Praising children as a cultural challenge - Conflicting pedagogies in a Taiwanese minoritarian setting
Leberecht Funk (Free University of Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
In recent years teaching personal and urban middle class in Taiwan adopted the Western practice of "praising" children. This, however, conflicts with the Tao's traditional culture in which "praising" is strongly frowned upon due to an egalitarian ethos and a local theory of emotional equilibrium.
Paper long abstract:
The Tao are a group of indigenouse Taiwanese people living on the offshore island of Lanyu. In traditional culture children are not "praised" (azwazwain) by their care-givers due to a strong egalitarian ethos and a local theory of emotional equilibrium. "Arrogant" (mazwey) behavior is strongly frowned upon as it disturbes the "respectful and polite ways" (macikakanig) between co-villagers as well as between people and spiritual beings. According to traditional belief the fate of a child that is "praised" will turn for the worse. In recent times local Chinese school teachers emphasized the importance of positive feedback to motivate Tao children for a better learning. They propagated "praising" as an educational method at parent-teacher meetings. In the contemporary Taiwanese school system there is a strong orientation towards Western - especially American - theories of learning. Even though "praising" has no tradition in Taiwan it is now widely used to enable "optimal" learning. One cultural force behind this is the Confucian focus on knowledge acquisition which is seen as a person's duty. The new pedagogical standards of urbanized middle class Taiwanese are strongly opposed to the norms and values of traditional Tao society as both educational systems differ in regard to positive and negative markings, the elicitation of affective arousal, and culturally specific ideas of attachment. For the Tao the situation is complicated: They want to keep their local traditions and at the same time enable their children to integrate into Taiwanese society to make a better living.
Pedagogies on the move: parenting interventions in transcultural and minoritarian contexts