This interesting story caught my eyes this summer when I read in the Taipei Times when it was published…
Most teachers use materials banned by MOE, poll shows
Nearly 70 percent of junior high school students said they have been taught with alternate “reference” books in class despite a ban on such publications, a recent poll showed.
“This result indicates abnormalities in our education system, as ‘credentialism’ is still hurting Taiwan’s junior high students,” Shih Ying, chairman of the Humanistic Education Foundation, told a press conference yesterday.
It boggles the mind: what the heck are ‘unauthorized’ textbooks? What is credentialism and how does it relate to this story? From what I’ve seen of school textbooks, schools rely on particularly few textbooks for outside reading, and too many for classwork.
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Will Microsoft’s Strong Anti-Piracy Stand Drive People to Linux?
by George Lunt
Windows and Piracy Microsoft is due to release its new Vista operating system either toward the end of this year or at the beginning of next year. Will this new operating system be as successful as Microsoft’s other offerings?
Interesting discussion here because of some of the points that people have raised regarding piracy as an alternative form of advertising/promotion esp. in countries that are quite poor. The theory is that getting people hooked on M$ will be good for their own business as people increasingly turn to legal copies…
It’s certainly an interesting argument, though M$ has to talk tough to prevent everyone doing that, I suspect that they do somewhat condone this. Linux could really dent their long term ‘dependency’ relationship, as could open source software in general. Once you’re hooked on, say, OpenOffice… why would you ever pay for M$Office?
I recently blogged about the situation in Japan. One of my friend’s wrote this piece in a private email. I persuaded her to let me post it here… I thought it was an interesting piece of writing on the situation in Japan from Michael J. Mullgrew who has been there for quite some time and has enjoyed a more than spectator’s view of the changing dynamics of Japan’s political and economic situation. In an email to me, he wrote:
It has been predicted that about 30% of Japanese universities will go to the wall in the next few years – and I can see the women’s university where I am employed as being one of them. I don’t know if you’ve been watching the news about what is happening to the conservatives in government here, but they are kind of a cliche for what is happening all over the country – a lot of corruption, fraud and just generally people getting caught with too many fingers in the pie – of course none of this is new – but the bottom line is that the public are slightly less than delighted with the governance of the neo-conservatives/fascists.
What we’re looking at is less than academically active departments in ‘bottom feeder mode’ to encourage enough students to apply – and as there is an ever declining student population, I don’t see that as a situation which can be turned around. What it means is departments being reinvented (but no new hiring), and an attempt to do circus performance tricks to entice the population. Naturally, the lack of real external evaluation in higher ed means the whole thing gets more and more wobbly, and the unemployment rate of graduates continues to rise (though the real figures are unknown because many graduates take part-time jobs ‘freeters’ until they find regular employment – then after a couple of years they are once again looking for a job). Not exactly convincing for the general public who fork out a great deal of money to put their children through higher education, only to have them ‘resting at home’ semi-permanently.
Statistics show that the Liberal Arts colleges are now accepting students with an average English language ability of those in junior high school here (one notch up on false beginners) – it has always been this way in Japan, but somehow it is more depressing when we understand the management side of things. And I’m kind of convinced that working in an environment where the contribution of foreign teachers is appreciated, rather than allocated the ‘ra-ra’ chorus for the main act would be a better option – especially for those committed to careers in EFL.
It’s anyone’s guess where the future is going, if dynamic young people insist on proportional representation in their workplace (and in the wider society) then we may see a brighter future than the one I envisage controlled as it is, at the moment, by ‘the Old Guard.” Mandatory retirement at 55 for all those professors not actively publishing (in print or on the web) or participating in academic conferences (enough already!) – and the administration of general university affairs can be done most effectively by the central university office staff.
PS. This post was edited to add the author’s name.
I was reading Scott Sommers’ Blog about Taiwan, when I noticed he referred to this discussion about Teaching in Japan.
When I first came to Asia, intending to teach ESL as my choice of profession, I too considered going there, but I had the impression at the time (1992-3) that the bubble had burst somewhat for new entrants. Yet, people are still saying that!
I don’t know if there are really a lot of people heading to Japan to teach or not nowadays, but certainly salaries for newbies aren’t really very attractive any more, and you have to pay a lot of money for key deposits, and so on… (But that was always true.)
Scott also mentioned that tenure practices at Universities have also changed as a result of the influx of foreigners teaching. If you want to teach Uni, there, you more than likely will only be offered a max. three year contract.
Given the expenses, the relative salaries, and the trouble getting a real job, is Japan still a viable teaching alternative? Opinions?
Taipei Times Reports
Plagiarism issue plagues Chinaâ€™s top universities
AFP , BEIJING
Thursday, Mar 16, 2006,Page 1
Plagiarism is rampant at Chinese universities as academics are pushed to publish or perish, with their schools often covering up for them, state media said yesterday.
A recent survey of 160 doctorate holders found 60 percent had copied the work of others and the same percentage had paid in order to be published in academic journals, the China Daily reported.
Naturally, this is a matter of concern for us all because it drags down the professions in TESOL in so many ways. Our colleagues are coming under the hammer for this, even though they may have done nothing wrong. How does one fight against plagiarism?
As a journal publisher, this is a matter of real concern since publishing an article subsequently accused of plagiarism is a real knock to the journalâ€™s reputation.
How can we combat plagiarism? I guess the best way may be by education. We need to find out what constitutes plagiarism, how to spot it in writing (even if itâ€™s our own writing), and how to solve it by rewriting, editing, or whatever.
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