Generation 40s – 四十世代

Good articles for buddies

Leave a comment

Having a helper leaves Hong Kong’s young lazy and spoilt

South China Morning Post
CommentInsight & Opinion

Peter Kammerer

Peter Kammerer says depending on helpers for daily living well into adulthood renders Hongkongers averse to hardship, unable to think for themselves and lacking basic life skills

The 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China raised all sorts of issues, among them whether our city has lost its edge. The conclusion seems to be yes – that we’re gradually falling behind competitors in virtually every area.

There was even a suggestion that our famed entrepreneurial spirit was disappearing, and questions were asked as to why. It’s a complicated subject with rent, education and parental ambitions for children at play, but I’d also wager that part of the problem is because we have too many maids.

Foreign domestic helpers aren’t to blame for the decline of shipping, universities slipping down rankings and Shenzhen lording it over us with innovations and hi-tech industries.

But my argument is less about advantage than laziness. Rather than coming up with solutions to our problems, we’re increasingly expecting others to fix them for us. Younger generations, like the millennials, appear to want everything laid out for them, from cheap housing to the best jobs – all for minimal effort.

It’s easy to see why people aged between 18 and their mid-30s would think this way; many had or continue to have maids to take care of them.

Between the end of 1998 and 2015, the year for the latest statistics, the number of foreign domestic helpers almost doubled – from 180,000 to 340,380.

That’s a lot of youngsters who didn’t need to clean up after themselves, had someone cooking for them, getting them ready for and perhaps taking them to school, and to be on hand to cater for their every need.

They were spoilt as kids and many continue that way as adults.

I know of single people who have full-time maids to take care of them and their pets. A couple with a pre-teen son have decided to move back into the wife’s parents’ home while their helper is on vacation because the thought of taking care of the child, cleaning the flat and cooking is too daunting.

Those raised by maids are readily identifiable at the gym I go to; they ignore rules to return used towels to the front counter and instead drop them on the changing room floor.

In the weights area, heavy plates are left either on the floor or attached to bars, rather than being put back in racks, posing a danger to other users. The toilets are left in a mess.

Helpers are an integral part of the Hong Kong government’s growth strategy. They enable both parents to work and provide care for children and the elderly. As a result, their wages are kept artificially low and exempt from minimum wage requirements.

With the typical Hongkonger earning about HK$15,800 a month, many working couples can easily afford the HK$4,310 salary.

But the influx of maids, at present increasing annually by about 10,000, has a litany of drawbacks.

The government is not under pressure to expand or improve child and elderly care services. Helpers may not be adequately trained to take care of a wheelchair-bound or bedridden person.

Sundays are a popular day for employers to give their maids their weekly day off, which means public places are overcrowded. And then, there is the reliance of families on their helpers to the point that they no longer have basic life skills.

Lazy people don’t necessarily have lazy minds; studies have found they’re often the intelligent ones and have figured how to get by with minimal effort.

But avoiding hard work and expecting something for nothing doesn’t teach us important lessons like success and failure, and finding solutions to problems.

Helpers free us up from what some people would consider the mundane, but the extra time is only worthwhile if put to constructive use.

Judging by our flat economic growth, reluctance to break away from businesses that are fading, and jump on opportunities offered by the Hong Kong and Beijing governments and take a risk, we’re well on the way to losing the ability to think for ourselves.

Peter Kammerer is a senior writer at the Post

Leave a comment





可以預計的是,派糖派錢的保守措施,比追求嶄新發展,把人們推出舒適區(Comfort zone)的教育政策更受認同,阻力亦更少,可是近年社會上卻少有人提起,當初這些「問題」究竟從何而來:幼師為何被取消薪級表?為何會出現合約教師?事實上,兩大聘任問題的源頭,皆源於政府的教育市場化理念。

2006年,小學剛經歷了嚴峻的殺校潮,教育局為方便彈性安排人手(或曰隨時削減人手),容許學校以合約方式聘請新教師,並推出不同類型一筆過撥款,予學校聘請各類非恒常教席;2007年,政府藉推行學券計劃,取消沿用多年的「建議的幼稚園教學人員標準薪級表」,讓幼稚園直資化,幼師薪酬從此被喻為「海鮮價」。此兩項措施,反映着政府一改回歸前的管理焦點,從以往每分錢也牢牢控制的監察投入(Monitor input)改為更具彈性的監察產出(Monitor output),以各種績效指標與服務使用者的滿意度來分配資源,提升教學質素,而這亦是九十年代起政府公營部門改革(Public Sector Reform)的延伸理念。









