Generation 40s – 四十世代

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溫室難成勁草

Hong Kong Economic Journal
B12 | 專家之言 | 管理人管理事 | By 李漢祥 |
2013-06-22

本月10 日晚上,筆者出席了中文大學的WMBA 論壇,當晚由蜚聲國際的數學大師丘成桐教授作演講嘉賓,細說他的數學人生。出身崇基學院的丘教授共八兄弟姊妹,但年少喪父,家境清貧。丘教授多番強調在艱辛歲月裏熬煉,使他在思想及處事上都愈趨成熟,正是他日後成功的重要基石。

聽罷丘教授的精采分享後,筆者心中有一弔詭(Paradox),希望數學大師可以解答。不少僱主慨嘆年輕一代在思想和行為上都不夠成熟,甚至幼稚;25 歲的年輕人卻活像一個15 歲小伙子。此種狀況可能因為是社會進步、物質富裕所造成的。沒有多大經濟壓力的年輕一代自然易於鬆懈,未夠成熟。雖然筆者不是科學家,但相信所有科學研究的根本目標是為創建一個更好的明天,為人類和世界的進步謀福祉。

作為父母,每天營營役役地工作,無非是為子女提供更好的生活及成長環境。那麼,世界的大潮流是在創造更富裕的社會,卻同時拖慢了下一代的成熟程度哩!

數學大師在商學院的講室裏妙答道: 「科學家只是出於好奇而去進行研究;只不過是研究結果有時會帶來社會進步、改善生活而已。」不需十秒鐘,丘教授便把弔詭拆解了!

時代進步,豐衣足食,要下一代過着藜羹縕褐的日子不切實際,但是在富庶的社會裏,也有不少辦法幫助年輕人成熟長進。從溫室中把年輕人帶出來,藉着增廣見聞,身體力行,是其中一個好方法。今年4 月13 日,筆者應邀擔任由中大、港大校友組織合辦的一個教育研討會之評論嘉賓。

當天中大校長沈祖堯教授介紹該校一批建築系的學生要到四川,協助地震後的一些災後重建項目。

同學們除了可以學以致用,發揮所長外,還能夠切身體會艱苦生活,對其心智的成長有莫大裨益。所以,大學在課程設計上應以創新思維去涵蓋學分、知識、應用、生活及工作體驗等元素在內。

同樣地,大學和僱主們應加強聯繫,開辦多一些學徒實習計劃,讓同學們在求學時期已親嘗工作的苦樂,提早接受壓力及挑戰的琢磨,彌補多年在溫室內所欠缺的獨立和抗逆能力。

作者為環球管理諮詢有限公司
董事總經理
李漢祥a

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Exam success won’t prepare you for the bigger test of life

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
Tuesday, 10 December, 2013

Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang says if exam results become our sole focus, we’ll lose sight of the wider measure of success and education’s true purpose

The fact that our students ranked in the top three worldwide for maths, reading and science in last week’s Pisa results only confirms what I’ve observed – Hong Kong students test well, as they should, because they are tested all the time.

Most of our schools have turned into testing centres. My students in local schools sit for lengthy and often confusing exams starting at the age of six. In international schools, the situation is better, but not much – there, students seem to be assessed not only on what they’ve learned from school but also, often, what they’ve learned elsewhere.

Herein lies the problem – and secret to Hong Kong’s success. A reported 72 per cent of Hong Kong’s secondary students receive out-of-school tutoring. Tutoring is now widely viewed as compulsory, no longer reserved for those who want to get ahead or catch up, but also for people who want to stay on course.

On the surface, this may seem appropriate, commendable even – especially when our students are so high up rankings like the Programme for International Student Assessment, the tutors are making money, and the schools ensure students enter top universities. Everybody wins, right?

Not if tutors are simply teaching to the test, which, sadly, most Hong Kong tutors do. Education success should not be judged on admissions results. What matters is how well our students do after they get in. Here, the answer is not so clear. A recent study shows that one in four Chinese students attending an Ivy League university drops out. Many were unable to adapt to the new environment.

Real academic success is not about eliminating questions in strategic order. It’s about being innovative, thinking on your feet, reasoning critically, and solving problems that have no right answer. Will Hong Kong students master a real evaluation of learning? I don’t know.

That’s not to say, though, that we should ban tutoring. That’s neither realistic nor productive. As a tutor, I am proud of the work I do with my students. Recently, we studied why the CEO of H&M wants a wage increase in Bangladesh. This led to a discussion on profit margins and whether greed is good. I saw an opportunity to go slightly off course. Rather than just hearing about businesses, I urged my students to start one. In a few weeks, my students will present their business plans to a real venture capitalist. If he likes one of their plans, he will invest real money.

