Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

Response to my Uncle: Taiwanese Education

with one comment

Uncle Tim,

Taiwanese students are bred to excell in math.  They excell at math because of a very crafty nationalist agenda which promotes success in three areas:  math, science, and English.  I have 12-year-old students who cannot point out Taiwan on a map.  I have 14 year olds who can’t name their president.  History, geography, social studies, and art are null and void.

Personally, I think this stems from a governmental policy which reinforces the rapid economic boom that made Taiwan one of the first Asian Tigers.  This is a tiny island.  The infrastructure and the economy center around exporting manufactured goods, particularly technological goods.  Thus, Taiwanese schools have become an assembly-line of ready-made workers– and it has worked brilliantly.

Taiwan’s education system is a hybrid of public schools and a privatized “cram” industry.  If a student comes from a moderately wealthy family, he will attend both.  This starts at age three or four and never stops.  There is no summer vacation here.  School is a year-round experience.  Children are at school for as long as 12 hours each day, 350 days a year.  At my kindergarten, students arrive at 7am and some don’t go home until well after 7 in the evening.  All the talk of Asian families being a tighter social unit than other cultures is a joke.  Students wake up and go to sleep at home, between those times they are in someone else’s care.

And the results are sketchy.  Kids burn out, fast.  The suicide rate is high.  Creativity, free time, personal expression, are all frowned upon.  Everything is one big test with set answers.  The goal is to westernize, to be more American, and to keep afloat a static economic complex.  High math scores are exactly what Taiwanese families want:  a numerical representation of success, regardless of what that veneer belies.

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Written by Miles

July 6, 2007 at 8:36 am

One Response

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  1. it is exactly right.

    are you leaving here?

    your cellphone is turned off, how can i contact with you??

    Kate

    July 11, 2007 at 7:48 pm


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