The ‘Nero School’ of Education

Friday 3 May 2013, 5.45am HKT


12.10am local time, 18°C (64°F), cool with drizzles

SCHOOL life is going to the dogs in our modern world. Degraded education. Degraded academic standards. Degraded conduct. Degraded respect. Degraded teaching. Degraded materials. Degraded everything. Parents blame the teachers. Teachers blame the parents. Students blame both parents and teachers, and themselves. At least be thankful that they’re learning fingerpointing.

via 24parent.com (via wan chi lo) on Facebook

via 24parent.com (via wan chi lo) on Facebook

Perspectives in Education 21st Century vs 1950s

Parents’ Day: For when a student misbehaves:

21st Century (left):
“My apologies, Mrs Chan, it’s my fault for not teaching the child well.”

The Fifties:
“No problem, the child can be taught right over time, and no need to apologise for him”

(Image by HuoHaoYoung.com via — hat tip to WCL)

There is more education than ever before, yet simultaneously less and less schooling. There are more and more teachers than ever before, yet less and less respect for them. This is a story of how education today has gone awry in a semi-advanced, traditionalist Chinese society like Taiwan because of the ascendancy of human rights in everyday life.

Below is a my free translation of the Chinese-language text accompanying that image above.

The author of the original text is unidentified and claims to be a teacher of 10 years’ standing. The story came through my Facebook feed via a friend sharing a link from a Taiwanese education-related website (24parent.com). Otherwise, I’ve not been able to verify a direct link to the original. The piece also sounds like it’s an open letter to school management.

Take the piece with a pinch of salt. The piece contains many elements of truth that can be seen worldwide, not just in Asia, not just in Taiwan. This is just one side of the coin. The flip side is that teachers (at least the original author) fail to see they’re not entirely blameless in all of this, for in many ways they’re also part of the problem and not yet the solution.

The flip side is easily noticeable in the piece. It’s hard to miss the author being melodramatic about the state of schools in Taiwan. The author also sounds a wee self-righteous in that many of the problems he/she sees is just as well partly attributable to the exact state of mind shown by the author himself/herself.

Judging from the general state and quality of the original Chinese text (consisting almost entirely of run-in sentences), I would say the author most likely didn’t have 10 years of teaching experience. The text isn’t particularly coherent in many places (even in Chinese). There are numerous clauses in reverse order (i.e. not in normal Chinese ordering) and illogical paragraphing, both of which already suggest that the whole text was originally written as one gigantic paragraph and only broken up into smaller paragraphs nearly at random. If that author really have had 10 years of teaching experience, it speaks sobering volumes of the state of Taiwanese education in general, and the state of Taiwanese schools in particular.

Hat tip to WCL for the featured image and story.

* * *

The aching cry of a Taiwanese teacher

taiwan classroom students asiannews-it

THERE IS MUCH PAIN in my heart now, having taught for already close to a decade and proud of being a teacher. Yet the past year had been deeply saddening and powerless for me.

In class today, a pupil was dozing off at his desk.

“So-and-so student, are you ill?” I said. “If you are not sick, please don’t lie on the desk [like that.]” The student didn’t respond. I told him again.

“It’s how I like it!” he replied.

So I got the class schoolmaster to come, and when I explained the situation to the schoolmaster, the pupil just answered back “Cry daddy!” (in Taiwanese).

[“Cry daddy” is Taiwanese colloquialism as “cry mummy” is to English—Editor.]

“Was it you or me?” I said.

“I’m not dying early,” the pupil shot back at once, “You cried bà lie” (a Taiwanese colloquialism).

The pupil swaggered as he was led out of the classroom by his schoolmaster. The schoolmaster himself took no action at the time. When I enquired later on what had been done, the schoolmaster said that nothing could be done other than recording a merit.

Do you know why that is?

