Letters to the Editor, August 24, 2016
Teachers best placed to help troubled teens
I refer to the article (“Exams leave their mark”, August 9).
As you point out, paediatricians and social workers have found there is a sharp increase in child abuse cases during the school examination season. Many people may ask why some children will be punished because they get bad results, but I am not surprised by these findings.
As it is an international finance centre, Hong Kong is a very competitive city and, to many local parents, academic results are very important.
That is why students are under a lot of pressure, which leads to some hating their studies and contemplating suicide. And this can affect young people from primary to tertiary education levels.
Teachers need to be more aware of students’ feelings. Their parents often work long hours and may not be able to spend much time with them. They may not notice when their son or daughter is depressed.
Teachers spend far longer with these young people and need to be able to recognise signs of stress or depression. They also need to try and make their lessons more interesting and not overload students with homework. Youngsters must have enough time in the evening to relax.
The government should also produce more adverts and TV announcements in the public interest promoting vocational training and shifting the emphasis away from academic results.
Parents need to realise that a child who is not academically gifted may be more suited to training as a cook or a beautician and enjoying a rewarding career. Schools need to change the syllabus so that students with different abilities and talent can find their strengths.
There is a need in the long term to change the education system.
Rachel Leung Cho-kwan, Sham Shui Po
Power of play is so important for children
Unicef has published a series of posters supporting children’s “right to play”.
However, this will get little support from many Hong Kong parents who force their children to spend their spare time attending tutorial classes and extracurricular activities rather than playing with friends.
Expectations are high for young people at all levels, including kindergartens, and primary and secondary schools, with the priority being placed on good academic performance.
Many parents get caught up in this fiercely competitive environment and want their children to have advantages from an early age. The phrase from athletics “win at the starting line” is often used to describe this mindset, the belief that giving a child a good start is the key to success. Parents want their toddlers to get into elite kindergartens. Then they sign them up for extra tutorial classes.
Their priority is for their children to get an undergraduate place at a university so that they can get a good job. They teach their children to look down on manual labour.
I can understand the motivation behind tutorial colleges and extracurricular activities, but is it really worth it?
Is it good for a child to have to do all this after spending a whole day in classes at school? All these activities during and after the school day will leave students tired and stressed.
Playing can help relieve the stress caused by a heavy academic workload and it should be seen as a very important part of a child’s life. It can actually help them with their studies.
Playing helps children adjust to a changing school environment and enables them to hone their problem-solving skills.
Play also helps youngsters explore and better understand the world they live in. They also get involved in role playing, something that will help them as they grow up.
Children become more socially resilient and confident, and are therefore better equipped to deal with the challenges they will face in their lives. Being able to play in groups helps them acquire skills such as negotiating, resolving conflict and self-advocacy, which will be useful to them in adult life. How can they learn these skills during their childhood if they spend all their spare time in tutorial colleges or doing extracurricular activities?
Developing personalities and nurturing life skills are as important as doing well academically and cannot be learned from books.
Being able to play is a crucial part of childhood.
Tina Yeung, Ngau Tau Kok
Youngsters must learn to be resilient
Earlier this year, following the spate of student suicides, people talked about the need to help youngsters deal with relationship problems.
While I understand the importance of helping them cope with such issues, I think it is really vital that they learn to deal with adversity. Youngsters nowadays appear to be so fragile and vulnerable, and unable to cope with any reversals they may experience. I have heard friends talking about taking their own lives if they failed to get a place at a university. This is a ridiculous comment.
They must learn that a failure, for example, to achieve academic goals is not the end of the world. And having a relationship problem with friends or family members is not a disaster.
I do not think the priority in schools should be improving counselling support. Schools should focus on developing the syllabus so that students can learn to be self-reliant and resilient, and cope with relationship problems and other predicaments. For example, via debating, I realised you learn from your failures.
Students should expose themselves to difficulties and learn to live with them.
Woo Chung-yu, Lai Chi Kok
Game gives city’s retail sector a boost
Although Pokemon Go has been criticised, it has brought some benefits.
It is getting more people to leave their flats and go outside and, in their search for pokemons, they are getting a lot of exercise. This is very healthy for many teenagers who would normally stay at home. They may cover around 10km in one day.
It is also good for our retail sector as many people playing the game are filling shopping malls.
The game is also helping some family relationships as youngsters often play it with their parents.
Karen Chan, Tseung Kwan O
Allow blind citizens to touch exhibits
I recently read a news report online about a museum in Philadelphia that allowed people who are visually impaired to touch its exhibits, including some masterpieces.
That would be forbidden for all visitors in most museums around the world. The aim is to enable these people to experience what their eyes have missed and to exchange ideas with the power of touch.
I think this initiative can be inspirational for the visually impaired and can help them persevere when they face struggles every day in their lives with their disability.
I would like to see more support for visually impaired citizens in Hong Kong. Similar visits should be arranged in some of our museums. The city should offer a more user-friendly environment for these people.
Natalli Lo, Tseung Kwan O