City University of Hong Kong (CityU) is conducting a course to help teachers upgrade their qualifications and teach students how to learn. It also hosted a conference on preparing students for lifelong learning last week. More than 2,500 secondary school teachers and principals are taking part in the Teachers Update Course, which carries the theme of 'Developing Reflective Professionals - Embracing Change'. The three-week course, which started last week, comprises 43 sessions in six areas: embracing change in teaching and learning; supporting curriculum change; understanding media culture and media education; globalisation and secondary school education; promoting teachers' personal development; and updating subject knowledge. The course is being taught by volunteer CityU staff members. 'Hong Kong's education reforms emphasise uplifting students' learning abilities in areas such as critical and creative thinking,' said one of the volunteers, Chan Ho-man, associate professor of the department of public and social administration. 'Most secondary school teachers want to integrate these two elements into their lessons to cultivate students' higher-level thinking. 'I share teaching insights and provide participants with real-life examples related to art, science, engineering and society so that the teachers can use those examples to illustrate to their students the skills and methods of critical and creative thinking.' A new session, Introduction to Brain Gym, has been introduced by Jean Young, head of CityU's English language centre. 'Brain gym is a series of physical exercises in which our mind and body are closely connected. It is commonly used in primary school and it's also good for secondary students, helping them become more focused and less stressed,' said Ms Young. Teachers find the course practical and useful. 'This year, I have enrolled in three courses on media education, critical thinking, and career and personality,' said economics teacher Yeung Yiu-chung from Ha Kwai Chung Government Secondary School. 'I will apply what I have learned and hope to be my students' role model. Then, I'll be able to help them develop critical thinking.' Meanwhile, at the conference that was held last Saturday at CityU, overseas educators and local secondary school principals and teachers shared their thoughts on how to adopt problem-based learning. 'The problem-based learning approach is student-oriented and provides room for self-regulated learning,' said Anna Kwan Siu-fong, CityU's senior education development officer. 'It encourages students to take initiative to analyse problems and plan for their enquiries. It's best suited for teaching liberal studies and achieving learning to learn.'