School teachers update knowledge, skills

Shiona Mackenzie

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What's wrong with pre-marital sex?" "Why should Nicholas Tse (a Cantonese pop singer) be found guilty of an offence if no one has really been hurt or harmed?" Nowadays, students tend to approach their teachers for advice on moral issues and dilemmas they come across in their daily lives. Making a debut in CityU's sixth Teachers Update Course (TUC) from June to August this year, 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.

"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.

To meet the ever-changing challenges of a knowledge-based society in the 21st century, it is important for teachers to keep up with the latest developments in society through self-improvement and life-long learning. Since its inception in 1998, TUC, a programme for secondary school teachers in the twin areas of subject content and pedagogy, aims to meet the needs of frontline teachers looking for professional development opportunities. 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."

"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."

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
  • 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.

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 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, 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. Plans include designing a new feedback form and inviting secondary school teachers to form focus groups.

Knowledge is important for teachers; even more so is enthusiasm. Both can be found in CityU's Teachers Update Course. (For details, please visit:


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