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A teacher’s assessment of reform in education

A teacher’s assessment of reform in education


  • By Chen
    Chi-nung 陳啟濃

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the “410 Demonstration for Education Reform” march on April 10, 1994.

As a junior-high school teacher, I have had the chance to experience the major changes during the education reform. In all fairness, there have been gains and losses in education over the past 30 years.

Generally, for the pros: The content of Taiwan’s education has become more diverse, the school atmosphere has become friendlier and school management has become more open and participatory. Even though the challenges for teachers and the burden on students have increased, technology has now opened up channels for learning and the ability of students to learn on their own has greatly influenced their learning achievements.

For the cons, the general elevation in academic qualifications has not been accompanied by a simultaneous improvement in the quality of learning.

The education reform in Taiwan has abandoned the traditional academic culture of “credentialism” in the past, while opening the door for students to pursue a variety of technical, athletic and technological skills.

Apart from studying, many students have found their own goals in life, and the campus is no longer just an environment for studying, but also a place where students can discover various learning opportunities by themselves.

With an emphasis on human rights, every student is treated with respect in school today. As society pays greater attention to the protection of students’ rights in general, teachers’ discipline methods become an issue of public concern.

Under such circumstances, the campus atmosphere has become more harmonious and friendlier, and more civil groups can participate in the education system to jointly protect the next generation, so they can grow up healthily.

In addition, the advocacy of teachers’ rights has led to a qualitative reform in school management, changing the “top-down” hierarchical structure of the past, replacing orders with communication and cooperation with individualism. Teachers have a greater sense of participation and students have a greater sense of recognition about school affairs, as they work together to make contributions mentally and physically to the development of schools.

Plus, the advancement of technology has brought about changes in learning styles.

On one hand, teachers use technology to assist instruction. On the other, despite that technology makes teaching more effective and faster, it also widens the gap among students’ learning achievements.

While technology allows for autonomous learning, it is still necessary to rely on students’ motivation, and they should make good use of technology to enhance academic performance. As for students who are addicted to computers, they might lose their motivation to learn once they “get lost on the Internet.”

There are voices in society blaming the “410 Demonstration for Education Reform” for the excessive establishment of senior high schools and universities across Taiwan. However, how could the current problem of school closure caused by the drastic decrease in the country’s population have possibly been foreseen at that time?

What we should review is that, when establishing senior high schools and universities, the reformists should have thought about how to control the quality of education and not devalue diplomas, which is where the problems lie.

Chen Chi-nung is principal of Shuili Junior High School in Nantou County.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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