Leave a comment







這些報道正正折射了香港社會的價值取向——「前途=錢途」,金錢的回報是選擇工作時的首要因素。假如薪金待遇優厚, 何妨為五斗米折腰?相反,轉工沒有換來更好的待遇,彷彿愚不可及。人們願意為了五斗米而折腰,似乎已成常態。可是,只為錢而活也不見得快樂。很多香港人終日抱怨工作沉悶乏味、壓力大、沒有意義。











Leave a comment

不一樣教育節 攜手推動創新








來自芬蘭的The Saunalahti School被譽為「未來學校」(The School of the Future),為學前至中三 (Grade 0 – 9)學生提供全面而以學生為中心的教育。芬蘭於今年推行教改,將全面實施新課網,取消傳統的學科教學,以主題式學習(Phenomenon-based Learning)培養學生7大橫向能力,包括自我照顧、日常生活技能與保護自身安全的能力;文化識讀、互動與表述能力;多元識讀能力 (multiliteracy); 數位能力; 工作生活能力與創業精神; 參與、影響和打造可持續未來的能力; 思考與學習的能力。來港參加教育節的校長Hanna Sarakorpi經驗豐富,現正參與芬蘭新課綱的制定。學校將全面推行全題式校學,以學生的能力及興趣分組,老師共同參與,為每位學生設計個人化教學,並與家長緊密協作,為孩子帶來合適的教育。學校亦全面貫徹與推行正向教育與社交及情緒學習,培育學生正面價值,欣賞及肯定學生能力,指導他們發掘及發展長處。學生沒有考試,學習進度評估由老師持續進行。學校以學生及學習為中心,務求讓每位孩子也愛上學習。校園設計就如同現代藝術博物館,內有幼稚園、小學、中學、青少年俱樂部、戲劇室、圖書館、健身室及咖啡廳,學生可以坐在任何地方上堂,鼓勵上課聊天。並與社區連結:夜晚,學校變成附近社區的休閒娛樂中心,市民同學生一同使用體育館及其他設備。

台灣的種籽親子實驗小學亦是以「人」為價值的核心,希望讓教育回歸初衷。種籽親子實驗小學於22年前創校。當時台灣民間開始思索教育的轉型。經過多年來民間的努力,如今台灣已實現了實驗教育三法,公立學校可以申請進行實驗教學,家長可以選擇讓子女在家自學,教育變得多元化。學校是一間民主學校 (Democratic school),重視自由、尊重、責任、支持、開放、信任、民主,讓孩子自主學習,並設有教育法庭、選課機制、生活討論會等等,讓學生與老師及社群一起,透過生活共同學習與承擔,開展教育理想。學校尊重不同的學習能力,師生比例約為1:10,務求讓每個在學校成長的孩子,無論是學習困難或是資賦優異等,都能找到適合他們的學習方式。

來自英國的Studio School,是以裝備中學生迎接二十一世紀工作與挑戰為目標的非一般學校。學生在傳統學科以外,更強調專業的學習與培訓。Studio School現遍布英國不同地區,以各行專業為主題,例如航空、設計、醫療服務等。來港的The Studio, Liverpool是以創意媒體與科技為主心,學生學習程式、創業與設計為主。學生每天上課時間為朝九晚五,更貼近工作時的生活形態。課堂有80%的時間是參與及執行實際的項目,每星期有一至兩天的課程,是到企業、非政府組織、行業機構等實習,從現實世界中學習最前沿的專業知識與建立就業的必需技能,如社交、溝通、團隊合作等。學校規模小,每間學校只有大約300至400位學生,每位學生擁有自己的導師(Mentor)及教師(Teacher),按他們的項目、實習、興趣、專長、工作發展等,給予合適的指導。學校強調培養學生的就業能力,包括獨立思考、團隊協作、抗壓能力,懂自省及主動探索,多工作業與解決問題的能力,有清晰的人生方向等。學校學習不再單單以學術為主導,學生所學能時刻應用到生活與未來規劃之中,大大提升學生的學習動機與果效。


馬來西亞的Dwi Emas International School則是一家「創業學校」 (Entrepreneurial School),校內的小學與中學生,自小已培養創意與創業精神,以鼓勵學生勇於嘗試、探索與實踐。學校邀請各行各業的專家擔任老師,與學生交流,並指導學生開展項目。學校配合亞洲文化,確保學生IGCSE/GCE O Level的準備外,也強調不以考試為中心,而是重視學生的學習本身。為讓學生愛上學校,並配合年輕人的學習動機與興趣,學校把遊戲及活動元素融入不同課堂中,甚至由老師與專業設計師、遊戲設計師等,合力將整個課程化為電子角色遊戲 (RPG Game),學校現已推出了化學遊戲,並打算拓展至其他學科,如生物、數學等。把右腦思維的創意結合左腦思維的學術,讓學生更能投入到學科之中。學校亦連結不同企業與機構,為學生提供實際經驗與創業指導。學校小至7歲的學生,希望讓老師們在忙碌過後能夠好好休息,喝茶舒懷,為此已開展了茶的生意,成為小小CEO,並在家長與老師指導下,一步步開展市場推廣與銷售。

