Principal's Word   

 

Happy Education, do it the Finnish way

"Happy Education" was the idea that rang loud to me during my educational visit to Finland in early May 2017 with representatives of other DSS schools in Hong Kong. Every time I stepped into a Finnish school, I immediately felt an atmosphere of happiness pervading the campus, where our visiting group was enthusiastically welcomed by cheerful and smiling students. They expressed excellent skills of communication, introducing to us clearly the wonders of the campus and how much they enjoyed life at school.

We were also warmly received by the teachers who impressed us with their visionary insights on educating the next generation and their sense of pride choosing education as their lifelong profession. The teaching profession in Finland is as respectable and important in society as doctors, engineers and scientists for they contribute towards nurturing and producing the pillars of tomorrow’s society.

According to Finns, every child is a teachable and the purpose of education is for life. As early as in the Primary, children learn the skills and values of life, such as carpentry and verbal presentation. The correct values of life are instilled in students throughout the academic stages. The learning of English as a secondary language is greatly emphasized in the curriculum as it is viewed as the most important international language in world trade, science and politics. 

How to make a school a happy place where learning is stress-free, inspiring, fun and enjoyable? Here in Finland, students learn by interacting and collaborating with their peers, instead of scrambling and competing with each other for individual recognition or glory. The pressure from examinations and tests is reduced to the minimum throughout the academic career. And a lot of emphasis is laid on meaningful activities during the process of learning.

Finnish education is highly rated as of exemplary standard in the world. It is a wake-up call to Hong Kong’s educators. It is time we revamped the local education system, and relieved it from all those negative flaws and opened up stress-free learning avenues for students. In particular, life values and skills education should be strengthened as a formal subject in the curriculum because students should be adequately equipped intellectually, mentally and physically for life. And teachers, parents and students should play their part in building a happy campus where students enjoy growing and learning with purpose. Together we can make education a happy and memorable journey for the next generation!

 

The importance of breakfast

A very well-known phrase goes like this, “Breakfast is like a King, Lunch is like a Prince and Dinner is like a Pauper.” Let’s see why a good breakfast is so important for us. Needless to say, breakfast is undoubtedly the most important meal of our entire day. Some people have this misconception that skipping breakfast will help them in losing weight. As a result, they skip the most important meal of their day and then indulge in binge eating later in the day when they feel extremely hungry. However, the truth is that not having proper and healthy breakfast can backfire in the longer run and cause adverse effects on our body and mind. Let us learn about the real importance of breakfast.

 

Why is breakfast so important?

The first and foremost thing about breakfast is that it provides our body with the much-needed fuel and energy after an overnight of fasting. This is exactly why this meal is known as Breakfast i.e. breaking the fast. If an individual is skipping his/her breakfast, he/she is clearly trying to kick start his/her day without any fuel. Imagine this as starting your car every morning without any petrol in it. Generally, it is said that breakfast should be consumed within two hours of waking up.

Not only this, food that we consume as a part of our breakfast is also the first source of calcium, iron and Vitamin B that our body gets. Some very crucial proteins, fiber and nutrients are also supplied to our body when we consume breakfast properly and within a time frame of 2-3 hours after waking up. Studies have proven that people who skip breakfast not only fall short of all these nutrients, vitamins and fiber; rather it is also impossible for them to compensate for this loss irrespective of the fact that they may be consuming very healthy food later in the day.

A very good source of vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables are considered to be a prominent part of our breakfast. It is evidently observed that people who consume fresh fruits and vegetables as a part of their breakfast are less likely to gain weight. On the other hand, breakfast skippers tend to nibble on snacks and junk food; hence putting on more weight and leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Ideally, it is said that consuming a banana or a glass of fresh juice is also of great use for the human mind and body.

Breakfast is known for restoring the level of glucose in our body and it is a well-known fact that carbohydrate (a type of glucose) is very crucial for the proper functioning of our brain. It also helps in improving our memory and concentration levels. Last but not least, breakfast is known for relieving stress and improving our overall health.

