• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 10:02am

Appalled by school pupils' behaviour

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 11:26pm

Last Friday, my friends and I attended the Globe Theatre's production of The Taming of the Shrew. We thought we had ideal seats - the middle of Row E of the dress circle - but no. We were virtually surrounded - in front, behind, and to the right - by students apparently from Sha Tin College.

Throughout the first half, these rude teenagers talked non-stop, which included those in front talking to those behind; moved forwards, backwards and sideways; played with mobile phones; passed pens to each other to fill in their rustling worksheets; and crunched crisps non-stop. Our glares and occasional whispered request for better behaviour were futile.

The first half of our evening was a waste of HK$600 each.

At the interval, we looked for their teacher. However, such a person was conspicuous by their absence, either because they genuinely weren't there, or because they were embarrassed by their students' unacceptable behaviour and their own inability to control it.

At this time, one of my friends asked for the name of the school from a boy in front.

If he deliberately gave us the wrong name, I apologise to the Sha Tin College community.

Fortunately, for our equanimity and enjoyment of an excellent and thought-provoking production, we were able to move to other seats for the second half. However, this should not have been necessary. Attending any professional theatre is a privilege and comes with certain responsibilities. These students did not display any sense of this privilege or any understanding of their responsibilities as members of the audience.

We are not old fuddy-duddies. My friends and I are all experienced secondary teachers. We work with teenagers daily.

Between us, we have taken students to numerous theatrical performances in many countries. Our students are told what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They are not given worksheets to fill in during the performance, even if the performance is specifically for schools.

Teenagers are able to sit through a Shakespearean play without behaving as if they were at home. Unfortunately these students could not.

Until and unless they are able to do so, I suggest that the school does not inflict its students' poor behaviour on Hong Kong's theatre-loving public.

I also suggest that theatres do not sell block bookings of tickets to schools when seats within those blocks have already been sold to the public.

Julie Moffat, Ma On Shan


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This article is now closed to comments

