Fri, Aug 29, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Academics urge ministry to scrap its latest guidelines

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A group of academics yesterday urged the Ministry of Education to abolish its latest high school curriculum guidelines published in January, saying they are flawed.

At a press conference in Taipei, Prudence Chou (周祝瑛), professor of education at National Chengchi University, said “ideology” still reigned supreme in the new guidelines, which are scheduled to take effect in 2010, particularly in subjects such as Chinese literature and history.

Chang Hsiao-feng (張曉風), renowned writer and professor at National YangMing University, said although the guidelines required publishers to include Taiwanese literary works in their Chinese literature textbooks, they failed to prevent articles that might be discriminatory from being included.

Citing as an example a literary work included in the guidelines titled A Record of the Barbarians in the East (東番記) written by Chen Ti (陳第) in 1603, Chang said many of the selected pieces reflected “Hoklo cultural chauvinism,” while failing to respect Aboriginal culture.

“How can the word ‘barbarian’ still be used [to refer to Aboriginals] nowadays?” she said.

Chang was also critical of the part of the guidelines that sought to screen the terms considered inappropriate in textbooks.

The guidelines state that terms that are banned in textbooks include those that fail to “describe the status quo of Taiwan,” fail to convey “clear national consciousness,” or fail to mention “China” when describing Chinese locations or individuals.

“Why do we have to call [Tang] poet Li Bai (李白) ‘Chinese poet Li Bai’ and refer to classical poetry as Chinese poetry?” she said.

Wang Chung-fu (王仲孚), professor of history at Chinese Culture University, said although composition of history textbooks would inevitably spark debate between those holding different political stances, he was worried that students might gain a limited understanding of Chinese history under the new guidelines, as they would only spend one semester on the history of China.

Chang Yu-ching (張宇靖), a high school science teacher, said the new curriculum guidelines failed to integrate physics, chemistry, biology and earth sciences, leaving teachers with limited material.

The academics suggested that the ministry abolish the guidelines and establish a national academy for educational research as soon as possible, then draw up a new set of guidelines.

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