特色高中?社區高中?

──麗山的兩難處境
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2011 / 5月

文‧張瓊方 圖‧莊坤儒


「12年國教」預計在民國103年全面實施,屆時,只保留少數「特色高中」,其餘高中則朝社區化發展。

 

麗山高中,不在明星高中之列,但卻特色鮮明。一旦七成國中生免試升高中後,麗山所標舉的「培育科學人才」特色將何以為繼?


 

三月底,由麗山高中主辦的第一屆「高瞻方案亞太科學教育研討會」,在內湖的自由會議廣場舉行,會後安排來自日、韓、澳洲、新加坡等國的22位教師到校參訪。

麗山高中的學生社團──「星嵐大使團」,擔負解說與接待任務,團員們個個溫文有禮、落落大方,以流利的英語向來賓們介紹麗山高中的環境與教學特色、台灣特有文化、台北著名景點,以及令人垂涎的各式小吃,生動活潑的介紹,贏得來賓一致的讚賞。

活潑、熱情、優秀,是麗山高中學生給人的好印象;秀美、寧靜、開闊,依傍青山、仰望藍天,更是市區高中少有的環境。

校如其名,這所成立於2000年的美麗高中,創校之初原有一個美麗的藍圖──招收全國數理資優菁英的科學高中,還在校區裡規劃了宿舍預定地。後來雖因諸多因素計畫受阻,但麗山依然不改初衷,轉而成立全台灣第一所以科學為發展重點的高中。而由於小班規模的教室都已蓋好,因此麗山成了一所很「特殊」的「普通」高中,不僅擁有整棟大樓的實驗室,也是全國唯一班級滿額人數只有30人的「小班制」學校。

像大學的高中

隨機問學生:學校最大的特色是什麼?答案都是──「專題研究」。

麗山是一所教學方式宛如大學的高中,在高一上學期教授「研究方法」後,高一下學期就開始要求學生依自己的興趣擬定專題研究題目。

高二的楊涵鈺專注於化學領域,對於能源議題特別感興趣的她,高一下、高二上分別以「塑膠染敏電池(太陽能的一種)」和「不同氮源之氮氧化鈦性質與探討」為研究題目。前者還獲得科教館青少年科學家培育計畫2萬元的獎助。

星嵐大使團團長、高二的鄒文翔,是麗山少數志在社會科的「異類」。

「我雖非主流,但學校給我們很多資源和機會,」鄒文翔說,學生人數少,因此有很多上台發表和分享的機會。他的公民專題研究,從政治的「美國新茶黨的介紹及影響」、「馬政府活路外交之介紹及探討」、「維基解密」到經濟的「置入性行銷」,都在研究之列。

除了採大學「研究」式教學外,麗山的「跑班」制,也與大學生的上課方式如出一轍。

不同於一般高中生坐在教室裡等不同科目老師來上課,麗山高中的學生沒有固定的教室,上午在「達文西教室」上完數學,轉戰「道耳吞教室」上化學,下午在「愛迪生教室」上完生活與科技,又換到「孫逸仙教室」上公民。教室功能固定,學生「跑班」,因此集中在特定區塊的學生置物櫃,就成了該校很具「洋味」的風景。

此外,從2006年開始,麗山高中與美國休士頓太空中心NASA科學家,利用遠距視訊進行連線教學與互動。無論是探討「太空星塵任務──慧星、小行星、流星體」主題,或與太空總署的太空人對話,對學生來說,都是一種難得的經驗與榮耀。

在這種活潑、自由、啟發式環境下教導出來的麗山高中學生,表現十分亮眼,畢業後進入國立大學的錄取率不斷攀升,從2006年的55%一路攀升到2009年的72%(2010年略降為68%)。有目共睹的好成績,使得這所校齡只有10歲的高中,已躋身優質高中的行列,去年高中基測PR值達95,與大同、中崙等高中在伯仲之間。

目標──特色高中

事實上,麗山高中揭櫫的鮮明「科學高中」特色,也確實吸納了不少對科學有興趣的學生。該校學生在科教館舉辦的「台灣國際科展」中年年勝出,並屢屢代表國家出國參展比賽,在美國、紐西蘭、南非、加拿大等國際科展中,都屬常勝軍。

2007年帶學生去紐西蘭參加「科學與科技博覽會」的物理老師金佳龍指出,那年獲得物理科第一名的參展作品是一支吸管笛,學生研究它在不同力道風速下聲音頻率產生的跳躍現象。這是一位音樂班學生從過去吹笛子經驗的發想,非常新奇又有創意。

物以類聚,麗山高中的學生以理工科居多,一個年級10班,社會科只有2班。而如此特色鮮明的學校,在擴大高中職免試入學的旗幟下,甚至民國103年實施12年國教後,特色會不會被迫改變?麗山的定位究竟為何?是必須考試篩選的特色高中?還是開放申請、抽籤的社區高中?