Long term effects of breakfast also include the inculcation of family values as it is usually consumed with the entire family sitting together. This is what makes it necessary for kids to be taught about the importance of breakfast starting from a very young age.

 

How can breakfast affect you while at school?

Children who have eaten breakfast can concentrate better and have a longer attention span, helping them to learn and study better. They can also perform better physically after eating breakfast as there is more energy available to their muscles. Breakfast can improve behaviour and mood, as children have better concentration and aren’t tired or hungry.

 

Some healthy breakfast options

Having seen the benefits of breakfast, let us check out some healthy breakfast options (as recommended by the Student Health Service in the Department of Health):

  • Vermicelli/macaroni/udon/thin rice noodle in soup, with lean pork and seasonal vegetable
  • Oatmeal with low-fat/skimmed milk and egg + whole-wheat bread with jam
  • Low-fat milk/skimmed milk + unsweetened instant cereals + fresh fruit or no added sugar dried fruit
  • Beef or fish congee with shredded lettuce + steamed vermicelli rolls (less oil, less sauce e.g. soy sauce, sweet sauce)
  • Low-fat/skimmed cheese sandwich + high calcium sugar free/low-sugar soya milk
  • High calcium sugar free/low-sugar soya milk + steamed bun (饅頭)

 

In contrast, some food you should avoid:

  • High sugar food and drinks, such as soft drink, cream cake, packaged lemon tea
  • High fat and high sodium (high salt) food e.g. deep-fried chicken drumstick, sausage, fish balls, luncheon meat, fried egg, instant noodle, potato chips, cookies, deep-fried you tiao, and dim sum, such as spring rolls, steamed pork dumplings (燒賣)
  • Cooked food sold by unlicensed roadside peddlers e.g. fish balls and faked shark’s fin

 

Even minor changes to your breakfast could mean big improvements in your academic performance. So, eat your breakfast wisely and stay energetic!

 

 Harmony in Diversity

Barack Obama has inspired America and the world because of who he is. As the first black president of the United States, he bears testimony to the American dream of equality and opportunity. With Hussein as his middle name, a father from Kenya of Africa and a childhood spent partly in Indonesia, he also represents the cultural and racial diversity that characterises America today.

Take a look at the case of Hong Kong. One of its distinctive features is its success as an international port. It is a meeting point for people of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. Here they intermingle with each other harmoniously regardless of diversities in racial background, culture, religion and lifestyle.

Our School can be seen as a micro-society. Just like Hong Kong, it has a good mix of students of different ethnic backgrounds or nationalities. What has made Hong Kong tick can certainly make our School tick as well.

With the increasing demand of non-Chinese-speaking children studying in our School, it is important for us to create a harmonious learning environment so that students of diverse racial backgrounds can study and grow in a harmonious and supportive environment. Here our students learn to understand, accept, respect and support each other irrespective of racial origin. They also learn to be tolerant and patient with each other as they go through different learning and adjustment problems and the process of integrating into school life.

With the 21st Century comes an era of globalisation. No country can survive by itself without interacting with other countries. The purpose of education is not just to equip students for society, it is to nurture students to become global citizens. Here at St. Margaret's, students should appreciate the experience of exposing themselves to diverse cultures and ways of life so that by the time they graduate and step into society, they know how to come to terms with people of different nationalities in the workplace, whether locally or abroad.

Furthermore, we must value the fact that a multi-cultural campus such as ours facilitates the use of English as a daily living language in and out of the classroom for the obvious reason that students have to rely on one common language -English- to communicate and interact with each other. This is a special advantage other non-diverse schools feel envious of.

I can still recall vividly my sweet secondary school days at St. Rose of Lima's School where I had the opportunity of being taught by several sisters and teachers coming from overseas: English, Scottish, Pole, Australian, Canadian, Indian, Filipino, Portuguese and French. I enjoyed a relationship with them just as close as local teachers and was fascinated by the diverse cultures they introduced to the school. Such experience made me feel totally comfortable and at ease with foreigners in my later years when I went to Canada for my studies at the university.

Now that we have come to realize that diversity is in fact a blessing to our School, we should stand together to make the best of it for our School and our future. Remember: "One World, One Dream".

