School teachers refresh knowledge and skills

Grace Ho

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To meet the ever-changing challenges of a knowledge-based society in the 21st century, it is important to keep up with the latest developments in society through self-improvement and life-long learning. Frontline teachers duly have to look for opportunities for professional development.

From June to August this year, CityU is offering its sixth Teachers Update Course (TUC), a professional development programme for secondary school teachers in the twin areas of subject content and pedagogy. Subjects include: Biology, Chemistry, Chinese Language and Culture, Computer Studies, English Language Teaching, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, and Principles of Accounting. (For details, please visit:

"CityU is committed to supporting the continuous professional development of secondary school teachers in Hong Kong. We also advocate life-long education, and actively cultivate links between secondary schools and University," said Professor Edmond Ko, Vice-President for Undergraduate Education. "The TUC is a good opportunity for secondary school teachers to experience a quality teaching environment and the resources at CityU. It also provides an ideal platform for educators to enhance their subject knowledge and teaching methods through the exchange of ideas."

Since CityU initiated the TUC in 1998, this highly commended programme has been popular with local teachers. Over the past five years, some 5,000 teachers from hundreds of secondary schools have participated, describing the TUC as "practical", "stimulating", and "mind-broadening".

TUC 2003 is, for the first time, organized by CityU's Education Development Office (EDO). It will feature three themes: "Innovations in Teaching and Learning," "Ethics Education" and "Preparing Students for Life-long Learning." Seminar and workshop topics include: problem-based learning, creative writing, Web-based teaching, higher order thinking skills, learning outcomes assessment, values education, moral reasoning, life-long learning, student development and the analysis of ethical problems. The seminars and workshops will be facilitated by over 40 academic and senior staff of the University, who will share their experiences, insights and research findings in these areas with the participants.

Making a debut in this year's TUC, for example, is "Moral Reasoning and Analysis of Ethical Problems," a workshop conducted by Dr Julia Tao, Associate Professor in the Department of Public and Social Administration, and her colleagues. The workshop is supported by one of the University's Teaching Development Projects on moral education in Hong Kong.

Nowadays, students sometimes approach their teachers for advice on issues they come across in their daily lives: "What's wrong with pre-marital sex?" "Why should Nicholas Tse (Cantonese pop singer) be found guilty of an offence if no one has really been hurt or harmed?" "These problems are moral issues and dilemmas. Teachers have to have special skills in moral reasoning and a high degree of moral sensibility before they can guide their students to think through tough moral choices," explains Dr Tao. "In our workshop, we will help teachers better understand difficult moral issues and introduce them to more creative and sensible ways of dealing with moral problems and dilemmas."

Another innovation in this year's TUC is enhancing web technology to facilitate registration, admission, as well as other logistical arrangements. In order to help the speakers meet participants' needs, the EDO has prepared concrete data on the participants' backgrounds, such as post, years of teaching experience, subjects they teach, and their preferred medium of instruction. With a good understanding of the participants, it is hoped that CityU staff will design suitable course content catering to participants' needs and expectations.

In addition, the TUC organizers will also consider ways to strengthen the evaluation process, hoping to collect more effective feedback from the participants. This information will be used to improve the course in the future, and if possible, develop follow-up activities to nurture further collaboration between CityU and secondary schools.

Knowledge is important for teachers; even more so is enthusiasm. Both can be found in CityU's Teachers Update Course.


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