Mr Clive Chan, Headmaster

Mr Chan has extensive experience in teaching English to people of all ages and abilities. He returned to Hong Kong after spending years studying and working in Australia. He has taught English in different secondary schools and Business English at a university in Hong Kong.

But what I want you, my students, to take away from your middle-school experience, is the sure knowledge that, in the future you make for yourselves, anything is possible.  If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world would be a better place.  And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.

~ ‘Wonder’ by R. J. Palacio, 2012, p. 301


Dear parents,

Do you like watching movies?  If you do, I would encourage you to watch more good movies with your children.  I have always urged my senior secondary students to watch more English movies without looking at the Chinese subtitles if they are to develop their listening and speaking skills.  More importantly, aside from providing entertainment and opportunities for learning English, some movies can teach our kids great lessons about life. 

‘Wonder’ is one of such heartwarming and inspirational movies.  Adapted from a brilliant book written by R. J. Palacio for young readers, it tells the story of a ten-year-old boy named August (Auggie) who suffers from Collins Treacher Syndrome that has caused deformities to his face.   Highly intelligent but acutely aware of his facial differences that would scare other kids, Auggie prefers to put on his space helmet that covers his whole face whenever he goes out.  Having homeschooled Auggie for years but determined to help him blend in with other kids, his mother decides to send him to school when he reaches grade 5.  Predictably, Auggie gets ridiculed and bullied by some merciless kids who detest Auggie’s appearances but get threatened by his extraordinary intellectual abilities.  Some sensible and compassionate kids, however, choose to befriend Auggie and gradually find themselves inspired by his quiet strength.

The movie has a happy ending which may not always happen in real life but it does remind our kids to be kind and respect people who are different.  Most pre-teens, indeed, seek acceptance from their peers and start to form cliques at school at a young age, some of whom are inclined to tease kids who look different, and worse, bully those who are physically weak or mentally challenged.  More often than not, bullies act out of their inner fear and rally support from their accomplices who would rather comply than stand out from the group.

Julian, the ‘villain’ in the movie, represents such a bully who has power but feels insecure at heart.  From a rich family and keenly conscious of his power, he has gathered a following of boys who take his ‘instructions’ to intimidate Auggie.  A group of girls also spread rumours that they are going to catch Auggie’s ‘plague’, which is his deformity, if they touch him by accident.  I believe most of our kids will fall into this group of followers who dare not speak up for one who has been scapegoated for his or her differences from the crowd.  Indeed, it takes a lot of courage and discernment to stand up for what is right and defend the weak, the poor and the powerless.

In that regard, Summer, the girl who chooses to sit with Auggie at lunch on his first day of school, is the real heroine in the story.  Pretty and popular, some girls caution her not to hang out with Auggie so that she can be accepted into their group of friends, but Summer chooses to defy their warning and becomes Auggie’s confidant. Her bravery, kindness and resolve serve to inspire other students in the end.

There are a few other characters in the story who you will find enlightening.  Watch the movie, or better still, read the book with your kids and discuss what they have taken away from it.  I am confident it will be an edifying experience, and you will help make our world a better place when you teach your kids to be ‘a little kinder than is necessary’ at all times.


Yours sincerely,

Clive Chan