TEDx HongKong - ED
Saturday 15th June 2013 10am - 4pm
633 Kings Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
Website for more information click here
'The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed'
-Sir Ken Robinson
I discovered TED Talks on You Tube a few years ago and I use it from time to time in my classes. Sometimes I come across one that really hits the spot of a particular concept I want to explain and sometimes they are just so damn interesting I bring them into my classroom to inspire my students. The point is that speakers on TED Talks can present an idea so much better than I can.
For instance I grew weary of listening and watching my students do presentations locked in the the restricting mind numbing Microsoft world that is PowerPoint. I decided to have a power point free year. I showed them all the TED Talk - A Modest Proposal, David Bohannon explaining a scientific concept through dance and although didn't expect them to bring that exactly into the small space in front of the whiteboard, I did expect some imagination and creativity so they would at least think about presenting their ideas differently. I got it. I had Y7s playing music, rapping, singing, role playing and making art in stead of reading their dry power points.
When I start teaching the IB English A Language & Literature course (International Baccalaureate site) and all that it involves, the following TED Talk - Jay Walker on the World's English Mania is a marvellous introduction and discussion point for my students to start thinking about the way English is used around the world.
When I became aware that TEDx was coming to Hong Kong to talk about education I quickly registered and bought my early bird ticket in order to secure my place.
The event in Quarry Bay was from 10am - 4pm and we were encouraged to register by 9am to ensure a seat. I felt it would be quite a test of our dwindling concentration spans as I read the itinerary. As any teacher knows keeping the attention of an audience involves short bursts of information with a variety of ever changing strategies to hold their interest. Overall this was achieved and the clever addition of the most coordinated man on the planet, Chris Brien and his percussion group 'Tribe' was inspired. Of course he didn't just perform, he explained his notion that rhythm can bring out creativity, improve IQ levels and boost the immune system Mozambique Drum Lesson 40 .
I obeyed the instructions and got there early to take my seat on the 1/F. It was announced that there were 1000 people attending the event which was actually in the space of the Island Evangelical Community Church and on two floors. 1/F where the stage was with the real live speakers, and 2/F where it was streamed onto to screens. The rooms were very nicely appointed but surely there are bigger spaces in Hong Kong where everyone could be seated on the same floor?
When it came to a break and my entitlement to a free drink, I felt that in the short time and given the amount of people, would mean there was no chance to join that queue as well as the queue for the ladies toilets! Good job I'd brought my own.
I have a feeling that God had kind of sneaked into this event through the back door. But we were sat in a church so may be he did use the same entrance as everyone else? Brett Hillard the Senior Pastor of Island ECC spoke with ease, was engaging and certainly made this atheist think. I was particularly impressed with his creative marketing and brochure ideas and am still allowing the phrase "If you are not failing you are not trying" run through my mind.
I had my eyes opened by Julian Zhu, excuse the pun, to an organisation called Dialogue in the Dark
Activities to book which is, according to Trip Advisor, Hong Kong's most popular attraction. DiD is an experiential venue to help understand what it is like to be visual impaired. With a white cane in hand and eyes bound shut you are guided around a variety of every day places for 175 minutes. There are options for Eating in the Dark and Birthdays in the Dark.The summer holiday is coming up and I certainly intend to visit.
Merijn Everaarts was compelling regarding the epidemic of one use plastic containers used in Hong Kong and his illustrations and statistics really did bring home the message that we will soon drown in waste. He has developed a sustainable plastic bottle called The Dopper and The Dopper Water & Waste Academy aims to empower citizens to take personal responsibility for reducing waste. Note to self - tap water in Hong Kong is safe so why do I buy it in bottles?
From a personal point of view I have been teaching in Hong Kong for 10 years now. I did my PGCE at The University of Hong Kong and have worked in local schools. The message I left HKU with was that I should be a 'change agent' and bring about change in the syllabus by incorporating new ways of teaching into the schools in Hong Kong where students are under a vast amount of pressure to pass exams and constant testing evades every waking hour. Unfortunately the waking hours seem to be once the students are home and in the middle of the night. Sleeping in class is so common it is acceptable behaviour. Sleeping in the staff room is also acceptable. I am not in the local system at the moment but I know that educational reform in Hong Kong is an up hill battle. I cannot comprehend why any reform is resisted but find it a complete paradox that research regarding new ways of teaching in Hong Kong is blinkered. The so called 'new ways' of teaching are not in any way new, they go on in the rest of the world as common good practice but in Hong Kong if they are not sitting in rows and passing or failing tests, are not under stress to complete after school tuition or are not carrying spine crushing bags they are not good students. It was, therefore, with great interest and expectation that when Sophie Leung took the stage with her tag line 'Instilling Hope to Students in a Skewed Education System' I thought I would hear something new. She fell well short of the mark and was yet another Hong Kong voice of empty cliches with no actual concrete idea.
Dr Yvonne Chiu was a very interesting speaker with an array of extremely complex ideas, notions and theories. Since I returned from TEDx I have read more about her ideas, she made me curious and wanting more. She had an impact on me.
Peter Kenny, who was last, and I guess was 'top of the bill' was extremely engaging and obviously used to the stage. He spoke of inclusion, international schools and local schools building links to address the situation we currently have in Hong Kong of having huge waiting lists for international schools yet local primary schools closing down in the local system with not enough students to attend them. My only complaint was that I wanted him to speak for longer.
There were 13 speakers expressing their ideas about education in Hong Kong and asking us to question whether we are doing the right thing for children, the city itself and the future. Each segment will be available to the public via the recordings made on the day so everyone has the opportunity to listen.