Generation 40s – 四十世代

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自資專上課程——挑戰與未來

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C03 | 優質教育 | 教育講論 | By 許景輝 |
2013-01-19

隨着知識型經濟的發展,香港已從過往的製造業,轉向以各類服務業為主導的經濟模式,職場對人力資源的需求亦起了很大的變化。為配合這變化,教育統籌委員會早於2001年已提出對當時教育制度的改革方案,提倡終身學習,其中一項建議是「增加中學以後的學習機會,擴闊修讀高等課程的途徑」。

不同的院校,相繼以自資形式開辦課程,以滿足這龐大的市場需要。這對各自資專上課程的提供者,無疑是一項大挑戰。至於其課程本身的意向──職業導向和實視終身學習願景等,能否一一貫徹?

從一些調查可知一二……

政府資料顯示,在過往十年,修讀這些全日制「獲認可自資專上課程」的學生人數,由2001 年的九千一百多人激增超過七倍至2011年的接近七萬一千人。附屬各間大學的社區學院,更擔當着重要的角色,佔據這市場的主要份額。

為檢討這部分教育體系的成效,香港大學教育資助委員會於2010 年發表名為《展望香港高等教育體系》的報告,關注這些課程是否真正能夠幫助學生在人生不同階段按個人情况,發展潛能,和讓他們可靈活適應社會的急速變化。報告更建議「政府當局應全面檢討專上教育體系各環節日後如何提供終身學習機會,以及這些機會應如何分布」。

個人素養低於理想

事實上,教育局亦於2006 年委託國際市場調查公司,研究副學位課程畢業生在各個主要能力範疇的表現。其《關於2006年度副學位課程畢業生的工作表現僱主意見調查》的報告指出,雖然僱主對副學位畢業生的整體表現頗為滿意,但他們所得的表現評分卻遠低於僱主給這些範疇(包括:中英文能力、數字運用能力、資訊科技知識、分析及解決問題能力、工作態度、人際技巧、管理技巧、工作所需的專業技術)的重要性評分。

在香港,對自資專上課程質素的學術研究仍在萌芽階段。筆者在這幾年間,曾兩次以問卷形式,調查了全港二百多名修讀由不同院校所開辦的自資專上課程(包括:學位、副學位、高級文憑 / 文憑,及高級證書 / 證書課程)的學生。結果顯示,學生的學術成績均能達到滿意或以上的水平,但他們在個人素養方面的成就卻低於理想。

未能實踐社會責任

例如學生未能經常欣賞和接納不同的觀念和生活模式、未能分析和評估全球化趨勢對香港的影響、未能發揮高階思維能力去洞悉問題中的主要因素和抽取其含意;更嚴重的是,他們未能在群體中發揮應有的人際溝通技巧,亦未能在各方位實踐應有的個人和社會責任。這令我們憂慮這些課程的質素,如何令下一代積極推動香港走向更多元化的發展,以及邁向更民主和更正面的改變。

要解決上述問題,首要是從院校本身的質素保證和學習生態着手。一個透明度和問責度高的質素保證機制,將有助院校正面回應各持份者和各專業(或職業)人士對課程意向和內容的要求。這機制是動態的,雙方應從諮詢層面步向長久和深入的夥伴協作關係;院校老師亦應主動評估各專業(或職業)的未來發展和對人力資源的需求。

學習生態方面,要相信學生在校內所體驗的學習歷程遠比他們在進校時所擁有的重要,而這些經歷將更有效地協助他們達致全人發展和獲取更高的成就。因此,課程本身應提高其學術水平,促進學生主動學習;院校亦應提供更多的支援,豐富學生的學習經歷和給予他們更多的機會,發揮優勢,實踐個人和社會責任,預早為社會作出貢獻。

最後,如我們能着重教育的產出,不斷檢討和改進現存的自資專上課程,一眾「九十後」將會是香港社會的新希望、新動力。

撰文:許景輝博士

香港教育學院課程與教學學系副系主任及助理教授

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Learning to break rules isn’t all bad

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2013-01-09

Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang says treating boys more harshly because they are rowdier than girls may be natural behaviour, but let’s not overdo it

“Oh why do they have to be such boys?” my mother complained when my sons jumped up and down on the bed instead of settling down to do their Chinese homework.

