2015年3月9日 星期一

蘋論:恐怖情人何其多;教養教育Liberal arts can help Japan in the 21st century




從幼兒園開始,家長、老師就要教導兒童分享、尊重、控制情緒。這對學生一輩子都很重要,比學科重要。 當然家長、老師自己都要接受教育,先學習如何尊重孩子、如何控制自己的情緒。所以請學校減少學科時數,增加學習人生課程的時數。 

POINT OF VIEW/ Richard A. Gardner: Liberal arts can help Japan in the 21st century
This is a tumultuous time for higher education in Japan. Nearly every aspect of higher education is being critically discussed and re-evaluated.
Considerable attention, for instance, has been given in recent years to the question of whether Japanese universities should move more in the direction of the North American model of a liberal arts education. Some see this as a possible way of better equipping students to meet the challenges posed by an increasingly international, multicultural and ever-changing world.
This is a discussion of great importance, but it is in danger of deteriorating into misunderstanding and confusion. The main problem is that the term "liberal arts" does not translate clearly into Japanese. In addition, there has been little in the way of a tradition of liberal arts education in Japan to provide a point of reference. Expressions involving the term "liberal arts" are usually translated into Japanese using the word kyoyo,教養 meaning culture, education, or refinement. A "faculty of liberal arts" becomes kyoyo gakubu教養學部, and "liberal arts education" becomes, at least in recent years, kyoyo kyoiku教養教育.
What is at stake here, and the potential for confusion, might be best explained by offering a brief explanation, addressed to imaginary prospective students (and their parents), on the difference between entering a faculty of liberal arts (which are rare) and a faculty organized in more traditional Japanese fashion. Being dean of a faculty of liberal arts, this is an explanation I have grown used to giving.
For the most part, students in Japan are not admitted to a college, but to a department (for example, the department of German language in the faculty of foreign languages of a university) from which it is not easy to transfer once one has entered. Students must thus effectively decide, at the age of 17 or so, what it is they want to major in, even before entering college.
In addition, students are required to take up to 80 percent of their college courses in their major or department. This leaves very little time for studying much of anything else. On the whole, it is this remaining 20 percent of one's courses that kyoyo kyoiku refers to. In this sense, kyoyo kyoiku, or liberal arts, refers not to a program of study but to a supplement to one's major or more specialized study.
The situation in a faculty of liberal arts is quite different. Students enter a faculty and study core courses as well as introductions to various academic disciplines for a year and a half or so, and then choose their major. In addition, only about 40 percent of a student's courses are required to be devoted to one's major. Students are free to take about one-third of their courses in other majors or disciplines. "Liberal arts" refers not to the courses outside the major but to the entire curriculum.
Japanese parents, usually fathers, sometimes ask if there is enough "specialization" in a faculty of liberal arts. This betrays, I think, an honest misunderstanding of what a liberal arts education is. The image among some in Japan seems to be that a faculty of liberal arts aims to produce "cultured" or "refined" people, people who are good conversationalists but without any specialized knowledge.
The answer to this question is that there is specialization, at least 40 percent of one's courses, and that this degree of specialization is sufficient for students with good academic records to enter the most prestigious graduate schools throughout the world.
One of the virtues of a liberal arts education is that it gives students a solid grounding in a discipline or major but also demands they study how their discipline relates to other disciplines. The ability to relate different fields of knowledge and to draw on disciplines outside one's own is one key to instilling in students flexibility, creativity, and the ability to go on learning.
A liberal arts curriculum also allows students the freedom, to an extent, to construct their own course of study. A student could major in business and economics, for instance, while taking enough courses in Chinese language and studies to practically have a second major. Such a graduate would, I think, be well equipped to meet some of the challenges facing both Japan and the world in the twenty-first century.
The liberal arts model of higher education has much to offer higher education in Japan. There are, however, two dangers in attempts to adopt such a model. One is simply doctoring the present model, with its high degree of specialization, by adding a bit more in the way of "liberal arts" courses. This would change little.
The other is to adopt an "undisciplined" liberal arts, a form of inter-disciplinary studies, where students are free to take a range of courses but do not receive solid grounding in any particular academic discipline. The traditional liberal arts model is the better alternative.
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The author is dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University. (IHT/Asahi: January 10,2008)