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Seventeen Questions from the 2014 Hong Kong ‘Umbrella Revolution’

Ten years on and still relevant, here are Ian Gilbert's 17 questions and images from the Umbrella Revolution barricades in Hong Kong

Independent Thinking founder Ian Gilbert was living in Hong in 2014 when the Umbrella Revolution took to the streets, effectively closing down the middle of the city. 

Here are 17 questions and images (most taken by Ian but not the iconic last one) to encourage teachers and students to think about the nature of protest, liberty, revolution and control.

1. Can you have genuine education without genuine democracy?


2. If this was happening in your country, where would you be?


3. Where would the people you have taught be?


4. To what extent are you teaching your young people to be active citizens (these young people are rubbing the graffiti off)? What evidence do you have?


5. Students are at the heart of the Occupy movement, led by a 17 year-old student namedJoshua Wong. Would one of your students be in a position to lead in such a way?


6. The Education Bureau of Hong Kong, the EDB, introduced ‘Critical Thinking’ into their curriculum. Here is an overview of what local children are taught. Is critical thinking taught in your school?


7. On the other hand, here is a piece from The Conversation in the UK which suggests that critical thinking can’t be taught because ‘you can’t teach people to be critical unless you are critical yourself’. What do you think?


8. So, which is weapon?


9. What song lyric would your poster say?


10. Are your young people fighters or criers, neither or both?


11. These days modern technologies and online social networks mean the media is us. Or, in Ian’s words, ‘Be the media you want to see in the world’. Do you agree? If so, do your students know this?


12. The Occupy Central protests have been marked by a policy of restraint and non-violence (on behalf of the protestors). Do you teach the same constraint? Is there a place for violence in struggle?


13. The Nuremberg Principles state that you have a moral obligation that transcends your country’s law. You cannot say, ‘I was just following orders’. Edward Snowden cited this too when he landed in Moscow from Hong Kong in 2013. To what extent does such a moral code influence your actions in school? Do your students know of this code?


14. To what extent is their a forum for discussion in your school and to what extent is discussion welcomed?


15. On this wall, protestors are writing the answer to that question — what would you write?


16. In the protests, everyone can take their turn to speak. Would you speak and, if so, what would you say? Would your students speak and what would they say?


17. Does your school produce the sort of young people who would do this?

About the author

Ian Gilbert

Ian Gilbert is an award-winning writer, editor, speaker, innovator and the founder of Independent Thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia and is privileged to have such a global view of education and education systems.

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