Still Teaching after Fifty Years

Today I attended a meeting of teachers from the Anglican schools of Hong Kong and Macau (there were thousands of us from over a hundred schools). It is worth remembering while reading what follows that Hong Kong’s students are highly successful on the PISA and OECD tests of educational attainment.

The speaker from the Hong Kong Education Bureau opened by criticizing the idea that teachers are “providers” and that education is not a “product” or a “service.” (Hong Kong’s teacher-training programmes are rated among the world’s best.)

The keynote speaker, the vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, might have been expected to quote modern academic educationists—but no, he quoted Confucius and Jesus. At one point he discussed his early teaching career and summarized it by saying that he realized, “I was not a very effective teacher because all I was doing was transmitting knowledge.”  With such thinking we are in an alternative universe to the world of pink slime education and teachers who ‘deliver instruction’..

The high point of the meeting came when the Archbishop of Hong Kong presented a gold medal to a man who is now completing his fiftieth year of teaching. Hong Kong has the world’s highest life expectancy (the US’s is nestled in the high thirties between Costa Rica and Cuba), but Hong Kong’s ‘elders’, as senior citizens are called here, are both long-lived and sturdy. So our long-serving teacher seemed as he walked out with a spring in his step to greet the Archbishop.

He was cheered to the echo.

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