Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Creative Hong Kong must not sell itself short

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2014-08-26

Paul Yip

Paul Yip says deep divisions in politics and society are eroding its edge

Singapore celebrated its 49th anniversary as an independent country this month. It deserves to be proud of its accomplishments; within such a short time, it has become an international hub with a thriving economy, home to 3.8 million citizens and permanent residents, and 1.5 million foreigners from different cultures and ethnicities.

While there is still debate on the level of immigration and concerns over rising living costs, it remains a clean, green, safe and well-off place, and the preferred destination of work or migration for many.

Singapore’s government has strategically targeted highly skilled foreign labour while making use of abundant lower-skilled workers from nearby countries to ensure construction projects are completed in good time. Also, with such a racially mixed population of Chinese, Malays, Indians and many others, people still live in enviable peace.

In contrast, Hong Kong’s clashes with mainland migrants and visitors are witnessed every day. We face an acute shortage of workers in many sectors, which the government and industry appear unable to resolve. The construction of several large-scale infrastructure projects is behind schedule due to bad planning and a shortage of workers. Our health care sector is also short of staff.

As a result, society pays a huge cost.

We need to use our competitive advantage – our diversity, freedoms, trustworthy legal system, flexibility and creativity – to make Hong Kong vibrant and appealing again. Adopting a flexible approach to attracting foreign talent without compromising standards is essential to enhancing our human capital.

The Singaporean government has invested substantially in education and technology to make its economy strong and competitive.

The city also draws its teachers from the top 30 per cent of university graduates, as it believes in getting the most talented people to be role models for children. As a result, they are well paid. During my visits to a number of secondary schools, I was inspired by the sense of mission and direction of the principals and teachers.

The schools seem well supported by the Ministry of Education, which aims to provide a friendly working environment for teachers, including through the use of flexi-time where possible.

After a week-long visit, I understand better why we are losing some of our local talent to Singapore. It strives to become a better place for people to work and live despite the keen competition and stress. The government officials I met seemed receptive and ready to learn and make changes.

In contrast, officials and legislators in Hong Kong are forever embroiled in political issues. Singapore is responding fast to challenges and is willing to commit resources to improve education and training. The government has induced a sense of urgency in the community to improve itself. In Hong Kong, we have talent and creativity but we are stuck in a cycle of prolonged arguments and fights.

Interestingly, the equivalent to our “City” section in the South China Morning Post is called “Home” in The Straits Times. Well, Singaporeans are building a home while many of us in Hong Kong just live in a city, which some may leave when things are not right. Indeed, we are seeing another wave of migration in the midst of the seemingly endless, sometimes meaningless, political debate.

However, there are also many who choose to stay.

But until we take Hong Kong to be our home, not only will it lose out to Singapore in many aspects, but many of us will continue to focus on short-term gains rather than making Hong Kong liveable and pleasant in the long run. Any economic development should benefit the majority rather than a few.

Paul Yip Siu-fai is a professor of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong

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Intellectual click: Mainland Chinese students join the Mooc revolution

South China Morning Post
News›China
2013-03-22

Raymond Li

Mainland students are signing up for no-cost university courses open to anyone with an internet connection

For years mainland students have flocked to top universities overseas for their education, but today greater numbers are turning to the newest education frontier: the internet.

Students are embracing the idea of online learning through access to massive online open courses, or “Mooc platforms”, such as edX and Coursera, and one mainland recruitment company is preparing to sink millions of dollars into establishing its own platform.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) is also committing some subjects to the Coursera platform, so as not to be left behind in the education race.

Massive open online courses are a recent development in distance education and often use open educational resources available to anyone. Normally, they do not offer academic credits or charge tuition fees.

Probably the first Mooc to appear was in 2011 when Stanford University professor Sebastian Thrun put his graduate-level artificial intelligence course online, attracting 160,000 students in more than 190 countries. The following year, several well-financed providers associated with top universities emerged, including Coursera, Udacity, and edX and they are changing the face of Mooc education.

Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), edX has already attracted some 6,000 mainland students to its free open courses. EdX press officer Dan O’Connell admitted the number was still small because YouTube, which hosts the courses, was blocked on the mainland.

“That requires students to find workarounds and ways to download the videos, but we’re looking at ways to remedy this situation,” he said.

O’Connell said edX was also talking to Chinese universities about joining the platform as it was planning to incorporate language translations.

In February, edX said it had added six more international universities including the Australian National University and Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands to its X University Consortium.

This expansion almost coincided with an announcement from Coursera about its signing up 29 universities from around the world, including CUHK and National Taiwan University to provide free open courses.

Coursera, which has partnerships with 62 universities worldwide, said its expansion would allow it to broaden course offerings with new subjects in multiple languages including Chinese, Spanish, French and Italian.

“With the addition of so many courses across a wide range of disciplines, languages, and academic approaches, we are now able to meet the needs of a more diverse student body, and give students more options,” said Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng.

“We are equally excited about bringing higher education to places where access is limited, and giving established universities opportunities to raise their impact both on and off campus.”

Coursera was founded in April last year by Ng and Daphne Koller, two computer science teachers at Stanford University in California, with an initial investment of US$16 million from venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates.

The company has since registered more than 2.7 million students. However it said it could not track how many came from China, largely because many mainland students accessed Coursera via virtual private networks that bypass the so-called Great Firewall of censorship.

EdX said it had more than 700,000 students on its platform, accounting for more than 900,000 course enrolments.

Although sign-ups from the mainland to Mooc platforms like Coursera and edX are small, international open courses from elite schools available via major internet portals have taken the mainland by storm since 2011.

NetEase, a leading China-based internet technology company, said that the number of open course subjects had doubled from last year to the present 12,000. It reported 4.6 million subscribers via PCs and smart phones and about one million student visits a day.

However, John Zhang, co-founder of mainland-based online career and recruitment consultancy Guolairen.com [1] said open courses delivered by internet portals simply served as a “media platform”.

In contrast, he said Mooc platforms provided students with a classroom-setting learning experience and opportunities to receive credit and recognition for their work. Already five subjects provided via Coursera had been recommended by the American Council on Education.

“This is a moment of historic significance in higher education because Mooc is not just a complement to existing higher learning, it opens up a new era of online teaching,” Zhang said.

Guolairen.com [1] which unveiled its own Mooc platform in a low-key launch in October, the first on the mainland, has recorded 35,000 enrolments for 200 courses from 100,000 sign-ups.

Zhang said the company would invest US$30 million in its Mooc platform over the next three years, in co-operation with leading international universities such as Harvard, Columbia University and MIT, to provide a specialised platform for career-minded Chinese youth.

The company would also begin to introduce Chinese language courses for international students including Tibetan language and cultural subjects from Tibet University.

Professor Hau Kit-tai embraces online teaching. Photo: Felix WongZhang said it was inevitable other elite Chinese universities would join the Mooc movement. Chinese University of Hong Kong Pro-Vice Chancellor Hau Kit-tai said the university joined Coursera in February and would commit at least five subjects to the platform from September.

Hau, a professor of educational psychology, said he had already adopted video education, while devoting much of his class time to tutorials.

He said Mooc-style teaching could one day blur the lines between top-tier universities and other institutions as premium online courses became widely available.

However, he said that the university’s association with Coursera was part of its overall e-learning experiment to help boost its competitive edge and cut costs while embracing the growing trend of online teaching.

“The Mooc platform is new to us and we need to go with it slowly as long as we learn, particularly as it is still the subject of debate,” he said. “One big question [we ask ourselves] is why are we doing this, as it’s free?”

While access to Mooc platforms is free, Coursera said it would charge students from US$60 to US$90 for the proctored exam via a third-party and US$30 to US$99 more for its Signature Track service, which gave students in select classes the opportunity to earn verified certificates for completing their courses.

EdX said it also offered students the option of having their final exams proctored for a fee at official testing centres.

Meanwhile, edX said it was exploring business-to-business options to provide licensed courses to other universities for a fee, and it had formed a partnership with San Jose State University.

