Brain Game: What are things that schools should teach but don’t? (Round 9)

  • Our weekly writing competition starts with 10 contestants, who are eliminated one-by-one based on your votes – who will you choose?
  • This round, participants share what should be taught in school, from personal finance to mental health management
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Brain Game is a competition in which we start with 10 participants who must answer a question as creatively as they can every week. Based on your votes, we eliminate one contestant each round until we have a winner.

Contestant 1

There is a joke in the medical industry: medical school interns aren’t able to name internal tissues in real-life surgeries, but know that mitochondria are a double-membrane-bound organelle found in most eukaryotic organisms.

If that is confusing to you, what it basically means is: what is the point of further education if people cannot apply what they have learned to real-life situations?

Schools bombard us with detailed information on specific topics, but what our education has failed to do is teach us how to apply these ideas to our daily lives. Sure, an aspiring mathematician may find the factorisation of polynomials useful, but most of us will not need to understand complicated maths formulas to figure out the price of our vegetables.

A lack of connection to our daily lives makes concepts abstract, difficult to grasp and uninteresting. Schools should teach us how to apply this knowledge instead of simply spoon-feeding facts. In the long run, we will not be able to remember everything we have learned in class, but we will retain the ability to digest and apply information. We can use our brains to solve daily problems and help people who know less about our areas of expertise.

One example of how schools can teach knowledge application is by structuring different subjects to interlink with each other. For example, we could learn about the structure of plants in biology, then about where these different plants are found in geography class, followed by a cooking class teaching us how to cook them. This way, students can connect and understand the correlation between these subjects.

One can only hope that one day our education system will actually prepare us for adulthood. Providing us with more practical ways to use the knowledge we learn is a start.

Contestant 2

Schools should be teaching students how to take care of their mental health, because it is one of the most critical aspects of life. Sadly, it is one part of health that is usually pushed aside or considered unimportant.

According to surveys and studies from around the world, 1 in 5 students suffers from some type of mental disorder, which means these students are also at a heightened risk of self-harm. In Hong Kong, a survey conducted by the Federation of Youth Groups in October last year found that more than half of some 3,600 secondary school students showed signs of depression.

Even worse, their condition can generally be attributed to stress from studying, yet schools do close to nothing to handle this. Sure, they sometimes run events such as mental health awareness days, but let’s be honest: the only thing we’re aware of afterward is how ineffective they are.

Instead of making empty gestures, mental health should become a compulsory part of students’ education. Instead of being told to relax, students should be taught how to manage their emotions, and instead of giving condescending feedback such as “don’t be so lazy”, schools should help students manage their workloads better.

Most importantly: Schools should provide a safe environment that allows students to speak up about their inner feelings and encourage them to find help when needed.

Without a doubt, emotional management is of paramount importance for students, especially in Hong Kong, where academic performance is more highly valued than personal well-being.

Dishearteningly, some educators believe that a student’s emotional immaturity causes their mental health problems. In fact, they are the very people who have a responsibility to educate students about mental health.

Contestant 3

Compared to schools in the US or Canada, the Hong Kong education system doesn’t offer many curriculums or programmes for students to study. All too often, local educators emphasise academic results, while students themselves are only concerned about getting a spot in university.

They both seem to forget the true meaning of education – it is not just about excelling on exams, but for learning practical skills and knowledge that contributes to mankind and the world.

To achieve this goal, I believe schools in Hong Kong should offer courses on agricultural studies because the history of agriculture is closely related to the development of human society and the social economy. Not only can agricultural education provide students with general knowledge of food growth and natural resources, but it also allows students to acquire a wide variety of skills, including science, maths, communications, and technology.

In addition, agricultural learning could enhance students’ awareness of environmental protection. Human emissions and activities directly contribute to climate change. Through agricultural practice, students can understand different types of crises and destructive events, like environmental degradation and the exploitation of natural resources. Perhaps this will help them reflect on themselves and think more about world development.

Personal financial management is another subject that should be taught in school. As students head into adulthood, they may start working and earning money. But they might lack knowledge about savings and investments. The financial world is complicated and sometimes deceiving for fresh graduates. Therefore, it is vital to equip students with financial management skills before they step into the workplace. This will inspire students to be more disciplined with their spending.

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