知識爆炸,文化苦寂─文化五十年

:::

1999 / 10月

文‧李光真


文學,是白楊樹的湖中倒影,映照出感官現實外的另一種真實;哲學,是迷宮中望見星空,發出追索的天問;史學,則宛如沙漠玫瑰的開放,背後有著千絲萬縷的輾轉曲折。──這是即將擔任北市文化局局長的作家龍應台,在今年五月對台大政治系學生演講時所做的提醒,希望他們在從政的路上,時時以人文思考為念。

半世紀來,台灣走過怎樣的文化與教育歷程?又帶來怎樣的啟示?


二次大戰末期,今年七十五歲的陳老太太當時已從初級師範學校畢業,正在公學校裡教書。日本天皇投降的消息傳來,全校師生痛哭流涕,當她眼眶通紅地回到家中,祖父卻悄悄告訴她,「傻孩子,自己民族戰勝了,還有什麼好哭的?」

「直到那一天,我才搞清楚自己是中國人,不是日本人,」陳老太太說,一連串的文化震撼,從此開始。日文說寫流利的她,重新攤開課本,ㄅㄆㄇㄈ地捲著舌頭學國語;好在家常語言本來就是台語,耕讀傳家的傳統也讓她對漢文並不陌生。然而,要在短短時間內、從薄薄幾本讀本裡把一個巨大悠遠的中國生吞活剝,再把中國介紹給比她更沒有概念的孩子們,可不是一件容易事。

皇民化和大中國

國府遷台,民國三十九年「禁行日文」的禁令頒佈,抹除日據時代殘留文化影響的工作不斷在進行著。同一年,教育部頒佈了「戡亂建國教育實施綱要」,「光復大陸」和「鞏固領導」成了教育重心。除了每天的升旗典禮和恭讀國父遺囑外,忠君愛國的岳飛、史可法、文天祥,是孩子們的典範;長江黃河、白山黑水則是孩子們的虛擬故鄉。四十年生聚教訓式的教育,一部又一部悲壯感人的影視歌曲如《英烈千秋》、《揚子江風雲》、《龍的傳人》……,至今還令人忍不住隨之激動。

民國五十年代,對岸中共展開批孔揚秦、破四舊,緊接著是翻天覆地的「文化大革命」。眼見五千年文化遭受浩劫,「復興中華文化、承續道統」成了台灣這蕞爾小島不可承受的重;總統蔣公親自出任「文化復興運動推行委員會」會長,京劇、國畫被刻意提倡,台灣本土文化則受到壓抑。

然而,在「大中國思想」不斷深化的同時,台灣現代化的腳步一直沒有停歇。民國五十年代開始,台灣順利從農業社會轉入輕工業社會;為了培養現代化國家所需的高品質人力,民國五十七年,平均國民所得不過三百美金的台灣,咬著牙開始實施九年國民義務教育。

「剛開始的時候,教室不夠,一個教室最高記錄擠了快八十位同學,還有課本往往等開學一兩個星期了,才急急忙忙送到。更好笑的是,英、數、理、化,幾乎每一科老師都是現買現賣、『教學相長』,」今年四十五歲,剛好趕上第一屆免試升國中的張小姐回憶。

九年義務教育在師資、經費都極端缺乏的情況下慘澹上路,然而整體的國民水準仍有顯著提昇。台灣經濟奇蹟,得力於充沛的受過教育、溫順而勤奮的高品質勞工,是舉世公認的。

政治民主與教育鬆綁

七十年代初,政治氛圍開始鬆動,當消費者、環保、婦女、勞工等社會運動一波波展開時,唯獨教育領域似乎是座難以撼動的古老堡壘。然而今天回顧,卻發現當各種社運訴求都轉趨沈寂時,教育改革卻後勁十足地邁著大步,而且腳步之快,令人咋舌。

教改呼聲,早在人本基金會於民國七十六年成立時就開始出現。但當時「以學生為校園主體」,強調人本、多元和彈性的教改理念,只能以「實驗」之名,在教育體制外試行。然而這股實驗火苗一縷不絕,終於在五年前的「四一○教改」萬人大遊行中,得到了政府的全面回應。

