Virtually all the governments of the world have embraced educational reform in their system. It has become a very crucial issue as far as excellence in the education sector is concerned. This is because education is considered as one of the most important sectors in any country. Therefore, the governments have made goals to stay ahead of the global competition by constantly revising their education systems. Hong Kong is not an exception. It is well known of having several reform initiatives in its education sector.
Through the influence from the global trends, Hong Kong education system has been evolving for the last thirty years (Sang Ho, Morris &Ping Chung, 2005). As a result of the educational reform spirit, there has always been changes in the education sector, most of which have been enacted by the teachers. This is after a careful consideration of the teaching strategies and methods used in the schools they teach, and the various issues that affect the students in their day to day interaction with the education system.
Once a teacher is exposed to the field of teaching, he or she comes up with better ways that can be used to improve education in the specific schools. This essay seeks to discuss and justify ways in which the students would receive a better educational experience for the development of citizenship in Wing Shiu Chi Secondary School. This essay will first highlight briefly on the Hong Kong education as far as reform is concerned. The problems to be discussed in this paper include the curriculum problems present in the school of placement, and a solution by introduction of the school curriculum.
Secondly, the paper will deal with better ways of teaching the English language, which is only ‘fair’ at the school of placement. This is in relation to the importance of English in understanding other subjects. Thirdly, the school environment will be carefully considered, and the best solution provided. The issue of Information Technology will be considered, revealing the negative effects it has on the student. Lastly, the paper will discuss on the importance of professionalism and its benefits as far as better educational experiences for learners is concerned. Education in Hong Kong
Several studies in Hong Kong have ensured that the educational reforms are beneficial to the students. War Law, (2004), embarked on a comparative study between Hong Kong and Taiwan. He stated that, “Recent reforms in Hong Kong and Taiwan have emphasized generic and transnational skills, such as English proficiency and Information technology, and developed tripartite frameworks for citizenship education at local, national and global levels (Wah Law, 2004). Zadja, (2010), states that in Hong Kong, there exists a very strong condition of following the global trends as far as education is concerned.
This explains why there have been very many educational reforms in the country. Hong Kong has experienced a wave of reforms which are normally based on three levels, where the first one is the internal effectiveness. This means that the type of education offered in Hong Kong schools has to make sense in the schools that are present. Secondly, there is the interface effectiveness. This means that the education provided is supposed to mould students who would fit in all boundaries. Lastly, the education offered has to have an aspect of future effectiveness.
This means that all what the students learn should be mainly for preparing the students for their future careers (Zadja, 2005). School-Based Curriculum The curriculum that a country adopts is the major determining factor of the growth of its education system . All students are required to grasp the facts in the science subjects, not only in Biology but also in the other subjects. This presents a problem to the students as they are unable to decipher all what is in the course books. The Wing Shiu Chi Secondary School students are no exception.
For example, Geography is a global subject, and the students are required to know the facts in the subject. However, there are situations whereby the curriculum becomes irrelevant, especially when what is included in the Geography books is only theoretical. For example, in a Physical Geography, the students are required to know all the types of environment. One of these environments is the North Pole regions. If such a sub topic is covered in depth, it would only be fit for students in Iceland or Alaska, and not in Hong Kong.
Therefore, only the basics of the topic are supposed to be taught to the students. This would be very important as it would reduce overloading in the curriculum, and the teacher would be best placed in the curriculum delivery (EP Session, 2009). According to one of the 1998 Hong Kong educational reforms, teachers have the right to come up with a “School-Based Curriculum. In this case, the students have the liberty of choosing the curriculum that is in sync with the culture and environment of that particular society.
They are required to ensure that the curriculum has great respect and that which strictly follows the principles of citizenship, and also appreciates all students, regardless of their backgrounds (Sang Ho, Morris &Ping Chung, 2005). Teachers are therefore supposed to be critical thinkers, innovative and creative, or what is generally referred to as “thinking outside the box”. This skill is one of the ‘Twenty First century Skills’ in the education sector (EP Session, 2009). If this reform is applied in Wing Shiu Chi Secondary School, there would be a remarkable improvement in performance of all subjects.
This is because the teachers will be best fit to deliver a curriculum which is environment specific, as it will get rid of all irrelevancies. Additionally, the students would not only be exposed to the theoretical work but also the practical bit of it, as they will draw examples from their immediate environment. However, they are counter arguments which face the reforming of a curriculum through the teacher’s creativity. Critics argue that the schools which are so much invested in the Twenty First century skills in their curriculum stand a risk of molding students who will have a limited, undeveloped and shallow view of their world’s history.
They argue that the students who are taught by these types of teachers will always be half baked (EP Session, 2009). This is not true because the students have a basic knowledge of what is not in the curriculum. English Language: A bridge to all subjects It is a requirement for all secondary students in Hong Kong to be familiar with the English language. This is because it is an international language which brings the aspect of the world as a global village. Wing Shiu Chi Secondary school is no exception. From my assessment, the level of English in the secondary school was fair.
Though there were minor difficulties in understanding concepts by the students, the level of the English language still proved a challenge. All the other subjects in the Hong Kong curriculum are in the English language. Therefore, the students really need to be well versed with it. The students who had problems in the language had a difficult time in understanding biology, and all the other subjects. The reason why this happened was the methodology used by the English teachers. They embarked mainly on the traditional language teaching method, which, according to the school records, had continued since the school was established.
This explained why the level of English was fair. For effective language teaching, the Community Learning Method is the best as it ensures excellent English students. When used in any school, the general performance of the students’ increases as they are able to understand the other subjects. Therefore, the school needs to adopt the method for language learning, specifically English, as it directly affects the performance of the other subjects. The school should therefore either embark on the Communicative Language Teaching method or the eclectic method. The eclectic method brings a fusion of the two.
According to Liao, (2000), the CLT approach of teaching ensures that language is a good communication tool. It ensures that all students are exposed to the English (target) language. Additionally, all the teachers using this approach are able to be at per with current development of the teaching methods of English in the world. They realize that the essence of teaching English is not only for purposes for learning the grammatical aspects, but also for a general communication competence. The students will have a high ability of be recruited in the best universities in the world, get good jobs and also to study abroad.
In relation to the other subjects, the learners will be able to understand all the technical terms or the materials used. This will ensure that once the students understand all the subjects, there will be greater openings for them in the globe, which will lead to modernization. There are very few educationists who oppose the use of the Communicative Language teaching method. Though its introduction in the 90s was faced with challenges, for example in China, those schools which have adopted it have had a very good repute as far as education is concerned (Liao, 2000).
It has become a realization of most teachers in the world that if English is well taught, then all the other subjects in the curriculum will be well understood. As a result, the educational experience would ensure better citizenship. The School Learning Environment For a good performance of the students, there is need for an environment that is conducive for the students. If the environment is not favorable to the students, then the learning process will be faced with very many challenges, which will translate to poor academic performance.
The classroom arrangement, the availability of laboratory equipment for sciences, lighting in the classrooms and the society in which the school is placed are some of the factors which are related to the environment of the school. As a Biology teacher in the school, one of my objectives is to ensure that there is full mastery of the biological facts in the science laboratories. Therefore, the science laboratory is a prerequisite as far as biology is concerned. There were very good laboratories in the school I was placed in.
However, the laboratory apparatus were not enough for all the students in the secondary school. Additionally, there were few laboratories. Therefore, the students would wait for some to finish their experiments so that they could start theirs. This would usually result to noise-making in the science laboratories, which would further slow down learning. According to Graetz, (2010), research has revealed that environmental variables like temperature, noise and light have proved to be major destructors in the learning process. This is not only in secondary schools, but also in colleges.
The student is affected in all dimensions, especially psychologically, and as a result, the concentration span of the students is normally affected. Distracting noises have been found to be determining factors in slowing down the time of reaction and lowering performance to a very high degree. There are some critics who argue that the students who do not learn effectively in a noise environment are likely to be introverts (Graetz, 2010). This is not true however, as many students perform poorly if there are exposed to noise, and other hindrances in the education sector.
If good laboratories in the schools are constructed, there would be an improved performance, not only in Biology but in all other subjects. It would ensure that there is equality for all students, as it is a requirement for all students to receive equal treatment. Information Communication Technology The world has become a global village, where technology has enhanced internationalization in all sectors of the society. The education sector has not been left behind. In the Industrialized nations like Hong Kong, virtually all the students learn the basics of electronic devices from a very young age.
Therefore, it becomes very difficult to separate them from using the computers in all contexts, even in the classrooms. They use them to type their notes and perform other assignments that are given to them by their teachers. Additionally, they are able to perform certain tasks, say researching on a specific organism in biology from the internet. This trend is also present in the secondary school that I was placed in. However, the use of computers for the students in the learning process lowered the academic performance more that increasing it.
The secondary students would learn better if there are no computers in the classroom. The use of computers in the classrooms should only be allowed at an advanced stage, like in the colleges, as most students hardly concentrate on what the student is saying. According to Graetz, (2010), mobile devices and laptops have been used in transforming and enhancing instruction. They are normally used in very many classrooms in the colleges. This has also been adopted in secondary schools. The students are able to take notes, access applications and materials, and retrieve relevant information.
The Information Communication technology has been very beneficial because once the students’ access networked tools at the same time; they are very many collaborative teaching and learning opportunities which emerge. However, the use of networked devices in the classroom context has proved to be detrimental to the students, as they have interfered with the learning process. In some instances, the students would be performing tasks which are not in any way related to the coursework. Other than paying attention to the teacher, some will engage in passing time through daydreaming, crossword puzzles and doodling.
They become less interested in the slides that the teachers read, and instead embark on their own personal work, which is completely unrelated to the course work. Teacher’s professionalism Teaching, like any other career requires professionalism of the highest order. Effective teaching and learning will only take place when the teachers maintain professionalism in their classroom contexts. From my observation, some teachers in my school of placement have not been keen in maintaining the same. One of the reasons why this has happened is because of a lack of a code of ethics which define the behavior of a teacher in the classroom context.
One of the functions of a teacher is that he or she is a role model; therefore, to impact the students positively, a lot of considerations have to be considered. In the school, there have been complains by the parents of the students regarding the way they deal with them as far as evaluation is concerned. For example, there has been an outcry by some students who complained that they were rarely updated on their grades by one of their teachers. This has de-motivated them as they do not know their progress in that subject. If this would continue, then the academic performance of the school would be hampered.
It is the responsibility of all the students to ensure that the students are aware of their progress in their academics. They should be well versed with their strengths and weaknesses, and the best ways they can deal with them. The teacher is dealing with developing minds. Therefore, they will always think that the teacher does not know his or her job. Learning will be hampered because they will develop a negative attitude to the teacher (Christian, 2010). Therefore, there needs to be clear and strict rules for teachers as far as communication to the students in regard to their progress is concerned.
The school administration should also encourage the use of the students’ progress records, which will be given to the parents so that they can also gauge the students. Conclusion If the following methods will be employed in the school, there will be a very remarkable improvement in the performance of the students. There would be challenges though at the start of the implementations. However, this would only last for a short time, as the overall effect of the strategies will ensure a very good performance for the students. References Christian T. (2010).
Student teachers: Tips for maintaining your professionalism. Retrieved from http://www. helium. com/knowledge/112114-student-teachers-tips-for-maintaining-your-professionalism EP Session. (2009). Teaching ‘21st- Century Skills’. Retrieved from http://140. 234. 17. 9:8080/EPSessionID=ee57bbddbf89a9a837958e0c8b6b48c/EPHost=www. 2facts. com/EPPath/icof_story. aspx? PIN=i1400390&term=best+teaching+methods+in+secondary+schools Graetz, K. (2010). The psychology of learning environments. Retrieved from http://www. educause. edu/learningspacesch6
Liao, X. (2000). How communicative language teaching became acceptable in secondary schools china. The Internet TESL Journal. Vol. 6, (10). Sang Ho L, Morris, P. & Ping Chung, Y. (2005). Education reform and the quest for excellence: The Hong Kong story. Aberdeen: Hong Kong University Press. War Law, W. (2004). Globalization and citizenship education in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Comparative and International Educational Society. Vol. 48(3), +253. Zadja, J. (2005). International handbook on globalization, education and policy research. Dordrecht: Springer.