Abstract. This paper consists of three major parts. The first is an introduction to the general ideas of Life Education in Taiwan. Its history, goals and content are discussed. The second part consists of a discussion of the life education programs of several universities from around Taiwan. The third part consists of a detailed presentation of the Life Education at Chaoyang University of Technology in central Taiwan. This discussion covers administrative aspects, curriculum planning and design, teacher training, goals and purposes, and specific courses within the program. An outline of syllabi and course methods is also offered.
Keywords: Life Education, Higher Education, Taiwan
Over the past several years in Taiwan, there have been many cases of individuals harming themselves or others without warning. The abuser, the abused, concerned friends and relatives, -- even those without a connection to the case – all may experience irreparable harm and unending mental suffering. This is especially true of those who do not respect others and what they do. They become ever more violent, though as they grow older, this gradually declines.
In view of this, the Taiwan government established a life education program in 2001, aggressively promoting implementation of Life Education in local educational institutions.
The government hoped that through activities, seminars, and daily life education, learning experiences, and survival values, the people of Taiwan would learn the meaning of respect for themselves and their own lives.
Establishment of the national life education system and promotion and implementation of a life education curriculum from primary school through the university level has received a great deal of emphasis.
Initially, life education was implemented largely in the primary and junior high school curriculum, which were infused with the concepts of life education. This included practical activities, in order to foster gradual personal change through actions and experiences, not merely through book learning.
Next, during the high school phase of the life education program, not only do individual schools carry out life education curriculum activities, but life education was officially incorporated into the curriculum as an elective course in the 2006 school year. Life Education is now an official course in the high school curriculum.
More and more of Taiwan’s 150 institutions of higher learning are opening Life Education and similar courses. The driving force behind the implementation and promotion of Life Education is not merely the regulations set by the Ministry of Education, but also comes from within each institution and from many educators themselves. Already a consensus emphasizing Life Education has emerged.
II. Life Education: Ideas and Goals
The basic idea of Life Education is inquiry into the ideas, values, and goals, of life, enabling people to understand life, to treasure life, and above all, to respect it. It also seeks to develop appropriate attitudes toward life and death in each individual, and enable individuals to learn the skills needed to adapt to the situations of life and death that they encounter while living. It also investigates ideas of human life and the existence of other life. Its ultimate goal is to facilitate the development of proper individual life values.
Life Education helps people understand human relations, mutual love and respect, to tolerate differences, and to respect others. It also has positive applications in social stability and cultural progress (Chen Shih-yen, 2002).
Bloom (1956) observed that “the idea of Life Education lies in learning through experience, and understanding the key values of existence in one’s own life and peers’. It lies in constructing the highest transcendence, to develop relations between the self, others, the environment, and heaven. Through curriculum, a school may establish a campus culture that moves students.”
The institutional educational process guides students in understanding what it means to be human, in the hope of fulfilling each and every individual’s latent ability, and complete the search for life values (Tseng Huan-tang, 2001; Wu Hsiu-pi, 2005).
In implementing the goals of life education curriculum, it is necessary to combine the three concepts of cognitive domain, affection domain, and skill domain. Starting with cognitive domain, and knowing life’s passages, turning to the levels of affection, helping in the appreciation of beauty and value of life, and finally moving to more active levels, this too is respecting the lives of others and oneself. These three concepts work together to reach success. This is effective promotion of life education (Chen Yun-lin, 2003).
Consequently, implementation of Life Education seeks to foster student ability to adapt to living, appreciate others, cherish things in the world, and take responsibility for their affairs. It also requires the construction of the whole person and cultivation of a rich humanism (Tsai Min-chin, 2005).
In sum, scholars agree that the goal of promoting Life Education during the educational process is to permit students to not only learn knowledge and skills, understanding, approval, and emphasis the values and ideas of life, but also learn to appreciate and cherish life, and implement in their own lives, through the establishment of human values, cultivation of the whole person.
III Life Education: Content and Strategies
Life Education is a whole person educational approach comprising four parts: humanistic education, living education, development education, and career guidance, (Tseng Wen-tsung, 1995; Tseng Chi-hsiung, 2000).
1. Life Education is a Humanistic Education
A western proverb says that people are spiritual in nature, while in Taiwan scholars say “Treat others benevolently, love the world”. Both of these different points of view are centered on people. Ancients and moderns, and Chinese and foreigners, stress that the education of the person is life education. From the standpoint of humanistic values, life education needs to be carried out with the heart so that respect for life can be deeply incorporated into the whole person.
2. Life education is a kind of living education
Life can be both ordinary and extraordinary. Leading a colorful life in an ordinary life, and learning to value the self, is a demand of living education.
