School Visits (All Participants are welcome to join this event!!)
April 26 Thursday Morning (Departure to schools at 8:40 a.m. )
It’s free! We have arranged three optional tours to three different kinds of schools, in order to introduce the teaching of moral education as practiced in Taiwan. You can choose one of them. The schools include a public junior high school and a private vocational school, both of which effectively promote students’ learning through their emphasis on moral education. The third option is a Buddhist high school: here you will see how Buddhist education can cultivate a student’s moral awareness and values through Zen meditation and tea ceremonies, and develop students’ sense of gratitude and closeness to nature through farming and other daily-life activities. We sincerely welcome you to join our “school visit” activity on the morning of April 26!
1. Chung Shan Senior High School (中山工商)
Chung Shan Senior High School was founded in 1957 and re-named in 1974 as Chung Shan Industrial and Commercial High School (CSIC). It is a vocational school located in southern Taiwan. CSIC has a total of 9,905 students aged from 15 to 18. The school offers students a choice of majors, including Mechatronics, Auto Mechanics, Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, Data Processing, Beautification, Early Childhood Care and Education, Tourism, Food and Beverage Management, Applied Japanese and Applied English.
Chairman Chen, the founder of this school and a man with great perseverance and a passion for education, sought to greatly improve it. Working with his team for forty years, he has developed a not-so-great school into one that has received awards from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. For a private suburban school which lacked to undergo this transformation was a great accomplishment. Chung Shan’s primary goals are to treat its students as its own children; to put the students’ own interests first; to develop students’ moral sensibility, physical fitness, academic abilities and positive attitude; and to create a warm and friendly learning environment. Keeping these ideals in mind, the school supports positive interactions among and between students and faculty members, and between students, faculty members and the natural environment.
The mandatory moral education course in CSIC has been a remarkable success. This course comprises four credit hours and includes such topics as “Self- cultivation”(個人修為), “ Sincere thinking and pure hearts”(誠意正心Cheng Yi Zheng Xin), “Sociality” (待人接物), and “Social Bonding and the Humanities”(社會關懷), which are teachings based on Confucian beliefs. Besides its formal curriculum, the school also provides an informal moral education curriculum which gives students the opportunity to put their learning into practice. For example, after completing the unit on “gratitude” students are required to participate in school activities in which they express their thanks to their school/teachers/parents/friends in various ways.
2. Kaohsiung Municipal Sipu Junior High School (溪埔國中)
Sipu Junior High School, established in 1982, is a small school located in the beautiful countryside of southern Taiwan. Affected by changes in its structure, the school once lost nearly 70% of its students: parents’ didn’t want their children to enter it, and encouraged them to select other schools nearer the center of Kaohsiung city. The school was once called a “herd-like school” (which means students were neglected or abandoned by it and/or by its educational system). However, for the past few years former principals have been dedicated to promoting moral education and the construction of new school buildings, so that Sipu Junior High School now seems as if reborn. In the past three years, the Comprehensive Assessment Program for evaluating Junior High School Students’ performance has been giving the students increasingly positive evaluations each year, and the school’s enrollment rate has now reached more than 90%. Although parents have been having fewer children the number of freshmen is still growing, which means that the school’s reputation is continually improving in the eyes of the community.
The vision of Sipu Junior High School is helping to shape its students into warm, diligent, innovative and outstanding citizens. SJHS also wants to create a friendly and warm campus atmosphere, encouraging students to study hard and to be creative as well as virtuous. The principal and teachers are striving to develop a school culture that is based on character education. This school aims to develop students' moral character through three strategies :
1. "Spontaneous” – making moral education a part of our school culture, and integrating it into the school curriculum.
2. “Interactive” - developing in students the spirit of teamwork to improve class cohesion.
3. “Social Care" - encouraging students to translate these good qualities into moral actions, actions taken for the benefit of others.
Confucianism emphasizes ethical values such as benevolence, righteousness, rites, wisdom, and trustworthiness, which for thousands of years have helped to regulate the relationships between man and nature, between man and society, between and among men, and each man and his own self. Through moral education, we expect our students to become the seeds for the transmission of Confucian ideas; we encourage each of them to develop his/her own virtues: a sense of responsibility, respect for others, courage, gratitude, a sense of honor, an ability to work together with others, and a willingness to help encourage people to care for one another.
3. Pu-Men High School (普門中學)
Pu-Men High School (普門中學) is a private Buddhist high school located in Kaohsiung City. It is affiliated with an international Chinese Buddhist monastic order, Fo Guang Shan, which was founded by Master Hsing Yun (星雲法師). Its name, Pu-Men (普門), signifies that the school is itself a “universal door” which can benefit all beings and disseminate the spirit of the Guan Yin (觀音), the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Thus this school is devoted to the Buddhist spirit of saving the world through universal mercy (or forgiveness), unselfishness, and equality for all and. It also strives to cultivate the talents and virtues of young people by emphasizing intellectualism, morality, physical well-being and an appreciation of beauty, art, aesthetics—and in this way benefiting all societies around the world.
In order to create a “pure land” in our everyday life, the Pu-Men school and the Fo Guang Shan Foundation are trying to advance the “spirit of three acts of goodness” within moral education. By doing good deeds, one can have a chance to practice serving. By speaking good words, one can guard well his oral deeds (his words). By thinking good thoughts, one can move toward a state of peace and comfort. These are the core values of all educational stages from primary education to higher education.
Education is the most beautiful form of social interaction as through it one (the teacher) influences another (the student) and by extension the whole society, ultimately the whole world. Thus, to express its sincere gratitude to Master Hsing Yun for his selfless efforts in education, Fo Guang Shan Pumen Middle School has adopted the spirit of "three acts of goodness" as the core value of education and thus as its “teachers’ motto”. This school hopes that the design of its curriculum can bring joy into students' formal education, and can enable parents to feel at ease because of its loving care of its students (its children) and also their fine performance; also it is hoped that the teachers can get great pleasure from their students’ fine work. For as the Buddha said, the “threefold enlightenment” is enlightenment of the self, enlightenment of others, and the perfection of enlightened practice
As for our courses, they must have educational significance and relevance to students’ everyday lives—and to their past and future as well as their present. We also prepare our students for the future by promoting service education (doing volunteer work), life education, and lifelong respect for one’s parents and teachers. Master Hsing Yun is compassionate and promotes Buddhism in an easy way, one that is close to our hearts. Thus for everyone in the world society, the ultimate goal is to gain a deep understanding of what the essence of life is and then to raise it up, praying that the Saha world (娑婆世界, our current life-world) will be a Pure Land one day. As the saying goes, “I am good, and you’re as good as everyone.” Thus the serenity and beauty of Humanistic Buddhism is in full blossom all around us.
Today it seems that more and more parents in Taiwan may believe that Buddhist schools could most effectively cultivate their children’s compassion and morality; therefore, they choosing these schools for their children. Thus Buddhist education may be increasingly influencing—playing an increasingly important role within the domain of—Taiwan’s moral education.
Note: Sipu Junior High School (溪埔國中) and Pu-Men High School (普門中學) are located in the same area of suburban Kaohsiung. However, due to the time limits our tours must abide by, participants can only choose one of these two school tours.