「四一○教改」遊行召集人、台大農化系教授張則周回憶,今天的教育政策重點──「教育鬆綁」、「小班小校」、「廣設高中大學」都是當初的主要訴求,目的很簡單,就是要把台灣的教育從中央集權式、填鴨式的升學壓力中解放出來,讓每一個孩子都能得到適情適性的發展。大遊行後不久,行政院成立了「教改會」,由中研院院長李遠哲領軍,教改方案陸續出爐。

教育部長楊朝祥指出,為了達到小班小校(民國九十七年時國中、小學每班三十五人以下)的目標,教育部已計畫編列一千多億元預算,逐年改善設施、充實師資;為了讓教育趨向多元,民國八十五年開始,國小教科書已經全面開放民間業者編印,以往由國立編譯館嚴審「欽定」的教科書即將走入歷史;而為了減輕升學壓力,高中入學採用多元方式,曾經是數萬考生夢魘的全國大專聯考,也可望在民國九十一年廢除。

彈性、多元、國際化

教育改革是百年大計,不過或許是社會太過重視,「關心則亂」,也使得這五年來的教改腳步顯得倉皇,開放教育、自學方案、五等第計分法、推薦甄試……,一連串的教改新名詞,往往在師生家長還來不及適應前又改弦更張;預計明年開始實施的「九年一貫制教育」,更因為到目前還沒有具體內容、教材無著,引起老師們極大的反彈。

「教改的細節或許要再斟酌,但教改的大方向──彈性化、多元化和國際化已經非常明確,」楊朝祥舉例,在因應全球化競爭的趨勢下,九十學年度開始,英文教學將向下延伸至小學五、六年級;而展望二十一世紀,職業流動性的加速及高齡化是兩大特徵,因此教育部積極推動「終身學習」的觀念,各縣市也紛紛成立社區大學。

然而,教育的開放鬆綁也有後遺症。半世紀來,拜國家補貼學費及書本費的政策之賜,平等的受教權一直是台灣人民階級流動的主要助力,出身三級貧戶而苦學有成的民進黨總統候選人陳水扁就是一個例子。現在教改標榜開放、鬆綁,一方面開放民間版教科書,一方面放寬各大學收費標準,導致學雜費及書本費節節攀高,令許多人憂心忡忡。

知識不等於文化

另一方面,對剛進入資訊時代知識競爭的台灣來說,教改來的正是時候。目前國內有一百三十多所大專院校,大學聯考的錄取率從十年前的三成,快速提昇至現在的六成。更驚人的是,台灣去年有十二萬人報考研究所(包括重複報名者),而當屆的大學畢業生人數不過八萬多人!

「這表示大部份人都不以大學畢業為滿足,還想在知識的領域中更上一層樓,」佛光大學校長龔鵬程指出。

不過龔鵬程也強調,教改不能只停留在教育的技術性層面,而缺乏對人文思想的真正重視。他指出,重視教育的台灣這五十年來並未產生大思想家,而相對於教改近幾年的熱鬧滾滾,文化界的表現卻非常沈寂,許多領域如文學、哲學、電影、劇場、繪畫等,甚至可用「倒退」來形容。

龔鵬程舉例,為了避免所謂的「文法科人才過剩」、「高學歷高失業」,近十年來,各大學的文史哲相關科系已淪為「冷門」。目前全國四十二萬名大學及研究所學生中,資訊、化工等工程科系學生有近八萬人、商業企管也有八萬多人,而文史哲等人文科系總計只有四萬一千人,完全不成比例。

「故宮國寶放洋,誰是可以出面交涉的藝術專家?沒有!國內根本沒有傳統藝術博士學位的設置,」龔鵬程指出;而文化資產保存法及環境影響評估法等法規規定,為了避免破壞古蹟遺址,國內重大建設一定要通過考古探測。請問全台灣總共有幾位考古專家可以主持這類調查計畫?答案是十二位!

