Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Paradox of Ranks and scores in Taiwan

Here's a culture that's obsessed with ranks and scoring. Companies proudly display awards. Bushibans advertize student scores. Schools rate professors based on publications in prestigious journals with high impact factors. A nation awaits, eagerly, for the latest rankings in competitiveness, math education, and a thousand and one other topics.

Here is a culture where scores and ranks are so often assigned, not on merit, but are handed out based on seniority. Or arbitrary quotas unrelated to performance. Or teachers are told to have all grades averaged out to 80, or no scores over 90 will be given. Or scores and awards are rotated among individuals and departments, so that they have no meaning. Or awards are bought, not earned in any way.

Reconcile, please.
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Fede said...

I found it weird the fact that professors in university modify the scores by any arbitrary mean so the average is 80 or more. That is not serious!
Besides, in one class last semester only me and other guy passed the exams with 95 and all the other students failed miserably, but then the teacher gave then a very stupid homework that accounted for 50% of the total score!
I'm starting to believe that here you buy your diploma, not earn it.

Anonymous said...

This is why the KMT keeps pointing out the S. Korea GDP surpassed Taiwan during the DPP's watch. Irrelevant to foreigners, but a big deal to score obsessed Taiwanese.

Eisel Mazard said...

Although it is a subject for another blog entirely, this problem is deeper and broader than any industrialized culture wants to admit to itself.

How many people have you met within Taiwan who have university diplomas from the U.S.A. who cannot read or write high-school level English? The examples I've met include people with PhDs from the U.S., Canada and England.

People want to imagine that these problems don't exist in their own cultures: there's a strong tendency to re-enforce social inequality with a myth of social justice. The notion that higher levels of education really reflect differences of merit is a powerful part of this myth.

In related news, nobody wants to believe that getting promoted in the military has more to do with Guanxi (關係) than heroism. However, anyone who has had a career in the military will offer cynical comments along these lines.

Anonymous said...

Ranking seems to be part of human nature. That's the reason you have princes, dukes, earls, barons, knights, etc. and, among the commoners, you have "The Cheap-siders", "East-Enders" and "West-Enders" etc. to differentiate where you belong in London (money-wise.)

You have rankings of retaurents, cities, countries, rich-and-richer-and-richest people, best-clothed people, sexiest-people, etc.

The US News & World Reports maintains a sophisticated and complex system of rankings of universities, colleges, regional collges etc.

On Feb 24, 2003, Bernard Loiseau, one of France's most celebrated chefs committed suicide after his flagship restaurant had been downgraded in a top restaurant guide.

Gilman Grundy said...

Both symptoms of the same thing - rankings are so important that you have to have them, by fair means or foul, and if you can't get them then you have to invent some way of getting them. Hence, also, massive cheating.