Liberal studies 'broadens horizons'

Local | 11 Jul 2019 12:53 pm

The Chair Professor of Sociology at Education University, Stephen Chiu, dismissed claims that the liberal studies was radicalizing students, saying he believes the subject has, instead, helped them to develop important skills, RTHK reports. 
“I survey over 2,500 Form five students some years ago, about 70 percent of them say that they liked ls and they enjoy the content and the mode of teaching in the subject,” he told RTHK’s Janice Wong. 
“Overall, I think the liberal studies experiment, if I put it that way, is a success – in broadening students’ horizons, in developing 21st century skills, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity. All these we feel that are useful for their future development,” he said. 
“And also for helping them to develop inclusiveness, tolerance, open-mindedness … I think which is critical for students to equip them to face the very sharp social and political contradiction in society,” Chiu added. 
Chiu's comment comes after pro-government figures, including former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, blamed liberal studies at secondary schools for encouraging violent protests among young people during the recent anti-extradition demonstrations. 
Chiu said the subject is much needed in a divided society like Hong Kong. 
“We really need students to exercise their critical thinking, to have reflective power, to screen false information that they receive from the internet, so that they can make sensible and reasonable decision as a 21st century citizen of Hong Kong,” he said. 
Chiu doesn’t think teachers are using the subject to influence young people’s political views. 
“Overall, teachers are able to follow their professional conducts, and to suspend – to a large extent – their own personal views on these matters,” he said. “Teachers are all ordinary citizens that may have their own standpoint one way or the other, but I feel that, and my observation is that teachers are able to handle this professionally.” 
He also said the subject should continue to be a compulsory subject with some fine-tuning of the mode of assessment, and more resources should be provided for schools and teachers to improve the content.

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