I find this letter rather exaggerated (in my opinion), as I attended the performance myself and I was actually sitting quite close to the group of students myself. Yes, as Stacy said, there was indeed some rustling and chit chat coming from the students, but they were not talking "non-stop" throughout the performance. I did not see them crunching on crisps and most certainly did not see them moving in between seats. Although I do understand that you may have been annoyed at the occasional noise created by the teenagers, I do believe that many of them may have never been to a theater before. Maybe you may remember yourself; it is quite an exciting experience (especially with friends!). What I am trying to get at here, is that perhaps we should take into account the possible excitement and age of the students attending the performance, and be a bit more tolerant and forgiving. I myself am sure that not all (if not none) of the teens in the world can be perfectly silent and still during any performance. However, I perfectly understand your point, but I am only giving my humble opinion and a perspective on how I felt while I was in the theater, sitting close to the students. P.S. I do agree that the students should have been more mature though!
Andre Pannu
Being part of the group which had gone to attend the performance of The Taming of the Shrew, I wish to apologize, and do so expressing my deepest regrets to Ms Moffat, and to any others who may have had their experience of such a wonderful, enjoyable play somewhat dampened; I am certain we are all sincerely sorry.
As I was seated also on Row E, albeit far off to the right, near where the rows of seats turn off at an angle, I am aware of the disturbance we may have caused to the nearby members of the audience. And although I feel that some of the accounts above may have been exaggerated (at least, from what I had noticed), I do not deny that we could, and should, have been more respectful and more responsible. And so, on behalf of those who have caused the disruption to the audience, I apologize.
Vanessa Lambet
I can see where Julie is coming from, I was there at the performance too, however, I did not notice the noise and commotion said to be produced by the students of Sha Tin College. I was sat in row D in the middle in and although I heard some noise and rustling it did not interrupt the performance. Perhaps I am just more tolerant than you are seeing as I am a social worker. I too would find the students rude, but I think putting the blame on the teachers is a bit of an overreaction. Taking it a step further, this article could potentially ruin Sha Tin College's reputation. I will be discussing this with my family, being sure that my children do not act this way on a school trip.
Lets begin with a question. Is it really necessary? does it make you feel better knowing that you have tarnished the reputation of a newspaper with your petty problems? does it make you feel accomplished flaunting your sophisticated occupation of a schoolteacher in charge of polite children? does it occur to you that you've manipulated a form of social media to defame an entire school when you've barely met 1% of the student body?
Honestly not. As an experienced "fuddy duddy" and a member of the education industry i believe that you- of all people, should be able to understand teenage mentality. These school children definitely owe members of the public an apology for their appalling behaviour, but you owe the entire school an apology for being detrimental to their image because of something so minor. Dont get me wrong i reserve you every right for complaining but not through social media, it simply presents you as sassy and unnecessary.
Candy Apple
I have attended the performance myself, and like Stacy, I have been sitting very near to the group of students as well. To be completely honest, I feel like your opinions are a little exaggerated and I don't think it's necessary to use the social media to make your point. I, too, heard some rustling and small discussions but I believe that this is tolerable due to the fact that they were assigned mandatory work from their teachers, and the theater was poorly lit, so I understand if they would require their phones to provide light in order to complete them. Although their behavior might have somehow caused annoyance, but definitely not enough to 'ruin' or waste your $600 dollars. Sitting near the group of students, I've still found it an enjoyable experience.
We all know that teenagers are not easy to control, and are all still in the process of learning how take responsibility of their actions. I believe on that night, they were, like all of us, just trying to enjoy a night at the theater with Shakespeare's comedic play. Basically, we all have made mistakes before and I believe it's not really necessary to allocate separate seats to the schools and the public, as they both have equal rights to choose whatever seats they please in a public theater.
You make it sound like all 87 students from Sha Tin College who were there joined forces, for lack of better vocabulary, against Ms Moffat. I was at the performance. Not everyone acted immature and inconsiderate. Yes, I agree that their behavior was inappropriate and should be apologized for, however I do not think that you should generalize all the theatre/drama students because of some excitable teenagers. I was sitting not far from the middle, yet I was able to watch the performance in peace. Speaking as one of the students who enjoyed the show and was silent throughout, I find your comment somewhat offensive. In my opinion, the teachers were not to blame; and the article could have been less rude about this point as well.
As another Sha Tin College student, I feel ashamed about this and I would like to apologise on behalf of the school. Just like the other person, I did not attend the show, but I understand that the students were given worksheets to complete, as they were studying the performance for their GCSE Drama.
I am not trying to justify their actions, I feel that they should apologise too. It really hurts our school's reputation.
Although I was not part of the group which attended the show, I feel that it is my responsibility as a student of Sha Tin College to apologise for this incident. This letter has scarred our school's reputation, but I do not blame Ms. Moffat for it. It was our fault and I believe our teachers could have handled this better. I personally know the 87 students who attended the performance, I hope they would apologise for this matter and mend the reputation that we lost. I hope we won't disappoint anyone again.
If a school can't control it's students in a public arena, it deserves to be named and shamed. Ow4126 asked the wrong question. The writer did not write to 'feel good'. She wrote because she was unnecessarily deprived of her right to at least listen to a performance that she paid for. The fact that you should choose to criticize her rather than the offenders indicate what an unfair and pompous person you are. You must be their misguided teacher, or a misguided parent! We were all teenagers once, but I was never a hooligan. I hope the School, now named, would make a point of controlling its students in future. If they are not interested in the play, don't make them go and spoil the event for others. And yes, there is a need to 'publicly scald them', and if the school has any decency, it should apologise to the writer and buy tickets for her and her friends as retribution. I think ow4126 is the one, along with the kids, who behaved on this occasion like xxxxs.
Hok Leung Nip
You are making a lot of drama out of this.



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