Dissolving The Single-Usage Theory (C3 Speech, Taipei Grand Toastmasters, 21 Dec 2006)

“What is the blind spot of working hard to achieve good academic performances all the way from primary school to university?” this was the question regarding educational purpose which was raised by my professor of Educational Philosophy.

I then spontaneously raised my hand up and answered, “The good academic performances—straight A’s, high average marks and ranking will become the only value of education. This will causes many students to feel inferior and discouraged for not being able to do well in examinations. The ‘mainstream’ social value will keep on telling them that they will only have bright future if they are doing well academically. Some students are likely to focus on their weakness—‘Oh no, I don’t know how to do well in exams, I am stupid’. They will consciously and sub-consciously think that they are nobody. Some of the Chinese parents and elders at home will keep on reminding them that they will become a useless person if they can’t study well. This makes them feel bad about themselves. They may not be likely to develop their talented skills when they keep on feeling inferior and discouraged.”

For me the word ‘useless’ is rather too strong. Actually everybody has his or her own talent. We don’t need to evaluate someone from only one angle. Let me share with you a story of Zhuang Zi(莊子). Zhuang Zi’s good friend—Hui Shi(惠施) told Zhuang Zi that he has a big tree but he thinks the tree is really useless. “What? Useless? Why is it so?” Zhuang Zi asked. “It is useless because the tree is so big and its branches are bent. Carpenters just don’t want to cut it to make furniture and rulers (大而無用,衆所同去也).” Hui Shi answered. Zhuang Zi pointed out his blind spot by telling him, “Hey brother, you know what? You can plant the tree in countryside, and take an afternoon nap under the tree during summer, or reading under the tree, it is so useful if you use it this way! (何不樹之於無何有之鄉,廣末之野,彷徨乎無為其側,逍遙乎寢臥其下)You must know how to use it wisely. This is the philosophy of Zhuang Zi, he teaches us how to dissolve the theory of single usage.(打破定用)

I think that will this grade-is-education(分數就是教育)will discourage someone who is a genius in other fields. Why must the public think that a well-educated or successful person must be professors, doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers?
Why can’t we recognise the talents in those who are not able to do well academically? They indeed have many A’s in other fields, it is just that we have already blinded our eyes with the A’s in academic, not that of the other fields. For instance, Wu Bai flunked four subjects in senior high school, but he is able to do well in rock music and became a rock poet. Education should be helping everybody to realise his or her dreams, not to destroy it. Nobody is qualified to say that someone is stupid or useless just because they are not doing well in exams. We must break down this single-usage theory.

Always think from another angle so that you can have different perspective when you are observing something. Always try to break the theory of single usage and learn how to appreciate everybody’s talents in every field. I wish that I have given my fellow members a clear way of dissolving the single-usage theory under the guidance of Zhuang Zi philosophy.

One thought on “Dissolving The Single-Usage Theory (C3 Speech, Taipei Grand Toastmasters, 21 Dec 2006)”

  1. 很不錯的觀點,對照現在台灣當前功利主義社會呈現的升學主義教育,我想華人社會很難體會「天生我才必有用」的真理吧~!

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