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Theory & Praxis on Student Development


Adolescence has often been referred to as a stormy period of life. Young people at this stage experience not only a rapid physical growth, but also a drastic psychological change. The developmental process of this transitional period has a long-lasting impact on the achievements of the life that follows. According to Eric Erikson, 6 – 12 years old is the period of self-affirmation. Children having good performances will become more and more diligent. On the contrary, low achievers will deny their own ability and choose to give up. Age 13 – 19 is the period of searching for self-identity. Those who find their roles among their peers and the opposite-gender group can healthily probe for their pathways of life toward self-actualization. Those who fail to do so will deny their own personal value, leading to a confused life and getting lost in the social ebbs.

As secondary school teachers, we are accompanying adolescents in their stormy period of life and giving them guidance. Many of our students could not affirm themselves, at least academically, in their primarily schooling. Therefore we have to give them acceptance and affirmation during their junior high period, so that they may become self-confident persons. During their senior high period, we have to give them rooms to stretch their potentials and become leaders, so as to develop positive self-images and plan for their own careers with confidence.

2、 School Ethos

The objective of student development is not limited to inhibiting bad behaviours, implementing school rules, and helping students to study. Our greater mission is to help this group of youngsters entrusted to us to develop good and pure values as well as to build up healthy life styles. Good and pure values prevent them from getting lost in this crooked generation, and healthy life styles help them discipline themselves.

The Scriptures teach us that only good trees bring forth good fruit, and from the heart flows the spring of life. Intimidation, threat, humiliation and punishment cannot change the heart. Only with an aroma of love can the hopes and dreams of young people be awakened. Renewal of life comes only through love.

The Scriptures also teach us that “Let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth.” Love has to be acted out to an extent that the recipients can feel it. And love has to be expressed with tolerance, trust, hope and patience. Love never ends.

Based on the above belief and our basic principles, we purposely devise the 5A School Ethos through which our students may be transformed with a renewal of mind. A school ethos can only be cultivated through the collaboration of all teachers. Only when the entire teaching staff holds the same belief can the school ethos be established on a solid basis. Policies and strategies can be bodies without soul. The 5A ethos has to be established among the staff team through mutual exhortation before this spirit of love be cultivated among the students.
  1. Acceptance: Every one of us has limitations and weaknesses, but these do not affect our dignity in the eyes of the Lord. Therefore we should accept everyone despite his/her blemishes and discrepancies, and associate ourselves with the lowly and help each of them in accordance with their weaknesses.
    Accepting students does not mean that we have to agree to each of their actions. We have to set boundaries for our students, and penalties will be delivered whenever they cross the boundaries. But wrong actions do not debase our dignity as human beings which is divinely bestowed, and we should not humiliate students for their misbehaviours. On the contrary, we should lead them to goodness through questioning, reminding, exhorting, communicating, teaching, inspiring and discussing, etc.
  2. Affirmation: If acceptance focuses on students’ personal values, affirmation focuses on their ability and strength. We have to affirm the glamour of students, even though they may be transitory, so that they may understand our expectation, or even God’s expectation, toward them.
    Each one is unique and bestowed with different gifts. Each one is talented and capable. Glamour of life should not be compared with one another. Whenever improvement is demonstrated, affirmation should be given. Therefore we will use all opportunities to praise and award our students, and provide various accesses for them to discover their potentials and exhibit their talents. But much more important is the attitude of teachers toward them. One word of affirmation of the teacher is stronger than many awards.
  3. Amity: As a community, the school needs mutual respect. To have mutual respect, we need to observe social rules, to restraint our lusts and to respect the rights of others. Only then can we establish a harmonious community of love. We encourage our students to love this large family and protect the prestige of all students by disciplining themselves to be virtuous persons. Thus we are not merely emphasizing the observation of school rules, but to respect the rules with a heart of amity.
    This does not mean that we will implement the school rules leniently. Instead we solemnly set boundaries and firmly executing penalties, so as to restrain evil and manifest justice. But of more importance is a clear explication of the spirit behind the school rules and rational analyses of rights and wrongs, so as to lead the transgressors to the right path.
  4. Adoration: Everything good comes from God. So we have to stir up among our students a spirit of thanksgiving, acknowledging that “we love because God first loves us.” If students firmly believe that God is looking after them, they would be carefree even in the face of adversities, and can lead their lives with joy. Furthermore, we have to let our students understand that, when they have received such abundant grace from God, they should also offer their youthful strength to care for the world and contribute to the community, so that they may find their purpose of life through serving society.
    Thanksgiving and social requital evolve from adoration of God. We emphasize Christian education. Hence worship and pastoral care of churches are important elements of our student development program. We also emphasize social experience and services, so as to help our students cultivate a sentiment towards those in need. The essence of all these activities is to instil love in the hearts of our students.
  5. Aspiration: We believe that God has a plan for each one of us, and He wants us to live an abundant life in accordance with our talents and opportunities. So we have to guide our students to search for their goals of life, help them achieve the goals, and encourage them to do their best as a response to the love of God.
    Therefore we value career guidance, providing multiple pathways of development for students, and offering leadership training so as to stretch their potentials.

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