Pathways To Learning Hong Kong Registered School 566985 & 600733
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Donald Gasper
Languages teacher

Qualifications: B.A. (Honours), Cantab., M.Sc., London


Donald studied classical Latin and Greek at school in the United Kingdom, as well as French and German. He successfully took the Cambridge Entrance Examination in Classics and on the strength of this won a place to study at the University of Cambridge. There he switched to learning classical and modern Chinese as part of the Oriental Studies Tripos and was subsequently chosen as one of the very first British students to study in China (Beijing and later Nanjing) after the Cultural Revolution.

He studied at five different universities and has subsequently taught at four universities in Hong Kong.

On teaching:
The Anglo-Irish writer George Bernard Shaw famously remarked: “Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.” My parents were both teachers, so perhaps it is in my genes. Shaw's aphorism does not really apply to me, however, because before turning to teaching as a sideline I had actually worked in business and journalism. I was later invited to teach journalism and then other subjects, including English for professional purposes and languages. At ITS I teach French, German and Latin. One derives great satisfaction in passing one's knowledge on to others and observing how they assimilate it and maybe surpass what has been taught to them: The Chinese spoke of 出于蓝⽽而胜于蓝⻘青 qīng chū yú lán ér shèng yú lán (the color blue derives from the indigo plant but is more vivid than indigo), a metaphor referring to how students can eventually surpass their teachers.

Apart from this, I wholeheartedly agree with the words of the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger, who lived between circa 4 B.C. And 65 A.D. , when he wrote: “Homines dum docent discunt” (people learn while they teach). This idea was echoed by Comenius (see below), who wrote: 'The saying "He who teaches others, teaches himself" is very true, not only because constant repetition impresses a fact indelibly on the mind, but because the process of teaching itself gives deeper insight into the subject taught.'

I am a great believer in the saying “travel broadens the mind” and enjoy travelling to new places. I also take a keen interest in history and current affairs.

An admirable person in linguistics:
The person I most admire in the field of linguistics is the U.S. scholar Noam Chomsky. He has put forward stimulating hypotheses about language (not all of which I agree with) but also demonstrated that academics can and must speak out on wider issues of the day and not confine themselves to ivory towers.

An inspirational person:
The Moravian philosopher and educational reformer Jan Amos Komenský, also known by his Latin name Comenius. He lived from 1592 to 1670. A great humanist, he wrote: “We are all citizens of one world, we are all of one blood. To hate people because they were born in another country, because they speak a different language, or because they take a different view on this subject or that, is a great folly. Desist, I implore you, for we are all equally human. . . . Let us have but one end in view: the welfare of humanity.”

Top tip to younger self:
Take every chance to see the world. Form your own judgements about what you see and hear.

   


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