Hate Homework

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I hate homework.

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Stop Teasing Me (Beauty and Discrimination)

A complaint against being teased
Stop Teasing Me

“I’m black so what? My skin is black since I was born. I don’t like it and stop teasing me.”

I usually don’t know exactly what the things written in our notebooks are about, but in this case I do. During a lesson, a teacher made a joke about a student’s dark complexion, which greatly annoyed the girl.

I think in all cultures, there is a lot of emphasis on beauty, but one criticism I would make about Hong Kong culture is that the concept of beauty here is very narrowly defined. To be considered beautiful, a girl should have a fair complexion (the paler the better), be slim and preferably have long hair, an oval face and a noticeable crease in the upper-eyelid (called a ‘double-eyelid’); and she should not have an epicanthic fold and definitely not have ‘slanted eyes’ (sorry, I know this term can be offensive, but I haven’t been able to think of a better term to use).

And what is an epicanthic fold? This is another eyelid characteristic. It is an additional fold in the upper eyelid that gives eyes a narrower and/or almond shaped appearance. This, combined with single eyelids gives eyes what people in the West would call an exotic or Asian look (a look which is considered unattractive in many Asian countries).

So that’s one problem—it is very difficult to be considered attractive here as there are so many criteria to meet. If the girl who wrote the above complaint goes overseas, instead of being derided because of her ‘black skin’, she would likely get complimented on her great tan or her beautiful coffee-colored complexion.

Another problem is that people are generally very open and direct when commenting on appearance. It is quite common to hear overweight boys being addressed as ‘Fei Tzai’ (Fat Boy) by  . .  . well  everyone—family members, friends, teachers, strangers. So-called unattractive girls are routinely called ‘Pork Chop’ by their male schoolmates. I’ve heard the girl who wrote the diary entry above being called ‘black girl’ several times.

The defense for this kind of name-calling is that the person being criticized doesn’t really mind or that it’s acceptable because it is part of the culture. I would argue that both of these assumptions are mistaken.

Worst Place in the World

Worst Place in the World

This student must have been having  a particularly bad day. Our school places a strong emphasis on discipline , so students (who tend to be looking for more freedom) and teachers sometimes end up being opponents. Piracy is a misspelling of ‘privacy’, but spelling might not seem that important when you are so angry.

Privacy is a touchy issues in schools. Do teachers have the right to search bags and desks? Do schools have the right to monitor emails or blog postings sent from computers on its premises? Do students give up all rights once they are on school property?

 The names of the teachers have been deleted. This is one of the few occasions when we needed to censor the notebooks (it broke the rule that writers are not to name the people they are attacking). Some of the comments in our notebooks and sketchbooks are very negative. I’m not sure if this is an accurate reflection of reality. After all, if you are happy with your teacher, you can easily express your appreciation directly to him/her. If you are really annoyed, writing your feelings in a diary is probably a safer option.

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The AL (Advanced Level) examinations are taken at the end of Form 7 (Grade 13). They serve as university entrance exams and you must pass all subjects to be eligible for a university degree place. It addition, The higher your grades are, the better your chance is of studying a subject that you actually want to study.

They are very difficult exams (much more difficult than the HKCEE exams that are described in the post Afraid of Everything (https://nobm.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/afraid-of-everything/) and the subjects go into much greater detail than anything I studied in Grade 13 in Canada). Taking the exams puts a lot of pressure on students.

These two exams are being phased out and will soon be replaced by a single exam at the end of Form 6 (Grade 12). One positive thing is that the exams won’t be as difficult as the A-levels. Of course, the drawback is that there is only one exam, so it is sort of an ‘all-or-nothing’ arrangement.

Afraid of Everything

Afraid of Everything
Just want to express my feeling . . . I afraid of everything

The HKCEE (Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination), refers to the public examinations local secondary school students take at the end of Form 5 (Grade 11). They then take another public exam at the end of Form 7 (Grade 13 )—the HKALE (or A-level Exam).

This year, we are seeing the last batch of F5 students (they are just finishing their exams this week) before switching to the new system, which has one public exam at the end of F6.

These Cert. Level exams aren’t that difficult (especially when compared to the insanely difficult A-level exams), but they do cause a lot of stress.

For one thing, if you don’t do well enough, you will have to leave the school you are studying in. A typical school has about 200 Form 5 students, but only 90 Form 6 places, so more than half of its F5 graduates end up getting booted out. They can end up attending another (usually less prestigious) secondary school, pursuing vocational studies or leaving the educational system altogether. For some students, having to change change schools can be a blessing in disguise; they sometimes end up gaining more opportunities to develop their talents at the new school. However, if you are in Form 5 and faced with having to leave behind the friends you have made during the last five years of secondary study . . . well that can be tough.

(And, in some schools, when you come back to pick up your diploma, you go up on stage in your new school’s uniform as the audience takes note of who made it back and who didn’t.)

In addition to worrying about short-term threat of not being able to get a spot in F6, students also have the added burden of knowing that their results in the exam are going to follow them around for life. Most employers ask to see your Cert results. In the civil service application, for example, that seems to be the first thing they are looking for.

So, yeah, sitting for the HKCEE is stressful.

Portfolio = Trouble

40 Entries = Trouble x 40
40 Entries = Trouble x 40

The English Portfolio is a kind of self-directed learning task done by students at our school. Is it really so much trouble (trouble x 40)? If you are interested to see it, you can find it here:  http://aerodrive.lamwoo.edu.hk/~english/portfolio/index.htm

Interestingly, there is a student anti-portfolio (is that too strong a term?) group on Facebook:  English Portfolio去留研討獨立委員會