3. Life Education is Development Education
The essence of life is an ongoing process of change and each phase has its own unique features, and all comprise a gradual process of development. Life Education thus covers guidance in human development, perceptions of the self, and education for the development of the whole person. Each is necessary for complete development of the human person.
4. Life Education is career guidance education
The idea of career guidance is helping everyone understand what their interests in life are, their personality and dispositions, to accept and develop themselves, to have positive values toward themselves, and to appreciate their own lives, in order that they may create their own life style and life goals.
Many scholars aver that the content of Life Education should include one concept, two directions, three great goals, four orientations, and five paths. The one great concept: whole person education. That means to live in balance with heaven, people, things, and the self.
The two directions are Life and Living. Discussing how to live involves inquiry into the ideas of life and its nature. At the same time, discussing how to live involves finding goals for living, and pursuit of a rich human life. The three great goals include positive life values, life satisfaction values, and harmonization of emotions, knowledge, and behavior. The four orientations include: the person and the self, the person and others, the person and the environment, and the person and the universe. The five paths are religious education, health education, career planning, theoretical education, and death education (Wu Shu-shen, Huang Li-hua, 2003)
After understanding the content of Life Education, it must be concretely put into practice in the school educational program.
The education received at school has a profound effect on the future of students. Hence teachers function as the vanguard of Life Education. Only when Life Education is truly implemented in education can students think about the meaning of life (Tseng Chi-hsiung, 2000).
Chang Mao-yuan (2005) argued that when an educational institution promotes life education, it should use the following methods:
1. Foster Student Awareness of the Reality of the Phenomenon of Life
Institutional education should energetically foster student self-esteem, confront frustration and pressure, integrity, respect for life, and enable them to learn by experience the beauty of life. This will prepare their minds to face each kind of obstacle earlier than otherwise, and enable them to enjoy their lives.
2. Use productive thinking to overcome myths, and give dignity to life
Instructors should stop being enchanted by the power of comparing students to each other. Through continual rethinking, they should enable their students to stand tall, and face their problems themselves. Diverse development is the key to recovering the true nature and dignity of education, and creating more meaningful life values and living in a respectful way.
3. Guide students in living for the day, and grasping the moment
How to guide students in living for the day is an important goal of Life Education. Through instructing students in self-discovery, and self-esteem practice, student self-esteem may be facilitated, producing a sense of self-value and self-respect. The student will not escape into the past or the future, but instead will slowly learn to live in the present, and grasp the moment that is now.
4. Reconfigure school curriculum and courses to offer “social environment” activities:
Institutions of education should train students to reconfigure their living philosophies though course activities. During the educational process, “social environment” group activities such as visits to orphanages, hospitals, prisons, and selling vegetables in the market, can enable students to learn living by practical interaction, inspiring them.
5. Energetically face topics where Life Education is incomplete
Life Education ideally is “Respecting and Loving Life.” This means alerting students to the problems they might encounter, offering caring, and all possible support. The teacher must believe that students can change. The students can then learn a new meaning of life, and we too can fulfill our lives.
6. Taking off with a positive direction and meaning, emphasizing human values and the dignity of life, and helping students establish an appropriate life values:
Teachers should energetically help students use the power of positively-focused thinking, and give these humanistic values a place in the idea of infinite nothingness, cherish their lives from start to finish, and positively and happily experience life, so that they may obtain eternal life. Further, in this society, where students learn confusing values, teachers should help students to care for others of their own accord, establishing a humanistic outlook based on mutual respect, equality, and a loving heart.
7. Make real the ideals of whole person education
The implementation process of Life Education demands that teachers themselves embody the concepts of caring, respect life, and have self-esteem. Teachers must sincerely urge students to adopt the values of caring, identification with others, enjoyment of others, and similar life-affirming humanistic values. This will enable students to understand and experience the existence of such values and their content. Constant caring for others can make real the ideals of whole person education.
Tsai Ching-tien (2003) argued that course planning, from the design angle, involved course development and course design. It requires making a series of choices, organizing and arranging the course programming, in accordance with social values, academic knowledge, and student interests, while focusing on course goals, content, methods, and implementation activities, as well as evaluation factors. Life Education not only in content and activities needs to match the social values and culture of the nation, but must also grasp the important knowledge of failure and death, and must see living education as a systematic and organized course for the purposes of implementation, instead of merely a set of activities and topics, for best effect.
In the last few years, there have been many cases in local elementary and secondary schools, and universities. Higher educational institutions may be seen as using an independent semester instructional design, and coursework must ultimately adapt to the institutional attitude toward opening courses. Instructional cases, whether in instructional goals, content, methods, or activities, all require consideration of the object of instruction, with appropriate coursework theory and instructional methods, to become a guide for systematic instruction cases.
