Jul 02

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.

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May 11

minipost-How To Survive in China as a Foreigner

Written by: Steve | Filed under:-mini-posts, culture, education | Tags:, , ,
58 Comments » newest 2011-06-22 05:50:37

I ran across this recent blog entry posted by Chris Biddle, an American student living in China. It’s short, sweet and to the point.

Bring your own deodorant.  Bring your own coffee.  Get used to the smell of urine.  Smile, a lot.  Learn how to say where your from.  Understand that it’s not rude if someone asks how much money you make.  Listen to music.  Read.  Be patient.  Don’t drink tap water. Try everything at least once, especially the stuff that grosses you out, it will make for a better story.  Get out there and do stuff, try not to use the train of thought “Well, I deserve this,” too often.  If you’re a man, carry a pack of cigarettes with you and offer them to any man you meet.  They will most likely not take one, even if they do smoke, but they will appreciate the sentiment.

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Jan 13

minipost-Learning about the Chinese Mind through Chinese Food

Written by: berlinf | Filed under:-mini-posts, culture, education | 22 Comments » newest 2010-01-31 14:33:10

This may not be a profound truth that I just discovered, but have you noticed that Chinese food and Chinese thinking have a lot to do with each other? Obvious as it may seem, one can become more reflective after encounters with another type of food and thinking behind it. In my case, the comparison is between China and America.

1. In cooking we don’t have “1 cup”, “1/4 cup”, “1 teaspoon” measurement, we say “a little salt”. Exactly how little is little, it’s all a matter of exposure (to other cooks), exchange (of experience) and experience (of your own practice). We don’t have “preheat oven to 425 degrees” either, we say “small fire”, “medium fire”, “”big fire”. Scratch your head and think what these mean. The Chinese mind is similarly conditioned to process such chaotic vagueness with ease and patience.

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Nov 14

“Voices of Change:  Educational reform I’d expect”

While Chinese education has experienced rapid development in the past decade, there are numerous challenges, which caused people to call education to be one of the “three mountains (healthcare, housing, and education)” that lie before ordinary Chinese. The media, however, are filled with voices of cynicism and pessimism, or groundless praises from vested interest groups who are anxious to maintain the status quo. Key stakeholders, especially students, are tragically underrepresented or even voiceless as China stands at the crossroads of her educational reform.
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Oct 21

Lou Jing: Racism Gone Wild?

Written by: Steve | Filed under:culture, education, General, media, music, News, Opinion, video | Tags:, , , ,
391 Comments » newest 2013-07-05 18:34:48

Lou Lou Jing (娄婧) entered a competition reality show called “Let’s Go! Oriental Angels” (加油!东方天使) on Dragon TV. Though born and raised in Shanghai and a Chinese citizen all her life, her story is quite complicated. Her mother was married to a Chinese man but had an affair with an African American man and gave birth to Lou Jing. The African American man went back to the States before Lou Jing was born, the Chinese husband divorced his wife when he discovered she had an affair, so Lou Jing was raised by a single mother. She is considered a talented singer, speaks fluent Mandarin and Shanghainese and is Chinese in every way except for her looks and skin color.

However, upon entering this competition, she was shocked to find rude racial epithets hurled against her on the Chinese blogosphere. Was she really Chinese? Quite a few people felt she was not. They condemned her for her skin color and her mother’s infidelity. Many comments were blatantly racist.

I first became aware of this story when James Fallows mentioned it in his Atlantic blog. He wrote, “To be clear about the context: this is not a “blame China” episode but rather one of many illustrations of the differences in day by day social realities and perceived versus ignored sources of tension in particular societies. That’s all to say about it for now.” I want to explore those tensions further.

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Oct 05

Question: In your opinion, are teachers in the US given enough latitude to teach effectively?

