Don't be selfish
When I was little, my mum told me not to ask classmates about pocket money or how much their parents earn, as these are considered embarrassing questions.
However, now I find that it's also not acceptable to ask classmates about their after-school tutoring, or to suggest sharing tutorial notes either. Such requests are likely to get you an unfriendly reply, or your classmate may pretend not to hear.
I believe family and education are to blame for this kind of attitude towards helping others. In recent decades, an increase in single child families has brought about spoiled children who rarely need to share with others.
Meanwhile, stiff competition and a pressurised environment in schools amplifies the issue.
It's easy to understand why they hide their notes - it's a fear of losing their edge over others by helping classmates.
In an individualised society, citizens look to only benefit themselves and are less concerned about others.
Though there's nothing wrong with hiding notes, it's undeniable Hong Kong students are becoming more self-centred due to many factors, including family, school and wider society. It is time for educators to act before teens - the future leaders - all become selfish people.
Wong Siu-yuk, Our Lady of the Rosary College
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Siu-yuk. You're right when you say the system makes people more selfish. There's a funny saying - "If you're not the general's horse, the view is pretty much the same".
In other words, if you're not top of your class, it wouldn't really matter if you helped your fellow students to do better. It would be much better, though, if you were able to share.
When your Mum talked about not asking people those questions, it was about being polite. If we are polite we don't want to make people feel uncomfortable.
If someone was poor they might be embarrassed to admit how little they earn. Or if someone was rich they would sound boastful. There is no graceful way out of that dilemma.
Is there a graceful way out of this one? Yes. "How about we revise together" would work for everyone, because it would help cut revision time.