 

 締結姊妹學校 —— 永興鎮初級中學

 計 劃 背 景


四 川 省 「 五 . 一 二 」 大 地 震 發 生 已 近 三 年 了 , 特 區 政 府 一 直 積 極 參 與 支 援 災 後 重 建 的 工 作 , 而 教 育 局 亦 成 立 了 教 育 及 人 才 培 訓 工 作 小 組 , 負 責 學 校 重 建 的 部 分 。 除 了 學 校 硬 件 重 建 工 程 外 , 教 育 局 亦 啟 動 由 學 界 自 發 開 展 各 項 軟 件 上 的 跟 進 , 如 締 結 姊 妹 學 校 、 學 生 交 流 、 師 資 培 訓 和 校 長 論 壇 等 , 以 促 成 長 遠 而 有 果 效 的 川 港 的 教 育 合 作 。

本 校 有 幸 參 與 「 校 對 校 、 齊 成 長 」 締 結 姊 妹 學 校 計 劃 。 此 計 劃 由 香 港 教 育 局 主 辦 、 伙 伴 教 育 基 金 會 及 聖 保 祿 創 意 交 流 培 訓 中 心 協 辦 , 其 宗 旨 包 括 : 一 、 加 強 各 地 學 校 間 在 教 育 的 互 相 支 持 及 教 學 經 驗 分 享 , 為 培 養 新 一 代 而 共 同 努 力 ; 二 、 透 過 學 校 間 的 合 作 , 提 升 教 學 素 質 , 營 辦 令 人 民 滿 意 的 教 育 ; 三 、 為 參 加 學 校 提 供 地 區 性 及 國 際 性 的 多 元 化 學 習 發 展 機 會 , 促 進 川 港 兩 地 教 育 工 作 者 及 學 生 的 聯 繫 , 加 強 資 訊 交 流 ; 四 、 增 進 川 港 兩 地 教 育 工 作 者 及 學 生 的 友 誼 。

姊 妹 學 校 結 對 儀 式

2 0 1 1 年 1 1 月 1 7 日 為 「 川 港 教 育 論 壇 暨 姊 妹 學 校 結 對 儀 式 」 , 本 校 為 締 結 姊 妹 學 校 的 香 港 代 表 之 一 , 故 此 , 我 代 表 學 校 飛 抵 四 川 成 都 出 席 有 關 的 結 對 儀 式 。 儀 式 於 當 天 上 午 九 時 正 假 體 院 學 術 廳 舉 行 , 由 四 川 省 教 育 廳 副 廳 長 洪 流 先 生 主 持 開 幕 , 並 先 後 由 四 川 省 人 民 政 府 陳 保 明 副 秘 書 長 、 香 港 特 區 政 府 教 育 局 局 長 孫 明 揚 先 生 及 四 川 省 教 育 廳 副 廳 長 唐 小 我 先 生 致 辭 , 接 著 , 便 是 川 港 兩 地 學 校 進 行 簡 單 而 隆 重 的 結 對 簽 字 儀 式 。 本 校 結 對 的 學 校 為 雅 安 市 名 山 縣 永 興 鎮 初 級 中 學 , 我 與 陳 崗 校 長 在 台 上 簽 訂 合 作 協 議 , 並 交 換 禮 品 , 這 亦 標 誌 著 兩 校 正 式 締 結 合 作 。

儀 式 後 , 下 午 進 行 了 「 教 育 論 壇 」 , 論 壇 假 新 華 國 際 酒 店 會 議 廳 舉 行 , 由 四 川 省 教 育 廳 港 澳 台 事 務 辦 公 室 副 主 任 廖 東 暉 先 生 主 持 , 透 過 姊 妹 學 校 校 長 論 壇 及 工 作 坊 , 討 論 未 來 三 年 之 合 作 及 探 訪 工 作 計 劃 。

