Vice Education Minister Chen Yi-hsing and Taipei City Education Commissioner Kang Tzong-huu took part in a "friendly school campus week" rally at Taipei Municipal Lanya Junior High School.Of course -- what social action in Taiwan would be complete without skits? A recent issue, said the article, had highlighted the problem:
Chen said the ministry wanted to use the campaign to enhance anti-bullying, anti-gangster and anti-drug awareness at schools.
"We hope students can learn about school bullying and how to deal with it to help them respect themselves and others and create a superior school environment that is safe and friendly, " Chen said.
Reporters questioned whether a campaign of slogans and skits could achieve the desired effect, but Chen said that action would only be taken when a consensus was formed and that "awareness is the first step in education."
Meanwhile, Taoyuan County's Bade Junior High School, where public outrage over the issue was triggered late last year after its principal was found to have deliberately ignored a string of bullying incidents, also took part in the campaign.There were some great comments on Forumosa, the popular discussion forum. Forumosan Icon observed:
And that is the key to teh situation. Those kids are already off the system, it is useless, according to teh mentality, to spend time on them. They will not go to Tai-Da, they will not pass the exams. Look at the system: the kids who are smarter get more lessons, spend more time at school. The kids who fell behind stay behind, no extra lessons, no extra homework, no more imput from the teachers.Right on. Mark Ames, in Going Postal, perhaps the best book on the debacle for the average American worker that was the Reagan years, noted that the reason school shooters can't be profiled very clearly is that the problem isn't the students but the school itself, where bullying is ingrained and institutionalized. I would argue that a similar institutionalization of bullying exists in Taiwan:
The teachers at your school know it. This kids did not make teh grade. If it is not Yienguo, then they are out of the race. Hence, no point in making teh effort. This is why you go to schools and teh kids do not want to learn anymore. There is no point. Study is a competition, not an acquisition on learning. If they are in a private school, they already fell off the train, if you know what I mean. The situation is different in public schools, or at levels where they can still make a difference. Afterwards, there is little to do but pass the time. Their destinies are written from the Big Test at middle school on, maybe even before. If tehy do not have teh knowledge to pass teh test, that's it. If they do not live in the right area to go to the right school, or have enough money to pay buxiban, same. If the teachers know this, why try harder? Unless they are masochists/idealists, of course.
*students in many schools are triaged into high and low performing classes and given access to resources and teachers accordingly, as Icon notes above. The students know where they will end up in the pecking order. What effect does that have?
*hitting of students is widespread. Not only are "perps" hit but classes are punished (hit) as a group for the actions of single individuals. Parents may complain if schools do not hit; they are not being tough enough. This is nothing more than institutionalized violence and bullying. What message does it send to would-be bullies?
*Widespread corruption in the school system -- from kickbacks to school administrators to the children of powerful local individuals able to threaten teachers and escape punishment. This culture of impunity is known, however dimly, to the students in the schools. This leads directly to bullying.
Until the Ministry of Ed and society at large is willing to change, slogans and campaigns won't do diddly.
- Jerome Cohen with an excellent piece on Egypt and China.
- The Manila-Taipei row from local teacher whose wife is Filipino and now cannot enter Taiwan.
- Global Voices on the debate over comics/light novels in Taiwan.
- Chen Yunlin, China envoy, calls off visit to Tainan. As if he planned to come.
- Luxury vans and other perks found for former township heads.
- Two seminal papers find that extreme weather events are driven by global warming.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.