My Take

Phenomenon of pupils secretly filming teachers is going to get worse

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 December, 2015, 2:05am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 2:59pm

Teachers have complained that more of their students are secretly filming or audio-recording them.

One in three teachers said they or their colleagues had been secretly recorded by students in the classroom, 8 per cent higher than last year. One in four reported they were secretly recorded by students in public areas such as playgrounds and corridors. The figure for last year was 15 per cent. In all cases, the teacher subsequently learned of the recording, according to the Federation of Education Workers, which carried out the survey. That's hardly surprising.

University of Hong Kong Student Union president Billy Fung Jing-en has been celebrated by pan-democrats as a heroic whistle-blower after leaking confidential discussions inside the university's governing council. And, far from questioning the legality and ethics of leaked information appearing on the internet despite a court-ordered gag, pan-democrats cheer every time, even though nothing of real substance or novel content has been disclosed.

Well, monkey see, monkey do. Nowadays, practically all schoolchildren have a smartphone. Tired of taking selfies, what else is there to do than to tape your most hated teachers in the hope of catching them doing or saying something untoward and putting them on YouTube.

There have been, of course, one or two real exposés used to justify countless other recordings which served no other purpose than to humiliate, intimidate and embarrass. There was the case of a teacher who allegedly sprayed antiseptic alcohol on a mentally disabled student. The teacher was secretly filmed and now faces assault charges.

Hundreds of other secret recordings exposed nothing but have caused unnecessary tension. Of course, there is the excuse that in the age of the internet and smartphones, students may be just taping lessons for later use. But the vast majority of cases surveyed by the federation have nothing to do with learning; almost all of them had to do with targeting specific teachers. It would be nice if schools were able to tell pupils not to do it. But given our rising student activism, this phenomenon will only get worse.

Teachers, welcome to YouTube.