From the eyes of the '2F students'

Hok On CHAN, Yiu Chi LAI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


It is a very common practice in local schools to stream the secondary two students according to their abilities and disciplinary records. It is difficult to do so to secondary one student, since most secondary schools have no confidence in the records obtained from different primary schools about the new comers. Usually, secondary two is the real starting point for streaming students, although there may be some arrangements in secondary one, according to some entrance assessments set by the secondary schools. " F class" is usually the common place for accommodating students with poor academic or disciplinary records. Some schools may use "A class" to do the same thing. As a matter of fact, most of the fellow educational workers in local schools should have learnt about the "labelling effect" or "labelling theory" from their professional training. They still believe it is an effective approach in handling students and managing the school under the existing 9-year compulsory education policy. This case study provides them an opportunity to look at the viewpoints of the victims under such system. It is also a valuable chance to see the effects, we might have never thought of, on at least one quarter of 13-14 years old students to whom the school was assigned to take care of. Labelling theory features in the work of Lemert(1951), Becker(1963) and Matza (1964) and other writers. The two commonly quoted concepts of "self-fulfilling prophecy "and "expectations" are drived from this larger theoretical perspective. Just like what Meighan (1986) said " pupils tend to perform as well, or as badly, as their teachers expect. The teacher' prediction of a pupil's or a group of pupils behaviour is held to communicated to them, frequently in unintended ways, thus influencing the actual behaviour that follows." Similar situation happened to the "F class" students. Yet, the problem is not only the expected behaviour that finally realized but also is the area unexpected. For example, most of the teachers might have thought of the continuous low standard of academic and class performance would be the result in those classes, they might have never noticed the negative attitude towards teachers, school or even their own school life. In this paper the writers see part of the world of the "F Class" students and evaluate the effects of this widely adopted approach in junior secondary schools in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1997


Chan, H. O., & Lai, Y. C. (1997, November). From the eyes of the '2F students'. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 14th Annual Conference: Compulsory Education and Beyond, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.


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