參 觀 姊 妹 締 結 學 校

2011年11月18日 , 我 到 本 校 結 對 的 姊 妹 學 校 - 雅 安 市 名 山 縣 永 興 鎮 初 級 中 學 參 觀 , 它 是 特 區 政 府 資 助 援 建 的 六 十 九 間 中 的 其 中 一 所 學 校 , 學 校 距 離 成 都 一 百 多 公 里 , 由 成 都 前 往 , 車 程 約 一 個 半 小 時 。

該 校 校 舍 的 重 建 , 已 初 步 完 成 , 校 內 有 多 座 簇 新 的 教 學 樓 , 亦 有 實 驗 室 、 飯 堂 、 學 生 宿 舍 、 廣 場 及 運 動 場 等 。 但 學 校 內 部 的 設 施 仍 見 簡 陋 , 課 室 內 只 有 黑 板 和 殘 破 的 桌 椅 , 可 見 教 學 設 施 仍 有 待 改 善 。 學 校 可 提 供 三 百 六 十 個 宿 位 給 學 生 , 現 今 宿 舍 已 建 成 , 有 待 添 置 室 內 設 施 。

該 校 現 時 共 有 十 班 , 包 括 初 一 級 三 班 、 初 二 級 三 班 、 初 三 級 四 班 , 每 班 約 四 十 人 。 全 校 教 師 共 有 四 十 七 人 , 其 中 校 長 與 三 名 教 師 均 為 國 內 優 秀 教 師 。 另 有 兩 名 保 安 及 一 名 職 員 。 學 校 為 全 日 制 學 校 ,就 讀 於 此 校 的 學 生 ,學 費 均 獲 得 豁 免 ,而 其 他 雜 費 ,亦 由 四 川 政 府 資 助 。

參 觀 當 天 , 我 有 機 會 進 入 課 室 觀 課 。 在 英 語 課 堂 上 , 教 師 表 現 相 當 投 入 , 充 滿 教 學 熱 誠 , 學 生 亦 勤 奮 好 學 , 表 現 積 極 認 真 , 當 然 , 英 語 的 教 與 學 仍 有 改 善 的 空 間 。 此 外 , 當 天 亦 正 值 是 學 校 的 家 長 日 , 我 看 到 所 有 家 長 集 合 在 學 校 廣 場 , 聽 取 校 長 的 訓 勉 , 可 見 國 內 學 校 已 開 始 重 視 家 校 的 合 作 和 交 流 。 在 學 校 內 , 我 隨 處 可 見 有 關 德 行 的 勉 勵 語 句 , 可 見 學 校 十 分 重 視 學 生 品 格 上 的 培 養 。

兩 校 的 交 流 與 合 作

此 計 劃 的 目 的 , 旨 在 促 進 川 港 兩 校 在 教 學 上 的 交 流 , 藉 以 提 升 教 學 的 素 質 , 而 兩 校 在 未 來 的 三 年 合 作 計 劃 中 , 實 有 著 互 助 互 利 的 關 係 。

在 本 校 方 面 , 首 先 , 本 校 會 致 力 協 助 姊 妹 學 校 提 升 英 語 教 學 的 水 平 。 由 於 本 校 為 一 所 歷 史 悠 久 的 英 文 中 學 , 故 此 可 以 利 用 本 校 在 英 語 教 學 上 的 經 驗 , 透 過 教 師 交 流 、 教 學 分 享 , 協 助 姊 妹 學 校 進 行 教 師 的 培 訓 , 以 提 升 英 語 的 教 學 效 能 。 其 次 , 有 見 於 姊 妹 學 校 欠 缺 課 外 活 動 的 安 排 , 本 校 亦 希 望 以 籌 辦 「 其 他 學 習 經 歷 」 的 經 驗 , 與 姊 妹 學 校 多 作 分 享 及 交 流 , 以 協 助 姊 妹 學 校 安 排 不 同 種 類 的 課 外 活 動 , 讓 學 生 的 學 習 生 活 更 多 元 化 。 此 外 , 由 於 姊 妹 學 校 的 學 生 均 來 自 農 村 家 庭 , 生 活 簡 單 樸 素 , 故 此 , 學 生 普 遍 未 有 進 行 完 善 社 交 禮 儀 訓 練 。 本 校 希 望 協 助 姊 妹 學 校 開 設 社 交 禮 儀 課 程 , 讓 學 生 得 到 更 全 面 的 發 展 。

