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Positive Education for Optimising Self-actualisation Talent Development for Benefitting Communities

Positive Education for Optimising Self-actualisation
Talent Development for Benefitting Communities


Author: Mr Wong Lik Hak
Principal, S.K.H. Bishop Baker Secondary School

There is a touching story about the genius inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) circulated on the Internet. One day, little Edison brought home a letter from school and gave it to his mother. ‘My teacher told me to only give it to you. What does it say?’ Having opened the letter, his mother read the letter aloud, with her eyes full of tears: ‘Your son is a genius. The school is extremely inadequate for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers for training him up further. Please teach him yourself!’

On this very day, Edison ended his brief school life, which had lasted for three months only, and started his tenacious pursuit of knowledge by self-study and his mother's teaching. Many years later, his mother had passed away and he himself then became a world-changing inventor. One day Edison accidentally found the letter which the school had addressed to his mother. He unfolded it and was so stirred up when he read it: ‘Your son is addled. We won’t allow him to come to school anymore. He is expelled!’ After that, Edison wrote in his diary: ‘Thomas Alva Edison was once an addled child but became the genius of the century by his mother’s teaching.’

Edison was expelled from school at an early age and suffered from hearing impairment later in his life. Contemporary historians and medical professionals speculated that he might also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Nevertheless, with his unremitting efforts and the positive education strategy imbued with never-ending love from his mother Nancy M. Elliott, Edison lived an extraordinary life with his talents unleashed one after another. Patents were applied for over a thousand items by Edison, some of which were invented by him while some were improved versions of old designs. Obviously, the positive language Nancy spoke to Edison not only fundamentally transformed Edison’s life, but also ultimately brought along epoch-making changes to the world, as Edison's achievements have broadened the human horizons and enriched the audio-visual entertainment in the world of movies and music.

With the continuous enhancement in the adaptability of education systems worldwide, schools nowadays need to work hard to cater for the learning differences among students. They may range from underachievers with special education needs to gifted students with exceptionally high IQs or from generalists with all-round development to specialists with specific talents. In reality, however, the majority of students with whom teachers are educating should be those who appear to be ordinary yet possessing lots of unearthed potentials. Though their learning needs, talents and family backgrounds vary, they all share the same mission of creating a better world!

Then how should we optimise the education effectiveness in such a heterogeneous educational environment?

A favourable environment for growth and learning would surely be created if all teachers could adhere to their original commitment to transforming students’ lives, uphold their passion for professionalism and believe in the power of love generated from teamwork. Yet there is another more important factor: the positive language used in daily dialogues between parents and children or between teachers and students. Such language can help children/students to enrich their intrinsic resources for empowering interpretation as well as cognitive-behavioural changes from whatever positive or negative experiences in life, thus nurturing them to progress from cognitive toughness at the conscious level to enhanced resilience and continuous self-empowerment at the subconscious level.

I hope that parents, teachers and those who care about the younger generation will grow up with our young people, learn together to use positive language often and demonstrate positive outlook in life so that our younger generation may live well in the present and strive for a future world that values coexistence, prosperity and ownership for all.

About the author

Mr Wong Lik Hak
Principal, S.K.H. Bishop Baker Secondary School
Vice-Chairman of Executive Committee, The Conference of S.K.H. Secondary School Heads
Member of the Executive Committee, The Yuen Long District Secondary School Heads Association
Member of the Committee on Gifted Education, Curriculum Development Council 
Update Date:2022-05-31