About Stress of students in Hong Kong

My two daughters went through public schools in Canada. Instead of endless homework and exams, they went on field trips, explored nature, got their hands and feet dirty or simply had fun with other kids. They had lots of time to develop their hobbies and read books outside of school. Their education focused not on memorisation, but thinking, reason and debate. Curiosity and questions were encouraged, not suppressed. In spite of the lack of “work”, I believe they received an excellent education.

The long hours and hard work imposed on Hong Kong students do not promote intellectual development; on the contrary, they hamper it. It still haunts me that a student in my class once said, “All my years of schooling, I was told to memorise. Now you want me to think, and I can’t do it.”

To prepare our children for a true education, we must leave our kids alone. Once a young person’s mind is stuffed full, it is difficult to open it again.

As a university teacher, all I ask is that schools send us students who are curious and hungry for knowledge, have respect for intellectualism, have an open mind and are eager to learn. These qualities are far more important than any piece of “knowledge” that may be forced into them against their will.

Sun Kwok is a chair professor of space science at the University of Hong Kong. He taught in Canada for 29 years before returning to Hong Kong in 2006 as dean of science at HKU

A review of 213 studies about the stress of Hong Kong students says there is an extremely strong connection between family background, academic results, public examinations, parental pressure and stress level. (Gavankar, 1996)

Several ways to alleviate stress are being suggested, including listening to music, exercising, and changing one’s attitude. (Student Suicide Prevention, Practical tips and Strategies, 2005)

Unfortunately, it seems that the most effective ways to eliminate stress is not being mentioned above.