Taiwanese education compared to American classroom

When comparing her educational experience growing up in Taiwan with her experience teaching at Glenbrook North, Mandarin teacher Wanyin Chou notes many differences.

“We didn’t do anything in my time but study in hopes to go to a good university,” Chou said.

In high school, Chou went to school for a mandatory amount of at least 9 1/2 hours every day, with at least nine classes a day. Chou also had lunchtime, a nap and morning exercise in her daily schedule. She had 5 1/2 days of school each week, including a half day on Saturday, Chou said.

Chou’s high school in Taiwan was much stricter compared to GBN today. Students in her class ask for a small break to go to eat in the cafeteria, and Chou allows them to go. In her high school, breaks were not allowed. Chou was expected to stay seated for each class period.

“After school, we [would] have to clean our classroom, wipe the windows, put the chairs in order and sometimes even clean the bathroom,” said Chou. “Versus here, kids have a lot of freedom.”

Chou’s teachers did not teach her much critical thinking or problem solving, she said.

“The way that teachers taught was very different,” said Chou. “The aim was to do well on tests, so we memorized more.”

After graduating from Tunghai University in Taiwan, Chou began taking college courses at Rutgers University in the United States, and the way her professors taught forced her to analyze and think critically, which she struggled with as she had limited experience with those skills.

Graduate school chemistry was much easier because the math in her university chemistry class was similar to the math she did in high school, Chou said.

“[Now] I tell my students, ‘If you don’t learn Chinese well, that’s fine, but you have to be a righteous person, a justified person,’” said Chou. “So in that respect, I think I’m very strict to my students here.”