As Typhoon Soudelor bears down on Taiwan, my exceptionally talented Taiwanese high school friend Yen Liao agreed to do an interview concerning the recent textbook crisis and the Ministry of Education.
He also spoke about the mentality of Taiwanese parents towards their children when it comes to their studies, and the need for a change.
Yen currently studies hair and fashion design and is a professional swimmer.
Q: For those who are uninformed about this issue, what is going on?
Yen: There are a bunch of students who want schools to focus on teaching Taiwanese history instead of just Chinese history. Recently they have been peacefully demonstrating their desire for the MOE (The Ministry of Education) to change the textbooks.
Yen: Students here don’t really care about that. Taiwanese young people’s thinking is not so complex. They think on more simple terms, and only want Taiwanese history books to talk about Taiwanese history. Also I don’t think that the Chinese really care about something so little as Taiwanese textbooks. It’s just a small news item that isn’t very important in China.
Q: How to fix this problem?
Yen: I believe that parents in this country need to respect their children’s thinking more. My parents are more open minded than the typical Taiwanese family. For example, when I wanted to become a professional swimmer in Junior High, my mother and father supported me in this endeavour. Later, I decided to study hair and makeup design. At first my parents were not convinced, but when they saw my grades were very outstanding they changed their thinking on this issue and became supportive.
Q: So you’re saying if more Taiwanese parents were like yours, the educational system here could improve?
Yen: Yes. I think that Taiwanese parents should give their children more opportunities to pursue what they feel passionate about rather than just focus all day on studying text books. They should be able to learn what they want more and have the freedom to do this. Also, if students have more free time, they can pursue these goals more. Focusing only on the textbook issue is not going to fix the education problem here in Taiwan.
I think the future of Taiwan will be better and better. I think the MOE knows the problem, so I think the MOE has a way to reform the problem concerning the textbooks. I watched the news today and saw a report that the MOE admitted they had failed overall to do a good job teaching the Taiwanese youth. So, they realise they need to change.