Part one of a reflection on cram schools (buxiban), parenting, student anxiety, and test-taking culture, which permeates Taiwanese education and society—and beyond
Ah, this reminds me of my gifted class (資優班 [ziyoban]) classmates. From elementary school to junior high school, I had been in gifted class all the time. And then a class for students gifted in language in the best school of my city. It was so competitive in elementary school and junior high. We had passed through all those IQ test, math test and Chinese test when we entered the class. It was a class of supposedly smartest/highest-achieving students. But most of my classmates went to buxiban. You have to work on mock tests to get prepared for the entrance exam of that primary school gifted class. And then you go to buxiban to get prepared for those junior high gifted classes or elite private junior highs. (And there is a ranking of those gifted classes!) After that you go to buxiban to get prepared for entering the best high schools, and then the best universities. My mom just told me some weeks earlier that one of my elementary school classmate’s mother wanted me to join buxiban as well. The lady told her, half-threateningly, “What if your daughter fail to enter the next gifted class because she doesn’t go to buxiban? You should send her to one before it’s too late!”
Fortunately my parents never forced me into those buxiban.
Please provide a future installment in which Michelle goes to driving school :) Loved reading this!
One thing I've noticed about the math exams here is that some of the questions are unreasonably hard. A criticism is that those kinds of questions aren't testing what students know but how "smart" they are. In the US these kinds of questions only appear e.g. in extracurricular competitions.
Anecdotally, I've heard some comments from people that only "geniuses" in Taiwan don't need to go to cram school. This fixation on "smarts" seems harmful... because it establishes, early on, a hierarchy, and a sense of inevitability.
the driving instructor you described… hilarious!
This was funny and insightful, loved reading it!
Ahh, this resonates with me on so many levels. Thanks for sharing, Albert. I hope you successfully get that drivers license!💪