March 19, 2006

Facing the reality

I really don't want to be a harsh father for my son, but I have recently found that I just couldn't help it. Before he started school last year, I told myself that I would never be serious about his education. But the truth is, after his school started, I saw his test results gradually come in the sorry state. You know that made me feel uncomfortable and in the doldrums.

I feel like getting more and more grumpy because I have been dreading that he will fall behind his classmate in terms of his school studies. As a father with an impulsive character somehow, I think it goes without saying that I might have given him the long face up to the present day. Although he hadn't complained to me anything about my having a temper toward him, I can sense that he tries to avoid seeing me sometimes. I am so wondering what I should do next to him. I want him to be a happy learners without worrying too much about his school exams. But on the other hand, if he didn't study harder, his school grade would not only frustrate himself but also his old man.

"Impossible!" Tommi said to me, and he is the one student in my class. "Both your boy and you have to face the music now. In Taiwan, academic performance is above everything for the kids and parents. If you don't do well on every subject, you are out and the world will pass you by." How cruelly has he said that to me, but I should give him some credit. Here in Taiwan it is unlike the US where parents also encourage their children to do something they like beyond their school life. Instead, the education environment on this island based on examination-orientation seems to be still in existence despite the implementation of the education reform few years ago. It is getting more and more serious about kids under much more pressure by knowing the increasing number of cram schools year after year.

Whew...I told Tommi I felt like moving to the back country. He poured cold water over my plan in no time and warned me that would do nothing good to my son because he will lose his competence with others. "Living in Alishan (阿里山) is actually nothing but an impossible dream. Forget about the idea or you will get screwed over." However, he added in the end of the conversation, "Unless you move back to the US, you have to help your kid learn to survive well in this society. After all, Taiwan is different than any other countries across the world."

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