By Mr. Tang Chun Keung, the Vice Chairman of HKAHSS
|“Secondary Education Curriculum Guide” What Would We Like to Nurture Amongst Our Students?||中文原文|
In response to the changes in economic, scientific, technological, social and political arenas, many countries are trying to look for reforms to keep their school education abreast of the times and maintain a competitive edge. The “Secondary Education Curriculum Guide” (The Guide) published in May 2017 by the Hong Kong Government aims to set off a new stage of ongoing reviews which builds on strengths of the past efforts. Accomplishments attained so far is expected to be deepened and sustained. At the same time, it also aims to highlight new directions for curriculum development.
Ever since the release of the Guide, the HKAHSS has written two articles to state our views and they are titled
- Paper 1 What kind of person are we cultivating?
- Paper 2 According to the Guide, what critical skills are we nurturing amongst students to meet the needs of 21st century?
What kind of person are we cultivating? The danger of the possible losing of the ability to criticize, reflect, or think independently.
To meet the challenges of the 21st Century, the Education Commission proposed some basic qualities to nurture amongst students at the turn of the century through the Education Reform. The aim then was to train students as lifelong learners who “are responsible, innovative and eager to learn, as well as possessing a good command of communication skills”.
The 2001 “Learning to Learn – The Way Forward in Curriculum Development” focused on fostering students’ capabilities for lifelong learning and whole-person development. It introduced three interrelated categories: key learning areas, generic skills, values and attitudes. A series of curriculum guidelines have been issued: 9 generic skills have been integrated into 8 key learning areas, while 23 core values, 27 auxiliary values and 18 attitudes have permeated each key learning area.
Table 1 lists the objectives of the 2009 Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide and the 2017 Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide. To facilitate comparison, the order of learning objectives of the 2017 Guide is organized according to the 2009 Guide:
Table 1: A comparison of the old and new learning objectives
|Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide
(Secondary 4-6) 2009
|Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide (Secondary 4-6) 2017|
|To enable our students to:||To enable students to:|
|1. become biliterate and trilingual.||become proficient in biliterate and trilingual communication for better study and life. (Objective 3)|
|2. have a broad knowledge foundation to understand current events that affect their lives in terms of personal, social, national and global circumstances.||acquire and construct a broad and solid knowledge base, and to understand contemporary issues that may impact on students’ daily lives at personal, community, national and global levels. (Objective 2)|
|3. become an informed and responsible citizen who acknowledges one’s national identity and possesses worldwide vision.
|become an informed and responsible citizen with a sense of national and global identity, appreciation of positive values and attitudes as well as Chinese culture, and respect for pluralism in society. (Objective 1)|
|4. respect multiculturalism and different perspectives and become an individual who can criticize, reflect, and think independently.||develop and apply generic skills in an integrative manner, and to become an independent and self-directed learner for future study and work. (Objective 4)|
|5. acquire IT and other skills needed for lifelong learning||use information and information technology ethically, flexibly and effectively. (Objective 5)|
|6. understand their career path and academic ambitions so as to develop positive learning attitudes.||understand one’s own interests, aptitudes and abilities, and to develop and reflect upon personal goals with aspirations for further studies and future career. (Objective 6)|
|7. build a healthy lifestyle and participate in life-wide learning activities actively.
|lead a healthy lifestyle with active participation in physical and aesthetic activities, and to appreciate sports and the arts. (Objective 7)|
The most prominent difference between the 2009 and 2017 Curriculum Guides is the missing out of cultivating students as “an individual who can criticize, reflect, and think independently”. The Guide does not clearly explain the reasons behind. The removal of such items is difficult for the HKAHS to comprehend.
What core qualities do we want our students to possess?
From the Guide, we find much inconsistency in the categorization of qualities to be nurtured among students and curriculum development. For instance, the concepts in the 7 learning goals, 6 focal points, 4 key tasks and 8 major renewed emphases overlap with one another and there is a lack of lateral coherence and vertical continuity among the items. It takes much time for readers to sort out a clear picture. It is therefore of utmost importance to work out a comprehensive document that guides qualities to be nurtured amongst students and the future education of Hong Kong. The six focal points and eight major renewed emphases in the Guide are supposed to be indicators of qualities to be cultivated amongst students. However, the eight major renewed emphases have actually comprised the six focal points. The 8 major renewed emphases are as follows:
- strengthening values education (including moral and civic education, and Basic Law education)
- reinforcing the learning of Chinese history and Chinese culture
- extending “Reading to Learn” to “Language across the Curriculum”
- promoting STEM education and ITE
- fostering an entrepreneurial spirit
- diversifying life-wide learning experiences (including those for Vocational Professional Education and Training)
- stepping up gifted education
- enhancing the teaching of Chinese as a second language
Although the Education Bureau (EDB) emphasizes that the eight major renewed emphases are to be reflected through the seven learning goals, we are only able to find five major renewed emphases that are related to the learning goals of the Guide. Besides, three major renewed emphases, namely fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, stepping up gifted education and enhancing the teaching of Chinese as a second language, are apparently unrelated to any of the learning goals.
