I have been working as a teacher here for three months now, and just realized that I have said next to nothing about the Taiwanese educational system. So I figured a little commentary/critique was necessary.
The school system here is as rigorous as any I have seen or heard of. The average student spends 8-10 hours at the very least doing various school-based activities. These often include standard primary school classes, English classes at schools like the one I work at, music lessons, sports practice, the list goes on. Often children do not get home until the late evening and then must contend with homework. Driving these brutal schedules are enormous expectations from parents that make even the most concerned American parents seem neglectful by comparison. The bottom line is that students are pushed extremely hard by both parents and teachers and are afforded little time for anything else.
Now the advantages of such a rigorous system are not hard to see. Children are instilled with a monstrous work ethic at a very young age, which translates to a myriad of settings in and beyond the academic sphere. Those who include and remain committed to English study are particularly rewarded as they will most likely find themselves functionally fluent in the two most useful languages in the world by the time they graduate high school. Given all of this, it is not hard to understand why Western countries are being outstripped by Asia in the field of education and beyond.
But what is the cost of such an approach? The sad truth of the matter is that the majority of these kids are effectively being stripped of their childhoods. So many of the things we see as integral to growing up such as playing, exploring, and building friendships are practically non-existent here as leisure time does not exist. While much of the Taiwanese people’s industriousness and commitment to success is to be admired, I can’t help feeling that the price children must pay for it is too high.