I don’t have daughters to compare them with, at least not yet, and I’m not a big fan of stereotypes. So I said in my sons’ defence: “It’s not that they’re boys, it’s that they’re kids.” My mother shot me an unconvinced “give me a break” look.

It’s not just my mother who thinks boys and girls have fundamentally different attitudes towards learning. A just-published study done by the University of Georgia and Columbia University shows that American elementary school teachers routinely give higher marks to girls than boys, even though the boys score higher on standardised tests, for the simple reason that girls behave better in school.

I’m not surprised by the findings, and I don’t think the teachers in the study are sexist. Girls, for the most part, are better organised, have more self-control, can follow directions better, and are more flexible and patient, according to the study’s authors.

“They’re just easier,” is the explanation I commonly hear from parents of girls. This past semester, I taught an all-boy SAT class while my colleague taught an all-girl creative writing class. My class had five boys while his had 10 girls, all of them six or seven years old compared to my 15-year-olds. Guess which class was louder?

All this peace and quiet, according to the study, translates into extra brownie points from teachers.

That may be true, but is it right?

As an educator, I worry about the ramifications of penalising students too much for “rambunctious” behaviour, especially at a young age, and conversely for overly rewarding “obedient” behaviour. I don’t just feel this way because I have two boys – although I can’t deny that having boys has made me an infinitely more patient teacher. I feel this way because part of learning is not just following, repeating and regurgitating. Part of learning is also creating, and to do that, you can’t be afraid to break a few rules sometimes.

Interestingly enough, a study done in 2006 by the University of Hong Kong on 45,000 Hong Kong students showed that, in primary schools here, boys generally did better than girls. However, that study looked at exam results.

Even if teacher assessments matter less than exam results, they still have a huge influence on students. I cannot count the number of times my students have come into my office with their confidence shaken by a teacher’s criticism. By secondary school, according to the same Hong Kong study, girls did better than boys on the standardised tests, and the same goes for the GCSEs in Britain.

In a few short weeks, I will be welcoming another baby. This time, it’s going to be a girl. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to her arrival. There are millions of reasons I’m excited to have a daughter – but having an easier time getting her to do Chinese is not one of them.

Kelly Yang is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, an after-school programme for children in Hong Kong. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Law School.


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釣島風雲 香港教育

Hong Kong Economic Journal
A18 | 時事評論 | By 何漢權 |
2013-01-19

釣魚島領海風高浪急,戰雲陰霾密布,雖然絕大多政治與軍事評論員認為中日不願意背水一戰,以免兩敗俱傷,但歷史叫人清醒,卻甚有憂慮,戰爭的發生,往往是形勢比人強,個人的意志不能扭轉乾坤,打仗無法避免。

中國解放軍實彈演練頻頻,強調要做好「能打仗、打勝仗」的準備,戰爭是綜合國力的殘酷考驗,說到底,還是國民教育能量的長期積聚,是謂養兵千日,用於一時!而全體國民教育的能量積聚,就看教育的布陣如何?慧眼怎樣?能量真正到位。

1860 年,咱們的洋務自強運動開始,船堅炮利的背後,全民教育是空白一片,日本明治維新推行,起碼較大清的「改革」晚十年,但全民教育到位,既穩亦變,國民生活氣象一新,荷蘭化與美國化一齊來,強國先由強心開始,再塑造大和民族的集體人格,國家至上、榮譽至上;二十多年後中日第一次打仗,咱們慘敗於甲午戰爭,心戰、實戰與談判戰都輸,深層次思考,是咱們急功近利,不看重教育的長線功能,輸就輸在領導階層的眼光短淺,無心抓好教育,以致未能在變亂的世界格局中,建構實事求是的國民教育。

政府真的看重教育?

