Turkish YouTuber and Internet celebrity Rifat (吳鳳) recently released his fifth book in Taiwan — “Raising Happy Kids is More Important Than Anything” (養出快樂的孩子比什麼都重要).
The book delves into child education from his personal experience and highlights some cross-cultural differences between the Western and Taiwan.
與The China Post訪談中吳鳳表示，自2006年來台，台灣人對他和他的家人都非常親切、熱心，而台灣的經濟發展更是一大加分。
Speaking to The China Post, Rifat said that Taiwanese people have been kind and helpful to him and his family since he moved to Taiwan in 2006, and the improving economy is definitely a plus to living here.
“Also, I’ve learned from Taiwanese people, for example, more about recycling, and how to care about nature. This is what we’re lacking in Turkey,” Rifat confessed. “I’d want to teach my kids these kinds of things.”
However, after years of observation, Rifat noticed that education in Taiwan differs from his home country.
“What I realized in Taiwan is that when most of the Taiwanese are talking about their childhood, they’re always talking about cram schools (補習班), writing homework, and studying, but when I talk about mine, I talk about the seaside, beautiful memories, playing with sand,” he noted.
Rifat believes that Taiwanese people are really lovely, yet he feels like some are pressuring their kids for more performance as they are afraid their kids can’t perform at school.
He relayed a conversation he had with another Taiwanese woman when she sought him out for advice after expressing worries over how her child can’t speak English well at age five.
“It is impossible to have everything in five years. That’s why I want to take my time. If I think about education all the time, kids will have pressure, and I will have pressure. You don’t need that kind of pressure in our lives,” he replied.
Rifat has always believed that education is flexible. Unlike making a pizza, there’s no recipe nor an exact answer to make a kid successful.
“My take on education is to make kids happy. Creating the right environment — the best environment is what I can offer the kids,” he asserted.
“Let them learn from the things, participate, enjoy the events. Maybe hiking in the mountains, touching the trees. See and be part of nature,” he added.
He also insists on leaving the decisions of likes or dislikes to the children themselves. The parent’s job is to give them the opportunity to experience and learn by themselves, he said.
“My father gave me a very good life lesson by telling me: ‘If you want to do anything, you do it, but one day if you regret, don’t accuse me. I gave you everything and gave you my support,” the father shared.
In addition, it is very important to Rifat that kids be led to become global citizens, meaning they should be exposed more to the world, and not limited to matters in Taiwan.
“If you’re always talking about Taiwan and giving them local ideas, once the kids leave Taiwan, they will feel like fish out of water,” Rifat stressed.
“The kids see [learn] from their parents, so the parents have to understand the world and talk to their kids about it,” he said, suggesting that watching the Olympics together would be a great option.
Rifat believes that this will broaden the children’s horizons, and stimulate more in-depth conversations instead of dwelling on boba milk tea and night markets when they speak of Taiwan.
The Internet celebrity has written numerous articles on child education for two years based on his personal experience of accompanying children and observations from his dad.
“The thing is, if you share the articles on social media, you never know how they’re going to stay online. So, I want to make it into a book to share with people. They can read it wherever they want,” the author said.
For the past months of the semi-lockdown in Taiwan, the Turkish dad has stayed at home with his family, online shopping for multiple games and toys for the kids, just like the rest of the parents.
“Lockdown was tense. It’s the first time the kids have stayed at home for so long,” he admitted, “I also realized the importance of school.”
Yet, Rifat still considers Taiwan fortunate.
“In Taiwan, we’re still very lucky because it’s just for a couple of months. These three months it’s more about me and my kids learning from each other,” he said with a smile.
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