Why some HK students, and teachers, are in favour of the copying robot - and some are not

Mum found out when schoolgirl finished her Lunar New Year assignments in just two days

Wong Tsui-kai |

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The schoolgirl spent 800 yuan for the “copying robot”.

A 15-year-old mainland schoolgirl who bought a “copying robot” to write her homework has caused an online storm. Many social media users have expressed an interest in getting one for themselves.

The girl used her lai see money to buy the 800 yuan (HK$927) machine to do her Lunar New Year text-copying homework, which she finished in just two days. Her mother became suspicious and found the machine. She smashed it, saying, “It can help you with homework, but can it help you on tests?”

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However, this hasn’t deterred some Hong Kong students from thinking about buying one. Teresa Kwok, 14, of South Island School, said copying out work can be useful for revision, but “too much handwriting will not help. I think I would still buy this writing machine as it can help to reduce the time and workload when you get a lot of homework.”

But there are also some who don’t think the machine is useful. “I copy text from my textbooks to do revision and to make it easier for myself to recite the content,” said Asawir Fatima, 14, of St Rose of Lima’s College. “I don’t think I would buy this machine, because I’d like to do my homework myself to really understand what I am copying and to put more effort into my work.”

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Professor Tong Ho-kin, a Chinese literature specialist and Dean of Humanities at Education University, says students should not use a machine to do text-copying work.

“Besides the loss of familiarity and handwriting skills from not practising, there are more negative impacts,” he said. “Writing is not just parroting words. It is understanding and expressing your own perspective of the words and the culture behind each character. Calligraphy has value as art.”

But Professor David Coniam, head of the department of curriculum and instruction at Education University, said that while handwriting is still a very important method of self-expression, the time spent doing “mindless homework” of this kind every day could be used in a more meaningful way.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne