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HKDSE - Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education

Hong Kong students need liberal studies so they can be vigilant in a post-truth world

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 4:49pm

I refer to the article, “Arguments over liberal studies refuse to die down” (May 6). Since the start of this century, our city has been bombarded with high-sounding buzzwords like nurturing a “creative mindset”, “logical mentality” and “independent thinking” – all embodied in the context of new educational curriculum blueprints.

The introduction of the liberal studies subject in secondary school, compulsory since 2009, was an important move towards achieving these goals. Teachers are often encouraged to create a learning environment that will induce youngsters to be curious, to question and to explore. This in turn gives students the chance to engage their abilities in independent and creative thinking, and eventually nurtures more innovative talent.

How did the Hong Kong school subject of liberal studies become so politicised?

Therefore, I doubt whether making liberal studies an elective would really benefit the learning process. Putting the political arguments aside, the subject undeniably enriches students’ understanding of the real world. If they can have a better sense of how the world functions, there is less chance they will be deceived, either by power or by privilege.

It is perhaps more compelling for students to be vigilant if ‘‘truth’’ that is grounded on scientific inquiry and rational deliberation becomes less crucial in a ‘‘post-truth’’ world, in which subjective emotions and personal beliefs seem to be the most relevant in discussions of any kind. 

This also justifies the rationale of an inquiry-based learning approach, as emphasised in liberal studies. Teachers try their very best to pinpoint the main concepts in the field, and link them to the debates in the real and diverse world students face.

Six in 10 teachers want liberal studies to remain as is

At this critical juncture, with endless social disputes and political deadlock, Hong Kong obviously needs more critical and new modes of thinking to solve all problems, big and small. I believe students can always draw on their learning and take the city forward.

Adrian Lam, Taikoo