Superstar Teacher (Here We Go)

When I was a lad, I had a poster of Paul Scholes on my wall and a Baby Spice badge on my jacket. All perfectly normal… But kids in Hong Kong don’t hero-worship pop stars, actors or footballers, oh no. The idols here are exam tutors! Their pictures are on the back and sides of every bus in the city, or on massive billboards where they stand in tuxedos and cocktail dresses and flash their gleaming teeth. Take a look…

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In school playgrounds, boys swap Tutor Top Trumps – in which one superstar tutor trumps another using skills like ‘Homework Difficulty’ and ‘Voice Projection’. Teenage girls cover their bedroom walls with posters of (Intensive) Kenneth Lau and scribble the names of famous tutors in place of their own surnames to see how they sound. Tens of thousands pour in to Hong Kong Coliseum to hold up flashing messages and listen to their favourite tutors; but the relentless screaming from the fans means that you can’t make out a word they are saying. Paparazzi magazines are fueled by snaps of a knicker-less Dr Susan Yip or Thomas Wang caught en-flagrante in a public toilet…

Perhaps I exaggerate a little, but the star-tutoring craze does highlight one big problem with the educational system in Hong Kong: they are a symptom of the crazy amount of pressure that is lumped on to students here, which removes all the wonder and enjoyment from the learning process and reduces it to slaving 12 hours a day towards a set of exams that will determine the rest of your life. Or maybe I’m just jealous because I’m also a teacher yet have never been seen on the side of the 81A.

Anyway, the BBC also did an article on this the other week, and this is the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20085558

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2 comments

  1. Angel · January 30, 2013

    Hi! I’m a local student in Hong Kong.
    Maybe you’re exaggerating a little bit in your second paragragh, because I am 17 and I’ve never seen or heard of my friends doing those kinds or things.
    I’m having my mock exams now and I felt sad for my teachers when most of my friends putting their trust on the exam tutors.
    There are 35 people in my class and I think i’m the only one who don’t go to tutorial classes.
    Are you teaching in Hong Kong under the NET scheme? Wish you good luck!:)

    • whatididinhongkong · February 3, 2013

      Haha, yes, perhaps I did exaggerate a bit. But I feel sorry for Hong Kong students and the massive pressure that is put on them to pass their exams. You must end up viewing learning as a very negative experience…?

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