I have been teaching for 4 days in Taiwan and it has been a great experience so far. Getting used to the heat and humidity is a whole other issue.
The schools here are compound like, with fence all around the entire school. Most schools are like that here. The gate at the front has a security guard who welcomes everyone. The principal also stands at the gate saying good morning to parents, staff and students. At first when I visited the night before it seemed more like a prison feel but in the morning the sense of community and caring was very strong. The students eat lunch together and take turns taking care of the recycling of organic and paper waste, nearly everything is recycled here, the garbage is so small compared to the recycling. During the afternoon recess time the students have chores to do. From sweeping, mopping, taking out the garbage, cleaning the board and washrooms, the students do all the cleaning. The amount of respect they have for the building is phenomenal, I haven’t seen anyone litter or make a mess.
The students are attending a summer program but are coming from a variety of socioeconomic classes. In Tao Yuan where the school is, about an hour from Taipei, they are simpler here. It is still busy but the food is cheap and you don’t see the same high fashion as Taipei. Everyone is welcoming, helpful and loves to practice English with you when they can. Many of the adults tell me they learned from HBO, I thought that was funny.
This experience has taught me a lot about education itself. Having a sense of community and giving responsibility to the students gives them a sense of ownership. If we applied these concepts in our schools, bringing in the community and providing the opportunity to allow student ownership, I think students would have a greater respect for the school and their learning.