*though I am writing this mostly about what I’ve noticed in Taiwan, Americans, take note, because the Taiwanese are trying to emulate American educational systems and we are not setting a very good example.
Yes, we need more accountability. The problem is that the accountability is being firmly placed in one lap rather than shared amongst all those responsible for a child’s education.
Firstly, and in my estimation most importantly, the accountability for a child’s education has been taken away from the child themselves. It is such a gigantic disservice to a child to not hold them accountable for their own education.
Why should they care if they are educated if they feel no responsibility for it? Why should they feel pride in their education if they barely do anything to receive it?
Some politicians and directors/ board members of educational institutions etc., would contend that there should be more private schools, ask more money for tuitions, create more charter schools, or anything else to charge parents for their child’s education.
HOWEVER, that is NOT putting responsibility on the students. That’s putting it on their parent’s wallets. It creates a crevasse between students whose parents have the financial ability and those who don’t.
How is it fair to a child when the education they are able to receive is dependent on the financial ability of their parents?
They didn’t choose their parent’s lives. They have no say in the financial situation of their parents. It is devastatingly unfair to strengthen or curtail a child’s pursuit of knowledge based on the circumstances of their home. It always has been. It always will be.
All children have potential to be good, upstanding, contributing members of society. They learn how to do that as they grow up. Children spend the majority of their maturing lives in school. So the schools are teaching them, directly and indirectly what kind of society member they can become. If they are taught that they deserve less or deserve more because of their parent’s situations, then they become adult members of society that both directly and indirectly blame their life choices on those of their parents and other adults in their lives, instead of taking responsibility for their own behaviors and actions.
Taking away the child’s accountability for their education harms EVERYONE.
Children are no longer being asked why their grades are failing, teachers are. Why would a child care about their grades if they know that the teacher will be penalized for it and not them?
Instead of trying to learn what is being said in English, they wait for the Chinese translation. They don’t have to earn their grade. They know they will get an 80% or higher even if they sit there and stare at me blankly.
Instead of accountability, they’re being given undue amounts of power.
Kids are by nature manipulative little guys. They have to be. It’s natural. That’s how they get taken care of when they can’t take care of themselves. OK, but they unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) use that in every situation until they mature enough.
Secondly, the school’s Administration and the Department of Education are not accepting any accountability for the programs that are clearly designed to fail students. Schools have become businesses instead of Institutions for education.
Institution: noun: an organization, establishment, foundation, society, or the like, devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or program, especially one of a public, educational, or charitable character.
Schools are fundamentally necessary to pass on and continue the educational advances of mankind. They are instruments of the proverbial “Village” to nurture and develop our young into well-functioning, creative, and contributing members of society.
They are NOT supposed to be money making machines that churn out masses of simple minded, cookie-cutter, semi-educated sheeple for the other money making machines to feed off of.
Thirdly, parents are more concerned about the grades the child gets than whether or not they are actually learning.
This sends me back to the 80% or higher no matter what the child does. Schools will not allow teachers to give grades based on actual learning. They have to be based on what the parents will “accept”.
It can be argued that an 80% is considered a very low grade to Taiwanese students and parents, but it’s an unrealistic consideration universally.
There’s very little accountability from the parents on ensuring that their child is doing their part in learning. They don’t want the students to have a lot of homework. They won’t “accept” homework they don’t understand.
The way the word ‘accept’ is used here in Taiwan is a whole other blog…… oi.
They want to see mastery without the work involved. The ‘work’ is supposed to be done in class, by the teacher. If they don’t know what is happening in class, they assume nothing is. They can’t “accept” that the child could be at fault. And it cannot be pointed out that the child might be having difficulty learning due to a disability. Disabilities are entirely ignored.
Unlike American schools where disabilities are integrated but still given extra support, here in Taiwan the kids are all thrown together and the class has to be toned as close to the least able as possible.
I’m all for equal educational and social opportunities, but the extra support is necessary to fulfill that. I taught a First Grade class with a wonderful young boy that was disabled. The class loved him being there. But he had a support tech with him to help him as needed. She was invaluable in both his education and that of all the other students. The class moved along at a consistent pace because she was dedicated to his needs and made sure he got the extra instruction or practice needed to keep up. Everyone benefitted.
His disabilities were not ignored, they were observed. His needs were not overlooked, they were given consideration. It’s a big difference.
And again, these kids, who could really excel with proper support, are underserved because they are still given that 80% without any help to have earned it.
Finally, we get to teachers. Sadly, too many foreign teachers here are just in it for the paycheck. Not all, so don’t get your knickers in a twist, but too many.
It’s far too easy to not care if the children are educated because no one else does. . It is sadly far too true here.
We don’t dedicate ourselves to ensuring there is understanding, practice and mastery. We have a pace we have to keep. We have students of all levels in the same class. We have unrealistic expectations.
Many, many of us put in a lot. But we are also here short-term and it shows up in our efforts.
We could really make a change for the better if we chose to, but we don’t. Yes, I am including me in all this. I have not made myself as accountable for my student’s education this year as I should have. I listened to all the people at the school instead of sticking to what I know would work.
With all the accountability for a child’s education being placed in the laps of teachers, many teachers are shrugging it off and justifying it through blaming the system, which shrugs it off as cultural differences.
Unfortunately, the ones who are being harmed by all of us adults not being accountable or responsible are the children we are supposed to be helping.
So what do we do?
We start holding the children accountable. They need real consequences and real rewards for taking responsibility for their own education.
We need to help them discover how this education we are providing will impact their future, and how their role in learning impacts what they learn.
We need to hold the Administrations and the Department of Education accountable for the amount of time students have to learn, for the quality of materials, and for understanding that language is inexplicably tied to culture and though we, as adults, need to respect the culture we are choosing to live in, they, as educators, need to respect that teaching English cannot be done using Taiwanese methods.
And we need to take accountability for educating these children, for preparing them for their future. We are their glimpse and we need to make it a good one.