Personal learning opportunity – promote Confucian learning amongst young children in Hong Kong

As I think back on my progress (ie promote Confucius learning amongst young children in Hong Kong) so far, I have observed that most young children in Hong Kong will be asked to memorise “Dizigui” by heart, from the age of 6 (ie primary school year one). 

“Dizigui” is a 17th century textbook based on Confucian teachings that demands respect for tradition and elderly to promote harmony in a hierarchical society.

However, I think memorising and reciting texts and attending moral classes by young children might not inspire creativity in children. Importantly, young children might not fully appreciate (and understand) the meaning behind the texts they memorise and recite by heart.

To take things forward, I would suggest primary schools in Hong Kong to teach young children moral values by way of “idiom” animation (ie similar to Disney or Peppa Pig cartoons) EITHER using overhead projector (in classroom) OR iPad (at home). This shall maximise the impacts of planting the seeds of moral values in the brains of young children. 

I plan to speak to few friends (who are existing school board members in Hong Kong) to try collaborate with three to five Government-subsidised band-three primary schools and rollout this initiative on a small-scale pilot basis. The school management can then observe the effectiveness, including the receptiveness by young children and their parents. If feedback is positive, the school management can communicate with the Education Bureau of Hong Kong Government then lobby for government support to hopefully rollout the initiative in much bigger scale. 

I believe this is no different from doing a small experiment research in several primary schools in Hong Kong. 

I shall choose less prestigious primary schools for experiment research purpose because such schools have lesser resources (from BOTH school AND parent/student perspectives) thus warrant more attention.

Without saying, a key hurdle is how best to fund such experiment research. In this regard, I will have to sound out interests of few NGOs to provide funding support.

4 thoughts on “Personal learning opportunity – promote Confucian learning amongst young children in Hong Kong

  1. Great to hear how this is going! Sounds like quite a challenge, especially to consider the full learning approach – right from the design of the content through to how it can be delivered in a way that works well for children of that age. Plus, you are then looking to measure effectiveness and understand if your intervention is having the desired input.

    How have you developed your understanding of the best ways to teach this to the children? You mentioned that you have some friends on school boards – you may have already considered this, but would there be value in working with those friends to understand the latest techniques and methods for effective learning for children of that age? That could allow you to refine your approach accordingly. I do like the idea of “iPad” learning for home, especially if there is a way to “gamify” the content.

    I’m also interested in your plans to secure funding from NGOs. Have you planned how you will approach this? Do you already have contacts in any organisation, or will you end up having to pitch for existing grants?

    I’m very excited to see how this continues to develop and how it goes once you launch your first pilot.

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    1. Hi Ronald,

      Thank you for this update on your progress on this challenge! This is a great project.

      Starting small, proving that it works and then going to government level to ask for funding sounds like a very logical path. It may be a bit arduous but it will be worth it.

      I share your view about memorising and reciting text being a bit “antiquated”. In our very visual and interactive world these days, children can get easily bored or put off by this type of learning experience.

      I remember attending religious education classes with the priest of the village where I was born in the South of France and comparing it to the classes I had had until then with two British nuns at the local convent (one was English and the other one was Scottish. Don’t ask me how they ended up in a remote part of France just after the war!).

      The eldest one was a fantastic painter who executed the most amazing paintings of religious characters and scenes. She taught us the Old Testament through drawing whilst she told us the stories in such an interesting way that we got so inspired as a result. I can still remember these stories to this day. When we moved onto classes with the priest, I remember missing these classes so much since his teaching was very much based on memorising parts of the Bible followed by reciting. She truly enticed us to discover the Bible and developed our creativity.

      There are lots of books on this subject out there. Here is one of them: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thinking-Learning-Through-Drawing-Classrooms/dp/1847870406

      It does not only have to be through drawing but can also take the form of video making, drama lessons, etc…A few more interesting links: http://www.uq.edu.au/teach/video-teach-learn/ped-benefits.html

      Adam Hopwood suggested to get the support of some NGOs. Here are a couple of charities you may wish to contact to exchange knowledge in Hong Kong https://www.charitablechoice.org.hk/en/charities and in Oxford UK https://www.filmoxford.org/

      All the very best and keep us updated!

      Marie

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  2. I really like how right in the title you’re decribint a personal LEARNING opportunity – so few people ever remember leadership is not just about leading but also about learning and (re)using acquired knowledge to lead further and better.

    It’s very interesting to read how a personal network of contants can be leveraged for the greater good and in pursuit of a noble cause aimed at youth. Made me remember an initiative similar in nature although with a different scope – introducing STEM in the very, very obsolete education curriculum in schools in Croatia. Some details here: http://microbit.org/en/2017-12-13-nenad-post/

    I wonder, given how strong the role of government is in China (and I presume Hong Kong as well), what’s the governments take on idea of putting more accent on Confucian learning in schools? Is there any way government can be put in the loop and/or asked for endorsement and subsequently perhaps even funding? It would serve as a great example of how private sector, NGOs and government can work together towards knowledge.

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  3. The points you bring up regarding reciting texts possibly stifling creativity is very interesting. I believe there must be a balance between learning that is perceived to require a certain amount of memorization and fostering creativity in young children. True learning requires understanding not just recitation. Additionally, teaching in a manner that facilitates the ability for children to comprehend concepts enables them to put what they have learned in to practice, as well as, expand upon their knowledge base and make their own opinions about topics which in turn can drive vice stifle creativity. Ken Robinson alludes to this topic in his 2006 TED talk “Do schools kill creativity?” [https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity/discussion?c=25501]. Additionally, the banking industry has in some aspects moved away from a definitive system where employees are taught to memorize specific models toward a system that involves more communication to engage in problem solving in order to develop models that are more applicable to specific problem sets that are based off of real world knowledge and the opinions of subject matter experts vice traditional bankers.

    I really like your ideas regarding idioms. The integration of idioms in the classroom is a valuable way to effectively teach in a fun and innovative manner. I do however believe that funding such research will be quite expensive without NGO assistance. You may want to look in to government funding schemes as well.

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