Michael Chugani 褚簡寧 - Overkill|又中又英

During my time as a student in Hong Kong, schools suspended students only for serious misbehaviour such as fighting or using bad language. A tram passenger once complained to my school when he saw my friends and I misbehaving while on our way to school. The principal warned us not to misbehave, especially while wearing the school’s uniform, but did not suspend us. That’s why I shook my head in disbelief when I read news reports that the vice principal of the St Francis Xavier’s School in Tsuen Wan had suspended 14 students for three days for still eating breakfast when the national anthem was being played. The vice principal had accused the students of disrespecting the anthem.

It was overkill because the students were not even in the area where the anthem and flag-raising were taking place. To shake your head in disbelief means to repeatedly move your head from side to side to show disagreement, disbelief, or disapproval. The word “overkill” means to do much more than needed, resulting in less effectiveness. The vice principal is dead wrong if she thinks she can instill patriotism in students by punishing them. To be dead wrong means to be very wrong. The word “instill” (instil in British English) means to put a feeling, idea, or principle in someone’s mind to influence that person.

Instead of instilling patriotism, punishing students for minor misbehaviour would have the opposite effect. Students who misbehave should be warned first.

Suspending students should only be a last resort. The expression “last resort” means the final choice after trying all other choices.
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從前我在香港唸書時,學校只會因為嚴重的不當行為去勒令學生停課,例如打鬥或說粗言穢語。曾經有一名電車乘客向我就讀的學校投訴,說他見到我的朋友和我在返學的途中舉止失當。校長警告我們別再失禮,尤其是穿着校服的時候,但並沒有要我們停課。因此當我讀到新聞報道指,荃灣聖芳濟中學的副校長罰十四名學生停課三天,因為當國歌奏起時他們還在吃早餐,我不禁難以置信地直搖頭(shook my head in disbelief)。該名副校長指控學生不尊重國歌。

這是做得過頭(overkill)了,因為學生們甚至也不在奏國歌和升旗的場地。To shake your head in disbelief是指搖頭以示不同意、不能置信或不贊成。Overkill是指做多了、過份了,功效反而更少。該名副校長若是認為她可以透過懲罰學生來灌輸(instill)愛國情懷,那她就是dead wrong了——to be dead wrong的意思是大錯特錯。Instill(英式串法是instil)是指去向某人灌輸一個感受、想法或原則,以影響那個人。

因為一些輕微的失當行為就去懲罰學生,不但不能灌輸(instilling)愛國思想,反倒可能引來反效果。行為失當的學生理應首先警告,罰學生停課只應是個 last resort——習語“last resort”是指試過所有其他方法都不奏效,逼不得已才用到的最後手段。
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Michael Chugani 褚簡寧