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I made the following casual observation in an email to a friend in the United States this week: “Not much new to report. The new semester is fairly routine thus far, if anything can be 'routine' about my last semester in 27 years in teaching.”
News this week of still another shocking student suicide in Taiwan should do more than only sadden and frustrate us. This is a story that parents and educators should jump on and seize for its educative potential.
We were close to the eve of Chinese New Year here when a shocking report of a cheating scandal at Harvard University made international headlines, thanks to an article in the New York Times on Feb. 1, 2013.
As I tap out this first sentence, my head is aching, my eyes are sore, and my back hurts. I describe a condition common these days to thousands of educators all over the country. We in the teaching profession are in the waning hours of the semester, and everybody wants something from us, and they all want it at the same time, and, actually, it was all promised and due a week or more ago.
Last week I focused on a published interview with the author of “Taiwan Could be Better,” a new book (in Chinese) by a Taiwan National University graduate student from China, Fu Tzun-fong. Much of that column was political in nature.
We are still at work on details and haven't clinched a deal, so I cannot know with absolute certainty. I am hopeful, however, that today's will be the first of two columns that continue a discussion begun some time ago on the subject of Chinese students and their experiences here in Taiwan. This offering is more than reportage. We are, after all, on the commentary page.
I won't offer names of newspapers, dates of publication, or page references, as I often do. That is because the news stories behind the headlines I quote below are probably well etched in our minds, and thus require no wordy explanations. In addition, what we are studying here at the beginning is theme, not precise details.
With 20 minutes before the dismissal bell in a class last Monday, a senior in the back row raised his hand and wondered if he could ask a question unrelated to our course. I gave him the green light, and he said he wanted to know if I had anything to say about the shooting incident a few days earlier at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Local news events continue to crop up which give us valuable opportunities to contemplate the role of civility in both public and private lives.
It is not necessary to offer a complete chronology of what led to the dramatic confrontation last week in the national legislature between a student activist from Tsinghua National University and the Minister of Education. A quick sketch might however be useful.
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