遙憶文學論戰年代

人文科系在教育體系中不受重視,顯示出台灣社會一貫的務實功利。然而,在經濟發展還沒有扭曲一切的時候,台灣也曾有過短暫的文藝復興,影響至今猶存。

龔鵬程回顧,在民國六十六年的「鄉土文學論戰」時期,台灣開始出現黃春明、王禎和等所謂的「鄉土文學作家」。和早年《未央歌》、《藍與黑》等愛國小說不同的是,鄉土文學將關注的對象,從遙遠的大中國落實到眼前這片土地,及土地上小人物的辛酸甘苦。

鄉土文學論戰影響深遠,文化界開始思索「台灣文化的主體性」,尋求屬於斯土斯民的獨特認同。民國七十年代,「新浪潮電影」繼之興起,侯孝賢的《戀戀風塵》、《風櫃來的人》等電影,首度將台灣的真實樣貌帶入國際影展,讓世人認識。

台灣文化的本土化思潮,後來被捲入政治運動的統、獨糾結,之後又成為教改推行鄉土教學、母語教學的基本動力。文建會在民國八十三年提出「社區總體營造」的構想後,全台灣各地自發型的「文史工作室」紛紛成立,從塵封已久的荷蘭文、清朝文書、日據文獻中,一點一滴重溯福爾摩沙美麗之島的曲折歷史。

自此以後,「文化不再是遙遠的鄉愁,」龔鵬程指出,更重要的,文化的本土化可以激發新思考、建立一種篤定務實的新生活態度。

和「建立台灣文化主體性」同時並進的,是民國七十年代因開放大陸探親而興起的兩岸文化交流熱潮。在侯孝賢的《悲情城市》令觀眾掩面嘆息時,張藝謀的《活著》同樣勾起很多台灣人的熱淚;在明華園歌仔戲團風靡全省的時候,來自北京的京劇、四川變臉、黔西儺劇,也一樣在國家劇院爆出滿堂彩。

有了本土的自覺,同時持續和中國大陸及世界「接壤」,為什麼曾經蓬勃的文化活動,如今卻漸趨沈寂?

誰來對抗資本主義?

「票房壓力當然是文化沈寂的主因,」在國立藝術學院教過戲劇的文化評論者平路指出,文化,和世紀末人類的一切活動一樣,都在資本主義的魅影下苟延殘喘。有「錢」力的,早早就被眼明手快的商業機制吸納,成為時時翻新的文化性消費商品;不願意、或沒本錢被吸納的,就淪為永遠的小眾,甚至悄悄消失。

平路慨嘆,以往希望為歷史作見證的政壇人士回憶錄,已被名流影星的各式傳記取代,為的是滿足讀者的「窺秘」心理;以往擁有廣大讀者群的、有嚴肅主題與藝術內涵的「純文學」,也逐漸被嬉笑怒罵式的「大眾文學」所取代。

尤其表面蓬勃的出版業背後,是一套縝密的商業運作,沒有人願意再花心力去發掘、培植本土有潛力的新一代作家;反正全球化時代資訊發達,可以輕易引進國外各類排行榜上的暢銷書。目前有份量的年度好書,大部份是冠著「榮獲美國○○排行推薦」的翻譯書,買書已經成為選購「名牌」商品。

創作過多部小說的文化評論家楊照則指出,「大眾文學」如此強勢,正反映出教育體系的無力。多年來,「讀書」成為「學校」和「考試」的代名詞,只有學生才要好好讀書,而讀書是為了務實功利的目的。文學與哲學性思考,對讀者來講都是多餘的,自然難以培養文化深度。

至於曾經因雲門舞集、雅音小集、表演工作坊而激盪一時的表演藝術,目前已露出疲態;十年前高舉前衛、顛覆姿態的小劇場運動也聲勢不再。

「現在文化團體的焦點,早已不是文化上的提升或藝術上的突破,而是如何分配資源!」擔任國家文化藝術基金會評審的南方朔坦率表示,純藝術的生存空間遭到流行文化擠壓,只得將目標轉向文建會等政府單位的補助預算上;而在人人有分的「擺平」原則下,差的團體可以苟延殘喘,真正好的卻無法壯大,這是整個社會的損失,文化工作者應該反省。

