Collective Punishment

Yesterday, just as we were about to leave the house, Max got into a sudden panic about not having his shoupa. “Do you really still need that” I asked. He hasn’t actually used one for ages (having sort of outgrown the snotty kid phase). Turns out it was fear not necessity that brought on the panic. If I don’t bring one, he explained, Ill get a blue ticket rather than a red one at morning inspection and if that happens the whole class will lose its sticker today.

I can tell from the snippets I hear about  Max’s day that this kind of group discipline is a common method in Chinese education. Classes are treated as units and are rewarded and punished as one. Though this is clearly highly effective I am extremely skeptical – and even a bit hostile – to this type of shame-based enforced collectivity (which seems to me at the root of many of China’s problems).

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