IV. Curriculum and Implementation of Life Education in Taiwan Universities
Looking at institutions of higher learning across Taiwan that are implementing Life Education content and curriculum, there is a close similarity between them. A search of the internet reveals universities in Taiwan with more interesting Life Education curricula. Here’s a few examples:
1. National Taipei College of Nursing, in its Life and Death Education and Counseling program, has a detailed curriculum arrangement:
(1) Life and Death Instructional Design and Topical Seminars
(2) Life and Death Education Topical Seminars
(3) Funeral and Death Education Topical Seminars
(4) Sociology of Life and Death
(6) Multicultural Life and Death Studies
(7) Peaceful Therapeutic Nurse
(8) Life and Death Management Studies
(9) Philosophy of Life and Death
(10) Spiritual Caring
(11) Advanced Life Education
(12) International Life and Death Education and Counseling
(13) Disaster and Psychology
In addition to the above collection of Life Education courses, the college also offers courses such as “Spirit and Personality Integration Studies,” “Topics in Technology Theory Education,” “Topics in Philosophy and Humanistic Education,” “Topics in Religion and Human Life Education,” and “Topics in Love and Marriage Theory Education”, making up a thorough Life Education curriculum program. The program emphasizes Life Education, and expects to nurture students through the program. Molding a complete humanistic and positive attitude toward the world requires the ability to guide others, and advance the lives of self and others for a more diverse and complete development.
2. National Kaohsiung University Life Sciences Department: Life Education Curriculum within the General Education Program
A look at the content of one course in this program. the “Inquiry into Life” course, shows that its instructional goals are to permit students to use the course to enter into the Life Sciences world, know life, and understand themselves and other living things in the world, in order to understand our living world, and cherish all living things on the earth. It also seeks to give students a foundation in other fields. Instructional methods include lectures, film appreciation, and class discussions. Major course content is outlined below:
(1) What is life?
(3) The origin and evolution of living things
(5) The Chemical Foundations of Life
(6) Energy and Radiation
(7) DNA – the Secret of Life
(8) Introduction to the Cell
(9) Cell reproduction and heredity
3. Tz Chi University
Education at Tz Chi’s University of Life Sciences has already been discussed. Under the guidance of experts in the biotechnology and life sciences, students in clinical practice are smoothly entered into the medical research world, in order to find out what is going on there. Only life sciences is structured on a firm research foundation is it able to harness its tremendous energy. International education has invested far more than Taiwan in its basic research foundation. As a result, school management, in development planning, should emphasize the development of life sciences.
4. Chaoyang University of Technology-Life Education Curriculum Implementation:
A review of the content and major ideas of the foregoing collection of Taiwan university Life Education and related curricula,
Chaoyang University of Technology targets educational development by learning knowledge through experience. Planning and design takes place from the twin angles of the General Education curriculum and teacher development, in the hope that the ordinary students can learn to fully understand how to cherish and be moved by life from the varied perspectives of religion, philosophy, society, and humanistic values. At the same time, Chaoyang students and teachers will be able to feel the meaning of life in the Life Education curriculum, which will blended into their future instruction. A simple chart will be used to illustrate the current status of implementation of Life Education at Chaoyang.
Promotion of Life Education at Chaoyang starts with the curriculum planning that is carried out at the Teacher Training Center. Curriculum goals include:
(1) Students should be able to recognize the idea of life, respect life, love life, and enrich the content of life. (2) Students should know themselves, and establish a concept of the self, in order to develop their potential, and realize the Self. (3) Increase student interpersonal abilities, and enhance student relationships with others. (4) Students should be able to establish a correct set of life values, and mold a complete personality.
Instructional content may be divided into two categories. (1) Inquiry into “Complete Living,” including “Happy Living,” “Beautiful Living,” and “Meaningful Living.” Several ideas of Sigmund Freud’s, including “The Will to Live, and “The Will to Die,” guide the emphasis on life. (2) From the instructional goals of knowledge, ideas, and abilities, learning the instructional skills and curriculum design necessary for Life Education to serve as the basis of future teaching preparation. Curriculum planning will guide future teachers and students taking the course. Professional training will also be enable praise of life. The “Beauty of Life” and the “Glory of Death” are images that none should be without, now and in the future. Through actual visits and concrete ideas, open-mindedness and mercy may be created in teachers and students. This will be a great opening to wisdom for both the individual and future educational processes.
In this curriculum, instructors and students together visit the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of a local hospital. During the visit, “birth” will be explained and praised on the spot, and the greatness of motherhood and the moving emotions of newborns explained. In addition, instructors and students will also visit a funeral home, to understand the reality of death, and how ordinary people handle death will be dealt with, with a strong emphasis on cherishing life.
