Mike Ko Personal Portfolio


Home-School Education
Hong Kong

University of Durham
Bachelor of Science
United Kingdom

2017 - 2018
United Kingdom

Home-School Philosophy


                        In a way, children living in Hong Kong are quite fortunate. Under the city-wide compulsory educational system, all local children can receive free education for twelve years. As a native Chinese, I was once among the many students that the system supported. Unfortunately, the conventional education mentality overly concentrates on memorizing information and honing technical skills to obtain good exam scores. These methods were very different from the educational values of my parents. Eventually, they decided that the best study approach for me and my two sisters was home-schooling, and that was the beginning of an amazing ride.

                        Home-schooling is very rare in Hong Kong. We actually had to get a written endorsement from the Education Bureau for me to be home-schooled. There are no official home-school curriculums, and we received no resources or assistance. Hence, we had to create our own comprehensive study program from scratch. We designed our own study curriculum and searched for materials in the public libraries and other external sources. Studies were done on a daily and mostly independent basis. I regularly set my own study targets to achieve for different time periods. Every month, my Dad helps me review my status and progress.

                        Throughout the years, the contents of my study program were continuously updated or modified to suit my academic levels at different stages. Yet they always revolved around the following fundamental principles and approaches that we believed in.

                        An important, general rule is my study freedom. There are no limitations on what subjects I may learn, as long as they interest me. In addition, my parents greatly encouraged me to ask questions, and then to search for my own answers. There were plentiful opportunities for me to think, about what I learned or about new ideas.

                        Another basic tenet of our approach is that we have no homework, tests, or exams. Rote learning is not part of our methods. A balance between work and rest is of particular importance as well. Study hours have increased from 4 hours in Foundation to 6.5 in Advanced. Yet in any period, I have just as much or even more time for rest and relaxation. In a sense, my private time is just as important as my time for studying.

                        Apart from studying, however, our principles also apply to our lifestyle. We live relatively simple lives, one that does not overly focus on material wealth. These various aspects characterize the philosophy of our home-school approach that my family and I follow.

                        In the process of gaining knowledge, I discovered some important attitudes on learning in general. Notably, I increasingly understood over time that many things are still unknown to us. Hence, dedicated academic learning is actually a commitment of a lifetime. Appreciable knowledge can be obtained only by constant and daily accumulation.

                        Two other attitudes – especially necessary for home-schooled education – are the initiative to learn and self-discipline. Studying at home means one must be self-motivated and have the resolve to carry it out. Besides these, effective time-management has been vital in achieving my academic goals. Depending on how you arrange your tasks, time can be your friend or your foe. Plus, I strove to keep my mind open and sensitive to new observations, perspectives, or ideas. This makes it easier to think in new directions, and ultimately makes one more creative.

                        While the above attitudes are crucial, perhaps the most important one is to remain humble. Knowledge, for practical purposes, is infinite, and those that one acquires shall always be insignificant against the total. So any pursuit of knowledge must be approached in an open and modest way.

                        Being home-schooled has certainly been a joyful experience. It has greatly influenced how I developed in both a general and academic sense. For one thing, it greatly enhanced my ability to explore and study different subjects in-depth. It also refined my views on personal growth, respect, compassion, and individuality.

                        I gradually learned to be content with simple things. Of course, being home-schooled means I am mostly with my family, and so we all share a close bond. We regularly engage in sports and other activities together to maintain a healthy body and mind as well.

                        Altogether, I believe my home-schooled upbringing has shaped me into a reasonably all-rounded person. Ultimately, all of this has been feasible because my family and I believed in what we were doing. I am confident that this experience shall prepare me sufficiently for the future challenges ahead in my life.


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