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  William Vocke    Special to The China Post
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.
The China Post carried a report from Reuters Singapore this week about two groups of “China bus drivers,” 259 in all, who went on strike a few days ago for 24 hour periods in protest of their working conditions (11-29-12 p. 13).
My Thursday afternoons follow a routine I rarely break. By 3 o'clock or so I am ready to tackle this weekly votive offering for page 4. If I feel the need, I grab a quick nap first. If not, it's a cup of coffee that I grab as I head to the computer screen.
Last Sunday's local English press reported on still another of those upsetting surveys among our youth. The Taiwan Fund for Children and Families conducted the study in the months of September and October, asking our teens to respond to statements about pressure in their lives.
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