Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Politics of Sixth Grade: Political Indoctrination

A free field trip! The school sent around circular for the upcoming free field trip, an overnight to Taipei for visits to historic sites for my daughter's sixth grade class. My wife looked at the description, and nearly threw up.

The trip was sponsored by the Tai Ji Mei Foundation, which appears to be a non-profit organization of Taijidien, known in Anglais as Taiwan Semiconductor, a powerful Taiwan semiconductor and electronics concern with a worldwide reputation. The trip's first stop was the Memorial Formerly Known As CKS, the ultimate realization of the personality cult that the dictator himself and the KMT fostered around the figure of mass murderer Chiang Kai-shek. The description makes no mention of the fact that it is Taiwan Democracy Hall to some; or even that it might be a site of contested identities. It's still the 1970s in KMT Lala Land.

The next stop on the Greatest Hits of Chiang Kai-shek Tour is the Chientan Youth Activities Center. This is one of the KMT's ill-gotten assets, worth tens of millions of NT. In the old days it was the headquarters for the China Youth Corps, the KMT's youth indoctrination brigade. Technically severed from the Party, the CYC remains closely connected to it.

By now, those of you on the uptake will have already guessed that the next stop on the Greatest Hits of Chiang Kai-shek Tour is the official residence of the dictator in Shih Lin.

The DPP takes a lot of flack for the slow pace of educational reform, but it is easy to see why there is so much opposition, and why reform "fails." The school system is heavily pro-Blue, as are many other areas of the government bureaucracy, with little investment in making DPP programs work. In the educational system pro-authoritarian political indoctrination has been the norm since the arrival of Chiang and his horde from China in 1949. Change comes slowly....

With the election campaign heating up in Taiwan, it is pretty clear what such a trip might be aimed at, and which party it seeks to benefit. No wonder it was "free"..... and not just for my wife's school. This event, which appears to be overseen by the CYC, involves students from dozens of schools from all over Taiwan.

No comments: