I am attending a conference on education at a prestigious US university. We discuss the changing world, e-learning, hybrid learning, social network learning, … We worry about the immaturity of students, teaching methods becoming obsolete, marginal costs of education, … All the time, we are sitting in a nice hotel, fortified with coffee, croissants, fruit salads, pasta, salmon, … Nothing really fancy, but tasty and healthy food, in air-conditioned rooms and comfortable settings. Each of us pays almost a thousand US dollars for the privilege of attending the conference.
All the time, I have this foreboding that we will not touch on the really serious and urgent problems in education in this world. I think of our Hong Kong, where students learn to pass examinations, where the best students learn by working on examination papers of public examinations - for the past 20 years, where the high school teachers tell their students to work hard to enter university - where they can supposedly relax, where university professors prefer to do research rather than teach.
My mind drifts further to the classrooms in Rwanda, Cambodia, Northwest China, Myanmar, … Of course, they have no coffee, fruit salad, croissants, pasta and salmon. They do not have computers and access to the Internet. Many of them do not even have books and pens. Sometimes not even teachers.
I have a feeling those are the much bigger problems in education. What can we do about it? Are we going to do something about it?