Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Complusory Musical Lessons in Hk Schools

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 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.


WhiteDuskRed said...

If you look deep enough you will realize the society as a whole is very superficial. Interview for kindergarten admission? My goodness.... And that includes the parents as well! What happens to the talented kid with poor parents who slog to put him into a good but exp sch? He probably won't make it but just as well!

A CCA is compulsory in SG and now they can count towards JC admission if I am not wrong.

Nomad said...

I totally agree with u on the superficial part for the whole of society. Everything is surface deep, everything done is for compliments on the surface.

I share the same view about talented kids with poor parents. It is ridiculous isnt it. This is also a "worrying" trend when schools like RI, ACS, SJI goes "private" in singapore... Honestly, I MUCH prefer the old practise of everyschool is for all, and price is for all, and teachers are generally paid on the same scale rather than the school dictate...I mean it worked out well didnt it? That was how schools become great schools in the first wasnt thru any special scheme...saved for the SAP scheme.

Btw, u are serious about the interview for kindergarten?! WTF?! to see if parents are rich enuff to pay?!

CCA is complusory but it is only a supplement consideration right? It doesnt actually adds to the point system for admission right?

Anonymous said...

To do well in music, kids often have to go for after-school lessons and buy their own instruments
Affluent parents
Deep pockets that can absorb fee increases and donation drives


WhiteDuskRed said...

I'm glad I wasn't born in HK. I don't even like to play music!

Actually Singapore schools got to change because they needed some schools to try out new curriculums (IB and such). And there will be bursaries and subsidies from low-income families if they make it into independent schools. So its not that bad lah~

Kindergarten interview? Why yes! Don't you know that? I thought its like a everybody-should-know kinda thing here in HK. My colleague just brought her son to a place in Wanchai a few months back. Parents and kid in separate rooms for interview. Frankly speaking I don't know the point, but I know this whole city is bloody superficial so I don't bother as well~

From MOE:
Is CCA counted in the computation of the University Admission Score?

CCA will not be counted. However, from 2007, CCA achievements will be considered for discretionary admission into the universities or particular faculties.

Nomad said...

yeah I know there are bursaries and all but they are reserved for the really POOR families and it doesnt take into account of other expenses apart from school fees. Like many "private schools", parents still have to fork out their own money for school activities etc. These schools have alot of excursions and learning trips etc, who are gonna pay for all that? the school? No way. So regardless what people think it aint so bad, I still think its a bad notion.

Alot of middle income with combine gross income will not meet the cut and find attending such "private" good schools too much to chew on.

Perhaps changes are necessary in our education but I think sometimes, if it aint broken, dont fix it. See what happen to our chinese education? We keep lowering the bar till now, they dont even need to learn to write first but read the pinyin(unless they change the system AGAIN).
Sorry, I disagree with it completely. Language is something u really need to write esp if its part of your heritage.

As for other banding and streaming, honestly, I dunno and I honestly dont care. Parents seem to take issue with it because it is more of a face value thing, rather than the kid feeling anything. I use to have friends in normal stream, they dont feel any worse off from me being in express, and likewise, I dont feel like I was any more inferior than the special stream. So long as the kid is happy in class, learning and happy in school, all these grouoing doesnt mean shit, except for parents of course because its like labeling their DNA pool as not good enuff to be at the top.

yeah so CCA is still as before in our time. Discretionary. Meaning unless you contribute ALOT like school or national player, it doesnt mean squat, unless you are a borderline case and competing with someone else with the same grade, then again, I think the school u are from plays a bigger part than your CCA.

I could be wrong but if both are say team captain of an ECA and they both have the same academic score. One from RI and one from say ABC school, u think the Uni will drop the RI kid over the ABC school? My jaws will drop if that is true. We will never know will we? Apart from Medical and legal which has an additional interview exam to distinguish the candiate, every other course, just make sure you study damn hard to make the cut.

Anycase back to CCA, at least we HAVE a CHOICE of what activities to choose from, unlike in HK, MUSIC? Ha!

No i honestly have no idea about the interview since I have no intention ever to even consider having any kid study in HK. Not with the current level of english.

So the international schools doesnt have kindergaten? How do those expats handle it then?

Nomad said...

LCN, U are rite.

PS: I absolutely hate all these donation drives thingie.

WhiteDuskRed said...

As a Singaporean you shld know that SG cannot live on if it ain't broken dun fix it mentality. It's preempt before our competition. Take the learn mandarin campaign 20-30 years ago. Certainly help our generation with the massive Chinese market. Who knows, maybe importing all the talented PRC workers might work out to SG advantage. Everything is a gamble with SG small economy. And from what I read, GCE is being given lower marks than IB because too many As already. Or that might be just GCSE.

One thing I'm sure, many kids in HK public schools have been spurn about by the education system too many times. 4-3-3, Chinese, English,... You'll never know what will be the strategy in 10 years time.

Only 1 school In HK may do it for me. SG intl sch. :p

But the air pollution and traffic.... Forget it!