Thu, Mar 15, 2018 - Page 8 News List

The younger generation is owed a better future

By William Stimson

The small democratic nation of Taiwan lives under constant threat from its huge next-door neighbor, China.

China’s brutal intention to forcefully absorb Taiwan into itself, as it did Tibet and other regions outside its historical borders, is far from the only danger it poses to Taiwan.

A nearly equal peril is gargantuan China’s ability to so thoroughly outcompete Taiwan economically in the global marketplace that the small nation is in the end forced to crawl under the huge Communist umbrella just to survive, giving up its freedom, independence and unique historical identity.

While this might be easy for some of their money-crazed parents to accept, it is, in my experience, not what Taiwan’s world-class younger generation wants.

To combat these twin dangers to its existence, it is a day-to-day survival need for Taiwan to become not just the leading Silicon Valley-type hub of technological innovation in Asia, but a real hotspot of creative cutting-edge developments in all areas of business, commerce, culture and academic endeavor.

Only then, might Taiwan’s tiny free-market economy outcompete China’s huge government-controlled enterprise and might China’s leaders come to realize that, as Hong Kong is bit by bit brought to heel and ruined, an independent and still vibrantly healthy and creatively alive Taiwan right at its doorstep far better serves China’s own interests and needs than yet another vassal border region in its vast empire ever possibly could.

The issue at hand, then, is how can these younger Taiwanese possibly have a chance at the future they clearly desire, when from their earliest years until the time they graduate from college, their teachers and the imposed system of education they suffer under systematically deprives them of any real opportunity to develop as critical independent thinkers or creative innovators?

Taiwan’s education system is outrageously effective in depriving students of any chance to ever discover their passion or to find their motivation. Yet, both have been shown by recent studies in the West to be so profoundly necessary for meaningful creative discovery — much more so than the rote acquisition of mere factual information, which is what education in Taiwan is all about.

The world has changed. The nature of business has changed and is fast changing. Taiwan need not be a victim of this. It belongs out front as a leader of it all.

These young Taiwanese are world-class. There is no reason the education system should not be the same. Taiwan owes it not only to them, but to its own ancient Chinese roots and to the future of all Chinese everywhere to make it so, posthaste.

If educators in Taiwan can not bring themselves to do this, then they might as well just start teaching their students that Taiwan is a province of China. For, unless these educators act now and change their 2,000-year-old Confucian take on education, soon this proud and deserving nation will be reduced to that.

Yet, should things actually go in that unfortunate direction, you can be quite sure it will not confer any benefit on Taiwan, on China or on Chinese anywhere.

William Stimson is a US writer who teaches at National Chi Nan University and at Tunghai University.

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