Obviously, the “education reform” (
Good points. I would stress a civics course not so much on history but how gov’t works and what a Taiwanese citizen’s civic duties are. Additional choices for languages would be a good idea. Taiwan produces quite a few good speakers of other languages, particularly Japanese, French, Spanish and German. I think those in power would be very much against a real civics course however. The bueracracy like all Asian bueracracies get a lot of their power from being the only ones who know how things get done and keeping it a mystery to everyone else. Could you imagine a Taiwanese version of the ACLU arguing against mandatory urine tests for those caught at a club where ecstasy is found. I can’t and would laugh in disbelief at anyone who told me there was such an organization doing just that.
I can’t for the life imagine why an Asian studies major like yourself would say that Taiwan needs/would even dream to do away with a big all-important life-determining test. Are you sure you studied Asian studies and read Chinese. I’m just razzing you, but really, to give up an all important test for what? Are you aware of how many people would lose their job? I live in Yung Ho and can’t throw a rock without hitting a buxiban, anchingban, or kindergarten.
That being said. Here’s my take on the subject. Most parents want the extra classes and extracurricular activities for their kids. What else are they going to do with their children. Most students are in some club or another in high school and university. Kids are at my anchingban till 7pm during the week. Those parents have to work. For there to be a change it has to start at the top and it will require a rethink of how things are done. Why are they not going to school for the full day? Why do they have such large classes. I know from giving elementary school teachers English lessons that changes are happening. they don’t know what quite to do either. They’re being told to make things more interesting and engaging. How can they do this with out a clear example of what is wanted? Most of them went to school when everything was rote memorization and generous use of corporal punishment. How do they all of a sudden change to teaching by asking the students questions? It will take a lot of time and training, and it is currently happening in a school I know of.
I would say that impatience is getting in the way of the current reforms. I would also add a bit of political revenge and ego. Chinese cultural norms demand that all students pass a test to get a chance for higher education. This has been the case for over a 1000 years. Personally I don’t think the idea was well thought out in the first place. If it was well thought out, then someone has failed to outline the plans, explain the desired results and when and how progress will happen and how it will be measured. What I term as, “Chinese people just being Chinese.”
Project management is a deficiency for Chinese to handle as of yet. It comes down to proper planning, subordinating key tasks to key people, implementation, clear goals being set and measured. Hence the story of why Taipei 101 is so tall. A bunch of Taiwanese business men get together and plan it out and keep adding on floors and stuff till it gets to be that big. They didn’t seem to have an accurate clear goal in mind when they were planning it out. Some problems can be solved by committee, most can’t.
You spend X time in school and learn Y. Obviously Y is directly proportional to X, so increasing X must increase Y.
If overall results are disappointing then the fault must lie with the students, or else (god forbid) there’s something wrong with the system. The solution is obviously to increase the time spent studying so that students still learn as much as they should. Right? There’s no fault in that logic is there? Keeping those dumb shits in the classroom 14 hrs a day is the only way to prepare them for real life - and is it so different from real life in Taiwan anyway? (I have a friend who describes the chinese collectively as ants.)
I don’t really think that anyone who is part of the system is going to take kindly to a bunch of foreigners (what do they know anyway) coming into the classroom and teaching english through catchy phrases like ‘work smarter, not harder’.
The poor quality of a lot of the foreign teachers here speaks volumes about the efficacy of only spending 6 hrs or so a day in school. We think it means coming in awake enough to learn effectively. They think it means goofing off from the serious business of life, and looking at the impression given by the foreign community as a whole…
Pardon my ignorance, but I thought that the whole exam thing was introduced so that public servants were selected according to ability instead of who they were connected to.
Taiwanese and North Asian students tend to surpass most US and UK students in surveys on Math and Science, but countries like Australia, and many Northern and central European countries deliver educational outcomes for math and science equivalent too or better than most North East Asian countries.
Perhaps the US and the UK ought to consider reforming their education systems more inline with those of Australia and North and Central Europe.
That’s not to say I don’t believe reform is not wellcome inTaiwan. However, the US and UK basic education systems must be pretty pathetic.
In theory, yes. But in practice, it’s rarely been that way throughout the course of Chinese history … First of all, even though Confucius advocated education for all, regardless of social position or money (
The nine year education plan really has people up in arms, confused, etc… I personally think it is great.
In theory, it puts more pressure on parents to be a part of their child’s edcuation. However, many parents don’t have the time to do this, or understand some of the new ways things are being taught (ie math).
Several probelms with this plan.
1.) They changed the way math is taught in elementary schools…changed for the better. But they didn’t change high school level math, so there could be problems when these elementary school age kids reach high school.
2.) Not enough Mandarin being taught. As most of us know, gotta put in the time to be able to write characters. Schools aren’t giving this enough class time. Wanna make a lot of money? Start some Mandarin essay writing classes at your school.
Like to write more, but I gotta run…
Agree with Durin about the math. The new system is based on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards (they are a US based organization). The problem, though, is that this kind of system requires students to be active learners. Unfortunately such students are the minority now. The problem is twofold.
First, so many students enter school, even kindergarten already desensitized to their environment by family life. Not even the best of teachers can get such students to really function in an open learning situation that expects the student to be a curious, active participant in generating meaning, as the NCTM would have it. It’s not different in the states. Experimental techniques work best on children from stable, properous, families with curious-minded, educated parents. They almost always fail on lower income kids, or those from traditonal culture families.
My wife just returned from two-weeks of English summer camp at the YMCA. She said the teachers could hardly believe the differences between the two groups of children they had: one from Banqiao and one from Taipei City. The Banqiao kids were actually using old fashioned terms for common things like erasers. They knew almost no popular songs and in general were less curious and bright than their Taipei cousins.
Second, the classes in Taiwan are often too large for this kind of system to work. Students are expected to discuss their math findings with the class. Discussions are meant to show how different students arrive at answers so as to let peers correct each others mistakes. But in a class of 30 or more students their is no time for everyone to discuss their findings. Hence a crucial part of the learning process is rushed through. Hence, students often end up performing worse then those taught by more traditional methods.
I always find it funny to hear all the complaints about the bushiban system in Taiwan since cram schools are becoming more and more common in North America, especially for students, or families, aspiring to the better universities. Also, the concept of free time is not what it was 30 years ago. Just like in Taiwan kids now are shuttled back and forth between enrichment and extra-curricular classes. Your Taiwanese friends and associates are probably ignoring your advice because they are listening to friends back in North America who are telling them how it is becoming there for those who wish to get ahead.
As for students in NA being so much better at critical thinking, well, this is the biggest piece of shit ever to work its way across the Pacific. Every university in the past 20 years has had to increase the number of remedial or basic composition courses to deal with the majority of students who now enter with absoutely no writing or criticial thinking skills at all. It’s the standard litany of every English prof that basic skills have been in decline for a long time, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest it isn’t true.
I’ve found posters on Forumosa to be in general a fairly bright, educated, curious, even cultured lot, but in no way an accurate representation of the population at large back home.