「文化是社會集體心靈的反映;文化要能獨立存活、有尊嚴的發展,需要整個社會更成熟、更有深刻思考的能力,」台灣社會經過虛矯的喧囂繁華後,能不能有靜下心來思考的一天?平路遲疑著不表樂觀。

台灣的教育與文化,掙脫了威權、確立了主體、同時飢渴地吸收來自全球的養分,然而,要讓這些成果沈澱

出真實意義,還有一段長路要走。

p.109

林懷民在台灣舞蹈界猶似一片荒漠的民國六十年代創辦「雲門舞集」,現已是台灣最重要的表演團體,林懷民並於今年七月榮獲菲律賓麥格塞塞獎。圖為雲門去年在花蓮首演的《我的鄉愁我的歌》一景。(邱瑞金攝)

p.110

兩個孩子扛一面看板,一個廣播、一個敲鑼,這是民國四十年代鄉下的活動電影廣告,效果挺不錯的呢。(翁庭華攝)

p.111

民國四十八年,港星林黛來台,猶是童星的張小燕前往獻花,當年「追星族」的熱情勁兒,可也不輸現在。(中央社提供)

p.112

民國七十年代初期,歌手侯德建以一曲「龍的傳人」唱出孤臣孽子心聲,並因此風靡華人世界。圖為侯德建赴泰緬邊境探視華僑。(中國時報資料照片)

p.114

民國八十三年的「四一○教改」大遊行,為全面教育改革打響了第一炮。(張良綱攝)

p.115

近年各縣市紛紛設立社區大學,不僅讓民眾有終身學習管道,也鼓勵民眾將關懷重心放回日常生活、放回自己所處的社區。圖為北市社區大學在溫州公園舉辦活動。(邱瑞金攝)

A.大專以上教育程度:六歲以上人口比例(%)

1950/1.23

1961/1.95

1971/4.11

1981/7.53

1991/11.49

1996/16.3

B.生師比例逐年降低:國小老師平均教導學生數(人)

1976/36.04

1981/31.79

1989/29.50

1991/27.20

1996/21.46

1998/20.11

C.教育經費比例增加:教科文支出佔中央總歲出比例(%)

1966/4.07

1981/8.37

1991/14.93

1996/15.02

1998/15.27

D.圖書種類百花齊放:圖書出版數(種)

1952/427

1961/761

1971/8504

1981/8865

1991/12,418

1998/30,868

E.天空戰雲密佈:廣播頻道激增(含AM. FM.)

1949/40

1994/172

1999/260

A.B.C.項資料來源:88年教育統計指標/教育部

D.資料來源:中華民國統計月報/88.7月

E.資料提供:交通部電信總局

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Knowledge Explosion, Culture Implosion: 50 Years of Change

Laura Li /photos courtesy of Diago Chiu /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

Literature is the reflection of poplars in a lake, conveying a reality apart from the poplars themselves. Philosophy consists of questions posed from a garden maze while looking skyward on a starry night. History is a rose blooming in the desert, behind which is a long story, with many twists and turns. The author Lung Ying-tai, head of the Taipei City Cultural Council Planning Office, used these metaphors in a speech she made to the political science department at National Taiwan University. Her hope was that over the course of their future careers in government and politics, the students in her audience would from time to time reflect upon the humanities' concerns.

Over the past half century, what has been the history of culture and education in Taiwan? What new understandings have been grasped in these realms?


By the end of World War II, Mrs. Chen, now 75, had graduated from normal school and was teaching at a public school. When the news came that the Japanese emperor had surrendered, all of the school's teachers and students broke down. Returning home teary-eyed, she was caught off guard when her grandfather gently chided her, "Foolish child, your own people won the war. What are you crying for?"

