Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Shining Example

On Saturday mornings, I teach a class of 7 kids. (It's not fun teaching on Saturday mornings after teaching all week in the afternoon/evening, but that's a can of worms I am not anxious to open right now.) The kids are about 9 years old and wonderfully receptive considering it's frighteningly early on a Saturday morning to be learning. I always have fun with this group.

One aspect of this class that always warms my heart is the parents that sit in the back of the room and, essentially, get free English lessons.

My school's policy is parents are welcome to sit in on their child's class free of charge. Virtually all of them use the time to shore up their English skills and I am happy to oblige. I always make extra copies of my handouts to give to the parents. I have found that parents that come to class usually spend more time with their kids ensuring they succeed in their English lessons, good stuff.

It's not the participating in class that impresses me with this particular group, it's the fact that they are there! It's Saturday morning and these folks are actively taking part in their child's education. 7 kids in the class and never less than 5 parents in attendance. They work hard all week and, admirably, drag themselves out of bed early on Saturday morning to set an example for their kids. This just would NOT happen in the U.S. Sadly, American culture has abandoned education. I can honestly say I am not sure that I could do what these folks are doing. It's a remarkable show of dedication to education...wake up and smell the cat food America!


Todd Alperovitz said...

Parents are allowed to sit in on classes at the buxiban I work at too. They are largely silent with the exception of the occasional ring of a cellphone. One parent however repeats every word I say under his breath to the best of his ability creating an echo effect in the room.

David said...

That would throw off my delivery Todd. That's a tough one. Have you tried anything to get him to stop?

Brian said...

Since I came to Taipei, I've found lots of Taipei natives can speak good English. I was kind of confused and wondered how come until I started going to cram schools to improve my poor English. I found lots of kids came to extra English courses for speaking and listening comprehension which our regular education doesn't provide. I don't know why but I think there aren't so many deligent kids in central and southern Taiwan. I am not sure if parents outside Taipei don't care about their chlidren's education as much as Taipei's. I kind of regret I didn't listen to my mom and improved my English earlier. But I also notice that most of Taipei's kids can't speak Taiwanese or don't have their own monther tongues. In my opinion, they don't know their culture or roots. And I am sorry for their loss and worry that they will become a new group without any traits. Probably I am too cynical and think too much. After all, we can't resist the trend of "globalization". However, somehow I still hope the local culture can survive the "globalization".

Adam Tomczik said...

Hello David,

This is an blogging question from a fellow ex-pat in Taiwan: what's your trick for posting photos that don't open full-sized? I feel awful for my readers who don't have 24 inch computer screens... Thanks a bunch!

I really enjoy your blog. I appreciate your observations on the emphasis on education in Northern Taiwan, although I don't think that it's accurate to say that us Americans have abandoned education. Our universities remain the top in the world for their atmosphere of intellectual freedom and cutting-edge research, and most parents are interested in what happens at their children's K-12 public and private schools. Also, the American system emphasizes creativity from preschool to the Ph.D., something that Taiwan's education system sorely lacks.

Anyhoo, keep posting!

David said...

Yes Brian, there is the risk of loss of cultural identity. It's a tough spot. Somehow, Taipei schools need to find a middle point that stresses the need for English while not abandoning what it means to be Taiwanese. It takes people like you to make that happen! You have lots of great ideas...perhaps you should look into political office?

David said...

Thanks Adam. I really enjoy doing this boosts my

Perhaps my blanket statement regarding American education was a bit much. You are right about higher-ed, American universities are second-to-none and creativity is encouraged.

My beef is with the lack of support for education in the U.S. is on a systemic level. The overall level of support for things such as infrastructure and financing is unsatisfactory. School levies are rarely looked upon as a way to improve society, rather they are evil tax-increases...that's a big problem.

I could go on and on about this

Your points are good ones. It's hard to have a positive outlook about the American system when you see the level of involvement here in Taiwan.

p.s. i will leave a comment on your blog regarding posting photos.