「今年我辦新生報到就要辦6次,」教務主任柯明樹說,因擴大免試升學、多元入學的關係,各高中要從特教免試安置生、北星計畫、基北區免試,一路辦到北北基申請入學、北北基分發、全國基測分發為止。雖然免試入學管道增加,但還是經過學業能力篩選,「會來念麗山的學生,多數都對理工科有興趣,程度一般都不差。」

麗山有夢

然而,面對高中社區化目標和七成尚不知方法為何的免試入學生壓境,麗山高中校長陳偉泓不免擔憂。

即將轉任建中校長的陳偉泓指出,免試將高中從過去能力分校改成常態分校,但高中生的複雜度遠大於國中生,且這階段已有分流問題,必須適性適所,一所高中豈能滿足所有類型的學生?對老師來說更是一大難題,面對程度參差的學生,要如何確保教學品質,「老師準備好了嗎?」

「國家要有全面性的思考,」陳偉泓指出,現在高中已經變成普通教育,重點人才的培育相對而言更形重要。而麗山是以培育台灣科學人才為重點的學校,此一特色理當維持。

陳偉泓以韓國的科學高中為例指出,韓國科學高中以培育諾貝爾人才為目標,該校一個年級只有140位學生,學校經費卻是台灣一般高中的二、三十倍,不僅有先進的實驗設備,且40%師資是博士,全部採英文教學。

若與一般高中師資比較,麗山老師的高學歷程度很驚人。79位教師中,擁有碩、博士學位者有66位,其中物理科教育團隊還榮獲教育部頒發的「教學卓越金質獎」(96年)。

「麗山很有條件成為培育科學人才的特色高中,」陳偉泓充滿自信地要求:「請把空間留給學校!」

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EN

A Crisis for Lishan High-Maintain Specialist Status, or Join the Crowd?

Chang Chiung-fang /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Geoff Hegarty and Sophia Chen

The 12-year compulsory education policy will most likely be implemented in full by 2014, by which time only a small number of "superior" senior high schools will remain. The rest will have moved towards providing a mainstream education for regional students.

 

While Lishan High School (LHS) is not on the list of superior schools, it does have a number of significant specialist features. When the new policy comes into force, 70% of junior high graduates will no longer need to take entrance exams for senior high school. So how will LHS, which specializes in fostering young science talent, be able to maintain this highly desirable character?


At the end of March, the first High Scope Program Conference on Asia-Pacific Science Education was staged by LHS at Liberty Square Convention Center in -Neihu District, Tai-pei City. Following the conference, 22 teachers from other nations including Japan, Korea, Australia and Singapore were invited to visit LHS.

Xinglan Ambassadors, a group of students who take on the role of representing their school, were responsible for receiving the guests and interpreting. Politely and in excellent English, members of the group introduced their school, its environment and characteristics, Taiwan's unique culture, attractions in and around Taipei, and delicious Taiwanese-style snack foods to the guests, winning a warm round of appreciative applause.

Lishan High School, established in 2000, is sited within a beautiful environment, as its name suggests (Lishan means literally "beautiful mountain"). The school's initial role was to become a center for the recruitment of elite math and science students from across the country. The original ideal has undergone various reinterpretations, but the school hasn't changed its basic raison d'etre. LHS became the first senior high school in Taiwan to focus on teaching science.

A university-style high school

What is the most notable characteristic of the school? A random survey of LHS students on this question will elicit only one answer: the university-style thematic study.

LHS has implemented teaching methods that are similar to those found in many universities. In semester one in their first year, students study research methods. In the second semester, they are required to choose their own areas of research according to their own interests.

Second-year student Yang Hanyu, for example, is focusing on chemistry, and has developed an interest in energy issues. In the second semester of her first year, she researched "Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells" (for solar energy generation), and in the first semester of her current year, "The Nature of Nitrogen Dioxide from Different Nitrogen Sources." Her first-year research was awarded NT$20,000 from a National Taiwan Science Education Center (NTSEC) program designed to foster research from young scientists.

Zou Wenxiang, also in the second year at LHS and head of Xinglan Ambassadors, is one of a small number of students at the school who are primarily interested in the social studies stream.

"Although I'm not a mainstream student, the school provides a lot of resources and opportunities for us," says Zou. Because of the small number of students, we in fact have greater opportunity for individual expression. His research topics in civics included "Introduction and the Influence of the Tea Party Movement in the USA," "Introduction and Discussion on the Ma Government's Flexible Diplomacy," "Wikileaks" and "Placement Marketing."

