- Keep a red line for arable land
- Precision farming yields many gains
- Xi building bridges on global tour
- Language evolves on shifting sands
- New rules for global governance needed
- New direction for World Bank
- Further R&D reform needed
- Big boost for poverty-stricken province
- More sustainable growth
- Closer EU-China cooperation
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The author of the book I Don't Forgive the Education I Receive (wo bu yuanliang) compares the country's education system to an assembly line for the manufacturing of talent. That the author is still a third-year university student makes the book special.
He writes that his life on the university campus is even more monotonous than his senior high school days. When he was a freshman, he was playing truant one day when it dawned on him that he had done nothing in the past 20 years and that it was time he did something meaningful. The result was a book about the education he has received, which he says strangles imagination and makes it impossible for anyone to have their own ideas.
"You can't be yourself," he says.
The scholar Yi Zhongtian says in his preface to the book, "students are only the screws or gears produced for different purposes".
Chinese schools do not encourage students to express their own ideas about what they are being taught, instead students are encouraged to accept whatever the teachers tell them.
It is not hard to find examples of schools that highlight some of the problems plaguing our education system. The senior high school in the city of Pingdingshan, Central China's Henan province, asks students to sign a contract, promising that they will not talk back to teachers, gossip in the classroom or date in school. The contract stipulates that students will be given a warning or be dismissed if they violate the rules, but they will get awards if they perform well in their studies.
The goal of the current education system is to enable students to obtain high exam scores, which in turn are the benchmark of success. Their need to enter a prestigious university to ensure future success is used to pressure them into accepting what they are taught.
In truth, this method of teaching in middle and senior high schools does tend to lay very solid foundation for students' learning. A test of international students by the Program for International Student Assessment in July 2010, in which Shanghai students outscored their counterparts in dozens of other countries, testifies to the solid academic foundation of Chinese primary and middle schools.
But what we should not forget is the fact that this foundation comes at the cost of students' imagination and their ability to think for themselves.
It is the lack of a long-term view on the part of parents and schools, I believe, that is the biggest problem for Chinese education. The majority of parents fail to look beyond the score sheets of their kids' examination papers and consider high scores as the only benchmark of their kids' success and the only way to secure a successful career in the future.