Had lunch with my HK friend and I learnt something new about HK education trend in recent years.
Apparently, I was told that all the "top elite" schools require all their students to take up one form of musical instrument or another in their course of study. It is mandatory. It is not so for the public schools and clearly, this "rule" is enforced by these private schools.
I personally think it is STUPID to enforce and insist their students to take up musical lessons for the sake of "promoting" an (all rounder) image for the SCHOOL. Rather than recognising that each student is talented in different aspect, how could they try to fit every student into a single mould seem to border on narcissism and "face value" more than anything else.
When I first learnt about this compulsory music course, I was shocked. People like me who are terrible and non musically inclined would never have any chance of making into the top elite school as such. I mean what about students who are naturally athletic or artistic in other forms other than music? Why are students penalised and being forced to learn something they have no interest in is bizarre...
So my friend, who happens to be a piano lesson explains that is why some parents will rather force their kids to start learning piano or other musical instruments from the age of 4years old, rather than focusing on other more practical knowledge. All this because it is a requirement from the top private schools.
I raised another question, would such a practice also effectively exclude students from poor families of ever hoping to enter a top school? Surely it must be tough enough on parents to make ends meet, and to save up for education for the kids, but to include cost for leisure hobbies lessons? The lessons cost, the instruments...it is a luxury that not everyone can afford. I am surprise no one ever discuss about such an elitist practice...while I have nothing against people genuinely interested in learning music, this forced practice is pretty much of a joke.
My friend asked me how does it work in Singapore. While I have no idea how the system works now, but in my days, such "extra-curriculm activities" are not part of the entry requirements. They are only there to serve a sole aim to prevent a student from only focusing on studies, and instead to encourage healthy interaction or hobby that one could not afford on their own. For example, we had a choice of either taking musical groups activities (eg: band, choir), sports (eg: tennis, swimming etc), uniform groups (eg: scouts, girl guides) , or social clubs such as chess club or debate clubs etc. While it was compulsory to take one sport and one social/uniform group, it was only for the benefit of the student to have fun and gain social skills rather than anything else. And for sure, it doesnt count towards the grades or entry to higher levels. Of course if you are a national player then it does amount to certain preferential consideration.
Sometimes educators seem to forget the purpose of an education. To educate: which is to primarily to instill values, to pass on knowledge, to broaden the horizon and widen the lateral thinking. It isnt and shouldnt be a place nor journey to make the schools look good, it should be learning and self awareness journey. Whatever happen to all that?
I had fun in school back then. I honestly dont know when had schools turned into such cold institutional bodies, where the students are the pawns to draw in money funding and publicity. Sadly, parents who agree to such practices and force their kids to do things they have no interest should really take a second look at themselves.
I am glad my mum never ever forced me to do anything beyond my interest or abilities. I rem how she thought I had potential in music and enrolled me in piano lessons. However she never faulted or grumbled at me for giving it up by Grade 3 because I knew I had no aptitude in it. Instead when she realised how well I did in my art lessons, she encouraged my passion in art, bringing me to all the art painting excursions and external lessons which I asked for. For that I am thankful because she allow me to grow as a person who loves to learn, rather than a person who was forced to do something because it was good for them.