女狀元的爸爸談教育

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1999 / 4月

文‧〈紐西蘭 彭武昭〉



亞盟會議在紐西蘭奧克蘭地區召開的那年,經濟部中小企業處長黎昌意也隨團參加,兩天的相處交談甚歡,因為我們找到了彼此一個共同之點,我說你是黎明柔的爸爸,而我是Irine Peng的爸爸,我們都是父以女貴。

Irine,我的大女兒彭巧之,曾在紐西蘭全國獎學金考試中拔得頭籌,又在Bursary全國會考裡勇奪女狀元,替紐西蘭的華人大大的爭了一些光彩,一時之間很多朋友都不稱呼我的名字,而叫我「女狀元的爸爸」了,我也感覺與有榮焉,到處演講作秀,足足出了一陣鋒頭。

回想我們移民的初衷及目的,總算沒有白費,看著很多在台灣準備或已經移民的朋友,也許我們的經驗可以提供給大家參考。

根據一九九三年奧克蘭大學一份研究調查報告發現,百分之六怚H上的台灣移民,出走的目的都是為了替子女找一個比較理想的教育環境。我自己在台灣清華大學物理系、台大電機研究所畢業,以升學競爭的角度來看是怳嬰言\的,可是我卻覺得自己怳壎2恁A因為經過層層的升學競爭,不僅把我的創造力磨得精光,對於做學問的熱情也消磨殆盡。同時我觀察台灣教育出來的人,普遍有一些毛病──缺乏領導能力、被領導的氣度,以及與人合作妥協的涵養。以最近很流行的情緒智商(EQ)來看,我以為這是人生成長階段很重要的人格培養。

在台灣的環境中成長,要培養一個健全的人格心態,相當不容易。我是在一九九二年移民紐西蘭的,在此前三年,我在美國馬里蘭州立大學讀書,那時全家妻小還在台灣,彭巧之當時正上國一,我常常寫信回家,寒暑假回台或他們去美國遊玩時,也常利用機會想灌輸他們一些正確的人生觀念。

彭巧之那時功課就相當不錯,在班上、全校算是數一數二的,我希望她不要吝嗇自己學習所得,能跟其他同學分享。我的觀念是:這樣做非但幫助了別人、且能夠贏得別人的友誼,對人際關係很有幫助;且教學相長,透過教導別人,你更能夠徹底的了解,一知半解是沒有辦法講解給別人聽的,也能藉機磨練自己的表達能力,可是她一點都不能接受。因為儘管我認為九怳迨戲礞E怳E分、一百分沒有什麼差別,但是對於像彭巧之一般的國中生而言,每次考試都要排名次,即使○.一分也要斤斤計較。有時候我講得太多,她會頂嘴說,她從沒有碰到這樣的笨爸爸,要自己的女兒幫助別人來打敗自己的小孩。父親的胳臂往外彎,真是豈有此理。

國中三年,我不斷嘗試想改變她的觀念,但是面對那樣的大環境,即使親如父女,也無能為力,直到一九九二年七月她考完高中聯考的第二天,我把她帶來紐西蘭,這個時候我再把從前說過的道理搬出來,她就心悅誠服了,因為她的數理比較好,可以幫忙別的同學,以交換她們教她英文,使她能夠在短短的時間之內適應紐西蘭的教育課程,奠定了很好的基礎。

其實我真正欣慰的並不是她在考試中拔得頭籌,而是看到她來紐西蘭之後,除了讀書,也養成了運動的習慣,現在她週末打網球,每天慢跑三至四公里。同時,由於紐西蘭課業較為輕鬆,她也有機會重拾以往對音樂的興趣,在進入醫學院以前她學了三年的鋼琴及四年的小提琴,具備了一些基本的音樂素養及技巧。

在一九九五年七月,彭巧之代表紐西蘭參加北京舉辦的國際奧林匹亞化學競試,為紐西蘭贏得一面銅牌,華人圈內的許多朋友都很為她高興,也認為是華人對紐西蘭社會的貢獻。她在北京的時候,由於沒有語言的障礙,有機會認識了許多傑出的年輕朋友,使她在人生旅途上大大的開了眼界。台灣跟大陸的選手儘管表現優越,奪得許多金牌、銀牌,但是卻沒有辦法跟世界其他國家代表打成一片,失去了很好切磋琢磨、交朋友的機會。

我一直認為,人生的目的並不是來讀書做學問的,教育只是人生的一個過程、一種手段,我以為人生值得追求的是幸福跟快樂。問題是:在現實的人生裡頭,幸福快樂並不只是主觀的意願,它有客觀的需求,它必須滿足某些條件,這個快樂幸福才是持久恆真的。我以為一個快樂的人生,必須具備了下列三個條件:

一、做喜歡做的事。

二、做你能力所及的事。

三、做這個社會需要的事。

第一個條件跟第二個條件是相輔相成、良性循環的;而若滿足第三個條件,你還可得到物質報酬、人們讚賞,畢竟沒有多少人能夠離群索居、不 忮不求。

女狀元的光環,很快就要褪下來了,趁它還沒有完全黯淡以前,我把個人小小的經驗及淺薄的意見提供出來給大家做參考,如果能夠博得一些朋友的共鳴,將是我無上的榮幸。

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兒女們身心各方面都能均衡,除了豐富的學試外,也要健全的人格發展,才是父母親殷切的期盼。

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EN

An Ace Student's Father Speaks on Education

Rod Peng, New Zealand /tr. by David Mayer


When the Asian Pacific League for Freedom and Democracy met in Auckland, New Zealand, I got along wonderfully for two days with John Ni, who was there in his capacity as Director-General of the Medium and Small Business Administration. We had something in common-we'd both been basking in the reflected glow of our daughters' success. He is the father of Li Ming-jou, while I am the father of Irine Peng.

