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Wednesday 15-Apr-2015
A different class

I am well aware of how great are the expectations and demands that parents place on their children to produce here in Hong Kong. Often, the drive for extraordinary performance, achievement and results can push them to the point of exhaustion. They have to do lots of homework and revision, and attend scheduled and extra tutorials.

In this day and age, classes should be engaging and enjoyable – not stuffed with boring facts

When I interview candidates for UK boarding schools, there do appear to be similarities in the candidates’ approach to the interview and responses to the questions. They appear to be full of confidence with well-prepared responses for the academic-related matters. Yet, when I ask them what they would like to do in the future, many of them fall short. I have simply come to the conclusion that the intensive memorisation and cramming that students have to endure to succeed in examinations in Hong Kong hardly gives students time, motivation and aspirations to consider their plans for the future.


“Less is more”

Information overload at school shows no signs of letting up, and, according to the The National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (NARIC), the Hong Kong examinations are two grades tougher than the comparable tests in the UK. Therefore, there are not many alternatives to memorising. Receiving a rounded education and enjoyment are far more important than grades on a piece of paper, yet it is difficult for education chiefs to accept this.

I do believe that “less is more”. I had to choose up to 13 subjects for my GCSEs. The depth afforded to students in the UK helps them to test the water with subjects to see which areas they would like to study in more depth at A-level. Perhaps the approach to teaching the curriculum at GCSE level is akin to reading the index and introduction of a book to see if it may be of interest – so that one can decide whether to read further or not. In Hong Kong, by contrast, the compulsory “hard” subjects are packed with uninteresting information, and there is little emphasis on “learning by doing”. This puts unwanted stress on youngsters.

Learning by doing is the way forward. I only took Geography up to Year 9, yet I still cannot forget how a meander river and oxbow lake are formed, and several interesting field trips to the north Norfolk Broads helped me to shape and cement my knowledge. I used my hands to feel rocks and erosion for myself.

When I was doing A-level art, I was surprised how little teachers intervened with our thought processes. We had a great deal of freedom to create our portfolios, and the development of ideas and methods was central to teaching and learning. Conversely, when I was learning to paint in Hong Kong, we were taught the techniques and we had to draw an object as accurately as possible.


Samuel Chan 

The Student Standard 
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Samuel is the founder of Britannia StudyLink.

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Education Experts

Samuel Chan, the winner of Alumni Awards 2017, is the founder of Britannia. He had studied in the UK since the age of 9 for 15 years and achieved his master degree in International Political Economy at University of Warwick. Now he shares his experiences and professional advice in education columns in Hong Kong’s major newspapers.


Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.


MB Cheung, our senior consultant, has been writing education columns for major local newspapers for more than 25 years. With his experience and unique insights, he shares a variety of tips and advice on overseas education for the readers (and DSE students)

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