As well as emulating university-style teaching methods, there are also similarities between the LSH class system and that of most universities.

Unlike classes in most high schools, which remain in one classroom and wait for teachers of the various subjects to come to them, students at LHS move between classrooms depending on the subject. For example, they might have math in the Da Vinci classroom and chemistry in the Dalton classroom in the morning, and then life and technology in the Edison classroom and civics in the Sun Yat-sen classroom in the afternoon. The function of each room is fixed, so students move between the different classrooms according to the subject. In fact, students at LHS have lockers at strategic locations on campus-quite an exotic feature for a Taiwanese school.

Beginning in 2006, the school launched an online distance education program with the cooperation of NASA scientists in the US. Whether studying comets, asteroids and meteoroids or chatting with the astronauts at NASA, it's a really memorable experience.

In this dynamic, free and exploratory environment, students have achieved outstanding results. LHS graduates have gained fantastic results in the university entrance exam. The percentage of LHS students gaining entry to public universities has risen steadily from 55% in 2006 to 72% in 2009 (with a slight fall to 68% in 2010). Because of its outstanding academic record, and despite its very brief 10-year history, LHS has been ranked among the highest-quality senior high schools in the country.

A specialized school

LHS's distinct character as a science high school naturally attracts many students for whom science is their life. LHS students win prizes every year in the Taiwan International Science Fair organized by NTSEC. LHS also frequently represents Taiwan in international science fairs in countries such as the US, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, and often brings home prizes.

Chin Chia-lung, an LHS physics teacher who led the students attending a science and technology exposition in New Zealand in 2007, points out that one of their exhibits, a flute made from a drinking straw, was awarded first prize in physics. Their research was based on investigating the harmonic vibrations generated at various sound frequencies under different conditions of air speed. The theme was suggested by a music student from their experience of flute playing. The research was praised for being very novel and highly creative.

There's nothing unusual about a group of people with similar interests wanting to get together. The majority of students at LHS want to specialize in science and engineering, with 10 classes per grade, and only two classes majoring in the social studies stream. However, changes may be on the way. With the number of students no longer having to take the high-school entrance examination (HSEE) expanding dramatically, and after the full implementation of 12-year compulsory education in 2014, will LHS and other institutions with such distinct characters be forced to change?

"We will have six new student intakes this year," says Ke Mingshu, academic director at LHS. Because of the growing numbers of students under the open admission and multi-phasehigh-school entrance programs, the intake dates are varied to cater for enrolments for a range of groups: disabled students exempt from the HSEE, Tai-pei City students under the North Star Program, students from Kee-lung and Tai-pei who no longer have to do the HSEE, application-entrant students from Kee-lung, Tai-pei and New Tai-pei, register-and-distribution students from Kee-lung, Tai-pei and New Tai-pei, and register-and-distribution students who have taken the national Basic Competence Test. Although enrolments from students who do not have to do the HSEE have increased, this hasn't impacted greatly on the attraction of LHS for top-level students. "The majority of students who come to LHS are interested in science and engineering, so in general they are highly competent-well above average-and really want to get in."

New ideals for LHS?

However, with the growth of community senior high schools, and with 70% of junior high school graduates no longer needing to take the HSEE, LHS principal Chen Weihong cannot help but express his concerns.

Chen, who is soon to become principal of Jian-guo High School, points out that the issues for students in senior high school are more complex than those in junior high. Also, in senior high schools, students are divided into different streams: they need to choose the stream best suited to their interests and competence. How can one senior high school satisfactorily meet the requirements of all different types of students? Facing the varied levels of the students, a crucial challenge for teachers is how to ensure the quality of teaching. "Will our teachers be able to cope?"

"The government needs to adopt a broader perspective." Chen notes that senior-high-school education is becoming more universal-less specialized. So fostering the talents of specialized students has in fact become more important. LHS has been very successful in focusing on nurturing scientific talent, and whatever happens, this characteristic must be maintained.

Chen points out that in Korea's Seoul Science High School, for example, the aim is to educate students to a standard equivalent to that of Nobel-Prize-winning scientists. Each grade has only 140 students, yet funding is 20 to 30 times that of most senior high schools in Taiwan. The school not only has advanced labs and equipment, but 40% of their teachers have doctorates. All classes are taught in English.

Compared with teachers in other senior high schools in Taiwan, the qualifications of LHS teachers are outstanding: among the 79 teachers, 66 have either master or doctorate degrees. The physics teaching team, in particular, was awarded a Gold Medal for Teaching Excellence by the Ministry of Education in 2007.

"LHS is well positioned to maintain its reputation as a specialized senior high school nurturing young science talent," says Chen. Full of confidence, he pleads: "Please let schools take their own decisions!"

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