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.

 Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion."

~ Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Dear parents,


Have you ever been so fascinated with a sport, a musical instrument, a craft, or an interest that you felt the urge to gain more knowledge and excel in it?


Over the years, I have invested a lot of resources in my varied passions. For sports, in order to improve my freestyle swimming, I hired a personal coach who used to train members of the Hong Kong swimming team. To perfect my singing technique, I had classical vocal lessons with the head of a renowned music school.  I also took piano lessons from a first-rate piano teacher who used to teach at an American university. None of these efforts have eventuated in any particular achievements, however. I still can’t swim freestyle for a long distance. Neither have I taken any exams for the piano or singing. Though still singing and recording songs frequently, I have left my digital piano idle for a long time.


Recently I have become fascinated with Chinese calligraphy, so I practise writing almost every day. To perfect my strokes, I have bought books of different scripts to study the different techniques of great calligraphists. A good friend who is learning Chinese calligraphy more leisurely in London asked if I have ever thought of leading a ‘less driven lifestyle’, for instance, practising the Chinese strokes more freely to enjoy rather than aiming at perfection in every step.


Her idea has certainly dawned on me as I have always lived a ‘purpose driven life’, a term coined by Pastor Rick Warren who wrote a book of the same title that has sold 50 million copies worldwide.  With purposes in our pursuits, we may be able to feel more focused and fulfilled in life. Conversely, we may become overwhelmed and stressed out if those purposes turn into undue expectations or demands, especially if they are forced on us by parents or other people.


In hindsight, I am grateful that I have not been forced to keep up my endeavours after my initial flame. My elder son has absolute pitch and aced his grade 8 violin exam despite limited practice at the age of 10, but apparently I don’t have the same musical talent as I have barely come to grips with relative pitch after numerous practices, so I decided to give up learning the piano after 3 years. I am able to swim freestyle, but I can swim leisurely for a long distance with my fairly good breaststroke. I don’t have any attainment in music, but I rejoice in singing and recording on my phone.


What if I started all these sports and musical pursuits when I was a kid but wanted to give up when I realized I wasn’t cut out for them? Would my parents allow me to quit? Would my teacher and friends frown on me for being half-hearted? Would I have the same rights as adults to freely explore my interests? Would my parents force their unaccomplished aspirations on me? Would I grin and bear it simply to please my parents?


Honestly, I don’t know the answers to these questions, but to a certain extent, I am glad my parents were too busy with work to force me to do things other than my studies. I might have missed some opportunities but I had a relatively carefree childhood. Now I can follow my various interests and decide if I would like to achieve perfection in any of them.


As parents, we are inclined to think that our children are not mature enough to be truly aware of their needs and talents. We may dismiss their protests or pleas to quit as impulsive.  I hope you grant your children the rights to freely explore their interests and decide if they would like to excel in them or quit to do other things so that they can have a purpose driven rather than a demand driven life.

Yours sincerely,

Clive Chan