A retired grade school teacher submitted a letter to a newspaper expressing the belief that the “Sunflower student movement” demonstrates the failure of education reform promoted by Lee Yuan-tseh. The “educational curse planted by past educational reform” gave birth to large numbers of “unconstrained university monsters” who do not stay in school but, instead, bring about turmoil. This teacher is quite representative of those who oppose educational reform and wish to return to the past.
In order to enhance national competitive strength, countries around the world have been continuously conducting education reform in the past ten years. Taiwan is no exception. Our education reform went from unitary to diverse, from ossified to flexible, and from “curriculum standards” to “curriculum outline”. It is also a plan that allows for many textbook versions to give greater autonomy to schools and teachers in different regions.
“Minor adjustments” to the curriculum outline allowed the termination of native language lessons in junior high school, and the increased proportion of classical Chinese texts, all go against world education trends. Scores of university principals support the student movement and scores of professors established “democratic classrooms” in the streets, on campus, and off campus. Education is not limited to the classroom, and teaching is not limited to the textbooks; educational philosophy must adapt to new situations and environments. The Minister of Education should reflect on how Taiwan is to move forward.
Education determines Taiwan’s future. The wheel of the ages grinds relentlessly forward. Time will not stop for Taiwan, so there can be no backtracking on our education reform.