Monday, 17 November 2014

Atsuna: Why aren't there disciplinary teachers in universities?

Why aren't there disciplinary teachers in universities?
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Written by Atsuna
Original: http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/11-13-2014/19655 



At the recent Commencement Ceremony of Baptist University of Hong Kong (HKBU),  the Vice-chancellor (VC), Albert CHAN Sun-chi, refused to hand out graduation certificates to students who held up yellow umbrellas on stage. He told them they should "respect themselves".

As a CPPCC deputy, Chan believes there should be "big principles" by which a school develops itself. But should this "principle" be one of "illustrating illustrious virtue", or following instructions from the Communist Party like a flunkey? No wonder Confucius said, “Men of antiquity studied to improve themselves, men today study to impress others.” Now when it comes to getting education, acquiring knowledge plays second fiddle to learning how to make concessionary steps and to mentally "castrate oneself as if he is a eunuch".

After the ceremony, HKBU issued a statement saying participants should respect the views of others who were in attendance.. Tang Fei, the chairman of the HKFEW (a pro-China educationalist federation), said students should not deliberately embarrass other parties, as this was not behavior expected of people who had received higher education.

I do not know how can holding an umbrella be "not respecting those at the scene" nor understand how this embarrassed Albert Chan. Is he physically disabled? Moreover, exactly because students have received higher education, they should not tighten their lips and "consider the faces of the seniors". This might be a "solemn" response, but it is just hypocrites who go with the flow. Albert Tam, a fiction writer, says: "It is a VC's responsibility, not right, to hand the certificate to students. Students can refuse to receive it, but if the VC refuses to hand the certificate to them - then he's not doing his job."

Yet, many Hongkongers are "villagers" who are a long way to being mature, and who are afraid of the "crime” of being disobedient. They believe those "adults" who have the say are always right, and blame those "bad kids" who dare to challenge the authorities. In a society like this, a university might then need disciplinary teachers to nit-pick students on Facebook when they use foul language, or to withdraw the right of graduates to receive their certificate if they make a silent statement on stage.

And if that is still not enough? Better learn from the vast piece of land across the border! Liaoning Daily, a CCP mouthpiece, issued an open letter to all university teachers in China, entitled Teachers, Please Do Not Say China in This Way after a "decoy operation" in the classrooms of 20 universities in Shenyang, Beijing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shanghai etc that lasted over two weeks. They reported that they found out most teachers acclaimed the separation of powers in the west, and treated "not entering the party" as a stylish thing. The editor wrote: "Being pessimistic should never be the 'main rhythm' of a mature society." But the reality says otherwise. The more mature a democratic society is, the more pessimistic criticism it will hear. In exuberant authoritarian states, on the other hand, you are bombarded by one-sided praise.

The end of the article asked teachers to "treat China well", because students were "sunflowers" who faced and listened to their teachers as the sun. HKBU and PolyU are just treating undergrads as secondary school students, while the place above Hong Kong is even blatantly treating them as primary school students who just happen to inhabit adult bodies. Because in their eyes, university is just a place to get a certificate. Their view is that students who are eager to learn just care about marks and grades because these will determine whether they can go on to a PhD or a successful career. They care little wether you are brave or charismatic.

Merely emphasising that "undergrads are just students", but not treating them as individuals in a fair manner, is the consequence of a place with the wrong ‘metabolism. Students should not listen to these Colonel Blimps.

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