Weekends are just as exhausting. They are packed with service hours and competitions.

So why this crazy pace of life? Society is rapidly progressing and new knowledge is added quickly, forcing people to learn as many fresh skills as possible to avoid being left behind.

Educational institutions give priority to students with achievements in diverse areas.

So students push themselves to participate in as many activities as possible while attempting to maintain good grades. They are hoping to build a resume better than those of others.

Schools encourage students to take part in at least one extra-curricular activity, but peer pressure causes them to sign up for more. But does our younger generation have the physical and mental ability to achieve all this? More importantly, is it necessary?

Students should be allowed to develop their interests and talents at a normal pace, without cramming their time with activities they don't necessarily like.