IDEA (a law for programs for students with disabilities), Title I (a part of a law for programs for economically disadvantaged students), our equal opportunity laws and even, to a certain extent, the No Child Left Behind law, as well as many other laws and influences have created a system that does a good job at providing the basics (except computer basics ) to almost all students. In doing that, we’ve made teachers’ jobs much harder (though it’s worth it). Continue reading »

Oct 02

Interview with Dr. Edwina Pendarvis (II): Chinese vs. US Education

Written by: berlinf | Filed under:education, General | 13 Comments » newest 2010-08-18 09:39:54

Question: If you can comment on the differences between the Chinese and US educational systems that would be great. If not, from your experience working with US students and Chinese students, what are some of the things that stand out to you as being very different? What could Chinese students learn from their US counterparts and what could American students learn from their Chinese counterparts?

Dr. Pendarvis: Lucky for you I know very little about the Chinese educational system, and so I won’t go on so long in answering this question! I can only talk about the few Chinese students I’ve worked with. They were ALL more intellectual and interested in ideas than most American students I’ve taught. They were also more respectful of others’ ideas, including the professors. Whatever their private thoughts, they consistently asked questions rather than dismissing others’ ideas without giving them much thought. Continue reading »

Oct 01

Recently there has been much discussion in both China and the US about the advantages or disadvantages of education in both countries. For instance, Mr. Robert Compton made a movie called 2 Million Minutes, which advocates learning from China and India in its K12 education. Views by Mr. Compton was largely rejected by scholars such as Dr. Zhao from Michigan State University who suggests the US system is doing fine while the Chinese one needs reform. In the meantime, someone in China seems to have forged an article by Benno C. Schmidt, Jr., former President of Yale, attacking Chinese higher education as basically a joke. If that article showed anything, it indicates extreme dissatisfaction with the Chinese educational system.

During such discussions on the differences between Chinese and American education, we interviewed Dr. Edwina Pendarvis for her input on what went wrong with the US education. Dr. Pendarvis is Professor Emeritus of Gifted Education at Marshall University and an Internationally recognized scholar of high-achieving students. Continue reading »

Sep 15

Reflections on the Compton-Zhao Debate

Written by: berlinf | Filed under:education, General | Tags:, , , ,
33 Comments » newest 2009-09-29 13:46:36

Video: The Zhao vs. Compton Debate

It’s surreal to hear Dr. Zhao from China working in the US defending the US educational system while Mr. Compton advocating that the US learn from China’s system. One thing is for sure: the world is getting flat.

The rest are open to debate.

As I watched this debate, a story that came to mind was the meteorologist forecasting a severely cold winter after seeing Indians hording chopped wood, while the Indian got the idea from the meteorologist who had suggested earlier that the winter would probably be cold. This happens when you make comparisons between two moving targets. In recent years, China is learning from “developed countries” such as US itself, ways to move away from the test-driven education system toward more “rounded education”. I am a reviewer of an educational journal in China and I constantly find papers describing “US experiences” and their implication for China. In the meantime, school curriculum is including an increasing number of subjects that Mr. Compton might be laughing at, such as life skills training. And here we are: Mr. Compton told us that the US should learn from China. Now what? Continue reading »

Sep 14

main_educationIn the second part of our interview with Robert Compton, We delve more deeply into his film “Two Million Minutes” which looks at the pre-university educational systems of India and China and compares them to the equivalent curriculum in the United States. Some of the topics discussed are:

1) What are the comparative number of science courses taught in high school and the amount of time spent on the social sciences and world history?

2) What do Indian and Chinese educators see as the areas most in need of reform within their own schools? Are there myths within the Chinese and Indian educational establishment as to their own perceived weaknesses?

3) How are China, India and the United States approaching the key 21st century industries, especially the ones concerning environmental and energy issues?

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Sep 08

Bob Compton and U.S. President Obama

Bob Compton talks to U.S. President Obama abour education reform

More Americans are becoming aware of Bob Compton (standing next to U.S. President Obama in the picture to the left) for his efforts in changing America’s education system.Compton is one of the most successful businessmen in America.He has created numerous companies, lead companies with sales of a million dollars to hundreds of millions, and served as President of NYSE-listed companies.  He is an active venture capitalist as well as an angel investor.  Compton traveled the world extensively.  He is also keenly interested in what is happening outside the USA.  His funded companies hire engineers in China and India.