This particular pupil was the “head honcho” (老大 lǎo-dà) to a bunch of pupils trailing behind him as cronies. They are known for their bullying and general aggro, and are well-versed in intimidation. A demerit is therefore superficial and painless for the head honcho. His mother is engaged in special industries* and therefore unable to discipline him. I personally have witness this particular pupil terrorise other students on other occasions, and my heart bleeds at the viciousness of it all.

* ‘Special industries’ is a Chinese euphemism often meaning prostitution or some form of shady work.—Editor.

Mr Shi Ying, since people nowadays advocate that schoolchildren must not be beaten, must not be disciplined and must not be punished, once a pupil’s parent says a teacher has punished a pupil, that teacher immediately gets caught up in all sorts of allegations and lambasted for the situation. So who is being selfish here, when it’s to play it safe for self-preservation? Why even bother to manage other people’s kids?

As it stands now, we could only record demerits, Mr Shi. You’ve heard from newspapers that high-school students in this country are an adult on reaching 18 years old. Is that a triumph?

It might be true of our students anyway — lacking ‘meat’ [education-wise] but still able to graduate.

But, people of this great school, you are high intellectuals, with a high income and a high lifestyle — lest you forget, Taiwan also has many rural schools, and parents scrape by on a daily basis, scratching a living for morsels that do no filling. Who then will have the energy or inclination to set their children on the straight and narrow?

Maybe I’m an idiot, but I’ve always wanted in my own small way to wake these lost children up. Yet in return, all I got was a slap in the face from the classroom [for cry mummy]. I do in fact know that there exists a subculture of language among the students — but I am actually more saddened by this: Is there anyone willing to discipline these lost children?

Teachers shouldn’t carry out corporal punishment on students, on that I agree. But, dear scholars of this school, I ask that you yourselves come down to the school and have a look at things for yourselves. Tout not your major principles, for too much advocacy only discourages teachers and leads to no one disciplining middle- and low-ranking students in the end.

Even though I think that to discipline students is too insensitive for it to be an appropriate response [in the classroom], there was one incident in which a rather stupid schoolteacher tried to directly suppress a bunch of students who splayed a packet of playing cards during class in open defiance. The students couldn’t cared less about the teacher and went on with their poker game. The idiot of a teacher went down to the school landing to retrieve a playing card, and right about the moment he returned, he was grabbed by the collar and slapped senseless on the spot by a much-taller, stronger pupil. The school spent two days trying to locate the parents of the students involved and also a transfer ordered for the students. Meanwhile, the headmaster praised the teacher for not fighting back, handled the situation well, being such a good teacher, etc — which is tantamount to turning a blind eye to a ticking timebomb.

In fact, a teacher who punishes a student may well have to face a court hearing — yet students hitting teachers get off scot-free. So a teacher who doesn’t hit back whilst being assaulted is a good teacher. The student is free to be at another school. I am at a loss … so all that people have to do is to beat up some teacher and that should help enhance student rights in educational settings!

A teacher done over black and blue! A job that requires you to choose between “play it safe” and “responsibility.”

Whilst there is a need to respect human rights, that shouldn’t be at the expense of social impact in the observance.

Whilst we are respecting the human rights of students, that particular pupil who ended up in court as defendant hadn’t been told that he too should respect the human rights of others. In the end, students learn such actions get them only laissez-faire treatment and learn ignorance.

Question: If we should allow this vicious cycle to continue, Taiwan is set to flounder! How will Taiwan’s progeny continue living on and face life ahead?

bad education movieguide-org

* * *

Below is the original text in Chinese, in case my free translation doesn’t work for you:—

一位台灣老師的沈痛心聲

我的心中非常沈痛,教書近十年了,一直以身為老師為榮,但是最近一年來卻深感心痛與無能為力,今天上課時,一位學生趴在桌上睡覺,於是我說:某某同學,你生病了嗎?

如果沒有生病,請你不要趴在桌上。

然後那位學生連甩都不甩我。我又說了一遍,他回答:我高興!

