Online Letters, November 14, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 3:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 3:45pm

School’s initiative shows how pupils can enjoy the learning process

As a secondary level pupil I really appreciate the ideas adopted by a school in Tin Shui Wai (“How one Hong Kong school broke away from city’s cramming culture”, November 11).

W F Joseph Lee Primary School operates what it calls “multiple intelligence” classes, comprising various activities, including gardening and washing dishes. When I was at primary school, I had to endure a rote-learning culture and days filled with tedious tests and drills. This spoon-fed education system does not encourage creativity or your critical thinking faculties.

Therefore, it is great to find a school which does not only focus on textbooks, but allows pupils to get involved in activities which are non-academic, stimulating and enjoyable. At this school they are not just learning academic subjects in class, but also life skills.

I would like to see more local schools following the example set by W F Joseph Lee. They can benefit so much from learning these life skills and it gives them time away from their textbooks and can help to relieve the pressure they face from a heavy workload.

Schools should be aiming to create all-round individuals, not just young people who can do well in exams. Teachers and school heads need to think outside the box and beyond the compulsory syllabus.

Cherry Yeung Chin-wai, Tseung Kwan O

We could benefit from Finland’s more relaxed approach

I refer to the article by Elbert Lee (“Hong Kong schools can learn from the flexible education system in Finland”, November 9).

Students in Hong Kong feel a great deal of pressure thanks to the nature of the local education system. They face a very busy schedule, not just during the school day, but afterwards when many have tutorial classes and then homework which includes revision for tests. They have to try and succeed in what is a very competitive environment. Their main aim is to get a coveted undergraduate place at a local university.

Faced with so much work and pressure, many young people find it difficult to find time to relax. Some of them suffer from depression and in extreme cases take their own lives. The high student suicide rate should force all stakeholders to pause and reflect on this flawed set-up.

In contrast, Finland has adopted a flexible education system. Teachers and school heads want their students to enjoy the learning process instead of being forced to deal with the pressure of competing with each other.

They are taught how to apply the knowledge they learn in school to the real world outside the classroom. There is a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom so that children in Finland can take pleasure from learning new things. The student suicide rate there is very low. Despite this more laid-back approach they still do well academically and Finland is always ranked high in global league tables which gauge academic performance.

Hong Kong should learn from the education system of Finland. The Education Bureau should try to make sure that students can enjoy a more relaxed environment. If they face less pressure I think they will do better.

Kennice Tse Kit-yee, Kwai Chung

Computer games would put the fun back into fitness rooms

I agree with Michael Ke (“Interactive gyms will offer a fun workout”, November 9), that combining popular video games with workout sessions can make exercising more interesting.

If private gyms offered this option, I think they would attract a lot more customers. And this also applies to the gyms and fitness rooms run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). Anything that can deal with the problem of so many citizens not getting enough exercise should be welcomed.

LCSD staff at the gyms would need to look at a lot of these games and choose which ones would be appropriate and could be paired effectively with the different kinds of equipment in the gym. Some of the games would obviously be unsuitable, while others would be perfect.

Choosing the right games is important, because if they are suitable they will become more popular with young people. Once the games have been installed and everything is up and running, LCSD could put out announcements on social media networks like Facebook or Instagram.

If it is done properly this scheme could be very successful.

Winnie Fan, Tsuen Wan

Much more must be done to tackle’s Hong Kong’s mental health crisis

I refer to the article (“As one in six Hong Kong people suffers from mental illness, Dr Lucy Lord talks about how the city can change its outlook”, November 11).

It is important to ask why so many citizens have psychological problems. With students, stress caused by their high workload, is a major factor. Many adults are unhappy in their workplace and if they have to put in a lot of hours at the office they cannot get enough time to rest and relax. Then there are external factors, such as not earning enough to get a mortgage and eventually own a home.

Less pressure should be placed on children. Often, for example, they are forced by parents to do extracurricular activities that they don’t enjoy. They should be allowed to sign up for those activities which interest them.

Troubled teenagers need the support of their families. They are more likely to be able to deal with stressful events if they are able to talk things through with caring family members. This can help them to calm their emotions. They can also seek professional help.

Companies should recognise the importance of providing a healthy working environment for their employees which can help to lower stress levels. If these levels appear to be high, employers should look into this and see if solutions can be found. If necessary, counselling services should be provided. Staff who have to work long hours, should be given sufficient time to rest between shifts.

There are not enough government-run mental health facilities. The Hospital Authority must have integrated mental-health community centres in all 18 districts offering comprehensive programmes for citizens.

Mandy Hui Kei-tung, Tseung Kwan O

British ex-minister did nothing wrong during trip to Israel

Having lived and worked in Tel Aviv for 10 years I can understand why former British cabinet minister Priti Patel would take such a keen interest in Israel, which is a unique and fascinating country.

However, it is a nation which the world’s media seems to hate. Patel was forced to resign as international development secretary, but what was wrong with showing an interest in Israel in a private capacity while on holiday in August?

Israelis were clearly happy for her to meet some dignitaries including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If she had done this while on holiday in a different country would there have been the same outcry?

Britain’s foreign policy has clearly been outlined again during all the coverage of the controversy surrounding Patel, that it does not recognise the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. But Israelis are concerned by calls to, for example, give back the Golan Heights to Syria or divide Jerusalem. Doing that to the city would not bring peace. Citizens see these calls as efforts to give away the ancient land of Israel piece by piece.

Patel should be proud of her visit to Israel and should not be intimidated by her critics, especially those who came out with anti-Israeli rhetoric. Israel has offered the hand of peace to the Arabs from its inception in 1948 but its efforts have been rejected. There are no Jewish suicide bombers, but Israelis face Islamic terror on a daily basis. We must not be anti-Arab in our support of Israel, but we can discern who is the most willing partner for peace and Israel has the more consistent track record.

However the bias that has come out over this last debacle shows exactly where Britain stands concerning Israel – ambivalent at best. It is a long way from the evangelical fervour 100 years ago that brought about the Balfour Declaration.

Colin Nevin, Tel Aviv, Israel