在 姊 妹 學 校 方 面 , 由 於 四 川 自 古 已 有 「 天 府 之 國 」 的 美 譽 , 資 源 豐 富 , 文 化 深 厚 , 而 茶 、 四 合 院 等 文 化 更 是 珍 貴 的 文 化 產 物 , 故 此 , 姊 妹 學 校 可 與 本 校 多 作 交 流 和 分 享 , 讓 本 校 學 生 對 中 國 的 文 化 有 更 深 入 的 認 識 , 同 時 亦 培 養 學 生 對 祖 國 的 情 懷 。

 

 

Reflections on School Visits in Sydney, Australia

Recently I have had the opportunity of joining an educational tour to Sydney, Australia, organized by the Direct Subsidy Scheme School Council with the main objective of looking at the latest developments of education over there and the multi-cultural education, in particular.

The schools and universities visited were as follows:

  • Oxford Falls Grammer School
  • St. Paul International College
  • The Catholic Learning Community of Blessed John XXIII
    (John XXIII Catholic Primary School and St. Marks Catholic College)
  • Blue Mountains Grammer School
  • Cherrybrook Technology High School
  • Macquarie University
  • Sydney Institute of Business and Technology
  • Sydney University and Taylors College
The experience was fantastic and enlightening, with much to learn and much to think about.

One most striking similarity between the schools visited and our school was the growing emphasis on multi-cultural education  - a good mix of students from different countries or national origins with the locals.

This has been a popular trend since the arrival of the 21st century. There is greater and greater mobility of peoples between countries for livelihood, work or studies. The speed of globalization is stunning. Schools have now taken the new role of preparing students not only for life in society but also for world citizenship.

Most of the schools visited emphasized that a unique teaching and learning environment was provided. Cultural awareness, academic challenge and the development of a caring and considerate environment were their prime concerns. In an increasingly globalized world, these schools offered opportunities for young people from diverse backgrounds to come together in a safe environment in which they could learn from one another. Through sharing common experiences and goals, students learned to respect one another's differences and appreciate their shared humanity.

Another resemblance with our school was that all the students wore neat and tidy uniform to school. They appeared cheerful and enjoying school life. The effort of the schools in nurturing personal grooming of students had really paid off. One of the schools prided itself on these key attributes being: educated, knowledge, faith and love of God, respectful, servant hearted, diligent and hope-filled.

One noteworthy point was the unbelievably huge and extensive space of the school campuses visited. Despite the enormous space, most rooms and halls were built for multi-purposes which facilitated flexibility and creativity in learning and teaching. However, it would be impossible for Hong Kong schools to develop like this because of the dense population and soaring land prices.

Another thing that impressed me was the student ambassadors, who were so welcoming, polite and enthusiastic in answering questions from the visiting principals. They guided us round the campus and introduced the school features and told us how they felt about their schools. Most of these student ambassadors were able to demonstrate a high level of English presentation skills with great self-confidence and a strong sense of belonging to their schools. They performed much better than Hong Kong students in this respect. Therefore our girls should take note of this and try to improve English public speaking skills by constant practice. Such skills will help them to cut a competitive edge in their future careers.

Collaborative learning among student groups was widely practised in one of the schools. It was common to see groups of 4 to 6 students engaged in their project study here and there on campus. Such kind of learning was facilitated by maximising the use of information technology.

The foundation course is a unique education system in Australia with the aim of providing a second chance for students who fail to gain direct entry to universities because of not being up to standard. It takes about 18 months to have the course completed. At Taylors College, surprisingly the majority of students are Chinese from Hong Kong and mainland China.

In conclusion, the experience of school visits in Sydney, Australia has reinforced St. Margaret's belief in moving towards internationalization and creating a diverse but harmonious learning environment for students. Furthermore we will step up our efforts in nurturing students to be multi-lingual world citizens. I believe we will achieve our goals with the staunch support from parents, the Education Bureau and the community.