LETTER: The enviable shape of children's education in Taiwan

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The enviable shape of children's education in Taiwan

From Mr Randhir Singh Bains

Sir: Judith Judd rightly identifies ("Children worlds apart in success at schools", 7 April) the role of the Asian work ethic in promoting educational standards and achievements in Taiwan and Hong Kong. However, the Asian work ethic alone cannot possibly account for this phenomenal success; other factors such as respect and social status accorded to teachers and the high esteem in which they are held, stress on pragmatic approach and the use of old-fashioned teaching methods must also make significant contributions to the success of their educational systems.

Modern teaching methods, in which child-centred learning strategies take precedence over the teacher-led learning process, are incompatible with the Asian value-system. This is because Asian culture puts much greater emphasis on teachers' authority in the classroom, discipline and competition.

Britain adopted modern teaching methods in schools many years ago. But, looking at the state of education, it seems that the child-oriented learning systems, which were supposed to motivate all pupils, have failed to redress the problem of underachievement.

In fact, the American experience has shown that if a student's self-motivation is low, individual-based learning systems, such as open-learning workshops, usually become a sink of wasteful resources, making little contribution to educational achievement. In the light of these experiences, would it not be better to revert to traditional methods of teaching in schools?

Yours faithfully,

RANDHIR SINGH BAINS

Gants Hill,

Essex

9 April

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