Pushing a new school of thought

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 November, 2010, 12:00am

Parents of a troupe of trombonists may be glad not to have been in the room to hear the first sliding rasps blared out by anyone new to the instrument. It's more likely, however, that the sight will bring a warmth familiar to parents everywhere. Little does it matter whether the notes induced could send the most hardened Dixieland jazzman running for cover, or compose a serenade worthy of the great Glenn Miller.

The scene at a music class in Renaissance College, Ma On Shan - and captured by the school's communications manager Jerome Yau - also shows how more schools in Hong Kong are becoming attuned to giving youngsters a well-rounded education.

International schools are putting themselves at the cutting edge of these changes by offering youngsters a fuller, more rounded education. Complimenting the essentials of maths and language learning are sport, music, art subjects and the increasing implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) which guides children through to university level. Champions of the IB say it prepares youngsters for the demands of modern communication and problem solving.

There is also a refreshing view that education should not be a chore, but a stimulating, enjoyable experience. That's perhaps where the trombones come in and, indeed, the faces of the youngsters in our early years pages, whether beaming with smiles or fixed in concentration.

Thanks to a combination of the choices being offered by schools and the dedication of our teachers, more educational activities are available, whether outside school hours or as part of a curriculum. Hong Kong's educational landscape is not short of choices, yet variety and the associated costs can be daunting.

And this is where Parents' Guide comes in. No, we're not going to point you in the direction of the best value-for-money establishment, or whether your offspring should be packed off to a boarding school in Scotland, or a state-of-the-art Putonghua-learning centre in Shenzhen. We're simply holding a mirror up to the changing face of learning in Hong Kong; from the early years of playgroups and kindergartens, to the growing up years of teens.

Shortly after my son (pictured right) was born last year, one of the many kind comments I received stood out because it was so intriguing. A colleague said I had now crossed the divide between two types of people, and things will never be the same again. Another put it more bluntly: parenthood means you're no longer an undergraduate. Instead, people immerse themselves in their children's future - as long as they'll let you. Perhaps he meant we should be reading Parents' Guide.