Knowledge and Misconception about Youth — Implications for Education

1998/1999.第26卷第2期及第27卷第1期(Vol. 26 No. 2 & Vol. 27 No. 1).pp. 159–177


Knowledge and Misconception about Youth — Implications for Education


Shuk-Han PUN


It is argued that being a youth is not a static and homogeneous stage for all young people. Without an understanding of the social processes where they locate themselves within relations of age and generation as well as social divisions of class and gender, no valid knowledge about them can be generated. A search on keywords of "youth, students, Hong Kong" from the libraries of local tertiary institutions yielded 773 entries as a common source of "knowledge" on youth in Hong Kong. Spanning from 1949 to 1997, 34% of these studies were initiated by non-government organization to examine the youth's social and political awareness, service need of the youth and youth culture. Studies published by academic journals (27%), the second largest group of studies, however, tended to focus on their developmental and schooling processes. A meta-analytical approach was used to find out how the needs, values and experiences of the youth within a specific historical epoch are socially mediated or constructed. In posing young people as a social problem, studies tended to assume that there is a minority who are at risk and require institutional help to bring them into line. In treating the youth as subjects for identifying their needs and concerns, most studies failed to take into account how social, economic and political forces have mediated their behavior and values as individuals and as a group. While the experience and meaning of being a youth is changing over time, the conception about youth for institutional and policy purposes has not changed much. Without removing the misconception about youth, a "valid" knowledge base about them cannot be established. Such a knowledge base is essential to developing the kind of education that is capable of helping the youth to fulfill individual aspirations as well as to meet the challenges of societal development.