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Thinking about Yutori Education: Japan, Taiwan, and the U.S. - 2

A friend of mine who is Taiwanese shared her thoughts and interesting information regarding the educational system of Taiwan.

The educational reform in Taiwan began in 1994. After careful preparation, a new curriculum was introduced in 1996 and it has been implemented in all elementary and middle schools since 2004. The goals of this reformation include: to develop modern citizens, to promote national identity, to foster global perspective, and to increase social consciousness. Teachers hope that students can relax and enjoy learning, and that the knowledge which they gain should be transferrable and applicable to real life.

While various learning activities are offered in school, the range of the curriculum was also expanded to include more levels of students. Higher standards were assigned for academically gifted students; on the other hand, educational opportunities for disadvantaged groups were increased. So far, it seems that this revolution is regarded as being successful in Taiwan. People are enthusiastic about education and about the fact that Taiwan can be competitive in international settings.


The goals and strategies of educational reform appear to be very similar between Taiwan and Japan, which made me wonder if Japanese reformation also might have been actually successful.

On the other hand, I saw two major differences between Taiwan and Japan that may affect people's motivations for educational revolutions. First, the revolution in Taiwan was started and strongly supported by Taiwanese people who wanted Taiwan to be an independent country. Moving beyond the previous curriculum is perceived by people as a move toward democracy and freedom. Improvement of the educational system is regarded as a means for the armament of Taiwan (The pen is mightier than the sword!).

Secondly, the Taiwanese people have been exposed to global settings in everyday life, since Taiwan historically has been governed by other countries including European countries as well as China and Japan. As a result, Taiwanese people may be better than Japanese people at opening themselves to new cultures and systems and taking only the good parts from them, even when they are very different from those of Taiwan. At the same time, such practices might strengthen Taiwanese national identities and also help Taiwanese people to develop compassion for minority ethnic groups and disadvantaged people.

I will introduce another perspective regarding the U.S. situations next time.
(To be continued)

I am thankful to a friend of mine who shared her thoughts and useful information about the educational system in Taiwan.

Tu, Cheng-sheng. (2007). Educational Reform in Taiwan: Retrospect and Prospect.
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