Next, Chaoyang University General Education Life Education curriculum may be looked at from several perspectives:
1. Humanistic Thought and Life Growth
This course is part of the area of individual growth. Its primary goals are to advance student self-understanding and stimulate the all-around potential of students. Through humanistic thinking, with ideas such as cogito ergo sum, and basic psychological ideas serving as the background, and inquiry of each level of topics in the body, mind, and spirit, student ability to deal with life’s problems will be enhanced, stimulate student initiative in facing life’s choices, and enrich their ability to be a whole person.
2. Philosophy of Human Life
The goal of this course is to enable students to make advanced changes in their lives. The course syllabus includes:
(1) Introduction: What is “life?” What is “philosophy?” The meaning of “philosophy of life.”
(2) Current life difficulties: self, loneliness, emptiness, absurdity, gender, marriage, stress, and so forth.
(3) Life: its nature and meaning
(4) Ethics, the values of good and evil, self-discipline, disciplining others
(5) art, aesthetic values, and meaning
(6) Religion, beliefs, centering
(7) Truth: scientific truth, philosophical truth
(8) Boundaries: ideals of life, establishing life values.
3. Religion and Human Life
This course starts from the perspective of religion. In addition to understanding basic religious concepts, it extends to inquiries into the importance of life and the meaning of life. Key course content includes:
(1) Raising the quality of life
(2) Topics in the investigation of religious figures:
(3) What is “ultimate caring?” Who am I? What is the origin of existence and life?
(4) What is the nature of religion? What is religious caring?
(5) How are these topics and my life and living related? What is the meaning of life?
(6) What is the direction of life?
4. Modern Life and Death Studies
Modern Life and Death Studies is an inquiry into life values and the phenomenon of death. It lies within the field of research of study into the moment of death. Coursework includes the structure of life and death, terminal care, and death education. It enables students to understand the preciousness of life, and to not fear death. The course syllabus covers:
(1) The quality of life and the dignity of death
(2) The structure of life and death
(3) Death education: last wishes
(4) Terminal care and peaceful therapy
(5) Disease analysis
(6) The perspective of religion
5. Multicultural Life and Death Studies
Goals for this course are located in giving students a multicultural perspective on life and death through examination of the values of different cultures, and comparison of how one’s own culture handles death. It seeks to discover of different cultures, foster research into the views of other cultures, and to clarify the factors that produce different images among different cultures. Course content includes investigation of different cultural values toward life and death, as expressed in religious beliefs, cultural rituals, ethics of life, language, living artifacts, taboos, and interpersonal relations. Literature is used to help students understand cultural differences in life and death.
6. International Life and Death Education and Counseling
This course introduces international life and death education and counseling, and related topics. It helps students to keep pace with the latest developments in life and death education and counseling knowledge from overseas. Course content includes the current status and future trends of international life and death education and counseling, local development, handling of terminal cases and death, and new methods of terminal care and grief counseling. Students are required to analyze international death education and counseling issues from many angles, and the influence of relevant institutions on the phenomena of life and death is highlighted.
In sum, with the burgeoning importance of Life Education in Taiwan, currently many individual universities are planning and designing Life Education curricula, in their general education courses, student-teacher development, or even in a dedicated Life Education department. These goals are not narrowly defined to definitions of life and death, but also include sharing of multicultural and international perspectives on and experiences with life and death. The hope is that every student who takes higher education will have broader knowledge of Life Education, and a richer set of perspectives on it.
What will the next change be in our ever-changing modern age? What will be the changes in the home, education, and society? Have interpersonal relations grown more distant as Taiwan has changed from an agricultural society to an industrial society during its economic development? Have parent-child relationships grown weaker as the family has changed from an extended family to a smaller family and finally to the nuclear family? Liu Ching-yang (2004) in “Future Paths for Life Education,” observed that guiding the next generation in possessing happy and hardworking human values, enabling them to find their dreams and emotions, is the only road for young people to take through life. Their time at the university is the phase of life when values are set. University curriculum design should not concentrate merely on fostering professional abilities, but should play a positive and happy role in teaching children through positive life values taken from the lives of the teacher. Teachers should love their own lives. Many of the educators in this essay have concretely discussed the promotion of Life Education, and their key ideas should be used to help students cherish their own lives, create fortune, learn love and wisdom, and find the ideal life.
In universities in Taiwan, curriculum planning for Life Education appears to have begun already, with a positive start. Whether understanding it through practical application, emotions, or intellect, attempts will be made to guide students into a fulfilling, confident, and goal-directed future through curriculum planning. After the meaning and value of life become common knowledge among students, future Taiwan education will not only create a breakthrough in professional growth for young people, but will also enable Taiwan’s future citizens to learn to enjoy life, cherish life, forgive, accept, and respect the cultural assets of others in this new era.
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