The Ministry of Education should put Chinese-language education “back on track” by including materials more relevant to the times and the land to stimulate student interest, the Association for Taiwan Literature said yesterday.
Association director Lin Chi-yang (林淇瀁) — known by his pen name, Xiang Yang (向陽) — said that the nation’s average reading comprehension scores in the Program for International Student Assessment have dropped to 23rd place.
The drop is due to Taiwan’s educational system, which focuses on classical Chinese language and culture, he said.
Classical texts — comprising 75 percent of high-school Chinese-language education materials — is not conducive to developing students’ potential, helping them in their future careers, fostering understanding of their civic duties or teaching them to appreciate life, Lin said.
The concentration on classical Chinese texts, standard Chinese texts and select Taiwanese classical texts blurs the issue, retired professor Chen Wan-yi (陳萬益) said.
Chinese-language education in Taiwan has always been staid due to the rigidity of its textbooks and its intimate connection to classical Chinese literature, Chen said.
Textbooks petrify the learning capabilities of children with rote memorization, Chen said, adding that the history behind classical Chinese literature is dead weight.
Decoupling Chinese-language education from classical literature and teaching more about the history, people, current events and ecology of Taiwan would close the distance between articles and their readers, Chen said.
The basics of language education are not just about the ability to comprehend and write fluently; it includes how language fosters people’s personalities and emotions, as well as the feelings of the locals, National Museum of Taiwan Literature Director Liao Chen-fu (廖振富) said.
Chinese-language classes should include more Taiwanese subjects, although Chinese subjects should not be excluded, Liao said.
While some teachers might feel that they bear the responsibility of passing down millennia-old classics, they should realize that this was not the intention of Chinese-language education, Liao added.
Decreasing the amount of Chinese classics in the curriculum and increasing the amount of Taiwanese classics is not a politically fueled proposal, the union said.
Writings that introduce globalization should take up a greater percentage, it said, adding that inclusion of Taiwanese classics would make students more aware of their local literature.
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