Monday, 2 October 2006

A Bitter Showcase of Ignorance

Nothing compares to watching the final episode of Japanese TV drama Joou no Kyoushitsu, literally "The Queen's Classroom", after working through the weekend. This thought-provoking and heart-warming TV drama yet again proves the unchallenged leadership of Japanese pop culture in Asia, which, in my opinion, is likely to maintain in the next five years.

Not surprisingly, the "devil" teacher Maya Akutsu portrayed by the irresistibly cool Yuki Amami has stirred up quite a bit of criticism in Hong Kong, where many parents and teachers find the TV drama really embarrassingly truthful in hitting out at their darkest corners. Teachers complained that their professional image and integrity were damaged. Some even went that far to ask for a halt of the show. Parents also complained that their children are so intimidated by the "devil" teacher on television that they are reluctant to go to school. Their children are said to be crying loud whenever they saw Yuki Amami appearing in black from head to toe. Most probably under the pressure of parents and teachers, an Education and Manpower Bureau spokesperson said in early August (when only two out of 11 episodes of the drama were aired) that parental guidance is recommended for this drama.

What a bitter showcase of ignorance and selfishness among Hong Kong parents and teachers it is, although few have recognised this long before they are expected to. Those parents and teachers who lashed out at the drama are exactly the target of harsh criticisms of the drama. Essentially it is this group of parents and teachers who have spoilt their children, who have made their children incapable of doing anything but complaining for discomfort and difficulties. Isn't it ridiculous to any sensible person that children are afraid of going to school after watching something on television? Isn't it obvious that parents, like those in the drama, are providing their children with unnecessary protection that eventually deprives them of the opportunity of becoming independent people with a reasonable level of survival capabilities? Isn't it absurd to accuse someone of damaging a profession's image when actually the drama's criticisms are targeting those who fail to do their job properly? Is there any reason why the teachers' union leaders broaden the issue to become something for the entire profession? Does it imply that the drama's criticisms have hit out at something in them?

However, for those who are neither parents nor teachers like me, I find it extremely thought-provoking and exciting to see that how the hypocrisy and selfishness of parents, teachers and the whole adult world is scorned with Maya Akutsu's cold and contemptuous remarks.

Rhetoric blaming the younger generations of not being as smart, strong and capable as their predecessors has become very common these days. But few adults do reflect on how this world has been shaped to become as it is. Many tycoons and billionaires born before or during the post-Second World War baby boom often encourage the youth to work harder to succeed. But they have turned a blind eye to the fact that the community has become so much different that their dictum of hard work no longer works, or at least not as effective as it used to be. At a time when society is fully or even excessively institutionalised, unbreakable monopolies are everywhere and thus creativity and innovation is subtly suppressed, what can you expect from the future generations?

What Maya Akutsu advocates in the drama is nothing but the old wisdom of building strength through hardship and suffering. As one of the characters aptly puts, Akutsu becomes a devil teacher to train up her students so that they are better prepared for the challenges in future, rather than allowing them indulge in the greenhouse created by their parents and other teachers who believe that children should stay away from anything dangerous and contaminating. Those who always stay in a virus-free environment are more likely to get sick when exposed to polluted air because of poor immunity and adaptability. It is just as simple as that.

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