Being able to go off at a tangent like this is exactly why I became a tutor. I don’t think I’d be allowed to do the same if I worked in a traditional school. Yet, such tangents are more educational than a test. Even Pisa confirms this in its report. The data shows that schools with more autonomy over curriculums and assessments tend to perform better.

However, as long as our schools are test prep centres, teachers won’t have real autonomy in schools. If Hong Kong is serious about improving education, we have to start eschewing the test, even if – and especially if – the test result is excellent.

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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紐大扭出大生意與大學學位貶值

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C01 | 今日焦點 | 忽然文化 | By 占飛 |
2013-06-22

陳光誠公開表示他要離開紐約大學,理由是「中共已持續對紐大施壓,致令我們才抵埗數月,大學便已和我們討論離開的安排」。可是,陳光誠並未舉出實質證據,佐證他的指控屬實,反而酸溜溜地說:他在紐大期間,校長約翰.薩士頓(John Sexton)從沒接見過他,遑論歡迎他到紐大。可是,仍有人認為陳光誠的指控可信,皆因紐大上海分校將在今秋開課,學生人數達三千,難道薩士頓敢在這個關頭冒犯中共?

薩士頓為了大學的「生意利益」而不敢冒犯權貴,早有前科。紐大不單在紐約有校舍,在海外也有不少「調研場所」,譬如紐大的Tisch藝術學院 便在2007年於新加坡開設Tisch Asia,可惜因虧本將會在2015年關閉。

2010 年,紐大在中東阿布達比開分校,資金全數由阿聯酋政府支付,預期明年收生達二千之數。2011年4月,阿聯酋政府為了「維穩」,拘押民權人士和民主派,包括大學教授。同年5月,紐大一批教授對此表示關注。校長薩士頓卻說阿聯酋和世上所有政府一樣「有權因安全受威脅而自衞」(had a right to defend itself against security threats),言下之意,民權人士「威脅安全」。他還說,紐大不能太「我族中心」(ethnocentric),應該謙卑一點,尊重其他國家和文化。當時,人權監察還去信薩士頓表達不滿,要求他收回意見。薩士頓當然拒絕。

為天下先

薩士頓在2002年就任紐大第十五任校長。之前,他是紐大法學院院長,一做便做了十四年。在他任內,紐大法學院在《美國新聞與世界報道》的大學排名跳升至全美第五,足見他能幹。他上任時,校內師生都認為紐大深慶得人。他迅即公布任內大計:要「紐大為天下先」(a school that is going new places that everyone will follow):對外,要把紐大建設成一所「全球網絡大學」(Global Network University),即是在世界各地開「調研場所」乃至開分校。比起香港一些大學要「國際化」,野心大得多。對內,他要推行「紐大2031」計劃,擴充紐大的規模,在原有校舍附近的格林尼治村大興土木,拆掉教職員、學生原有的宿舍,另建大樓。整個計劃可令紐大校舍增加六百萬方呎面積,需費60億美元,但薩士頓及校方從沒公布錢從何來。

行政總裁

此時,紐大一些學院的師生開始不滿,指薩士頓根本不是辦教育,而是經營公司。他不像校長,而像跨國公司的行政總裁。薩士頓的貪婪也和其他CEO不遑多讓。按照《紐約時報》的報道,今年薩士頓年薪達140萬美元,2015年還可得到一筆250萬美元的長期服務金。一般教職員在紐大服務達二十五年只獲贈一套杯。薩士頓的合約還規定:他退休後,仍可每年得到80萬美元的長俸。

新任美國財政部長的賈克.盧(Jack Lew)在國會的聽證會上透露,他在2001 年任職紐大,取消了紐大研究生跟大學的集體談判權,在2003至04學年,賈克.盧年薪高達84萬美元,並獲得紐大貸款買樓。這筆貸款後來竟大部份撇除。在他自動辭職時,更獲得近70萬美元的退職金。為什麼薩士頓如此厚待賈克.盧?中間有沒有舞弊?

去年,紐大師生驚覺薩士頓全無監管。他亦不會「民主」地跟院校有商有量。許多教授都不滿紐大在沒有充分學術自由和言論自由的地方──例如阿布達比和上海──開設分校,畢竟大學應有教育理想,像狄斯累利(Benjamin Disraeli)說的:「大學應是光明、自由和學問之地」(A University should be a place of light, of liberty, and of learning)。薩士頓卻把大學教育當作一盤生意,把紐大當作一間公司。

去年,若干紐大學院開始造反,先有三十九間院校及學系反對「紐大2031」計劃。今年已有四間學院的教員通過對薩士頓投「不信任」票。代表紐大一千四百名職工的工會亦對他「不信任」。薩士頓一概充耳不聞,亦無回應,你有你反對,我不動如山。無他,他像鄭國漢一樣得到校董會和「老闆」的信任和支持,不用擔心職位不保。部分師生群起反對,何足道哉?

