ON EDUCATIONThe reason that my third junior high student, Monica, couldn’t join CJ09 is that she’s entering her third year of junior high, which is arguably the most brutal year of a Taiwanese kid’s schooling. Universities and high schools all have tough entrance exams, and the better the school, the harder the exam. So the third year of junior high is dedicated to preparing for these exams, which means that many kids are at school seven days a week. The schools here can run laps around the education slapped on a bun and thrown at you in America, but sheesh! I can’t say that I envy the kids here. There’s laughably lame, but there’s also too much. I see the effect in my own classroom: when asked to describe their favorite hobbies, or what they did over the weekend, more often than not I get a blank stare. What does an automaton do for fun? Not that my kids are really automatons, but you know it means something when the vast majority of them cannot catch a ball. And yet, despite this broad disparity between education levels, Taiwan continues to worship America as the land of opportunity, and America continues to spit upon university degrees earned abroad, as if there was an overwhelming probability that their “foreign” education would be a much lower quality than what’s served up at home! To me, that’s akin to movie theaters not letting you bring in your own food. Your choices are the overpriced crap that they offer, or nothing. Of course not everything offered is bad – they do sell water – but a large chunk of it isn’t very useful.
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.
- Robert Louis Stevenson