Sunday, September 09, 2012
A Great Way to Teach National Education (國民教育)
Sitting in the crowd protesting against the National Education subject outside the government headquarters last evening, I thought to myself: hat a great way to teach civic and national education!”
Soon after I arrived, the Chief Executive announced that the government would reexamine the heavily-criticized Guidelines, remove the 3-year deadline, and allow schools to decide how to teach, including whether to make it a separate subject. As I was leaving, the hunger strikers were about to leave. And everyone stood to applause.
This protest has all the needed elements. It illustrates vividly who holds the power. On paper, it is the Hong Kong government. In reality, the power is vested in Beijing. Even though the people do not have the vote, we can still make a difference if we are determined and willing to pay the price. If enough of us are willing to stand and be counted, the price that each of us has to pay is relatively small. Without the protest, we would not have spent so much effort to learn about all these.
We now have a much better understanding of what national education is about, both in the government’s mind, and what we think it should be. Without this protest, few, if anyone, would have read the Guidelines. Now, many of us can point out where and how the Guidelines are biased. We also have a much better idea how the government gives favours to its cronies, by giving them our hard-earned tax money to produce Teaching Manuals that are worse than useless - the manuals are Communist propaganda that are really harmful.
The protests have also exposed the teachers, headmasters, and organizations who are ostensibly educators, but are in fact no more than mouthpieces of the establishment, who are willing to sacrifice our children to curry favours from the people in power.
We now know how our good our secondary school students are (some of them, at least, and not a small number of them). It is not just one 15-year old who speaks more clear-mindedly, level-headedly, passionately, forcefully, reasonably and maturely than many officials decades older than he is.
It is also all the others who persevere, hunger-strike, organize the protests, maintain order at the sit-in, distribute water and the buns, etc., who showed us that our children are not just book-worms or goof-offs. With them, and the teachers and parents who support them, we are in a fairly good position to stand firm against future attempts to brain-wash.
My dinner last evening was a bottle of water, and a simple, cold bun donated by someone I have never met. But I didn’t mind a bit. I was even grateful.
So were the tens of thousands clad in black. It was a mixed crowd: old, young, male, female, children, rich, poor, ..., mostly quite young, and a lot of females. All passionate and angry at the intransigence of the government, but calm and patient and orderly and peaceful.
Who can say we are not ready for democracy?