Korean scholar at EdUHK inspires enthusiasm for Chinese history

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In September 2018, Dr David Kang Jong-hyuk, Associate Head and Assistant Professor of the Department of Literature and Cultural Studies at The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), received the University Grants Committee Teaching Award under the category of Early Career Faculty Members.

The young Korean scholar spends a lot of his time gleaning insights from historical documents and artefacts, but in recent years, he has shifted his efforts to writing papers and developing innovative tools to make a mark on the future of history education in Hong Kong.

Historian with an eye on the future

Dr Kang’s passion for the subject can enthuse young people, who often find reading historical texts and memorising facts irrelevant, but he knows a pragmatic approach is needed. “I am a believer of experiential learning. By offering students ‘eye-opening and mind-opening’ learning experiences, they can engage with history in a meaningful way.”

He expressed keenness and showed a great deal of creativity when he helped design the first programme of its kind at EdUHK. Five years on, his enthusiasm shows no signs of abating. Devoted to finding innovative ways to inspire and motivate students, Dr Kang invented the 4-Re history learning method—reconstruct, reread, reflect, and research. He has also developed over 10 new courses, inspiring not only history majors but also students from other disciplines to really see history and be moved by historical narratives.

While Dr Kang is delighted that his untiring efforts to engage students in learning have gained recognition, most recently by the territory’s University Grants Committee, what he finds most rewarding is witnessing the growing interest in Hong Kong history, the field he specialises in.

Therefore, he plans to use the award grant to create fun history-learning experiences through STEM-focused activities. In the meantime, he is gratified to see that his students have benefitted from his approach.

The first cohort of students of the degree programme he helped design will graduate next year, and they in turn will be able to use the methods and activities to inspire more students. He said: “History is one of the hottest topics in Hong Kong right now, but it is also one of the subjects that students have least interest in. I hope my teaching philosophy would inspire us to go beyond texts and facts and inspire people to really think about historical issues.”