Compton produced two documentary films:  “Two Million Minutes” and “Win in China.”

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Aug 13

Cross Cultural Dating

Written by: Steve | Filed under:culture, education, General, language | Tags:, , ,
165 Comments » newest 2013-08-18 11:00:11

17m Now that many non-Chinese have moved to China and many native Chinese live throughout the world, cross cultural dating has become far more common. For someone leaving mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore and moving to a western country, what are some of the cultural pitfalls and traps you need to avoid and adjustments you need to make? For someone moving to any of those four areas, the same questions apply. Are the “rules” different for Chinese women dating outside their culture as compared to Chinese men doing the same?

My direct experience isn’t too pertinent since I met my wife in Phoenix and she had already been living in the States for nine years, but there were still many adjustments we (mostly I) had to make. She was the first Asian woman I had ever dated so I didn’t fall into the “yellow fever” category. However, when I was living in mainland China and Taiwan, I had a chance to observe, ask questions and learn more from others involved in cross cultural relationships.

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Jun 16

China Internet

It seems the western media and Chinese blogosphere agree on one thing; Green Dam is not winning any popularity contests. Today, the Chinese government backed down on the mandatory usage of the software, though it will still come either pre-loaded or be included on a compact disc with all PCs sold on the  mainland from July 1st.

There are several problems associated with this software, each one an interesting topic in itself. I’d like to run down the issues associated with its release, one by one.

1) Why the sudden announcement of this invasive software with virtually no implementation time given to the manufacturers?
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Jun 02


Written by: BMY | Filed under:-chinese-posts, education | Tags:
1 Comment » newest 2009-06-10 16:18:30




1989年五月底,经过了无数大小示威和9天的绝食,我和大多数北京的学生一样,已撤离了广场。6月1日夜晚几位同学坐在校园外的长椅上聊天,忽然听到有人高呼:“鬼子进村了,鬼子进村了“ 只见有三四个学生模样的骑着自行车有人大,从海淀方向飞快的经过我们面前,一路高呼着南去。



















我和另外几位市民在小声对眼前的士兵们说:学生们不是在搞动乱之类的话。一位士兵用不服气的口气说:看你们把首都搞成什么样了。其他士兵都不说话。突然一位中年军官站起来向我身边的一位女士呵斥:不许照相,把相机拿过来没收。说着跨过两步夺过相机。那位女士请求说:你可以把胶卷拿走把相机还给我 。那军官仍然呵斥:“全部没收了。”




















May 03

— 白丁
The martyr’s name is Cai Gong Shi (蔡公時). Ji Nan (濟南) is a city in the Shan Dong (山東) Province. Here is a brief background of Cai before he was murdered by the Japanese. He was born in 1881 in Jiu Jiang (九江) of Jiang Xi (江西). When he was 18, he had risked everything to organize a progressive group called the “Beware of Stains” (慎所染齋). Later, it was banned by the Manchu government. He then traveled to Japan and attended school. After he heard Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s speech, he was so moved that he joined Sun’s United Democrats Society (同盟會). He and Sun’s comrade Huang Xing (黄興) returned to China and worked secretly in Jiangxi to overthrow the Manchu. After Sun’s Revolution in 1911, he joined the Kuomintang’s campaign against Yuan Shi Kai (袁世凱). The first campaign was a loss and he had to flee to Japan again. He studied in Tokyo’s Imperial University. Yuan Shi Kai seized all his property in China and his first wife died in grief and fear.
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Apr 29

My Tibetan Students and I

Written by: Nimrod | Filed under:education, General | Tags:
326 Comments » newest 2013-07-13 15:25:29

The following essay (translated below) written by somebody named “Crystal” was posted to Woeser’s blog. I am not sure that is the origin of the article, as some attribute it to 《联合早报》 (their version here). But it has been slowly spreading since to other sites like Anti-CNN, MITBBS, and Minkaohan forums. I think it’s a very good essay, informative and incisive.

I will also post some comments from those other sites. Feel free to chime in.

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Apr 14

“Surprisingly”, Compulsory Education is Free!

