Name: Michael Woods
Schools: Yishin Elementary and Cheng Kung Elementary
Grades Taught: Grades 1 to 6
Original country: Australia
My favorite foods: Salads, sandwiches, curries.
My favorite Taiwanese foods: Beef noodles, Meigan Cong Rou, dumplings.
My favorite places to visit in Taiwan: Hot springs, beaches and bike riding like Chishang
My favorite events with the students: Going swimming
Location: Yishin and Cheng King schools are situated in the eastern area of Taichung in a lower socio economic district leading to a lot of broken homes and children with learning challenges such as AHDD and lower IQ levels. Both are relatively small and compact, though Cheng Kung has recently had added a new wing. The schools are older and not very modern compared to Australia, which have bigger budgets, more facilities and technology, and amenities like carpet flooring which makes for much quieter classrooms. Of course the curriculum is traditional like all the schools with a heavy emphasis placed on tests and homework.
I like teaching in these types of public schools because the children are sweet and not spoiled like other richer schools, making for enjoyable classes. Public High schools in Australia have many challenges with discipline and drugs and this is far less evident in Taiwan. The traditional respect for teachers is one of the pleasures of teaching here although I don’t see that so much in the private rich schools where you are taken for granted a lot. I’ve learned a lot about the effect of a rigid educational system on the character of the people and how the children don’t have as strong a childhood as children in Australia.
As an educator first and foremost this traditional system has equipped me over the almost 30 years I’ve been here with teaching skills that allow me to hone in on the true goals of education within a restrictive curricula. Since I have kept in contact with many of the students and parents of my early years teaching kindergartens and elementary, I have been fortunate to see much success attributed to these skills as many are now in colleges here and abroad and also recently graduated. This has given me a longitudinal perspective which has enriched my teaching experience.