Zhang said that it was natural for universities to join the Mooc movement.

“Those that are willing to embrace Mooc have reaped some benefits, because it provides them with a new battleground for competitiveness,” he said. ”

Those that had signed up have not seen their reputations hurt, Zhang said. In fact, it turned out to be a great marketing tool.


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體制外的教育生力軍

Hong Kong Economic Journal
B11 | 專家之言 | 社創群英 | By 蔡美碧 |
2013-03-16

教育是社會賴以進步的動力,是富國裕民的根本,無論是超級大國還是落後小族,無不為提升教育水平而大費周章,當本港為教育人才、質素、改革甚至獎學金鬧得沸騰之際,讓我們看看社會創業家如何在體制外開拓一片新天地。

號召尖子執教鞭

郭芸迪(Wendy Kopp)是美國普林斯頓大學1989 年畢業生,她的畢業論文探討了美國教育制度的不公平現象,她論述在先進繁華背後,有不少偏遠貧窮的地區, 人們對前途感到黯淡,學校缺乏資源,學生水準低落,沒有人願意跑去執教鞭,社區呈現一片暮氣。她深信年青一代希望能有作為,故參考甘迺迪總統建立「和平部隊」的理念,提出成立「教育部隊」的構思,讓大學畢業生到貧窮地區執教。

貴為名校尖子,郭芸迪大可尋求優薪厚職,過其寫意的悠閒生活,令人讚嘆的是,她沒有流於空談,反而躊躇滿志,為實現理想而四出奔走,找人支持贊助,組織志同道合的義工夥伴,游說學生加入教書行列,尋找適合的教職空缺,並在1990 年成立一所名叫「為美國而教」(Teach for America, 簡稱TFA)的非牟利機構。

這所一人機構在短短一年間號召了500 名頂級大學的畢業生到貧窮地區的公立學校開展兩年的教書工作。美國貧富懸殊的情況比比皆是,TFA 致力培訓社會領袖,消除因貧窮而引致的教育失衡問題。

提升目標建信心

郭芸迪的目標是有教無類,打破種族、膚色、性別、家庭背景等障礙,她的願境是「終有一日,讓所有孩子獲得優質教育」。

低收入家庭的父母一般對未來沒有多大期望,形成孩子自信心低落,不思上進。為了抗衡代代相傳的低期望文化,郭芸迪提出轉型改革。

TFA 的老師要為學生訂立較高的目標,鼓勵他們以積極和專注的態度克服困難,為遠大的前景而努力。這些充滿熱忱的年輕老師諄諄善誘,讓孩子善用自身的能力,明白到一分耕耘一分收穫的道理。孩子的成績進步了,自信心增強了,考入大學的機會也提高了。

TFA 為這些教育生力軍提供5 星期的密集式訓練和1 至2 周的區域性培訓,然後把他們分配到不同的幼稚園和中小學,按他們的意願出任不同科目的老師。兩年任教期內為他們提供團隊和導師支緩,還提供2.55 萬至5.1 萬美元不等的薪金和助學貸款優惠。

由於非出自正統教育系,這些年輕教師充滿改革的熱忱,幹勁沖天,比教學多年的教師還要勤力。此外,他們思想開放創新,不宥於制度的框框,替教育事業注入新的活力,也一洗美國公立教育的頹勢。雖然流動率比正規老師稍高,但他們教出的學生成績也比一般學生高一些,並挽救了一些瀕臨倒閉的學校。

培訓教育領導者

郭芸迪的成就不只是在校園內,更重要是TFA 培訓了大批未來的教育領導者。經過兩年的實習經驗,這些教育部隊對社區、家庭和學生建立了深厚的認識,鍛鍊了他們的領導能力,有助他們在教育和其他界別擔任不同角色。在2012 至2013 的學年中,TFA 召集了一萬名畢業生教授75萬名學生。

