Tue, Apr 24, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Fixing education to avoid student alienation

By David Wang 王大維

The mass shooting at Virginia Tech University last Monday serves as a warning to Taiwan's education sector.

The Ministry of Education's university evaluation mechanism, which stipulates that poorly performing schools must close down and provides various financial subsidies and teaching excellence programs, has compelled many schools to direct all their energy and resources toward winning research projects and holding large-scale events in order to create the achievements required to deal with the evaluation.

Teachers, student affairs services and counseling centers are already struggling to accomplish their jobs without the additional tasks that these programs impose on them.

The growing disconnect between students and teachers is making it increasingly difficult for instructors to identify potentially dangerous students. Consequently, there is no guarantee that a Virginia Tech-like incident will not happen here.

Some people could question why school counseling centers are unable to step in and help students with psychological problems. The reason is simple: there aren't enough counselors around.

Although the situation improved slightly after the Psychologist Law (心理師法) was passed a few years ago, it is still unrealistic to rely on only two or three counselors per school to take care of thousands or even tens of thousands of students.

Teachers should become examples for their students by giving them more time to develop closer relationships with their pupils. Aside from preventing crises, this would also give teachers the opportunity to offer support to more alienated or disadvantaged groups.

David Wang is a doctoral candidate in the department of guidance and counseling at National Changhua University of Education.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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