Jul 02

“Sticking it to the man” – education in China

Written by Raj on Friday, July 2nd, 2010 at 4:58 pm
Filed under:-mini-posts, education, General | Tags:,
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Something a bit different – go to the Mercury Brief to read an interesting and personal account of the Chinese education system from Michelle Cui Xiaoxiao.

….In contrast, he argues, Chinese teenagers are never allowed to take risks, which blocks self-understanding and self-reflection. Because Chinese students never confront typical teenage tribulations, they are doomed to live out their teenage years forever.

I am a product of one of these Chinese boarding schools, and a participant in many small acts of teenage rebellion. Yes, we were required to wear uniforms and were not allowed to wear jewelry. But my desk-mate and I had fun sneaking ear studs behind our hair, an act we perceived as extremely defiant. We were not allowed to leave school on weekdays, so we pretended to be sick and obtained special permission from school nurses to leave school for two hours. Then we devoured hamburgers and fries at McDonald’s and came back in time for afternoon classes.

Life as a Chinese student is hard and in some respects unforgiving – one poor performance (especially during the pre-university exam) can cost a young person dearly. The saying that “those who can overcome the highest level of hardship and pain will become the elite in this world” is very powerful, though arguably those that become the elite often start with a leg up over the rest. Still, there’s always hope if you try hard enough.

Read the whole thing.

(Hat tip to Richard at the Peking Duck for finding this.)

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6 Responses to ““Sticking it to the man” – education in China”

  1. Jason Says:

    Hold on one minute. The title of this article is extremely deceptive. Education in China doesn’t evolve around boarding school. The rebelliousness in the boarding school is seen almost routinuely around the world.

  2. Steve Says:

    I agree with Jason on this one. Per what I heard from my friends over there, they weren’t rebellious in school at all. I’m sure there are rebellious students in every school in the world but in general, I’d say Chinese students behave quite well in comparison.

  3. Raj Says:

    Guys, what made you think this was a general commentary? It was one person’s account – which I stressed with the word “personal”.

  4. r v Says:

    “Rebellious” is relative term. I would agree with the author’s point of view, because I have been through the system a little.

    I know the tough conditions imposed upon the Chinese students, and what kind of trouble they could get into if they don’t follow the rules. Obviously, even an infraction which might seem harmless in Western standards, could be very bad for a Chinese students. I myself was a “bad boy” in school, but I was smart enough to keep my troubles out of my permanent records, so no long term detriments to myself. (My cousin, however, got dropped from high school, and got into trouble with the law. As the Chinese say, he got into trouble because he went onto the wrong road and hung out with the wrong crowd.)

    I would say that the stuff I did was pretty tame, but in my days, it was rebellion against our teachers and our schools. Small acts of defiance against authority, pushing the boundary of right and wrong.

    Rebellious is always relative. A skimpy swimsuit in 1940’s US might have been earth shattering, but not so controversial in 2010. Similarly, what might be tame to US students today, have stimulated great many Parent-teacher committee meetings somewhere in China in 1980’s.

    Like the author, I sometimes miss those days, because they were acts that made me think about life, authority, rebellion, and consequences. But coming to live in the “freedom” of US did not make me change, the rules are different, but there are still rules (still some unwritten unfair rules that would put me down without any discussions). I simply realized that I no longer needed to “rebel”, it was counter productive. I could much easier play the rules to my advantages. (A lesson that most Chinese have learned).

    Rebellions are what you make of it. Rules are what you make of it. Life is what you make of it. Success is what you make of it. They are all relative to your goals. Some rebellions are small, but provoke great change or inner thoughts. While others are loud but do nothing at all. (the annual G-20 protests have become sort of destructive annual festival of the anarchists.)

  5. Legalist Says:

    Rebel with a cause is a revolutionary. Rebel without a cause is a cynic.

  6. r v Says:

    Rebel in search of a cause is a lawyer. 🙂

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