"Until that moment I hadn't realized I was Chinese and not Japanese." It was just the first in a series of cultural shocks. Fluent in Japanese, she now had to open a textbook and learn the rudiments of Mandarin. Fortunately, her parents' native tongue was Taiwanese, a Chinese dialect after all, and the traditions of her family of farmers and scholars made her no stranger to things Chinese. And so she moved in a short time from perusing a few thin standardized teachers' guides, to having a muddled understanding of Chinese grammar and history, to introducing China-that vast and distant land-to students who were even more ignorant of it than her. It was no easy feat.

Out with Japan, in with China

In 1950, only shortly after the central government had decamped to Taipei, it banned the use of Japanese in Taiwan and took a series of measures to erase the Japanese influence on Taiwanese culture. That same year the Ministry of Education issued "An Outline for the Implementation of Measures to Strengthen National Education during the Period of National Rebellion." For decades to come, all educational policy would revolve around two slogans: "Recover Mainland China" and "Support the Leadership." Apart from observing a flag-raising ceremony every day at school and reverently reading Sun Yat-sen's will, children were given as role models great Chinese patriots such as Yue Fei, Shi Gefa and Wen Tianxiang. They were taught that the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers of central China and even Mt. Changpai and the Amur River of Manchuria were salient geographical features of their supposed homeland. And over the some 40 years that the policies of mass education and indoctrination were firmly in place, radios and televisions would blare numerous heart-swelling television theme songs, each invoking the same patriotic themes: "The Everlasting Glory," "Changing Seasons on the Yangtze," "Descendants of the Dragon" . . . . Even today, they're quite stirring.

In the 1960s, the Communist authorities on the mainland knocked Confucius off his historical pedestal and hoisted Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of a united China, in his place. They also launched a campaign against the "four olds" (old ideas, culture, customs and habits), which was quickly followed by the momentous Cultural Revolution. While a 5,000-year-old cultural legacy was being smashed to smithereens on the mainland, the ROC's commitment to "revive classical Chinese culture and carry on traditional ways" represented a difficult burden for the small island of Taiwan to bear by itself. President Chiang Kai-shek would serve as head of the "Council for Chinese Cultural Renaissance." Peking opera and classical Chinese painting were deliberately promoted and local Taiwanese culture suppressed.

Yet along with a growing stress on the intellectual traditions of "Greater China," Taiwan started modernizing rapidly. During the 1960s, Taiwan began a smooth transformation from an agricultural to a light-industrial society. In 1968, to cultivate the high-quality personnel that modernization demanded, Taiwan, with a per capita income of less than US$300, grit its teeth and implemented compulsory education through ninth grade.

"At first, there weren't enough classrooms," says a Miss Chang, who is now 45 and was in the first class of compulsory junior high school students. The record was 80 pupils in one classroom. "Often, textbooks wouldn't be rushed to schools until classes had already been in session for a week or two. And what was even more of a joke, the teachers for just about every subject-be it English, math, physics, chemistry or whatever-were often just learning the subjects themselves!"

Nine-year compulsory education may have gotten off to a dismal start, but it did end up raising the overall level of education in Taiwan. The island's highly educated (as well as docile and hardworking) labor force is widely recognized as a key component in Taiwan's miraculous economic advance.

Democracy and educational freedom

At the beginning of the 1980s the political atmosphere began to loosen up. In society, consumer, environmental, women's, labor and other movements rose up one after another, and yet education, like an impregnable fortress, remained unchanged. Looking back today, it appears that just as the various social movements started to die down, the educational-reform movement-as if having a delayed reaction to the changing times-took off full steam.

Calls for educational reform began as early as 1981 with the founding of the Humanistic Education Foundation. Holding that "students should be the focus of the schools," the foundation advocated reforming education to make it more humanistic, diverse and flexible. Its proposals could only be tried outside of the educational structure under the guise of "experimentation," but these experiments caught hold. Eventually, when 10,000 demonstrators showed up to march for educational reform on April 10, 1994, they commanded the government's attention.