過去20 多年,TFA 共培育了2.8 萬名結業老師,現在64%仍繼續進修,7000 人還在掌教鞭,600多人當了校長和教育界高層人士,超過50 人投身政界,其他則在政府和倡導機構工作,形成一股新而有力的社會改革力量。

TFA 在2007 年被美國大學生選為最理想僱主,郭芸迪則被《時代雜誌》選為2008 年100 位最具影響力人士。郭芸迪胸懷大志,心繫世界,在2007 年成立了另一所名為「為所有人而教」(Teach for All)的機構,協助世界各地的企業家推行TFA的計劃。

作者為仁人學社副主席

蔡美碧


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微觀南韓教育學習元素

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C03 | 優質教育 | 教育講論 | By 莊達成 |
2013-03-09

走出教室,帶學生交流團前往南韓。事前沒有翻閱什麼「旅遊天書」,想用心體驗這個我童年記憶中的「亞洲四小龍」成員;所擔心的也只是北韓發射火箭。

出發前一晚,平靜地重讀吳老師的那兩篇文章:〈一位來自南韓的學生〉和〈漢城之行〉,先深深地感受到南韓學生的求學、待人處事態度以及韓國人的那份民族精神。來到南韓後,到過學校交流、科技館,甚至與當地人的接觸等,從中可以微觀南韓教育學習、文化,以及成功之道。

來到交流的學校──東豆川外國語高等學校。校園內,路邊堆覑薄薄的積雪,旅遊巴士尚未停下,卻已見到前來迎接我們的師生,頓感溫暖。然後,他們帶覑我們前往宿舍。男女宿舍分層分區,嚴守「男女有別」的傳統觀念。早上六時半至七時半便是學生的早餐時間,然後上課,晚上還要自修,以漢語或英語分組報告自選的熱門議題,例如複製人、社交網站等。

當中的最大特色是學生說出正反的觀點,而台下的老師不會批評、反駁,讓學生自由地表述己見。那天,禮堂裏坐滿了高一、高二級約四百二十名學生,全校的學會、學社派代表礇報、總結這個學年各自的活動精華。長達三個小時的報告,坦言有的採用互動式的礇報方式較為生動、有的內容較為沉悶。儘管外面下覑大雨,禮堂開覑暖氣機,近大門的位置很冷,但台下學生的氣氛依然是如此美好:專注、聆聽、鼓掌、歡呼和歡笑。在如此長的時間裏,根據我的觀察、統計,只有六七位學生需要去洗手間,而且不用事前得到老師的批准,可謂自出自入、非常自由,也非常自律。

發展保育可並存

塑造一個人的性格,除了來自個人的成長經歷,還有來自外圍的環境氣氛,以及社教化的願景視野。在機場兌換店,許多人兌換了韓圜,拿了收據,數也不數便離開了,當中隱藏覑一份信任。在環保體驗館,一幅幅冰川融化的照片、風力發電區域圖,都足見南韓在環保方面的努力。在Digital Pavilion的四個樓層,分別是革新館、探索館、想像館和影像館,讓你見到未來的世界將會如此:按一下電掣,便可以選出自己心目中的風景,透過窗上的玻璃顯示出來;站在指定的位置,利用熱能攝影機便可以「掃描」出身體的疾病,然後醫生透過視像給你一些「忠告」或處方;在桌上的電子餐單上選出你所想的美食;在「數碼熒幕」上可以捉摸天上的彩虹、星星,以及那漫天的飛雪。看到這些,你自然就會明白為何韓國的LG、現代、Samsung能夠迅速地在國際高科技產品巿場上佔有重要的席位。

從首爾歷史博物館所見的各種民間文物,到樂天百貨、東大門的各種化妝品、新潮時裝,你不能不慨嘆韓國的變遷、發展是如此高速。在巿民安全體驗館裏,你能親身體驗到六級地震、颱風每秒三十米的威力,以及火災時,在煙霧、障礙物中逃生是如此困難,生命是如此脆弱和可貴。在清溪川文化館、南山谷韓屋村裏,你可以看到南韓人對歷史、傳承的重視,在現代建築群中能夠完整地保育古代、戰前的房屋,間接告訴現代和後代人:其實「發展」和「保育」可以並存。戰爭紀念館前的「兄弟像」讓人感受到戰爭是如此殘酷:在韓戰的戰場上,他所遇到的敵人卻是自己的親兄弟。六十年過去了,那些戰機、戰艦上的彈痕在警惕世人:只有停戰,才能發展。

站在明洞的十字街口,望覑人來人往的韓國人,男女老少的打扮是如此悉心、整潔、潮流。南韓美容業發達,整容技術更是聞名世界。也許,對他們來說,外在美和內在美是一樣重要的。十幾年來,「韓流」強勁,礇集在亞洲各地,你不難找到那些屬於你們的集體回憶:《八月照相館》、《我的野蠻女友》、《藍色生死戀》、《天國的階梯》、少女時代和Super Junior組合。當然,還有現時仍叱耢全球互聯網的《江南style》。

那一晚,那位店員不吝嗇地告訴我們在哪裏可以買到PSY的產品和作品,他不會視其他店舖為競爭對手,待客之道是如此真誠。那一晚,兩位南韓女學生帶覑我們前往校園外的超級巿場購買食物,他們細心地聆聽、耐心地向我們介紹南韓的著名特產,真情中見到他們童真、謙卑和自信的一面。來回路上,走慣雪路的他們,沿途「扶助」走慣水泥路的我們。想起她們已經到過台灣、上海和北京等地交流體驗,今年將來香港交流;想起她們想入讀的大學專科:研究中國經濟、研究國際關係,從事外交工作……

學習動機與投入

看到、體驗和想起這些,想起《大長今》裏那些醫女的遭遇、那些用漢字書寫的醫書;想起南韓首位女總統在人生低潮時,從馮友蘭的《中國哲學史》中學會正直堅強的人類道義,戰勝世間混亂的智慧教誨;想起那場精采的Action Drawing HERO──四位年青藝術工作者用不同的美術技巧即場繪畫出一些英雄人物,包括「桃園三結義」的劉備、關羽、張飛,還有李小龍和Michael Jackson等。想起,或許是南韓人的這一份認真、創意,造就了五千萬人的各種傳奇。

想起學者Newmann指出:「學習動機」是一種心理狀態,指向未來;「學習投入」則是一種經驗,指向過去和現在。想起全球教育體系排名:芬蘭第一、南韓第二、香港第三。再回望香港的現況……

撰文︰莊達成

通識教育科專業發展學會會長


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Business schools must rethink their missions

South China Morning Post
Education
2013-02-19

Michael Taylor

Are business schools still relevant in the 21st century?

Management was one the great inventions of the 20th century, and business schools are the foundations of management. Leadership, similarly, can be learned in a systematic way. There is compelling evidence of the positive effects that business schools have had on graduates, companies and societies.

But corporate needs are changing and society’s expectations of companies and business leaders are also evolving. Managerial problems in companies, governments and society are becoming bigger, and there is a need for better management education and better research.

Business schools should exist not merely to profit from those opportunities, but also to drive change and promote personal, corporate and social progress.

Business schools need a deeper sense of mission, and they must better explain what they want their role in society to be if they truly want to continue to have a positive impact in the future.

The growth of management studies has taken for granted one of the basic hypotheses of finance: that the only goal of companies is to maximise value for their shareholders. This goes against the ideas of the founders of some of the most important business schools in the United States and Europe, who thought that companies had a wider role in society. They believed that educating entrepreneurs and general managers was important for the good of society.

Many business schools have lost sight of the wider role that companies should play in society. They therefore have to rethink the foundations and the purpose of companies and the role of senior managers in society.

They also need to better integrate an ethical view of management across the curriculum. Financial incentives have a role to play, but the hypothesis that they alone can drive individual and social progress contradicts the evidence. Society needs a more humanistic view of the firm and management.

The current economic crisis sweeping the world is a great opportunity for business schools to reflect on their mission and their strategy. It is an important challenge for each business school and a collective one for the business-school industry.