Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 8 News List

[LETTERS]

Don’t underestimate kids

Your seemingly benign article (“Children aspire to be pop entertainers,” April 4, page 2), about a career survey of sixth-graders conducted by the Mandarin Daily News features a flawed headline, and reveals concerns regarding the survey.

The article’s headline states that most children responding to the survey chose the profession of “pop entertainer” as the job they most want to do when they grow up.

But the article says the survey listed the option of “singer,” while making no mention of the pop industry.

Apparently assuming a singer can only be a pop star in the mind of a child, professor Feng Yen (馮燕) [of National Taiwan University’s Department of Social Work] presents reasons why “show business” is highly attractive to children, asserting that the children have chosen what they perceive as an easy job with high pay.

First, I want to assert that the profession of “singer” in no way mandates a career in the fields of pop or show business. As a professional recording and performing artist, I abhor being described as a member of either of these fields, but singing does occupy a great deal of my work.

Is it not possible that some children who chose “singer” as their dream job may already have been exposed to a diverse range of music and music education, may be well aware of the hard work involved and might be considering classical opera, folk or even Taiwanese traditional opera as their field? I know Taiwanese children in the same age group as those surveyed who are in fact considering these fields of music.

This generalization does nothing to understand and nurture the complex thinking, feelings and interests of our children.

A case in point comes from my own experience in the seventh grade when filling out a multi-question career interest survey.

When completing the survey, I intentionally selected answers which would land me in the field which really interested me at the time — special effects make up artist! This was not the kind who prepares the faces of soap stars, news anchors or musicians on stage. My passion was to create the aliens and other twisted characters appearing on-screen in films such as Star Wars, Alien, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

But when it was compiled, the data determined the career most suited to my interests was “cosmetologist”! This was as far as you could get from my interests, and when I looked through the survey’s complete list of possible careers, my choice did not exist.

This is when I realized that the creative potential of students can outstrip that of teachers.

Limiting students’ options to the most common is a disservice, as are the overgeneralizations and simplistic assumptions made when interpreting their answers.

Perhaps your headline should have read, “Children aspire to share music with the world.”

MATTHEW LIEN

Taipei

Beware animal torturers

Hats off to the Taipei District Court for giving Taiwan’s ­­first-ever prison sentence for cruelty to animals to Lee Nien-lung (李念龍), who reportedly tortured and killed cats (“Graduate student found guilty of animal torture,” March 31, page 2). This outcome will make Taiwan a safer place for animals and humans.

Animal abusers are bullies and cowards who take their issues out on “easy victims” — and their targets often include members of their own species. Psychiatrists, criminal profilers and law enforcement officials have repeatedly documented that people who are cruel to animals often turn that violence against humans. The standard diagnostic and treatment manual for conduct disorders also lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion.

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