第一次中日甲午戰敗後,近五十年,我們的教育依然大幅落後,法治依然不彰,打起仗來,確實節節敗退,只能「以空間換取時間」,以圖安撫民心,明明面對日本的全面侵略,仍然不得不忍辱負眾,用「抗戰」而並非向那惡者宣戰!今天,從歷史、從公義審視,日本首相安倍對釣魚島的政治乃至軍事的取態,確實惹人討厭,不過,假若中日第三次戰爭再起, 「能打仗、打勝仗」的亮麗口號,並非威武不能屈,是否真的能打回一場勝仗,還看綜合國力是否能夠發揮,綜合國力發揮的最根本,就是自兩次中日戰爭之後,,我們整體國民教育的質素提升,是否全然到位。

回到香港的教育現場,看看充滿爭議上台的特首的第一份《施政報告》的教育部分是如何落墨?劈頭第一句就是「教育經費佔政府開支的約五分一,是各個政策範疇之冠」,直接說明教育的支出已夠多了,學界的持份者不能苛求了,真的嗎?梁特首競選時不是說過「教育並非支出,而是投資」嗎?

不怕不識貨,最怕貨比貨,今天的荷蘭、南韓、日本、台灣乃至澳門等地,她們對教育的總體開支(投資),是比香港多?抑或較香港少?說點歷史,1945 年,日本戰敗,廣島長崎被炸得稀巴爛,整個國家的狀況足以用魚爛島散形容,但其時的日本國會仍然咬緊牙關,一致通過要推行九年的普及國民教育!當一個政府常常念茲在茲述說教育的支出已經夠多的了,這個政府骨子裏不一定看重教育!當有艱難要面對的時候,好打極有限。

特首《施政報告》的教育部分又說:「新高中學制初見成效,得到國際認可……」從理論與實踐角度綜合,究竟新高中學制的成效初見在哪裏?說實在,從現役要應付新高中各科文憑試的廣大師生求說,內容是「多、深、繁、雜」幾乎是各科的共同特色,再加上折騰的校本評核,經歷第一屆新高中文憑試洗禮的師生來說,是初見成效,看來要做全面的科研,方能舉起勝利旗旗號。記得二十一世紀之初,聯合國教科文組提出學習的幾個導向Learring how to bnow, Learring how to do; Learring how to lite together; Learring how to be 以及Learring how to cherge, 「如何理解」、「如何做好」、「如何與人相處」、「如何成就自己」以及「如何改變」,香港的新高中學剩下的師生互動,能有時間與空間沿着這些大方向出發?抑或要日日被那些沉重不堪的、考試殺傷力極強的課程及評核所折騰?

高官富商子女會留港?

《施政報告》高舉香港新高中文憑試的江湖地位,說比「美國普通教育文憑試高級程度考試」或「國際文憑大學預科課程」的最高級別還要高,一向以來,香港中學的課提與考試,最大的特式是「夠深」、「夠多」!新高中的課程依然沿此路進,與舊制課程相比,再加深大量的,無休止的校本評核,如此放在中學教育的國際教試市場釋量,當然「夠格」,但一仗功成萬枯骨,精英課程如何適應全面普及教育的普羅學生?多少高官的子女、富商的下一代都不會選擇留港,接受如此「高級別」的新高中文憑試的洗禮,原因在哪裏?

再說,關係國民教育根本的一些重科目,如中國文學、中國歷史以及世界歷等,在新高中文憑課程及考試的大旗揮舞之下,邊緣化的程度何止是花果飄零,更會淪落至無影無蹤,國民教育弄到如斯田地,絕對有迹可尋,如今《施政報告》對此是不聞不問,難道這就叫有膽有識?這就叫「教育政策應進入鞏固期」?