Due to the large number of items and ambiguities in the Guide, we have attempted to use the report “Education for the Future: The Global Experience of Developing 21st Century Skills and Competencies“published by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) and the faculty of Education of the Beijing Normal University in 2016 as a framework for the “Secondary Education Curriculum Guide” to sort out the qualities we hope to cultivate in students. This report has provided a comprehensive understanding of the formulation, definition, and implementation of 21st century competencies around the world. Competency frameworks from 5 international organizations and 24 economic systems were investigated and the official references cover more than eight languages. The 18 competencies include:· 6 Subject-specific Competencies: Language, Mathematics, Technology, Humanities, Art, Sports and Health· 3 categories: the Era of Rapid Technological Transformation, Economic and Social Development, and Educational Development.· 9 General Competencies: Critical Thinking, Creativity and Problem Solving, Learning Skills and Lifelong Learning; Self-perception and Self-control, Information Competence; Civic Responsibility and Social Participation, Communication and Collaboration.
After categorizing the 8 learning areas, 9 generic skills, 6 focal points and 8 major renewed emphases in the Curriculum Guide according to the 21st Century Core Competency Framework, we found that the Curriculum Guide mentioned too little in the following Competencies: Environment, Economic Growth and Multicultural Trends. This may be insufficient for cultivating students to become knowledgeable, responsible people with a worldwide vision. An unexplained myth While there are a number of learning goals in “Secondary Education Curriculum Guide”, it is worth noting that some very important elements such as training students to be an individual who can criticize, reflect, and think independently are missing out. Does this reflect the intention of the government to downplay the importance of critical thinking in the curriculum?
In January 2017, the EDB held three half-day briefing sessions regarding the “Secondary Education Curriculum Guide” and a draft version in English was released in May 2017. After more than a year, the “Secondary Education Curriculum Guide” still remained at the preparation stage with the Chinese version unpublished.
Besides, among all items, it seems that the government tends to put more emphasis on two major renewed emphases: strengthening Values Education and reinforcing the learning of Chinese history and Chinese culture. This can be seen in the “Policy Address” delivered by the Chief Executive, who also opined that Chinese History must become an independent compulsory subject for all junior secondary schools starting next academic year. Apart from the above, the Financial Secretary stated in his Budget Speech that he would normalize the Pilot Scheme on Promoting Interflows between Sister Schools in Hong Kong and the Mainland. In addition, the EDB has recently devised an online course entitled “Basic Law Online Course for Secondary School Students’ Self-directed Learning”, which was initiated in March 2018. The reasons behind the government’s strong directives on some particular areas for implementing the Guide in the school curriculum has cast much doubt, with rationales behind difficult to understand.
While curriculum development is a complicated process, educators still need to uphold their professionalism in education and focus on students’ “attained curriculum”. This can only be attained through professional and expert judgment, keen awareness of the social, political, economic and global changes as well as the art of well-conceived implementation process.
培養甚麼樣的人？ － 消失了“能批判、反思和獨立思考的人”
香港在踏進二十一世紀時啟動教育改革，教育統籌委員會提出以「樂善勇敢」為整體的教育目標，培養學生為「樂於學習、善於溝通、勇於承擔、敢於創新」的終身學習者。課程發展議會在2001公佈《學會學習-課程發展路向》，推出了由學習領域、共通能力及態度和價值觀三個互相關聯部分組成的新課程架構，然後頒布一系列的課程指引，把 9 項共通能力貫穿於8個學習領域中，而23項核心價值、27項輔助價值和18項態度則滲透在各學習領域之內。
- 推廣多元化的全方位學習經歷 (「職業專才教育」相關的學習經歷)
教育局在2017年1月曾為《中學教育課程指引》舉行三場內容相同的半日簡介會，然後在2017年5月發佈英文版本的擬定稿，經過了一年多，《中學教育課程指引》仍停留在擬定階段，未發佈中文版本的《中學教育課程指引》， 學界亦未能得知教育當局是否正在修訂擬定稿。但在指引眾多項目中，加強價值觀教育和強化中國歷史和中華文化學習這兩個主要更新重點，似乎最被政府重視，例如特首林鄭月娥早前在《施政報告》宣布，全港中學下學年起，初中中史須成為獨立必修科；財政司司長陳茂波公布新一份財政預算案，也提出將促進中港兩地學校交流的姊妹學校交流計劃恆常化；教育局新近製作了「《基本法》中學生網上自學課程 」，並在2018年3月開始供學生學習。在學校層面把指引轉化成課程實施方面，教育局的選擇性做法有點耐人尋味。
課程發展雖然在一定程度上是複雜的社會和政治的反映，但教育工作者仍應秉持專業，在結合校情、區情和國情的同時，關注國際教育發展的趨勢，參考其他地方在21世紀核心素養教育的經驗，多從學生獲得的課程 (attained curriculum) 角度，去培育學生相關的核心素養。