Chapter 21 My schooling

Teaching in Form Three for forty years, I look back at my own schooling which has had an influence on the way I teach! To begin with, my schooling was vastly inferior to what we now have in Hong Kong. I do consider the quality of education in Hong Kong to be world class, in spite of its failings.

Schooling has to be seen in the context of the society it is in. We have to understand our social and cultural context. Education in Hong Kong in the 1960s was different not only in the books we used, but in the syllabus we taught and the public examinations prepared for. Education to the age of fourteen has been compulsory since the middle seventies for all. In previous decades, education was restricted to a minority who could afford it. Now secondary schooling is not the privileged of the few. Unfortunately, being able to go to school is no longer looked up as a privilege.

My schooling started with kindergarten in Damascus in 1935. For my first three years, everything was in French. There was no English boy around. My classmates were all French and Christian Arab. I remember young Irish Sr. Donald who taught me to play the piano.

We left Damascus in 1939. Since then I was only back once in Damascus, and as a priest in 1967. I could find no one in the whole city who remembered either me or any of my parents. As I called on Ecole St.Jeanne D’Arc, the school I was at in 1935-8, I found that its name was now Dar El Salam. It had been taken over by the Syrian government, but the Franciscan Sisters were permitted to stay on to teach and manage the school. For me, the most exciting was that I found Sr. Donald. She was still there but now an old nun with a stick. She did not remember me, but told me that when she came as a young Nun, the Superior told her to teach the piano to a little “English boy”. She remonstrated that she did not know how to play the piano so she had to learn – to teach me!

We moved to Jerusalem in 1940 where there was the convenience of a nearby English school just started for English children by the Sisters of Zion. I was there from 1940-44. The school was in a converted newly built private house, with sixty pupils in seven classes. I remember an English Sr. Ancilla, who had to cane me. She left the Convent soon after! The nervous, troublesome little boy, who was me, continued to be a nuisance. I also remember Maureen Gallagher, whose father was a Palestine Police Officer. Fr. Eugene Hoad, an Irish Franciscan priest taught us Catechism, and was a good friend of my stepfather to be.

After Primary Five, my mother thought I should be in a boys’ school. I was put in Terra Santa College, run by American Franciscan Brothers. But though English was the medium of instruction, my mother did not like me mixing with Arab boys. Conferring with an American neighbour of ours, whose son Paul Matson was my only friend, my mother made a big decision. My mother wanted me with English and American children, and Paul was at the American Community School in Beirut. I was sent there, and stayed for three and a half years- the longest I had ever been in the same school.

The school was very small, with about a hundred in ten classes. All were Americans, whose parents were teaching at the American University of Beirut, with oil companies in the Persian Gulf, with the American State Department, or with American Missionaries. I was a boarder with fifteen boys and the same number of girls. It was here that I developed happily- as the only English boy.

The classes had from eight to ten students, with American teachers, following the New York State curriculum. I received personal help and got along well with my peers. I was a scout for three years, and always felt the importance of what I learned. We had outings to famous places, like Baalbeck, Crack de Chevalier, Sidon, and the Cedars.

I still cherish the friendships of my roommate, Norman Hutchinson, and the other boys like Paul and Dave Mattson, Harry Alter, Bruce Van Hutton, and the girls like Phyllis Glessner, Ann Sutton and Betsy Deckerd. I never kept contact with them, though occasionally some have passed through Hong Kong. I learned the American way of life, often being in their homes, and always being with them for Sunday worship. It was with them that I determined that my life would be devoted to sociology, or even in church work.

As I came to Dublin in 1949 with the help of Michael, I prepared to study medicine. I applied to the College of Surgeons, which had its own entrance examination, independent of the Irish Leaving Certificate. I did so well in that entrance examination that I was accepted for Medical Studies.

With my determination to be a Jesuit, I was asked to leave Medical Studies and go to Belvedere College to prepare for the Irish School Leaving Certificate, which was a necessity, since I was to study later at University College Dublin. I say that I was at school at Belvedere College, which explains to people how I became an Irish Jesuit. The fact is that I was only there for six months before sitting for the Leaving Certificate. I liked my months at Belvedere College, and I became their only student to enter the Society of Jesus that year- in previous years there were many who entered the Society of Jesus after school. Some of those Jesuits taught in Wah Yan. Belvedere College was almost the Wah Yan of Dublin! It was near the city centre, with a proud history of eighty years and had many well known past students.

When people wonder at how I teach, I say that I try to give the best of what I have known. We tend to teach as we were taught. I am also much influenced by what I have learned in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. But my past school life has left traces in my teaching. It could be described as a mix of French and American schooling, with English and Irish secondary education. On this foundation came my Jesuit studies for fourteen years.

I much appreciate Wah Yan College whose education roots students in Chinese culture and language. That is critical. Wah Yan also equips students for overseas study and life. I can help with the English language and Western ways. (1122)

asket Ball team, Beirut American Community School 1946

第二十一章 我的學校教育



開羅時,也教過我母親,這間學校是由法國政府資助的,大部份修女是法國人,當然一切都是用法文,那堥S有英國男孩子,祇有亞拉伯天主教徒和一些法國人。我記得Donal 修女,她曾教過我彈鋼琴的。

我們於一九四零年,移居耶路撒冷時,很幸運,有一間新開的英文學校就在附近,由 Zion修女開辦的,學校內大約有六十學生,這間新的小學是由一間新建成的石造住所改成的。 我記得那位英國修女Ancilla。 我在這間用英語進行教學的學校讀了三年,我首次遇到英國的男孩子和女孩子。 我記得Maureen Gerraghty,她的愛爾蘭父親跟巴勒斯坦警察工作。 還有英國修女Ancilla,她用笞杖打我,因我易激動和時常擾亂上堂,不久,她離開了女修道院! 我記得很清楚愛爾蘭方濟各會修道士,Eugene Hoad 神父,他教我們道理,他的朋友,後來成為了我的繼父。

小學五年級之後,我母親要我讀一間男校,因此,我被送到Terra Santa,是一間由美國的方濟各會修道士主辦的男校,但是,全部男孩子都是亞拉伯和猶太人,而我母親想我祇和英國男孩子交往。我們的鄰居Mattson 家庭是美國人,他們的兒子Paul Mattson 是我唯一的朋友,我母親和他母親很多交談。 由於Paul Mattson 在貝魯特的美國社區學校,我於一九四五年一月 也被送到那堙C 我在那媗炊F三年半,比任何一間學校的時間要長,我很喜愛那堙A而我在一個美國家庭的環境中發展得很好。

我於一九四九年去到都柏林,得Michael 幫助我入準備讀醫學院,我要考他們的入學試,我考入學試考得很好,於是我收錄讀醫科。

當我決心成為耶穌會士,我便要離開醫學院,到Belvedere書院學校就讀,便能向別人解釋我是怎樣成為愛爾蘭的耶穌會士,事實上,我衹是留在那堣賒茪諿伅﹛A是在考畢業証書之前。我喜歡在Belvedere書院那幾個月,而我是該年,唯一一個學生加入耶穌會的,在之前幾年,有很多學生畢業後加入耶穌會,其口有些耶穌會士來華仁教書,Belvedere 書院差不多是都柏林的華仁! 它地近市中心,有驕人的八十年歷史和很多出名的舊生。