The China Post provided yet more evidence of why my students can’t write. This article on Taiwan’s university system is a perfect example of bad writing at its worst:

This and other negative reports about university teachers have borne witness to the fact that our universities are losing their reputation as places for development of high moral standards. If this trend continues, which will probably be the case, the crime rate will certainly rise even further.

The government must face all these problems squarely and promptly revise its policy concerning higher education.

It is necessary to allocate more funds for the development of higher education, but money alone cannot remedy the problems that have arisen. The authorities must have a clear concept of what education means and set more lofty goals than those that are being pursued at present.

Bad Writing locally is distinguished by (1) the appeal to the Golden Age of the Past; (2) generalizing from one bad example with no thought for statistics; and (3) abstract criticism without concrete recommendations. On the pro-China side, Bad Writing typically makes history disappear, or if it can’t be made to disappear, the actors vanish if they are KMT and the outcomes are bad. The editorial above offers shining examples of each of them:

1) — our universities are losing their reputation as places for development of high moral standards. Did they ever have such a reputation?

2) — This and other negative reports about university teacher no attempt is made to establish that these reports are a trend. No reference is made to any body of data, or other examples in any concrete way.

3) — The government must face all these problems squarely and promptly revise its policy concerning higher education. It is necessary to allocate more funds for the development of higher education, but money alone cannot remedy the problems that have arisen. The authorities must have a clear concept of what education means and set more lofty goals than those that are being pursued at present.

The Post appears to believe that it is enough to call upon the government to face the problems “squarely” — a beautifully abstract word that contains no concrete meaning whatsoever. The authorities are told they must have a clear concept (which would be…..?) and must pursue loftier goals (which would be…..?). Nor is any argument presented that concepts are unclear and goals are not lofty. The writer withholds all evidence and argument from the reader.

The average Taiwanese lives in a world of crap where there is no expectation that claims must be supported and ideas must be concrete. With garbage like this passing for analysis in the media, it is no wonder that none of my students can write.