Face Off: Should home-schooling be more common in Hong Kong?

Face Off: Should home-schooling be more common in Hong Kong?

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week …

Laila Joy Albuquerque, 17, HKUGA College

I would like to ask two questions first. Should learning be more common in our lives? Should air be more common in our lungs? To quote American psychologist John Dewey, education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.

Because of that, I believe home-schooling should be made more common in our city. When we look at schools in Hong Kong, from mind-numbing assemblies preparing us for a dull, future desk job to the daily commute, we are wasting so much of our precious time. Besides, spending six years studying for one rigidly set exam still poses problems for many students. Being stuck in class, feeling your energy irreversibly slip away, is the perfect recipe for a social crisis. Teenagers are future leaders, so we should be given the best chance to achieve success.

Schools take away control over your schedule and you end up constantly chasing academic perfection. This creates unnecessary stress, with many students attending tutorial centres to gain high marks. So the obvious solution is a new system – home-schooling – which better caters to a child’s
all-round growth.

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In schools, students learn that memorisation is the key to good exam results. This is not good, because they lose their curiosity and fail to develop their skills and imagination.

Home-schooling allows students to take an exam that best suits their abilities, whether it is the DSE, IB, A-Levels, or SAT. If home-schooled students decided to sit the DSE, they could choose the subjects that they were most interested in, including the wide range of applied learning subjects which many mainstream schools do not teach.

Given such freedom, students become much happier because they are studying subjects they are passionate about. This helps aspiring scientists and innovators to unlock their full potential. Hong Kong badly needs such people who can drive the city’s economy forward and make it more prosperous.

While I realise that it is difficult to change an education system built on tradition, home-schooling is a very good alternative which deserves to be promoted in the city. Shouldn’t that be a life lesson?

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Tacye Hong, 20, University of Cambridge, Britain

It’s not an easy task for schools to make sure that all students receive a well-rounded education. It takes many people to make that happen. That’s why home-schooling is ineffective and leads to an incomplete education.

First, children being home-schooled won’t be able to interact with their peers in a classroom. We learn leadership skills and how to co-operate with others over the years, mainly by taking part in group projects with our classmates. Students lose these opportunities when they are taught at home. Such skills are very useful in the workplace.

It is true that some students get bullied at school. I believe, of course, that this is a bad thing and the bullies should be punished. But such unpleasant experiences can actually help a person to become stronger, both mentally and physically, and more independent.

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A proper school also provides a lot of facilities for students, from different types of musical instruments to sports equipment. There are also music, sports and dance lessons, as well as sports days. This particularly helps families who cannot afford to send their children to extracurricular activities.

What’s more, teaching students at home is not easy. Schools have teachers who specialise in certain subjects. In most cases, full-time teachers will know more about a subject than parents. As a result, parents will not be able to provide knowledge beyond what the textbooks offer. This might affect their children’s enthusiasm for learning, because they rely on their interaction with teachers to learn interesting facts about topics. Parents also cannot compare their children’s abilities with others, and might not be able to spot a special talent that can be further developed.

Those parents who couldn’t teach would have to hire a private tutor. But what about the cost? Not every local family has that kind of money.

In conclusion, I believe home-schooling cannot provide children with a well-rounded education, so this method of teaching should not be popularised in Hong Kong.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

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