發文作者:Albert Tzeng | 2008/03/02

用留學人數自我否定?

朋友轉寄文章如下,我評論貼於文後

 

英文不行 談什麼本土化

 

關心台灣人文科學高等教育的人會發現一個現象,近五年來人文學科留學生申請到美國傳統名校的比例日趨減少。相較於現在的學生,1520年前的留學生大多數均從耳熟能詳的學校畢業,現在的人文社會科學留學生會發現即使要擠進第二甚至第三梯次的學校皆數不易,姑且不論對學校的等級劃分是否合理,但不爭的事實是台灣學生在這些名校的比例正在下降,試舉一例,2007年芝加哥大學錄取的人文社會科學類博士生只有不到五人。這樣的現象不禁令人要問難道是台灣學生的競爭力下降了嗎?這樣的現象又帶來什麼影響?

 

語言能力具關鍵性

 

事實上,台灣學生比例下降的原因,筆者認為英文能力的不足佔了舉足輕重的地位,在早年靠著背誦可以得高分的GRE和托福,台灣學生尚能在申請上不落下風,但這幾年來隨著考試制度的改變,台灣學生已難以輕易拿得高分,對於缺少像自然科學著作或專利等客觀標準的人文社會申請學生而言,語言能力對申請成敗佔有關鍵性的地位,因此不少人注意到美國學校近年來偏好錄取已經在美國取得碩士的學生進入博士班就讀。

 

然而另一個影響台灣學生錄取率的因素則是中國籍教授廣泛在美國高等院校任職的趨勢,以芝加哥大學社會系而言,20人上下的教授群其中就有兩位中國籍教授,因此近年來芝加哥大學社會系每年均固定錄取一定數目的中國學生,交換學生大幅增加。相較於中國學者廣泛在美任教,台灣社會科學學者則沒有這樣的傳統。

 

對美國大學而言,多元性是很重要的一個指標,包含了文化和族群上的多元。相較於英文能力不足的台灣人文社會科學研究生,美國大學更願意給予所謂的ABC入學許可,ABC是否真正理解台灣或者中國,筆者不願多作評論,但一個事實是以筆者所接觸到的一些人而言,他們往往自認為代表中國文化或台灣文化,但理解之淺薄讓人咋舌,相較於外國學者較為開放的態度,他們反而成為了一種保守的自我東方主義和異國化,藉由異國化自己的族群凸顯出自己在社會中的地位,但結果對於台灣或者中國研究而言卻是弊多於利。

 

積極參與國際社群

 

台灣人文社會科學生有志於留美者,當務之急是加強自己的語文能力。而整個人文社會科學的繁榮除了學生外,更需學者的努力用功,積極參與國際社群,所謂的本土化不應成為自我安慰的藉口。

 

李鎮邦 美國芝加哥大學社會科學研究生  (台灣蘋果日報2008228日)

 

 

Albert’s Note:

 

Yes I also observed the decreasing number of Taiwanese students in the prestigious US universities but I reached a different interpretation.

 

I think, by attributing this trend to ‘insufficient English capability’, the author overlook the shifting role of Taiwan, the changing US-TW-CN geopolitics, and their implications in the micro-politics of in academic research and international student intake.

 

In between 1960s and 1980s, the golden age for Taiwanese students in US, Taiwan was (1) one of US’s most critical ally in its war against the expansion of communism, as well as (2) the only accessible case to study if you want to know anything about Chinese culture and Chinese society. The first factor has made it part of US national interest to have strong connection with the ruling elite in Taiwan, and one of the most effective way to ensure US’s long-term influence was to attract (by means of scholarship, for instance) more Taiwanese elite to come to US for study, where they will be familiarized by US culture and values. At the same time, the second factor also made Taiwan an attractive place to study for American academia, hence the willingness to admit more Taiwanese students to carry out the related projects.

 

Today, the two factors are no longer there. As China opened its door and the mutual trust between it and US accumulate, nowadays almost all of the US universities, the various scholarship-providing organizations, and even the US government are all eager to build up stronger connections with China. They want to have more people with knowledge of China to work for them (the author also noticed this), want to support more studies with China as their focus, as well as to have their alumni network to expand quickly in China (which means influence, reputation and revenue associated with future applicants.) And naturally, Taiwan is destined to be marginalized "in this arena".

 

But shall we worry about this? I don’t think we necessarily have to. On a fair account, Taiwan has occupied a lot, even too much, American academic attention in the past. It’s just an accidental happening resulted from the unique historical context this island was once thrown into. Now the history moved on, and Taiwan just gradually step down from this stage, to a more humble, but deserved, position.

 

The point here is, we should stop evaluating ourselves by how much American attention, or how many American postgraduate admissions, we get. America is not a universal, golden standard. Its criteria for either academic publication or student admission are also determined by extra-academic, political-economical factors. We should abandon the past, uncritical worshiping of the "America top universities." (One simple exercise is to reflect on the current condition of American society– its crimes, drug and gum problem, social inequality, racial problems– and wonder what has all the fleets of social scientist in prestigious universities are doing.) We should be able to clarify our own perspective, and reflect on the works of our students and researchers based on what is really needed in this island, instead of what is regarded hot in America.

 

 

廣告

Responses

  1. A good one, Albert, esp the title! There\’ve been too many self-reproaches.
    Globalisation ≠ Americanisation (e.g. U.S-centric? or American-English-dominant academia?) —— if localisation is what the author\’s against (???)
    Yet the case from Lee at Chicago Univ is interesting tho.


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