Chang Tze-chou, a forestry professor at National Taiwan University who was one of the organizers of the march, notes that the points emphasized in today's educational reform policy-"the loosening of central control," "small schools, small classes," and "broadening access to high schools and colleges"-were among the marchers' major demands. Their purpose was simple: to liberate education in Taiwan from its centralized, authoritarian structure that forced students to receive educations ill-suited to their individual needs and to cram for joint entrance exams in order to proceed to the next educational level. Not long after the demonstration, the government formed the Educational Reform Council and named Lee Yuan-tseh, president of the Academia Sinica, as its head. Since then the council has been hatching one educational reform proposal after another.

Minister of Education Kirby Yang points out that in order to attain the goal of small classes in small schools (so that by 2008 there are no junior high schools or elementary schools with more than 35 students in a classroom), the Ministry of Education plans to budget more than NT$100 billion. Year by year, they want to improve equipment and bolster teaching resources. To create more diversity in education, private publishers have been permitted to issue elementary school textbooks since 1997. (Previously, the National Institute for Compilation and Translation compiled them all.) In order to lessen the pressures associated with the joint entrance exams, various factors are now considered in high school admissions. The dreaded entrance examination for colleges and universities will also be eliminated in 2002.

Flexible, diverse, international

Educational reform is an important long-term goal. Nevertheless, perhaps society is overly concerned about it, resulting in it being carried out in a panicked, helter-skelter manner. The past five years have witnessed the loosening of central control, the use of recommendations and interviews in admissions, the adoption of self-study programs and the A-F grading method. . . . Amid a constant stream of new educational terms, teachers, students and parents are being asked to confront the newest reform measure before they have had a chance to adapt to the last. Originally an integrated curriculum spanning all the way from first- to ninth-grade was supposed to be in place next year. But as of yet no real curriculum content has been developed, and it is difficult to find any teaching resources regarding it. Teachers, as a result, are griping.

"The details of educational reform perhaps ought to be reconsidered," says Yang Chao-hsiang. "But the general direction is clear-toward something more flexible, diverse and international." He notes that starting next year, so as to better prepare students for the demands of global competition, English instruction will begin in fifth grade. And two trends expected in the 21st century-increased job mobility and an aging populace-have prodded the Ministry of Education to promote a concept of "lifelong learning" and to open community colleges in every county and city.

And yet the liberalization of education has had its unfortunate side effects. For the last half century, thanks to the government policy of subsidizing tuition, equality of educational opportunity has helped to create great upward mobility in Taiwan. Chen Shui-bian, the Democratic Progressive Party's candidate for president who came from a very impoverished family, is just one example of a poor boy who has made out well. One result of the relaxation of central control is that high schools and colleges are now free to set their own fees. It is a source of concern that student fees and textbook charges are climbing every term.

Knowledge does not equal culture

For Taiwan, which is just now confronting the knowledge-based competition of the information age, the educational reforms came at the perfect time. Currently, the country has more than 130 colleges and universities, more than twice as many as a decade ago. Over the same period, the rate of success on the joint entrance exams for universities and colleges jumped from only 30% to 60%. Even more surprising, last year graduate school programs received 60,000 applicants, which is equal to the number of people graduating from college that year! (Of course, many people applied to more than one program.)

"This shows that most people are no longer satisfied with just graduating from college," says Kung Peng-cheng, the president of Fokuang University. "Now they want to advance to the next educational level."

Nevertheless, Kung also stresses that educational reform should not get so bogged down with educational techniques that it gives short shrift to humanitarian thinking. He points out that 50 years of emphasis on education in Taiwan has produced no truly great thinkers. And while educational reform has been all the rage in recent years, the cultural realm has been quite listless. In many areas, including literature, philosophy, film, drama and painting, the term "regression" might not be inappropriate to describe the period.

Kung cites this example: In order to prevent the so-called "excess of humanities graduates" and "high unemployment among college graduates," over the last decade various universities have cut back or disbanded their literature, history and philosophy departments. Of the 530,000 undergraduate and graduate students at Taiwan's universities and colleges, 230,000 are majoring in computer science, chemical engineering or other engineering subjects. Only 36,000 students are studying the humanities-literature, philosophy, history and so forth.

