Holistic Education as Our Point of Departure:
NTU’s Distinctive Service Classes
For NTU students, knowledge and learning come not just from their professors and the theories they study in class; knowledge and learning also come from performing community service. In 1998, NTU introduced the “Service Class.” It is an experiential approach to learning that combines “service” and ‘learning,” and is aimed to awaken the students’ service spirit.
The Service Class offers the students many options. They can stay on campus and clean public spaces, or they can cooperate with campus or outside groups to conduct social service work off campus. Additionally, they can take one of the specialized service classes offered by various departments, and apply what they learn in class as a practicum.
Chen Ning, a graduate of NTU’s Department of Finance & Economics, participated in NTU’s Child Welfare Society’s community service activities for her service class. These activities included going to Sanzhan Primary School in Hualian to hold a summer camp in an aboriginal village. She held the attitude that she was there to “help the village’ when she first arrived; but, through interacting with the local people she found that “service” and “learning” weren’t just a one-way street, with omniscient NTU students “giving knowledge” to the villagers; she found that the students were learning as much as they were teaching.
A student surnamed Chen of the Department of Anthropology took the campus guide service class, and learned how to be a guide for visitors to NTU. This course gave her an in-depth understanding of NTU’s history and culture. She said when she visited NTU’s Fu Garden before she was trained as a guide, she didn’t feel anything about it; but, after learning the history of the garden and Fu’s story, she was able to identify with NTU more as she introduced the university to visitor after visitor.
Gao Yu-qing, a graduate of the Department of Law, took a specialized service class offered by her department in her third year, which involved providing litigation services in a court, such as helping the court clerk to fill out complaints for members of the public. She said the service class gave her the opportunity to apply the legal knowledge she had learned at NTU. She also had master many operational details that weren’t covered in class, which involved learning related practical knowledge.
NTU students know the school motto, “Integrity, Diligence, Patriotism and Philanthropy” through which, in 1949, NTU president Fu Ssu-nien expressed the hope that, in addition to knowledge and study, NTU students would love and serve the people. The diverse service classes are a way of putting this motto into practice.