《施政報告》的教育部分短短五小段,只有這麼一句帶來企盼的說話,那就是「推行十五年免費教育」,確實政府對幼兒教育虧欠已久,也企盼即將成立的專責委員會,認真聽取並吸納幼教專業在線的意見,教育歸教育,時間表路線圖,實實在在,說香港的幼教發展,能量與質俱進,萬幸!

教育評議會副主席

何漢權


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Don’t ditch Queen’s Hill university plan

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2013-01-08

Timothy Peirson-Smith

Timothy Peirson-Smith says university plan for Queen’s Hill must proceed

It is rumoured that the government is planning to use the Queen’s Hill site for public housing instead of developing a private university, as had been planned. Despite the urgency in easing the housing shortage, such a move would seriously damage the credentials of “Hong Kong Inc” and shake international investors’ confidence in the city.

When the Education Bureau invited expressions of interest for the site in Fanling, nine local and overseas institutions replied. The bureau was expected to call for the submission of proposals early this year, and the interested institutions are busy with final preparations. To build public housing on the Queen’s Hill site instead would represent an about-face and disappoint every bidding institution.

Even though the rumours may just be a tactic to gauge opinions on the project, the damage to the government’s credentials in the education sector will have been done.

The 16.4-hectare site is believed by the government to be a readily useable large site that at the first whiff of a housing “crisis” could be simply sacrificed to provide around 165,000 public housing units and therefore a “quick public relations win”.

The inference is that universities do not serve the greater public but only the rich; this is an erroneous thought and a politically naive and populist tactic. Switching plans for a private university with a proposal for public housing is neither reasonable nor desirable.

It is highly likely that the tuition fees of any new, non-publicly funded institution on the site (or anywhere else) will be higher than the universities funded by Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee. Nevertheless, we should remember that university enrolment rates in Hong Kong are relatively low compared with other developed economies in Asia, such as Singapore and South Korea.

Our majority publicly funded tertiary education sector is not presently meeting demand or serving changing needs in tertiary education. The development of quality privately funded tertiary institutions can allow greater flexibility and give wider choices to every student, and ease the heavy burden on publicly funded institutions.

Furthermore, major investments of capital, time, manpower and reputation involve significant risks – risks that the self-financed institution will have to mitigate, with no guarantee of returns. This is not an elitist project, as some might perceive. Education is an investment that benefits the whole society. Thus, Hong Kong needs to advance the development of private tertiary education today, not bury it under a popularity contest.

Most importantly, switching the land use of the Queen’s Hill site would damage the foundation of Hong Kong’s regional success. Hong Kong is still ahead of major competitors in Asia due to its consistency in administration and safe investment status.

The Queen’s Hill site, which was expected to come up for tender soon, is under the international spotlight. If the Hong Kong government were to terminate the process at the 11th hour, international investors would downgrade Hong Kong’s credibility.

Advancing private university development on the Queen’s Hill site should not only be viewed as an act to enhance the higher education sector in Hong Kong, but also the realisation of promises the Hong Kong government has made to every local citizen and international investor.

Business would be the first to agree that there are many contentious issues in the administration’s portfolio, and housing is a big strategic issue. But, expanding Hong Kong’s tertiary education sector delivers on a government pledge to upgrade our knowledge-based economy. Hong Kong’s education future should never be sacrificed for the sake of more housing estates.

