Letters to the Editor, July 22, 2016
Grammar at such a young age is wrong
Students are now off for the summer holidays and soon will be going back to school.
I would like to address everyone involved in the education sector. I ask that they take into account how children learn, that every child learns differently and don’t give them lessons that they are not capable of understanding.
I recently heard of a school in Sha Tin, already giving homework to Primary One students which was English grammar, particularly the third person singular. The children are six, English is their second or third language and yet they are supposed to grasp the complexities of the third person singular. This is something, as a native speaker, I was probably not taught until I was several years older than six.
Parents, too, have a part in this. Please don’t push your child, let them learn at their own pace.
I would hate to see a repetition of what happened between last September and March when over 20 young people committed suicide. And yes, school pressure may not have been the only factor but it is a factor.
Everyone has a responsibility here.
Aileen Valentine, director, Wise Choice Education
Exercise books are OK, but in moderation
Some parents buy a lot of exercise books for their children and also sign them up for tutorial classes to improve their academic performance.
While there is nothing wrong with this, they should not overdo it and must ensure their children have enough time to play and have fun.
Too many parents feel their children need all the help they can get to win from the “starting line”, but if the Hong Kong Book Fair is anything to go by some really go too far, buying up lots of exercise books for children as young as five. These books can be effective but only in moderation. Excessive use can do more harm than good.
I do not think it is right to expect children of kindergarten age to have to fill in lots of exercise books. They may lead to them developing a dislike of studying. This could be detrimental to their schooling; if they have this kind of attitude at an early age, they could put in a poor academic performance at a later stage.
Parents must consider the long-term psychological health of their children.
At kindergartens in Western countries like Germany, students do not even learn how to write, and are not drilled with exercise books and yet they still learn a lot.
It is now time for everyone in Hong Kong to think carefully about spoon-feeding young children with exercise books and to recognise that this is not the right course of action.
These young children must be given sufficient time to relax and play.
Ko Ka-ying, Tseung Kwan O
Find coping mechanisms to reduce stress
The spate of student suicides last school year put the spotlight on the pressure students are under in local schools, partly because of the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE).
People called for major reforms of the education system, but it was clear that was not about to happen and that the pressure youngsters face would not just go away, with the emphasis still on getting good academic results.
Next year students will still have to prepare for and take the DSE exam.
I think it is up to them to accept this and to find ways to deal with the inevitable stress they will feel.
There are simple things that youngsters can do such as taking regular walks in order to help them relax. It is the best way to address negative emotions.
They also need to recognise when they are having negative thoughts and try to counter them by focusing on positive things.
If the situation gets worse, they should talk to someone they can trust, such as a teacher, relative or friend. Their advice may be very helpful.
Most importantly, if students don’t do as well as they expected in the exam they should accept that can happen to anyone and they must not give up.
They should persevere and keep striving to achieve their goals.
Kelly Lam Chiu-wai, Yau Yat Chuen
Friendliness replaced by resentment
My recent stay in Vancouver, Canada, was the least pleasant of all previous visits not because the restaurants weren’t as good as ours in Hong Kong or the rented townhouse not up to par.
I remember as a poor student in my last year of high school in Oshawa, a quaint working-class hub approximately 40 miles east of Toronto, foreign students were respected, looked up to, or even revered by the locals. All 25 of us from Hong Kong lived on a small campus with 300 other students in a town with a population of about 100,000.
Local Canadians were tolerant and sympathetic towards young people who spoke little English but were courageous enough to leave home for an education and a better life.
This was in 1967. Almost all of us held down part-time jobs provided by the Seventh-Day Adventist School – a woodwork shop making simple children’s furniture appropriately named College Woodwork, and a textbook recondition facility called College Bindery.
Life was hard. However, folks in the small church community were exceedingly warm and friendly, their demeanour and gestures genuine. For example, total strangers driving old vehicles would pull up offering us rides while we waited at the school bus stop during winter, at brutal minus-zero temperatures. My recollection is still strong of the kind of conversations we had in the old clunkers, as we veered through snow piles to get to a corner store where they would wait patiently outside to drive us back.
Almost 50 years have gone by since that nice couple offered us rides and subsequently opened up their home for three of us to stay for free for one year.
Since then China has emerged from extreme poverty to becoming the second most powerful economy in the world.
Therefore one would expect it should be high time now for Chinese nationals to get recognition and respect from the West for who we are today. But is this what happens? Flaunting wealth by parading expensive cars or gobbling up multi-million-dollar homes in the most desirable part of Vancouver has left locals incensed.
The days of forbearance regarding poor Asians are gone forever. Instead, indiscreet wealth puts us on a path of shame and disgrace. A small group of individuals has ruined the coming out party for China, and that is so unfortunate.
Philip S. K. Leung, Pok Fu Lam
Time when US could dictate terms is over
I wish to comment on the so- called South China Sea dispute.
In recent months the media in the United States has been trumpeting that all nations must obey international laws.
Now that the Hague has ruled against China America thumps its chest, essentially saying, I told you so.
It’s odd that when the same court ruled against America in its case brought by Nicaragua, US ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, aptly summed up Washington’s view of the matter when she dismissed the court as a “semi-legal, semi-juridical, semi-political body, which nations sometimes accept and sometimes don’t”.
The days of America proclaiming, “Do as you are told but don’t do what I do” are long over. But America still clings to the fantasy that it can dictate to other nations as it wishes.
China is not Nicaragua but there are some people in the US government who think it is.
Dr Richard L. King, Forestville, California, US