Wed, Jun 21, 2017 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Poor student behavior

I was disappointed by the responses and attitudes of local academics dismissing and downplaying the behavior of National Quemoy University graduates (“Students childish, ill-bred: Stanley Yen,” page 4, June 15) who left in the middle of a commencement speech by National Tsing Hua University honorary professor Lee Chia-tung (李家同).

Based on my own regular experiences as a guest speaker/lecturer at Taiwanese universities, I have found that while many students are well-behaved and attentive in such settings, there are a fair number of others who have no qualms about holding full-volume conversations with classmates and other disrespectful behavior that, as Landis Hotel Taipei president Stanley Yen (嚴長壽) noted, could be indicative of bad breeding and immaturity.

This has nothing to do with — as the above professors claimed — the commencement speaker’s lack of “power,” “juice” or “good karma,” a boring speech, changing times, or students acting like “discharged troops.”

It is a simple lack of courtesy and respect.

A failure by Taiwanese educators and parents to encourage a better standard from their young people will do them no favors as many attempt to enter a very competitive, global workforce that usually demands a high level of professional behavior, poise and interpersonal skills. Perhaps it is a deficit in these areas that can help explain the regular comments I hear from managers at international businesses conducting job interviews with recent Taiwanese graduates, who are often compared unfavorably with their foreign peers when it comes to professionalism, poise and communication, not to mention practical skills.

This is not a blanket criticism, as I have run across plenty of well-mannered, articulate, confident and mature Taiwanese young people over the years, and I recently complimented a Taichung-based foreign professor after giving a speech to his impressive class of third-year university students, who were polite, paid attention and asked questions.

As I have witnessed, he strictly holds his students to a higher standard and is not afraid to publicly call out misbehaving or discourteous individuals, rather than shrugging it off or making excuses.

It is my hope that teachers and students like this will become less of an exception and more the rule in Taiwan.

Douglas Habecker

Taichung

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