"I felt that the teachers at my previous school were not able to cater to my needs," recalls the Form Four student. "Chinese is the subject I needed most help with, but when I approached my Chinese teachers for guidance, they simply told me to read more books."
Wong is principal of PAOC Ka Chi Secondary School. Urged by his son, he transferred Ho-chit to his own school two years ago, to give him a change of pace and environment. The move has paid off. "At Ka Chi, students who have not done well on tests will attend after-school remedial lessons," Ho-chit says. "The teacher will explain in detail the questions in the tests and find out where individual students are struggling and try to help them. I find this teaching method very beneficial to my learning."
Ho-chit says the highly competitive environment at his old school put him off learning. His father agrees that a rat race in school can cause students to lose confidence and motivation. "Students can be [negatively] affected because of competition," Wong says. "I find my son is better able to fulfil his potential in a less competitive learning environment. It is like you may be the best basketball player in Hong Kong but you don't stand a chance against the pros in the NBA. But that doesn't mean you are not a good player."
Wong admits he had first selected a school for his son based on its reputation. He has now realised that a suitable learning environment can be more important than reputation. "There is no doubt that the brightest students attend band-one schools but not every single one of them is [equally] bright. If you are not the best, then your chance to succeed may be hindered," he explains.
"A common misconception among parents is that getting their children into a prestigious school is a recipe for success. But the name of a school is not the key to a student's success; it is the opportunities that the school can offer the student that matter the most."
Wong suggests parents should visit schools before enrolling their students in them. They should also talk to parents whose children are studying at the school before submitting applications.
"Don't blindly go for a school because of its reputation," he cautions. "Visit the school to see things for yourself and talk to parents to find out more."
Now his son studies in a school where his father is principal. Could that bring extra pressure on Ho-chit to perform well?
"Of course I hope he will do well," Wong says. "But I never look at my son's exam results before he does, even though I could. I will let him come to tell me about them."
Ho-chit is fine with that.