Irine is the English name of our eldest daughter, Peng Chiao-chih. Irine received the highest score in a nationwide series of tests for scholarships, and she also earned the top score among females in the national bursary examinations. Her success reflected well upon the Chinese community in New Zealand, and for a while many of our friends stopped calling me by my own name, referring to me instead as "Irine Peng's father." I felt great pride, you can be sure. I was in demand for speeches and social functions, and was quite a celebrity for a while.

When I recall why we came to New Zealand in the first place, it feels good to realize that our family has achieved what I was hoping for. Since there are many others in Taiwan who are preparing to emigrate, or have already done so, perhaps our experience will be of interest to some readers.

According to a study published by the University of Auckland in 1993, over 60% of those who emigrate from Taiwan do so in search of a better education for their children. I myself received degrees in physics from Taiwan's Tsinghua University and electronic engineering from National Taiwan University. Speaking strictly in terms of academic success, I did very well, but I actually feel like I failed miserably. The competition to get into the best schools at every level of my schooling not only quashed my creativity, it just about completely drained me of any enthusiasm for scholarship.

When I look at people who have been through the Taiwanese educational system, I see that we all share a common shortcoming: we lack the ability to lead, the magnanimity to submit to the leadership of others, and the strength of character required for cooperation and compromise. To put it in terms of that new buzzword, EQ (emotional quotient), it seems to me that education in Taiwan has deprived us of the chance to mature emotionally at a key stage of our development.

Growing up in Taiwanese society, it is very difficult to develop good character. Our family moved to New Zealand in 1992. Before that, I had spent the previous three years studying at the University of Maryland in the United States. While I was in Maryland, the rest of the family stayed in Taiwan. Irine was in her first year of junior high school at the time. I wrote letters home often, and every Christmas and summer vacation either I would go back to Taiwan or they would go to the States. In letters and in person, I tried to instill in my children a proper outlook on life.

Irine was doing very well in school, and was always at or near the top of her entire class. I felt that she should not be stingy with her knowledge but should share it with her classmates. For one thing, she would be helping others and making friends at the same time. For another, to teach is to learn; when you give instruction to others, you come to realize that you can't explain anything that you don't understand thoroughly yourself. By helping others, you also develop your ability to express yourself.

Irine, however, was totally opposed to my opinions. Although it didn't make any difference to me whether she scored 95 or 100 on a test, for Irine and her junior high classmates, one's class ranking depended on test results. Each tenth of a percent could make a difference. If I kept at her too persistently she would sometimes snap back at me, saying that I was asking my own daughter to help other people get ahead of her at school. She said there was not another father as stupid as me! Whoever heard of a father looking out for other people's kids?!

During her three years of junior high I tried repeatedly to change her way of thinking, but the influence of her environment was too powerful for even a father to counteract. The situation remained unchanged until July 1992 when, two days after she finished her senior high school entrance examinations, I took her to New Zealand. Once again I put my reasons to her, and this time she saw things my way. She was ahead of her classmates in math and could help them out in exchange for help with English. She was thus able to adjust quickly to school in New Zealand.

The real source of satisfaction for me, however, is not the fact that she has come out on top in tests, but that since coming to New Zealand she has also become interested in sports. She now plays tennis on weekends and jogs three or four kilometers a day. Because students in New Zealand do not have such a heavy homework load, she has also rekindled her former interest in music. Before entering medical school she played piano for three years and practiced the violin for four. She now has an appreciation for music and has mastered the basic techniques of playing musical instruments.

In July 1995, Irine won a bronze medal for New Zealand at a chemistry olympiad held in Beijing. The Chinese community was very happy for her, and felt that her feat symbolized the contribution of their community to New Zealand society. Because she could speak Chinese she was able to make friends with a lot of outstanding young people in Beijing and broaden her world view considerably. Although the participants from Taiwan and mainland China won many gold and silver medals in the competition, they did not mix easily with participants from other countries and therefore missed a golden opportunity to share ideas and make new friends.

I have always felt that there is more to life than acquiring knowledge. Education is only a process, and a means to an end. What we should be seeking is happiness. The problem is that happiness is not totally subjective. If happiness is to last, one must satisfy certain objective conditions. I believe that to live a happy life, you have to meet the following three conditions: Firstly, you must engage yourself in something that you enjoy. Secondly, you must engage yourself in something that you are able to do well. Thirdly, you must engage yourself in something that is useful to society.

The first two conditions go together. You can't have one without the other. If you meet the third condition, then you will receive material compensation for your efforts and enjoy the respect and admiration of others. After all, few of us can live apart from human contact, wanting and needing nothing from anyone.

The excitement over Irine's academic performance will be dying down soon, so I thought I would take advantage of her remaining glory days to share a few thoughts with the readers of Sinorama. I would be very happy if they struck a responsive chord with someone.

p77

Children should be well-rounded. Parents hope their kids not only get high grades, but also show good character development.

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