CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Excitement at beginning nostalgia at ending

HONG KONG (SE): The education of a child begins not with acquiring knowledge, but with the challenge of learning how to learn and, as the principle of St. Paul’s Convent School in Causeway Bay, Sister Margaret Wong, pointed out at speech day on November 23, it is a challenge that never goes away.
 
Sister Wong counselled the roughly 150 graduates from school life that as they set out on the new path they are choosing to follow, to always remember that knowledge is an elusive value, which is not easily attained and especially not easily gleaned from the Internet.
 
She said that the original challenge in education of learning how to learn still holds true and to this is added a further challenge of learning how to use knowledge and how to use it well.
 
“We need a new dance to create steps that the computer cannot follow,” she warned the young graduates, saying that they must become highly computer literate to ensure that they become masters of the computer and not slaves to it.
 
Her sentiments were echoed by the headmaster of La Salle College in Kowloon, Tong Wun-sing, at its speech night on November 24. Tong referred to one important project the school is running in conducting training courses for teachers in new technology and noted that courses in interactive e-learning are now an established part of the curriculum.
 
In the same way as Sister Wong had done at St. Paul’s, he pointed out to the large graduating class that education is not a personal thing, but essentially is a community activity, as acquiring education is something that can only be done together and the fruit of it can only be expressed together.
 
Coming to the end of his first year as headmaster at La Salle, Tong shared that he has discovered that almost every meeting he goes to at universities grapples with the question of morality in learning and how to teach that education belongs to the community as a community good, and must be used for the good of all, not just the individual.
 
Both schools express this in their mottoes, with Be all things to all people at St. Paul’s and La Salle proclaiming Faith with Action.
 
Leaving school is a time of intense emotion, as young men and women are torn between the excitement of starting something new and the nostalgia of the way they have lived the bulk of their lives coming to an end.
 
In addressing the speech night at La Salle, Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing was pastoral in his approach, pointing out to the graduates that they are among the first of a new generation in Hong Kong.
 
“You are among the first generation to be brought up entirely in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong without knowing British colonisation,” he told the graduating class, adding, “It is coming at a time of much turmoil in the ethical, financial and social aspects of the history of the territory.”
 
Bishop Ha also pointed out to the students that they have been educated in an atmosphere that was only science fiction to him when he was their age, but reminded them that they have achieved much and encouraged them to take their achievements into the future.
 
He also reminded the graduates that their first career choice may not be their last and to remain open to the calling of the Spirit in their lives, who may just be calling them to move on into other fields as their lives mature.
 
He finished by inviting the graduates to give a big hand of appreciation to their teachers and parents, to whom they owe the opportunity of achieving what they have.
 
As two of the more prestigious English-medium Catholic schools in Hong Kong, both produce excellent results in many subjects, but remain aware that the true value of a school is measured in the progress that those among the middle road achievers can make.
 
They also strongly support holistic education and place emphasis on the arts, sport and innovation, with programmes encouraging students to work in groups on innovative projects in the improvement of the human condition and care of the environment.
 
Finally social service is seen as a must and an opportunity to use knowledge that has been gained from the community for the benefit of the whole community is afforded to all students in both schools.
 
Nor is music neglected, and both schools showed their particularly spectacular achievements in this field with short recitals of excellence reflecting the very best of what they can produce.
 
As Catholic schools, both are highly conscious of creating an appropriate ethos on campus within which students are encouraged to learn, study, interact and imbibe the values of faith and follow the guidance of a saviour.
 
But a rundown by Tong on the chosen study paths of graduates from the 2016 to 2017 academic year shows a heavy preference for business, engineering, medicine and science, with only a handful opting for furthering their careers through study of the humanities.
A reflection on the way the society in which we live is moving.

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