撰文︰占飛

大學學位貶值

紐約大學在1831年成立,今日已經成為全美規模最大的非牟利私立大學,亦是全美第二昂貴的大學。最主要的原因是:紐大不像各長春藤大學般有那麼多腰纏萬貫的校友捐款給大學。到今年,哈佛獲捐贈300億(美元,下同),同在紐約市的哥倫比亞大學都有78億,紐大卻只有26億,差了一大截。紐大不得不收取昂貴的學費、宿費及生活費。一般學生在紐大攻讀四年,約需28 萬(200 多萬港元),一年就要50多萬港元。

自從2008年金融海嘯後,大學生負債大幅增加,香港如是,美國更加如是,皆因大學學費、宿費及生活費愈來愈貴。過去五年,在美國讀大學的費用增加了24%。但經濟未復蘇,大學得到的捐贈減少,只好加學費及減獎助學金。除非家境富有,否則學生便要靠貸款為生。

經濟理性

紐大2010 年那一屆畢業生所欠貸款高達6.6 億。整個美國的數字更驚人,由2004年至2012年八年間,美國大學生的欠債超過1萬億,平均每名大學畢業生負債2.5萬(約19.5萬港元),是上世紀的兩倍。紐約市長彭博奉勸年輕人無謂勉強讀大學,不如學做水喉匠。他的勸告十分符合「經濟理性」。

學費愈來愈貴,大學學位卻因供過於求而不斷貶值。大學畢業生要面對的困境有二:一是職位難求,畢業即失業者比比皆是。二是畢業生薪酬下降,升職機會減少。有工做沒工做都要還債,生活不易過,亦難積蓄到第一桶金自行創業。難怪年輕人憤世嫉俗,怒滿胸臆。這幾年,在發達國家竟然沒出現上世紀六七十年代的大規模學潮和青年運動,幾近奇迹!

紐大師生群起反對薩士頓好大喜功,反對紐大擴充校舍,就是因為功勞歸薩士頓,他們卻要付鈔。2013-14年單是學費已經增加了5%至近4.3萬一年。估計隨着2031計劃開展,學費會年年增加至少5%。再加上薩士頓我行我素,對師生的抗議、不信任動議充耳不聞,風波怎會不愈鬧愈大?


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Five easy steps to supporting our ethnic minority students

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2013-11-28

Kerry Kennedy

Kerry Kennedy says all we need are an open mind and modest investment

Hong Kong prides itself as a fair and tolerant society. It is a signatory to a number of international covenants that seek to guarantee international standards of social justice and equity. Yet the issues of ethnic minorities are becoming a regular aspect of concern, whether it is alleged racial profiling by police, inequitable educational provision for students or poverty and substandard housing for many ethnic minority families.

Of all these, the issue of educational provision is the easiest to resolve. The reluctance of the civil service to engage with the issue, unless under threat from the Equal Opportunities Commission, is difficult to understand. A moderate investment would produce a quick win for the government and justice for ethnic minority students. What follows is a road map to guide policymakers.
The reluctance of the civil service to engage with the issue is difficult to understand

The first step would be the development of a policy on multiculturalism to signal our embrace of diversity. It would not have to surrender national values – it simply needs to indicate that all Hong Kong people are equally valued.

The second step would be to develop a school curriculum for non-Chinese-speaking students, acknowledging they are second-language learners. This step has been resisted by the Education Bureau for many years, yet the results of research are overwhelmingly on the side of the need to cater specifically for second-language learners.

The third step would be to provide professional development and support to Chinese-language teachers to enable them to teach Chinese as a second language. There is a great deal of support in our teacher education institutions to facilitate this process.

The fourth step would be to provide classroom support for teaching and learning with the appointment of bilingual teaching assistants – not just for Chinese but for all academic subjects, as there is evidence that ethnic minority students also fall behind in other academic areas, so that additional support is necessary.

The fifth step is the provision of cash transfers to ethnic minority parents who otherwise cannot afford to keep their children in school. This would apply to early childhood education as well as the later years of secondary education where participation rates are particularly low.

The use of cash transfers has been shown to improve school participation in development contexts where the poorest families suffer most from being unable to take advantage of educational opportunities. No child in Hong Kong should be denied access to education on account of their family’s income.

This simple five-step plan is designed to enhance educational provision for Hong Kong’s ethnic minority students through curriculum changes, professional development for teachers and classroom support. At the same time, structural issues such as a broad policy on multiculturalism and measures to alleviate poverty are also suggested.

It is not a costly programme and can probably be accomplished with existing resources.