Timothy J. Peirson-Smith is managing director of Executive Counsel Limited, a business consultancy based in Hong Kong. He is also chairman of the Business Policy Unit of the British Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong


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女廚師找尋嗅覺

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C05 | 城市智庫 | 回眸英倫 | By 毛羨寧 |
2013-01-19

在美國女廚師莫莉. 伯恩邦(Molly Birnhaum)2011年所寫的自傳Season to Taste 中,我看到許多熟悉的人物和地方,有似曾相識的橋段,也有歷險小說般的陌生情節,令人不由自主地跟作者一同感受,最後希望故事有一個美滿的結局。書中寫到莫莉二十二歲從布朗大學美術及建築歷史系畢業,決定轉行當廚師,並獲得獎學金到着名的美國廚藝學校(Culinary Institute of America)接受訓練。就在廚藝學校即將開學前幾天,她在慢跑的時候被一輛車撞至盆骨骨折,膝蓋碎裂,腦袋撞向擋風玻璃,全身瘀傷。

僥幸撿回了性命,卻發覺自己完全失去嗅覺(anosmia,嗅覺喪失症)。沒有嗅覺分辨氣味,她當廚師的夢想不單成了奢望,連進食時視為理所當然的感官,也只能依賴舌頭上的味蕾。

她識別不出牛奶有沒有變酸、肉有沒有過期發臭等危險,家中洩漏了煤氣也不會察覺。從前松樹和火雞的香味象徵着聖誕節將臨,男朋友的古龍水代表親密關係……一切在剎那間全毀了。這本書記錄了她找回嗅覺和人生的旅程。

嗅覺背後的科學

莫莉車禍前曾在波士頓的餐廳Craigie on Main做學徒,一邊洗盤子,一邊由主廚教她認識每種食物材料。

我從前在麻省劍橋短住的時候,經常來這家位於哈佛廣場附近的「美式廚房」吃早餐。有一次,我在這餐廳的座位上撿到了10美元,想必是之前的顧客不小心留下,於是告訴了侍應生。

他竟然送上一客餐廳獨製的咖啡巧克力甜點,澆上氣味馥郁的蘭姆酒,謝謝我像童子軍般路不拾遺,所以我一直珍惜這家鄰家小館的人情味。莫莉更為了克服自己的難關,積極探索嗅覺的科學層面,從波士頓搬到紐約拜訪頂尖的科學專家,如腦神經學家及作家薩克斯(Oliver Sacks),跟他到紐約Cornelia Street Café參與趣味科學活動「氣味與感覺:鼻子是怎樣知道的」。看到這一章,我想起自己在博士論文的答辯會中,考官Monty Gates博士問我柏金遜症病人除了手腳顫抖、肌肉僵硬之外,還有什麼病徵。其實柏金遜症病發最初期,首先受影響的是腦部嗅覺區域。假如出現了行動不便等症狀,代表腦部黑質(substantia nigra)近50%的多巴胺腦細胞(dopaminergic neuron)已經死亡。許多人只想到柏金遜症患者活動能力受損,沒有顧及到嗅覺衰退對他們的影響。但時至今日,數百萬個嗅覺神經元的組織怎樣結合成化學訊息,透過許多其他神經細胞參與傳向腦部,最後形成氣味圖像,仍是科學家努力鑽研的難題。

研究柏金遜症療法,例如用鼻部提取出幹細胞修復大腦受損的神經,是個高尚的醫學宗旨,當科技顧問卻把我的腦神經知識帶到風味化學的研發行業。這些項目需要跟感官化學專家合作,例如與位於費城、專門研究味覺和嗅覺的「莫乃爾化學感官中心」(Monell Chemical Senses Center)和香料與香水國際公司(International Flavors & Fragrances)的科研人員討論實驗結果,找出嗅覺背後複雜的生物學原理,從而設計出新的雀巢咖啡、香奈兒香薰之類的產品吸引大眾。二十年前,兩位諾貝爾獎得主發現人類辨識出氣味的基因家族有一千個不同基因( 包括偽基因,pseudogene),幾乎佔人類基因的3%,而每個神經元只對幾個氣味物質特別敏感,合起來可以偵測到一萬多種的氣味。當你晚上聞到紅酒的木香,別忘記那是嗅覺跟分子生物學、遺傳學和腦神經科學聯繫起來,以致喜樂情緒的結合!

毛羨寧