While most parents devote themselves into competing for a place in famous schools, Cam Highfield, a 43-year-old freelance writer also known as Cheung Wai-nui, chose an alternative education for her children. She quit the game altogether and now homeschools her children after sailing around the world for five years.
The sailing trip was her husband, retired senior marine police officer Arni Highfield’s dream. During the trip, Highfield saw different education systems around the world and noticed that schools in many places are pushing children harder to give them a competitive edge. She says many schools design their teaching content to correspond to the admission requirements of universities, which determines the students’ educational paths.
“If the parents want to send their children to the university, they need to plan the path to university carefully from kindergarten,” says Highfield, “[People think] it is how the education should be. If you don’t have good results, how can you get a job?”
However, Highfield prefers her children to learn from their surroundings and society. She started homeschooling in April last year and formed a homeschool group with around 40 parents. They meet once a week and organise outside activities such as visits to museums and the Legislative Council.
Highfield turned to homeschooling because her daughters found it hard to adapt to the teaching in conventional schools after returning from the sailing trip. They are happy with the more relaxed learning atmosphere and flexible timetable.
There is no universal definition of a good education. Choosing an alternative form of education is hard as it requires a lot of time and effort, which most working parents in Hong Kong cannot afford. However, Highfield thinks her efforts are paying off.
“At least they can have their childhood which only a few children in Hong Kong can enjoy once they start kindergarten,” she says.
Edited by Vicki Yuen