Alpais Lam

Most teachers support curbs on swearing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 September, 2013, 4:41am

More than two-thirds of teachers think using foul language should be regulated as part of the profession's code of conduct, a survey has found.

The Education Convergence interviewed about 2,800 teachers and asked them what kind of behaviour they considered a breach of the profession's ethics, and whether they had ever been guilty of such behaviour.

It found that most teachers set high standards for their own conduct, but a few did admit to teaching while they were drunk, dating students and wearing sexy outfits to school.

"Overall, the teachers set high requirements for their conduct, but some do face dilemmas in judging some of their own behaviour," said Raymond Chan Mow-chiu, an associate professor in education studies at Baptist University, who led the study.

The teachers were split over whether lending money to students, hugging students to comfort them or joining in complaints about other teachers breached accepted behaviour.

The researchers suggest more training could be provided about teachers' ethics and said a widely representative union was needed to handle conduct issues.

Teachers' conduct in Hong Kong is currently regulated by the Council on Professional Conduct in Education.

The survey found that 75 per cent of women teachers believed there should be rules about using foul language, while 68 per cent of male teachers thought the same.

The survey was conducted in June and July, before the incident with teacher Alpais Lam Wai-sze caught public attention.

A video of Lam swearing at police during a rally in Mong Kok went viral online in July. She was upset at how the officers handled a dispute in which an anti-Falun Gong group obstructed the Falun Gong's activities.

She later apologised for her behaviour.

Of the 2,827 respondents in the survey, 4.3 per cent said they had worn sexy clothes to school, though 65 per cent of the respondents said this was a breach of acceptable behaviour.

About 88 per cent said dating students was unethical, but 45 of them said they were guilty of having done so.

The survey found 89 per cent said teachers should not teach while drunk, but 68 admitted to having done that at some stage.

The researchers expressed concerned that many of the respondents said it was acceptable to let their affections for a student influence them when grading their work.

Others admitted working more than 20 hours a week at jobs outside of school hours.