Information Services Office   19.9.2011

383

 
Newsletter No. 383 > Thus Spake... > Prof. Leung Seung-ming, Dean of Education

Prof. Leung Seung-ming, Dean of Education

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You’ve assumed the Deanship of Education for half a year. What are your visions and work priorities for the Faculty?


We envisage to become a leading centre for teacher training and educational research in the region. In the past six months, we’ve reviewed and fine-tuned our teacher training programmes to ensure that they are aligned with the new ‘3+3+4’ school curriculum and meet the needs of students in today’s diverse classrooms. We are now working on how to invest our resources strategically to enable colleagues to engage more fully in research and scholarly work. Starting September 2011, classes taught in Putonghua are available for certain courses in the Master of Education Programme. This is good news to students from the mainland. In September 2012, a new Bachelor of Education (BEd) (Mathematics Education) programme will be on offer. Similar to those who major in language and liberal studies, graduates of this five-year programme will be awarded a bachelor’s degree and a postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE). 


What are our strengths when compared with other tertiary institutions?


We offer a full array of training programmes for teachers at different stages of their professional development, from initial teacher training to doctoral-level training. In addition to our BEd and PGDE programmes, the Faculty now offers 15 master’s level degree programmes, as well as a Doctor of Education and a PhD programme. Since CUHK is a comprehensive research university, many of our programmes are characterized by strong inter-departmental collaboration. In many BEd programmes, students receive instruction from various disciplines and that helps to expand their horizons and their perspectives on education. Also we maintain strong ties with the education community and have our finger on the pulse of their development. Each year, almost all of our colleagues make classroom visits to observe the performance of our teacher trainees and give them feedback. All these keep us informed of what is actually happening in schools and what teachers need.


What careers can students of education pursue other than teaching?


Trained as multi-skilled individuals, our graduates are good at communicating, organizing, maintaining human relationships, empowering others, as well as teaching. They are also capable of and experienced in conducting research. Although we hope that our students will pursue a career in education, we believe that they’re equipped with the skills that make them fit for other careers, especially those in the helping professions and the service industry, as well as administrators and human resource professionals.


What kind of qualities should today’s Hong Kong teachers possess?


First, teachers must be knowledgeable about the subjects they teach, and able to adjust their teaching according to students’ abilities. They should be good listeners and observers who have effective communication skills. Second, they should remain hopeful that their students will fulfil their potential. Since education may not yield immediate results, they must not look down on themselves or their students because of the latters’ lack of performance. Some new teachers might be frustrated by the fact that their efforts do not pay off. If this happens, they have to learn to let go and accept that many things in life do not happen the way we wish. Third, they should love their students. Love is the most powerful quality in human interaction and communication. The most difficult students will respond to love, compassion, acceptance, and respect from their teachers. Fourth, teachers must have high personal integrity. The most powerful learning experience for students is the way teachers act inside and outside the classroom. Our programmes have a number of elective courses on personal growth to help student teachers to understand their needs and limitations, and better manage their emotions. Teachers must be clear about their own confines and blind spots before they can become a role model for their students.


Educational reforms, school closure threats, ‘monster parents’ and ‘spoiled kids’ … all have taken their toll on education in Hong Kong. What are your tips for would-be teachers? 


When first getting into teaching, many new teachers are very passionate about their job and keen to make positive impact on the lives of their students. Sadly, they would soon find that their hands are tied by the constraints in the school environment. Indeed, challenges are there. But don’t forget that education is a marathon. To finish the long journey, teachers need to gain a firm footing by getting the basics right. First, they have to provide good teaching and manage their classrooms well. Second, teachers should develop a peer support network with co-workers and friends, so that they can have someone to turn to when they are under stress. Moreover, it is also important to have a balanced lifestyle. Long work hours are detrimental to personal well-being. Teachers should set aside time for physical exercise, entertainment and further study. Don’t sacrifice your health for work and allow fatigue to affect your judgment.


Is Hong Kong’s education worthy of any praise?


The majority of Hong Kong teachers are very devoted to the teaching profession. Faced with educational reforms and changes, teachers are the agents who impart purpose and dynamics into the curriculum. There are many problems and challenges confronting education in Hong Kong. But I believe that the teacher workforce will, against all odds, accomplish the mission of educating our future generations.


The book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has triggered the debate over parenting styles of the East and the West. Were you a ‘Tiger Father?’


There is no set formula for parenting. Parents must have clear ideas about upbringing, and know what kind of culture their children are exposed to. Parenting with love is important. You have to observe your children’s response to your method of instruction. If they feel comfortable with and benefit from it, it’s an effective parenting style. When my children were still young, I cultivated positive self-esteem in them and taught them a set of principles and values that serve as their life anchors. I lived in the US for many years and I try to give my children freedom to make their own decisions on their education and careers, and believe in their ability to make the right choices.

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