Pathways To Learning... Since 2005
Hong Kong Registered School 566985

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Amanda Whitmore Snow

English & History Teacher

Qualifications :

B.A, M.A (Cambridge)

Subjects :

English Literature, English Language, History, SAT/ACT, IELTS

Amanda read History at the University of Cambridge (Christ’s College) and stayed on to do postgraduate research on medieval history.  She arrived in Hong Kong in 1994 and her first job was teaching summer courses at an international school.  She then completed the RSA/Cambridge TEFLA certificate at the British Council and taught short courses in four secondary schools on their behalf.  During the same period, she also taught evening classes for HKU SPACE and gave one-on-one tuition.

She then worked in the financial sector and for many years was a Director of the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (Hong Kong) which works with young people in Vietnam and Mongolia. She also tutored through a local NGO in Hong Kong, which included getting to grips with HKDSE.

On becoming a teacher:

My very first experience of teaching was long before I came to Hong Kong.  As a first-year university student, I was asked to help with a holiday English course in my local town in Sussex.  I found myself with a group of utterly bored teenagers who had no interest whatever in being cooped up indoors, and who were also fed up with the English food and weather – they were Italian so who could blame them?  I remember thinking, ‘If I can’t make these lessons fun, this will go nowhere’.  And the rest of my time there was a wonderful challenge as I tried to figure out lessons which were both instructive and fun.  It was this experience which led me to start teaching on arrival in Hong Kong.

Teaching is a multi-faceted activity.  There the intellectual side, particularly with the higher-level exams.  But there’s also a creative aspect because a teacher has to understand where a student stands, what they need to achieve, and then work out how best to support the student so they achieve that goal.  Simply put, it’s about helping young people fulfil their potential. 

My other interests:

I am a life-long student of Chinese but not great at remembering characters.  I love learning other languages too but still look forward to the day when I can read Lu Xun in the original.  To this end, I enrolled in a Mandarin course at Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2016 and so found myself back in a student’s desk again.  As well as learning Mandarin, I had a good refresher course in how, and how not, to teach language!  That time in Xi’an also allowed me to learn more about Chinese history as I explored the city’s wonderful museums: I spent hours wandering among Tang dynasty figurines and relics of the Han era, not to mention the terracotta warriors. 

A rather different spare-time hobby I have is hiking: the lesson here is never give up!

A person to admire:

Thucydides was the world’s first scientific historian.  Instead of simply describing events that happened in this past, he made it his business to analyse why events happened  - in particular, to discover the causes of the Peloponnesian War, the great war that took place in his lifetime between Athens and its allies and Sparta and its allies.  Thucydides believed that historical events hold a lesson for future generations, that his work, as he put it, could be ‘a possession for all time’.  Even today, 2400 years later, some people wonder whether the cause of the war that Thucydides deduced, Spartan fear of the rising power of Athens, has a message for us.

An inspirational person:

Elizabeth I because, even as a young woman, she deftly navigated the conflicting political forces that surrounded her while remaining independent and true to her own beliefs.  She occupied the throne of England for 45 years in what was very much a man’s world, steering a skilful course between the extremes of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism in a period of violent religious conflict. Her own views seem to have been tolerant.  Abroad, she had to fend off the predatory rulers of France and Spain.  And yet hers was also the reign that saw a flowering of English culture culminating in the plays and poems of William Shakespeare. 

Top tip to younger self:

Never pass up an opportunity to travel to or work in an interesting place: you may never have the chance to do so again.  In my twenties, I passed up chances to travel in Syria and to work in Bhutan and Xinjiang, none of which are likely to come my way again!

Dulwich College Singapore

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

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