"When the treasures from the National Palace Museum go overseas, which art expert is going to show up to negotiate?" asks Kung Peng-cheng. "There is no one, because in Taiwan there are no doctoral programs in classical art." According to cultural preservation law, archeological surveys by the Council for Cultural Planning and Development are required for large domestic construction projects. A question, please: How many archeologists are there in Taiwan qualified to carry out this important task? The answer: 12.

The native soil

The lack of emphasis placed on humanities within Taiwan's educational system reflects the practical and materialistic nature of society here. Yet before economic development twisted everything, Taiwan also experienced a short-lived cultural and artistic renaissance, whose effects are still in evidence today.

Kung recalls the hubbub unleashed by the "native soil" literary movement in 1977, when work by Huang Chun-ming, Wang Chen-ho and other writers of that school first began to appear. These works shifted the focus of literature in Taiwan from mainland China, the setting of most earlier novels such as Weiyang Song and The Green and the Black, to Taiwan itself and the blood, sweat and tears of ordinary people here.

The effects of the movement were deep and far-reaching. Literature began to carve out a unique identity for the island of Taiwan and its people. The movement also influenced the "new wave" of Taiwanese cinema in the 1980s, when Dust in the Wind, The Boy from Fengkwei and other films by Hou Hsiao-hsien offered glimpses of the true face of Taiwanese life to audiences at overseas film festivals.

The controversy about the Taiwanization of culture was later carried into the political debate on the question of unification versus independence. Still later it was a primary moving force behind the push for localized education and mother-tongue instruction. After the Council for Cultural Planning and Development proposed a plan for "integrated community development" in 1987, "literature and history workshops" were opened all across Taiwan. Old Dutch, Qing-dynasty and Japanese documents that had long been collecting dust once again saw the light of day, and bit by bit the history of the isle of Formosa was pieced together.

Just as Taiwan itself was becoming the focus of culture here, the government began in the 1980s to allow people to visit their relatives on the mainland, and this sparked an era of cultural exchange across the Taiwan Strait. While Hou Hsiao-hsien's City of Sadness was bringing tears the eyes of Taiwan audiences, so too was To Live, by the mainland director Chang Yimou. At the same time that the Minghua Garden Taiwanese opera company was riding a wave of popularity across the island, Peking opera from Beijing, Sichuan bianlian dramas and western Hunanese tan dramas were all playing to enthusiastic audiences at the National Theater in Taipei.

There was an awareness of the native soil, but at the same time there was a sense of shared borders with mainland China and the world. Why has this once vibrant cultural scene gradually grown silent?

Who can resist capitalism?

"The pressures of the box office are of course the principal reason for the cultural lull," argues Ping Lu, a critic who has taught drama at the National Institute of the Arts. Ping points out that not unlike other activities of the late 20th century, culture is struggling to survive under the dark shadow of capitalism. What has moneymaking potential is quickly appropriated by hawk-eyed capitalists to become an unending stream of freshly churned-out cultural consumer goods. What is unwilling or unable to make money is fated to have a small audience or even to die out altogether.

Ping Lu laments that political memoirs, which served as a record of the age, have been replaced by all manner of books by and about celebrities, which cater to readers' appetites for secrets and salacious detail. Purely literary works with serious topics and artistic content, moreover, have gradually been replaced by the pap and potboilers of "popular literature."

Behind the superficially flourishing publishing industry is a canny commercialism. No one now is willing to take the time to discover and cultivate a new generation of writers with potential. In this global age of advanced communications, it's just so much easier to publish bestsellers from overseas. The books that have sold well this year are mostly translations bearing the banner, "A New York Times bestseller." Even books are being sold like name-brand consumer goods!

