Legco lunacy a valuable lesson for our students

From Plato to Confucius, dialogue and questions and answers between teachers and students have always been the most effective education tools

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 11:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 7:14am

An alliance of school principals has expressed worries that the behaviour of public figures and social divisions are having a negative impact on young people and have created a huge challenge for educators.

In a public statement, the group said some political parties and politicians showed no self-respect or respect for others. They shouted and insulted others, twisted facts, carried out personal attacks and created an extremely negative public climate.

The educators said the quality of public debate and policymaking needed to improve and public figures should serve as role models for young pupils. They also called the Legislative Council a “solemn and august” place, which should not be used for political theatre and struggles. I am not sure Legco has ever been solemn and august. But it’s now the perfect place for sycophants and malcontents. The personality and political clashes within it are a direct reflection of the deep cracks and pathologies in our society.

I suspect many young people have an intuitive understanding of the nature of such conflicts. It’s pointless to tell lawmakers to behave themselves. Actors have to act; politicians appeal to their base by playing up political struggles and conflicts. We all know things will only get worse, much worse, from here on.

Hong Kong’s Legco stuck in state of paralysis after meltdown

What’s a teacher to do? Well, use a little creativity and turn controversial topics into teaching tools. Admirably, another group of senior educators has declared the need for teachers to help students discuss such minefields as localism and independence in a rational and informed manner. This is despite the stupid warnings from the chief executive and education minister against teachers advocating independence, essentially discouraging them from even talking about it. A good educator would have no difficulty guiding a discussion on the oath-taking controversy in Legco, the storming of the Legco chamber by localists, filibustering and the paralysis of our legislature.

These are all rich live topics for political science. From Plato to Confucius, dialogue and questions and answers between teachers and students have always been the most effective education tools.

Our politicians will never be good role models, but they do provide very useful teaching material.

If the world is all stable and peaceful and everyone is happy, do we need educators? It’s precisely in dark and dangerous times that they prove their worth – or worthlessness.