於是我請同學請班導師來,等班導師來時,我說明了原因,那位學生對我回嘴說:你哭夭〈台語〉喔。

我說:是你還是我?

學生馬上又回:我又不夭,你哭爸咧〈台語〉

然後大搖大擺地跟著導師出去,導師在場卻沒有任何制止的行動,後來我詢問了導師的處理情形,導師也無能為力,只能記過處理,你知道為什麼嗎?

這位學生是學生中的老大,後面總跟著一群僂儸,平時打人鬧事恐嚇樣樣精通,記過對他來說其實不痛不癢,他的母親是從事特種行業, 所以根本無法管教他,我曾經親眼隔著一棟樓看過這位學生去恐嚇其他學生,那種狠勁,我心中在滴血。

史英先生,因為人本主張學生不可以打罵、不可以管教、不可以處罰,一有學生家長 宣揚說 老師處罰學生,這位老師馬上陷入眾聲撻伐的境地,所以誰不自私,明哲保身要緊,何必去管別人的小孩?

所以我們只能以記過處理, 史 先生,您聽過報紙曾報導一位國中生被記18支大過,卻洋洋得意嗎?

我們的學生也是如此,反正又不會少一塊肉,照樣可以畢業。

但是各位人本的大學者,你們都是高知識份子,高所得、高生活環境的人,但是,不要忘了,台灣有許多鄉下學校,父母鎮日忙於掙一口飯吃,肚子沒有填飽前,誰有精神餘力去陪孩子管教孩子?

或許我比較白目,我總希望能憑自己微弱的力量去喚醒這些迷途的孩子,但是我所得到的是屢次在課堂上學生以哭爸、哭夭罵我,其實我知道這種話是學生次級文化的語言,我傷心的是有誰願意去管教這些迷途的孩子呢?

老師不應該體罰學生,我贊成,但是,親愛的人本學者們,請你們到鄉下的學校去教看看,不要老是以高姿態說那番大道理,人本太過的主張只會使所有的老師灰心,使中低階層的孩子更無人管教而已。

學 校一位老師在上課時,一群學生連甩都不甩他,聚在一堆玩撲克牌,那位 老師也很白目〈因為我現在覺得去管教學生的人實在是太不識相〉,開口制止學生不要玩認真上課,當然學生不會理會他,繼續玩撲克牌,於是這位 白目的 老師走下講台抽起一張牌走回講台,一回頭,一位比他高壯的學生也走向前抓起他的衣領,劈頭就是甩老師兩巴掌,老師當場傻掉,事後校方聯絡兩天才找到這位學 生的家長出面處理,學生勒令轉學處置。

校長還當 全校老師的面誇讚這位老師沒還手,真是好老師,事情也較好處理,等於送走了一顆不定時炸彈。

原來老師處罰學生會被告上法庭,可是學生打老師可以完全沒事,而且被學生打不出手的才是好老師,學生依舊可以在另一個學校悠遊自在,我茫然了……原來人本所要的就是一個打壓老師、提升問題學生權力的教育環境啊!

一個遍體鱗傷的老師!

一項需要你在『明哲保身』與『責任』之間做選擇的工作。

「人本」在一昧訴求人權應被尊重的同時,卻未對社會環境做評估。

當學生的人權被尊重,卻未被告之,他也應尊重他人的人權時,學生只得到放任與無知。

試問:如果再繼續惡性循環下去,台灣勢將沉沒! 台灣的孩子要在哪立足.生存.面對人生?

_____

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© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2013. (B13134).

Images: (1) Perspectives in Education by HuoHaoYoung.com via Facebook (2) Taiwanese school classroom via AsiaNews.it (3) Bad Education via MovieGuide.org

2 Responses to “The ‘Nero School’ of Education”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    Well, when civilization itself is broken, it’s no surprise the symptoms show up at school as much as anywhere else.

    Like

  2. Like you say, if this isn’t a sign of a breaking or broken civilisation, don’t know what is…

    Like

Comments are closed.

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