Yang Chao, a cultural critic who has written several novels, argues that the strength of popular literature is a direct reflection upon the powerlessness of the educational system. For many years, the reading of books has been associated with school and the taking of tests, something that only students need do. Studying, moreover, is done to obtain practical, materialistic goals. Cultural and philosophical ideas, as far as readers are concerned, are superfluous. It should come as no surprise, then, that cultivating cultural depth in these times is not easy.

The performing arts, which were once causing quite a stir with the Cloud Gate dance troupe, the Ya-Yin opera company, and the Performance Workshop, now seem enervated. And the cutting-edge and subversive small-theater movement of a decade ago has lost its momentum.

"The focus of cultural groups has long since shifted from making artistic breakthroughs or raising the level of culture to getting a piece of the economic pie!" That's the frank assessment of Nan Fang Shuo, who has served as a judge for the National Culture and Arts Foundation. Popular culture has encroached upon the realm of pure art and now seems intent on squeezing it out altogether. For money, art groups have shifted their gaze to the Council for Cultural Planning and Development and other government agencies. And under the principle of giving everybody an even share of the pie, the mediocre survive on their last legs, whereas the truly first-rate have no way to get stronger. This represents a loss for all of us, and people who work in cultural fields ought to mull over its significance.

"Culture is a reflection of the collective consciousness of a society," Ping Lu says. "If culture is to have an independent existence and develop with dignity, then society needs to grow up and foster a capacity for deeper thinking." Can Taiwan, after experiencing a period of vulgar boom-time prosperity, calm down to reflect upon things thoughtfully? Ping Lu evinces little optimism.

Education and culture in Taiwan have cast off the shackles of authoritarianism and established their own basic frameworks while hungrily absorbing influences from abroad. Yet they still have a long road to go before their achievements bear any real meaning.

p.109

Lin Hwai-min established the Cloud Gate Dance Ensemble in 1971 when the dance scene in the ROC was virtually nonexistent. Now it is Taiwan's most important performing arts company. The photo shows Cloud Gate delivering the debut performance of "My Homesickness, My Song" in Hualien. (photo by Diago Chiu)

p.110

From time to time these billboard-lugging lads pause from walking, as one shouts through a megaphone and the other strikes a gong. This 1950s method of advertising movies in the countryside was quite effective at getting people's attention. (photo by Weng Ting-hua)

p.111

When the Hong Kong movie star Lin Dai came to Taiwan in 1959, Chang Hsiao-yen, then a child star, greeted him with flowers. Fans back then showed no less ardor than they do today. (Central News Agency)

p.112

In the early 1980s, the singing star Hou Teh-chien had a hit song with "Descendants of the Dragon," which gives voice to feelings of exile and abandonment. It captivated the Chinese world. The photo shows Hou visiting overseas Chinese at the Thailand-Burma border. (courtesy China Times Information Center)

p.114

The march on April 10, 1994 was the first public demonstration for comprehensive educational reform. (photo by Vincent Chang)

p.115

Shown here is a fair being held in Wenchou Park to promote the Taipei Community College. Counties and cities across Taiwan have established community colleges in recent years. They aim not only to provide all citizens with a chance to pursue lifelong learning but also to encourage people to turn their focus to their own communities and everyday lives. (photo by Diago Chiu)

A. The percentage of people with college or university degrees

1950/1.23

1961/1.95

1971/4.11

1981/7.53

1991/11.49

1996/16.3

B. The student-teacher ratio declines (No. of teachers per elementary school student)

1976/36.04

1981/31.79

1989/29.50

1991/27.20

1996/21.46

1998/20.11

C. Educational expenditures increase (figures show expenditures on education, technology and culture as a percentage of the central government budget)

1966/4.07

1981/8.37

1991/14.93

1996/15.02

1998/15.27

D. Explosive growth in the number of book categories

1952/427

1961/761

1971/8504

1981/8865

1991/12,418

1998/30,868

E. Growth in the number of radio stations:

1949/40

1994/172

1999/260

Sources: For Items A, B, and C, Ministry of Education; for Item D, Monthly Statistics of the Republic of China, for Item E, Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!
更快速更方便!