Written by: Nimrod | Filed under:education | Tags:,
47 Comments » newest 2009-04-22 06:55:18

Education is important to China’s future, and education reform has been a long drawn-out complex process, which people of all stripes agree has basically been inadequate. From the early days of Project Hope corruption to the current education spending that still hasn’t reached the 4%-of-GDP target set by the central government, people have much to complain about. Among all the problems, one most depressing had to have been that basic primary/secondary education required all kinds of fees and therefore no universal access to education existed.

Recently, this topic of compulsory education came up again in the news, and the focus is again on whether the government does not have the resources or will to further invest in education. Here is a translated commentary that will open our debate here. It is seen on the China Elections & Governance web site (joint project between Carter Center and Renmin University), itself a treasure trove of current policy thinking.
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Feb 14

Translation: Back to Lhasa (Part II)

Written by: Allen | Filed under:culture, education, religion | Tags:,
151 Comments » newest 2009-03-01 06:40:45

[Editor’s note: Previously we have translated Back to Lhasa (Part I) . The following are translations by Allen of journal entries 回到拉萨之六七八 Back to Lhasa (chapters 6-8)– originally posted on Jan 25, 2009]

Return to Lhasa (6): Drinking with the sky burial masters

North of Lhasa, in the Nyangri mountains, is a famed temple named “Pabongka.” Located on a turtle shaped stone, the temple surprisingly receives few outside tourists these days. According to legend, Songtsen Gampo and Princess Wen Cheng once lived there. The temple is also the birthplace of the Tibetan language. Stored in the temple are the earliest stone tablets of carved Tibetan alphabets known. Although the temple is small, it occupies a special place in Tibetan hearts for its historical importance both in the context of Tibetan language as well as Tibetan Buddhism. Continue reading »

Feb 11

Translation: Back to Lhasa (Part I)

Written by: Allen | Filed under:culture, education, religion | Tags:,
19 Comments » newest 2009-02-16 08:42:08

[Editor’s note: The following are translations by Charles Liu (Introduction and Chapters 1-4) and Allen (Chapter 5 and overall editing)  of journal entries  Back to Lhasa (回到拉萨 (未完待续,超长慎入)) – Part I (chapter 1-5) posted on Jan 18, 2009.]


The author of this journal, Zhen Fu, then a college student, traveled alone to Tibet for the first time in 2003. It would be a life-changing experience. Not only did she fulfill her life-time dream of traveling to the mysterious land that is Tibet: to see its majestic beauty, to meet its remarkable people and to witness their remarkable culture, but Zhen also met her future husband, Mingji Mao, during her journey. Together they would write a book “Diaries from Tibet” based on their true love story. They made a promise to return to Tibet together.  Five years later, Zhen and Mingji fulfilled this promise. This article is about what they saw on their return to Lhasa at the end of 2008.

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Jan 19

minipost-Serfs’ Emancipation Day for Tibet

Written by: Steve | Filed under:-mini-posts, culture, education, General, News, politics, religion | 75 Comments » newest 2010-04-18 20:28:06

The following article appeared in the BBC News Online today:

Serfs’ Emancipation Day for Tibet

By James Reynolds

China has declared a new annual holiday in Tibet called Serfs’ Emancipation Day, to mark the end of what it says was a system of feudal oppression.

The local parliament in Tibet has passed a bill which declares 28 March as the new holiday.

The announcement comes in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of the escape into exile of the Dalai Lama.

The 49th anniversary a year ago led to widespread protests by monks and others in and around Tibet.

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Jan 19

Chinese American Art & Culture

Written by: Steve | Filed under:culture, education, General, music | 4 Comments » newest 2009-01-29 00:59:38


Heart Sutra: Calligraphy by Wendy Lee

The San Diego Chinese Art Society recently presented the Thirteenth Annual San Diego International Music & Arts Festival. Sometimes we tend to forget about Chinese who have emigrated to other countries but continue to keep in touch with their culture in a new environment. The San Diego Chinese community has many organizations dedicated to keeping their ancestral culture alive, and the events these organizations hold are supported not just by Chinese Americans but by the San Diego residents from all ethnic groups.

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