Politics in Hong Kong seems obsessed with what are essentially elite policy issues such as the chief executive election in 2017. Yet there are Hong Kong citizens suffering from exclusion, discrimination and a consequent diminution in life chances.

In the case of educational provision for ethnic minority students, the policy solutions outlined here are relatively straightforward. The longer such solutions are neglected, the bigger the problems will be for the community in the future.

Professor Kerry Kennedy is director of the Centre for Governance and Citizenship at the Hong Kong Institute of Education


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背誦中文範文好處 記憶是學習的基石

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C03 | 優質教育 | 教育講論 | By 王耀宗 |
2013-06-15

很多人認為這是個創意的年代,但是創意並不需要排斥記憶。事實上記憶是學習的基礎。我們如果將人生分為四種層面(dimensions):道德我、認知我、情意我,以及物質我,不可否認,每一個層面都有其人生的統領範圍。認知我負責構築知識體系,而將知識構成的要素聯繫起來正是記憶。年輕人記憶力強,更應善用。

報載新高中的中文科,有新的安排。在教改之後所取消的範文,將會重新設立;但是為了避免死記硬背,考評局初步計劃範文考核佔總分不多於百分之六,比以前會考的百分之三十五分大大減少。教育改革已進行了十多年了,現在似乎是時候作一全面的檢討。

眾所周知,教改對於中文和課程的變動是頗大的,其中一樣就是範文的取消。所謂範文,就是歷代千錘百煉而留下來的經典文章,一般來說都是文言文。通過範文學習中文,存在已數十年了,我記得三十多年前參加中學會考,中四及中五總共有數十篇古典文章,每一篇學生都背得滾瓜爛熟,後來自己的成績考得不錯,也依賴這種背誦之學;這些熟讀的詩書,到現在仍然令我受用不盡。

為何要貶謫記憶

在整個教改的背景下取消文言文,重組中文科,背後含意有二:第一是中學考試太多,希望學生盡量減少;考試會產生失敗者,失敗者有「標籤效應」,對青少年造成極大的心靈傷害。第二,是香港的考試是填鴨式的,太依賴背誦,將中文科課程打散有助於思想解放,換言之,將記憶能力盡力貶謫。

十數年下來,愈來愈看到這種觀點的膚淺。現在取消考試反而引致更多的考試。其次考試的甄選機制消失,導致晉升機會盡失,引致新的不平等,這裏還有兩個問題:其一是記憶是否真的等於填鴨教育;事實上,記憶和學習是分不開的。記憶是學習的基礎,學習是尋求及發展知識,沒有記憶,知識追求成功不可能。年青人記憶力強,更應在少年時期多加運用。其二,中文學習是頗為特別的,它不是拼音文字,每一個方塊字都是獨特的,嫻熟運用中文字,記憶更不可少。

好文章值得背誦

教育界人士都看到,近年來中學生及大學生中文水平日益下降,原因可能是多元的,但是中文學習不得其法是其中之一,而其中範文之取消,更是重要的因素。須知道一個中學生如果能夠背誦三四十篇範文,相信對於他們的文字技巧及歷史文化知識肯定有所裨益。好文章不外乎三個要素,第一,才情;第二,文字;第三,內容。才情是個人天生的,後天教養作用有限;文字的修養不能不靠熟讀好文章,範文是重要的;至於內容,古文能增加中國文化知識,年輕人應該大量閱讀及增加社會經驗。

以自己的經驗看,數十年來,從李白《早發白帝城》的「兩岸猿聲啼不住,輕舟已過萬重山」,到王維《竹里館》的「獨坐幽篁裏,彈琴復長嘯」,到諸葛亮《出師表》的「臨表涕泣,不知所云」,再到王勃《滕皇閣序》的「蒼然暮色,自遠而至」及「落霞與孤鶩齊飛,秋水共長天一色」,以及到杜甫《春望》「烽火連三月,家書抵萬金」,白居易的《長恨歌》「遂令天下父母心,不重生男重生女」,再到曹植《送白馬王彪》的「人生處一世,去若朝露稀」等等精妙文詞。

在中學以後,未曾再接觸這些篇章,如今仍歷歷在目,數十年後再回味咀嚼,對中華文化有更深刻的體會。青少年時代,記憶力強,背誦經典文章,正是合時,我實在很感謝少年時代制度要求考試的背誦。現在新高中恢復範文,相信會獲得教育界的擁護。

事實上,不但中文經典可以背,英文的也可以背。當年我要考《聖經》,曾背誦大量《聖經》福音,後來留學歐洲兩年,才知道《聖經》對歐洲文化影響之大。少年時代的《聖經》學習,奠下了對西方文化的理解及欣賞。

撰文︰王耀宗

嶺南大學政治系主任兼教授