- 熱心的老師：與自然對話的老師樂意幫助同學，快去找他！這一科也有很多輔助教材，例如reading guide和DiaNable App，都是老師精心編製出來幫助同學的。
文科生閱讀文本非常認真。我見過幾位文科生的課本，到處都是筆記、心得和不同顏色筆的痕跡。我真想把這些課本據為己有！他們對文本的理解可能比我更深哩！曾遇見幾位英文系的同學，她們說不喜歡看reading guide，因為reading guide會影響她們對文本的理解。她們要自行理解文本，與文本對話。啊！這不正是這一科的精神嗎？我們不鼓勵同學看二手資料，而是自行面對文本。這幾位英文系同學做到了，而且成績不俗。我相當佩服她們。有一位中文系的同學則每周都來找我，不問過清楚明白誓不罷休。有好幾次她問得深入，使我對問題都有更深刻的體會。我十分感激她。
The series of [How to do well in UGE courses] in UGE News will be interviewing teachers of the UGE courses and asking them to share the observations and experience in their teaching career. By doing this, we hope the readers will get to know how to go into the world of the classics.
In the very first interview, we are honoured to talk to Dr. Wong Wing Hung about how to manage to do well in In Dialogue with Nature. Are students from the Arts discipline disadvantaged in this course? Or is it just some unfounded speculation? How are they supposed to understand the different kinds of concepts in science?
If students feel frustrated, what should they do? How do teachers of In Dialogue with Nature think about these arts students?
Let’s get started! Hi Dr. Wong!
UGE News: In your many years of teaching, do you think it is harder for the so called “arts students” to do well in this course than those “science students”?
Dr. Wong: Let’s start from the fact. Starting from the trial-teaching periods in 2009 (In Dialogue with Nature was called The Classics in Science back then), the students who failed the course included both kinds of students. And you think those who got A range grades are all science students? Not really, both kinds of students did get A in the course. Obviously, the names “arts students” or “science students” are just labels of their history, not of their ability.
Undoubtedly, many students from the arts discipline are worried when they hear the name of this course. But being worried is sometimes good for one’s studies; worries sometimes do push us further! If science students do not put efforts into it, they will end up failing too! So a moderate amount of worry is needed, because it prompts us to do better. What’s a problem is the excess of it. It takes time to deal with the anxiety of a person. Keep in mind these few points, they will help:
- I am like other people: In Dialogue with Nature has been offered for years and its curriculum is adjusted for a few times already. If the previous students from the art disciplines can do it, why can’t I?
- I can understand too: remember, what the label “arts students” tells is only your history, not your ability. What past training your received would not make you unable to understand mathematical concepts. These are faculties common to all.
- Everyone makes mistakes: many art students are afraid of making mistakes in front of others in class discussion. Keep in mind that it is ok to make mistakes in this course. We encourage students to learn by making mistakes, and by discussion we can find out what is the right answer.
- Our wholehearted teachers: the teachers of this course are always willing to help, go to them if you need help! There are also lots of supplementary learning materials for this course as well, such as reading guide and the DiaNable App. They are especially made to help students in this course!
UGE News: what do you think about students from the arts discipline?
Dr. Wong: They are generally more willing to express their opinions in a detailed and precise manner, which is an advantage for their participation in class discussion and essay writing. Let me share a bit of my experience. There were a few years of time which I took Theology courses after work. The course required students to write a lot of paper. But as a science student, I was used to expressing thoughts and ideas in terms of abstract formula and graphs, and I became totally illiterate at first. I wished I was an arts student! So all I could do was trying to express myself clearly, concisely, not letting my history determine my ability. I made it at last and graduated successfully.
Arts students are usually more careful readers. I have seen some textbooks belonging to arts students before, and their notes were written all over the pages with different colours. I wished my textbook was like that too! Their understanding might be more in-depth than mine! I have also met some English major students, telling me that they do not prefer reading the reading guide provided because that might affect their understanding of the text. Isn’t that exactly the aim of this course, to encourage students read not secondary but primary text? These students from the English department did it, with good grades from this course. I truly admire them. There is also another student majoring in Chinese. She came to me almost every week to ask questions about the text, not leaving until she made sense of the content. There were a few times when she made really in-depth questions, and that deepened my understanding of the text too. I am really grateful for that.
UGE News: Any anecdotes with arts students that you can share with us?
Dr. Wong: I remember once an arts student came to me and asked: Why doesn’t the Sun shed more light on the polar regions to warm them up? Would that not make the regions much warmer? I was so puzzled at first, not able to understand her questions. Then I realized that she was down with personification, assuming a kind of human will in the Sun, enabling the Sun to decide which portion of the Earth to shed more light on. She later understood that the Sun as described in science is a not a living thing and has no will. Her question also prompted me to realize, popping into my head, that the world science aims to reveal is that without emotion and will. But……how can I be sure that the Sun has no will?
Dr WONG Wing Hung (Associate Director of University General Education and Associate Programme Director of General Education Foundation Programme)
Academic Interests:Theoretical physics, Christian theology, Dialogue between science and religion, Popular science, Teaching classics for general education