August 4, 2010
When I taught at a junior high school, one day I asked my students, “Why do you study hard?” I got some funny but weird answers. One student said,” If I don’t study hard, my parents would get angry with me.” One student said,” If I get bad grades, my neighbors would look down on me.” Another student said, “If I don’t study hard, some day in the future I may roam in the streets like a stray dog.” Almost all of the answers were negative. Only one student answered in a positive way. He said,” I want to make a lot of money.”
When I think about this scenario, I realize that students having this sort of thinking are common. There must be something wrong with our education. Why do students study hard just because of outside influences instead of having the desire to learn? Why do students study hard just to make money instead of helping others? I think about these two issues for a long time and finally reach to the following conclusions. The problems are the curriculum and moral discipline. Here is the reason why.
1. Students get bored with their studies because the curriculum is rigid.
Here in Taiwan, all textbooks in secondary schools are edited by the Board of Education. They hire experts to compile the textbooks. These specialists focus on the system of knowledge, ignoring the students’ interests and abilities to learn. Students spend all their time on these textbooks. They memorize the contents to get good grades. If they can get good grades, they can go to better universities. If they can graduate from better universities, they can get better jobs with higher salary. That’s the goal of their whole lives.
2. Students lack moral and ethical disciplines.
Most of our secondary schools in Taiwan neglect moral and ethical teaching. When students enter the workforce, they care only for themselves. In many workplaces, you can see people who just work for a paycheck instead of a purpose. They have no vision, no dream, and no ambition. They float along in life with a lot of complaint. This phenomenon is a failure of our education system. In our educational philosophy, there is no big-picture thinking, no inspirational and philanthropic spirits. Our education has created a lot of selfish, arrogant, short-sighted, and narrow-minded monsters. That’s the reason why our society is full of apathy and disorder.
The education system operates like a running train. Though there’s something wrong, it’s impossible to stop its momentum immediately. Yet if we acknowledge the problems now, when the train comes to a junction, we can change its course. It’s time to reform our education system.