Speech by Mrs Fanny Law, GBS, JP
at the 10th Graduation Ceremony
of the Hong Kong Institute of Education
on Friday, 19 November 2004
Professor Morris, Mr. Ng, Professor Chan, Professor Grossman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Parents and Graduates,
The theme of the 10th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, “Passion for Education”, depicts education as a continuous undertaking and a career of the heart. Today is the 10th Graduation Ceremony of the Institute and I am much delighted to have been invited here to celebrate with you this meaningful and memorable occasion. First of all, may I congratulate all the graduates on their academic achievements that serve to lay a sturdy foundation for fulfilling their aspirations.
Dear graduates, do you still recall the excitement and joy with which you set foot on the Tai Po campus a few years back? In the blink of an eye, graduation day has come. With different challenges ahead in your teaching career, do you feel like an eagle soaring above this brave new world, confident and free? Have you ever thought about what your students will say of you in 30 or 40 years’ time, at your retirement dinner?
Over the last decade, the education sectors in Hong Kong , the Mainland and other countries have all experienced fundamental changes. There is a shared vision that the well-being of students is the primary concern of education. It is incumbent upon teachers to help students to develop their potentials and strengths fully so that they can cope with the various challenges in life. Education is also for the nurturing of quality successors for society. It has been said that, as education is the foundation of any major national programme of lasting importance, so are teachers the foundation of any education programme of lasting importance. Put it differently, the training of quality teachers is the first step to national prosperity and social stability. In an ever-changing knowledge-based society, teachers themselves must constantly renew their thinking and mindset. They should aim to facilitate student learning and critically look at the learning outcome as the focal point of evaluating their teaching effectiveness. Teachers today are also keen learners. They must be able to keep abreast of the times. They must have the courage to be innovative, embrace challenges and adhere to the core value “All for students, for the good of students”. As the famous quotation from Harvard goes, the honour of a university does not stem from the size of its campus or enrollment, but the quality of alumni it is able to produce generation after generation. Led by Professor Morris, the Hong Kong Institute of Education imposes high expectations on its teaching staff and students. We are delighted to see the ever-improving quality of the Institute’s graduates. Indeed, they have ushered in a new impetus to the teaching force in Hong Kong .
In recent years, the dwindling student population has threatened the long-time stability of the teaching profession. Education graduates may have worries about their career prospects. Dear graduates, our labour market has always advocated free competition in favour of those who can prove themselves distinguished. In this regard, your alumni have a proven track record of being highly competitive. Most of them have earned the praise and appreciation of school heads. Beyond the SAR, I am sure that we all share the pride of one of your graduates who scored top honours in the 5th National Young Teachers Competition in the teaching of reading. Every trade in Hong Kong is now facing vigorous competition, severe trials and the challenges brought about by the restructuring of the economy. The education sector is no exception. To succeed, one has to be truly outstanding. He or she has to be far-sighted and well-prepared for the unpredictable future. As Colonel Yang Liwei, China ’s first astronaut, says, “Opportunities only knock on the door of those who are prepared.”
Dear graduates, most of you will be working as teachers in schools. The actual work environment will inevitably be different from what you experienced as a student of the Institute. Your job as a teacher simply marks the beginning of a new phase of learning. You will have to learn how to practically deal with individual differences. You will have to learn how to establish a good rapport and mutual trust with students, parents and fellow teachers alike. You will have to learn how to handle problems such as stress from work and time management. At the dawn of this new phase, try to seek advice from your fellow teachers with modesty and sincerity. Learn to appreciate the wisdom distilled by your colleagues from their experiences, reflect on it, and put it into practice. Remember, you are also bringing new thinking and learning to your school. You are a vitalizing force to the growth and development of your school. From the wealth of education research, we learn that teachers must set good examples by putting words into action if schools were to make any real improvement. Concerted efforts and learning from one another will help establish a community devoted to learning. It is only by doing so that more students will benefit from education.
Mr Ang Lee, director of the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by his alma mater, the New York University , years after his graduation. When addressing the congregation, he was reported to have said, “ I did not acquire much knowledge here (at the New York University). For the little that I picked up, I have long forgotten.” He then hastened to add, “What I do learn here is daring to try, and that learning knows no limits.” Underneath the sense of humour and self-mockery, we can see how futile learning without a personal goal can be. On the other hand, we can also see what difference it will make when one has made up one’s mind to learn actively. Imagine one day your students echoing similar words as Ang Lee’s to you, would you consider your teaching to have been successful? Would you consider it to have produced a positive impact on the students? With the emphasis on ‘all-round education’ today, the imparting of knowledge is no more than a basic element in teaching. To help students lay the foundation of success, we must practise what we preach. We must demonstrate how we enjoy learning and encourage them to do likewise. We must stimulate their creativity and develop their potentials, so that they can cultivate an active and independent life-long learning capacity. Only in this way can we truly equip our students well to cope with the rapid social changes.
Dear graduates, please take this to heart: whatever qualification is conferred on you today, it only represents one of your past accomplishments. What determines your future is your ceaseless efforts to learn. Today is a milestone in your life. It is also a memorable day for every teacher of the Institute and every parent, because the cultivation of talents requires the concerted efforts of many parties and takes many years to harvest. It is my sincere wish that every one of you will work even harder as you embark on a new journey in life. Have lofty aspirations. Be dedicated to education. Endurance, optimism and perseverance are what your need in your profession. Be a good teacher who is both professional and independent. Be persistent as well as accommodating. Devote yourself to your school and strive hard to achieve your ambition. The professional status of teachers in future hinges on your contribution and efforts today.
Thank you very much.