|Letter to Yuk Shan, my student||中文原文|
Dear Yuk Shan,
We have not seen each other for a long time. Your classmates told me that you are now pondering whether you would really like to become a teacher after graduation. As your teacher and former principal, besides missing you a lot, I feel sad that the education sector may lose a good teacher. I can still remember the joy and confidence on your face on the day when you learnt that you were admitted to university. You told me that you were happy not just because you could study in university, but also because you could have an opportunity to equip yourself well to become a good teacher. However, you hesitate when your ideal is going to be fulfilled soon.
I understand that the current social and political situation is upsetting. During your field practice in school, you saw young students take to the streets for their ideals and there was a continuously growing rift in society. How will this group of youngsters work for their future? How will their relationship with those in public office be mended? I am aware that we both do not know how to answer those questions. The Chinese saying “The one who can untie the bell is the one who ties it” is actually very correct. I know it is not easy for you to get over the recent misunderstanding towards teachers from the outside world. During the period of “Occupy Central”, you and many teachers had strongly persuaded students to stay away from the danger on the streets, reminded them not to follow the mob blindly, advised them to discern right from wrong, to be considerate and tolerant. Yet, at the end, teachers were suspected to be the ones who incited students to go on the rampage. I believe that we are not afraid of inaccurate accusations, but we are worried that the complexities of the political conflicts in society are simply attributed to the ‘instigation’ by teachers who in fact care for students’ growth and development. These accusations do not only undermine the identification of the root of the problems but also impede the resolution of deep-rooted conflicts. I believe that we both worry when another student campaign will take place.
After “Occupy Central”, educators face mounting challenges, such as the uncorroborated allegation of “Ordeal Bean”, the overwhelming criticism towards the Secondary School Curriculum, etc. Some said, “It is detrimental to society’s harmony and stability to cultivate students’ critical thinking through Liberal Studies, and thus immediate rectification is needed.” Some others said, “Students do not have a good understanding of the Basic Law. So they do not accept the “831 Electoral Reform Proposal”. Thus, Basic Law Education needs to be strengthened.” Some even said, “At present, Chinese History is not a compulsory subject. Also, there are too few exchange programmes for our students to go back to Mainland China. So they cannot see China’s prosperous and robust development and do not love their country enough.”
We grow up in a comparatively liberal culture. Why are all our edges and our students’ qualities which we have been so proud of denied now? Are there really some big problems with education? Aren’t the political and economic leaders as well as many professionals in today’s Hong Kong all educated in the same education system? Hasn’t our government official ever said in public that education matters should be handled by the education sector? Then now, why does the school curriculum need to be changed because of the subjective views of people who are not from the education sector?
I heard that you were at a loss when you learnt of the suggestion that newly-appointed teachers should go through training in the Mainland. Yuk Shan, is that the reason which deters you from joining the education field? I understand that you love our country. I recall that I had led you and your schoolmates to go back to the Mainland for relief work many times. I saw that all of you worked very hard to prepare for the gifts to be sent to the students in the Mainland. I saw tears of compassion in all your eyes when visiting the poor families. Is it really true that you don’t love our country? Back then, you told me that you would go back to the Mainland to give tutorials to the students there during your free time. I have heard that during your study in university, you have regularly gone to the remote villages in the Mainland to serve the children there. Is it fair to say that you don’t have good understanding of the condition of our country? For you who have sound knowledge and are going to complete your study for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education, you may feel reluctant if you are asked to join the additional training in the Mainland all of a sudden. I believe that it is because of the lack of trust and fairness behind the suggestion, and not your reluctance to visit the Mainland. No other professional bodies in Hong Kong require their new blood to go through training in the Mainland before joining the industry. Why is this required only for new teachers? Actually, it is more important for them to receive school-based training to understand their students and schools as soon as they start their career than national education in the Mainland with its effects unknown yet.
Amidst the gloom and rift in Hong Kong, I still see hope in the education sector. Most passionate and devoted principals and teachers still uphold their vision and mission in education, and safeguard their profession, schools, and every student’s healthy growth and learning. They abide by the rule of law, love Hong Kong, respect our country, embrace the world, listen to the students with love, walk with them and guide them to be positive and proactive to pursue their dreams, and build the future of Hong Kong, China and even the world. I still remember the time we discussed about a famous line of Mr. Tao Xing-zhi, an educator of our country: “The reason for education is to pursue the truth; the reason for learning is to be a man of truth.” You have told me that you want to be a good teacher because you have met many good teachers and you would like to pass on the noble heritage for the best interest of more students.
Yuk Shan, it is the time to pick up the pieces and get ready to start over to ignite hope for our home – Hong Kong. It is the time for us to contribute to education earnestly and cultivate our younger generation who are brave to create their future professionally. As your teacher, I believe that you can stand the stress and hold onto your ideal for our children.
With my best wishes,
Michael Wong Wai-Yu