Education reform

In honor of the upcoming gaokao a link to China Power – where Shenzhen teacher Jiang Xueqin blogs on education reform. His posts  – well worth reading – are found here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

To wet your appetite here’s a quote on ‘a day in the life’ of a Chinese high school student:

So consider a typical day in the life of a Chinese high school student. He is locked in a sterile white room, being lectured to from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon, when he is expected to do homework and memorize textbooks. He’ll usually go to bed around eleven, but if he’s ‘smart and hardworking’ enough to test into one of China’s elite high schools his ‘dedicated and responsible’ teachers will give him so much homework that he will collapse out of exhaustion at three in the morning. On weekends he’ll lock himself in his room and play ‘Counterstrike,’ but if his parents are ‘loving and enlightened’ then he’ll go to weekend mathematics and English classes to get that one or two percentage edge over his classmates. He has neither an appetite nor interest outside class; in class he doesn’t ask questions or stare outside the window (although he may be asleep), so focused and committed is he on making his parents, his teachers, and his country proud. After three years of this exacting regime his body will be frail and weak, and his mind will be exhausted and stunted. After he passes the national examination he’ll quickly forget everything he’s memorized, and he’ll spend his university days improving his ‘Counterstrike’ skills, which is his one and only passion.

He won’t know how to question and to think. He won’t know how to sustain an intelligent conversation or seek self-improvement. His head will be stuffed with trivial knowledge, and he won’t know how to send a polite and effective e-mail. He’ll be socially awkward, and have the maturity of a 12-year-old. But he’ll have passed the national examination and will have hopefully mastered ‘Counterstrike’ —and so when looking for work he’ll expect a lot of responsibility and a big pay cheque.

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