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Story of the Month - April 2020

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

學生在曲奇上畫出曼陀羅圖案 (照片來源: 鄧偉文)

Students drawing mandala on the cookies (Photo credit: Tang Wai Man)

The Education Bureau of Hong Kong revised its Secondary Education Curriculum Guide in 2017 and updated its one of the seven learning goals for the students – “to become an informed and responsible citizen with a sense of national and global identity… and respect for pluralism in society”. Schools are encouraged to achieve this goal through values education and implement it by providing students with holistic learning experiences, namely integrating the elements of cognition, affection, and action.


In response to the updated learning goal of pluralism, many school teachers who are responsible for other learning experiences (OLE) and moral and civic education have looked into the topics of ethnic minorities (EM) in Hong Kong. However, when the guideline discusses the value of respect for others, it merely advises students to accept the fact that everyone is unique. Dr. Tang Wai Man, Department of Anthropology, who is interested in intercultural education, thinks that this approach is rather passive in understanding ethnic relations. It also fails to achieve the goal of integrative learning. Dr. Tang thus referred to his earlier experience in another intercultural project, Multiculturalism in Action, which emphasizes partnership, mutual empowerment, and sustainability in its model, to devise some new intercultural projects to work with the school teachers.


One of the projects is to make mandala cookies with students. Many ethnic minority (EM) women in Hong Kong have good cooking skills and are creative in cooking. Dr. Tang invited two of them to conduct an intercultural workshop for a group of secondary school students. They innovated some cookies with mandala patterns and multiple flavors, such as ginger and cinnamon, and added a short description to explain how these elements are symbolizing South Asian cultures. Furthermore, they prepared some plain cookies and different colors of icing pens for the students in the workshop to let them draw their mandala on the cookies.


The workshop was held during the lunch hour, and it ran successfully. The students enjoyed the process of drawing mandala and were impressed by their EM teachers. One student said, “the cookies are too beautiful to eat… I hope that the teachers can come again…” And the EM teachers were also impressed by the students. One of the teachers said, “I didn’t expect that the boys would also be interested in drawing cookies… they were so focused…” In this one-hour program, the students acquired new cultural knowledge, actively participated in another culture, and socially engaged with people from another ethnic background. This aligns with the goal of integrative learning of cultural pluralism. However, it is challenging to sustain this kind of approach under the current education system since it only sets 10-15% of school time on OLE, and moral and civic education is only one of the five components in OLE. 



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