最後是來自美國的Minerva Schools at KGI,創辦目標就是要重塑大學教育,為創立切合二十一世紀所需的大學。學校強調思維模式的學習,包括多元模式溝通(Multi-model Communication)、形式系統課程(Complex Systems)、資料分析(Empirical Analysis)、思維習慣(Habits of Mind) 等。學生於4年學生課程中,每個學期均居住在不同城市上課並在當地實習,例如:伊斯坦堡、阿根廷、倫敦、柏林、孟買、香港等,培養學生的國際視野、網絡與跨國協作的能力。學生在網上實時授課系統與教授及小組成員交流,討論、分享及研究,教授實時評估學生發展及能力。由於沒有實體學校,雖然學生要跨國學習,但學費遠比普遍美國大學為低,卻能更緊貼世界發展與實際需要,讓學生在多元文化及種族的環境下,培養出年輕領袖的視野、思維、創新與能力。





Leave a comment

Should Hong Kong ban spanking of children at home as well as in school?

CommentInsight & Opinion
Yonden Lhatoo looks at how France has made corporal punishment of children illegal and compares it with Hong Kong, which is unlikely to make such a move

Buried under the daily barrage of bad news, there was a recent report that did not resonate much in this part of the world but I found it quite intriguing, nonetheless: you’re officially no longer allowed  to spank your children in France.

The fine print took some of the gee whiz out of the news, as it turns out that France is only the 52nd country in the world to take such a step. Sweden is quantum leaps ahead of everyone, having started in 1979.

Also, bear in mind that the new law in France is more symbolic than draconian, as offenders will not face criminal punishment. That’s in a country where 85 per cent of parents smack their children and are likely to carry on doing it, although a tad more discreetly from now on, perhaps.

What about Hong Kong? Just the other day, I watched another exemplar of the eternal conflict between misbehaving child and frustrated parent play out in a shopping mall. “Just wait until we get home,” the mother warned as her little princeling shook the rafters with a thunderous tantrum over some abruptly cancelled visit to Toys ‘R’ Us.

It reminded me of “somebody gonna get a-hurt real bad”, the trademark quote that Indian Canadian comedian Russell Peters attributes to his father in his classic stand-up routine on parenting.

Peters jokingly recalls his father’s response when threatened with a phone call to Children’s Aid for beating his kid: “I might get into a little bit of trouble, but I know that it’s going to take them 23 minutes to get here. In that time, somebody gonna get a-hurt real bad!”

Not many children are getting “a-hurt real bad” by their parents in Hong Kong, where the English common law defence of “reasonable chastisement” applies, and corporal punishment at home is allowed. But a 2015 survey found that about half of the city’s children, aged six to 13, were physically disciplined by their parents, who used bare hands as well as handy implements like clothes hangers and rulers to inflict punitive pain.

Our city has banned corporal punishment in schools since 1991, but resisted calls by concern groups to extend the ban to homes. That’s unlikely to change, as Hong Kong is a traditional society on the whole and the conservative mindset prevails in such matters.

I tend to agree with the school ban. With all due respect to decent teachers, it’s totally understandable that most parents don’t and won’t trust strangers, qualified or not, to lay hands on their children.

Most of the teachers during my own schooldays were decent educators, but I haven’t forgotten a few who went beyond the usual ruler rap on the knuckles to what would only be described as criminal assault these days. They would be behind bars if they did that now, for sure. The philosophy of “spare the rod and save the child” does not entail crippling the child with said rod.

A study last year by the American Journal of Family Psychology analysed five decades of research involving more than 160,000 children to conclude that the more we spank our kids, the more likely they are to defy us. They’re also more prone to antisocial behaviour, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, apparently.

Like many of my friends and contemporaries, I wasn’t spared the rod myself growing up, both at home and school, but we like to look back and think it made us a little broader-shouldered and thicker-skinned than Generation Snowflake these days.

After all, as Immanuel Kant once said, “Man must be disciplined, for he is by nature raw and wild.”

Yonden Lhatoo is a senior editor at the Post