Revamping China’s Schools

The New York Times writes:

Even as American educators seek to emulate Asian pedagogy a test-centered ethos and a rigorous focus on math, science and engineering Chinese educators are trying to blend a Western emphasis on critical thinking, versatility and leadership into their own traditions. To put it another way, in the peremptorily utopian style typical of official Chinese directives (as well as of educationese the world over), the nations schools must strive to build citizens character in an all-round way, gear their efforts to each and every student, give full scope to students ideological, moral, cultural and scientific potentials and raise their labor skills and physical and psychological aptitudes, achieve vibrant student development and run themselves with distinction. Meijies rise to star student reflects a much-publicized government call to promote suzhi jiaoyu generally translated as quality education, and also sometimes as character education or all-round character education. Her story also raises important questions about the states effort, which has been more generously backed by rhetoric than by money. The goal of change is to liberate students to pursue more fulfilling paths in a country where jobs are no longer assigned; it is also to produce the sort of flexibly skilled work force that best fits an international knowledge economy. But can personal desires and national demands be reconciled? Will the most promising students of the new era be as overburdened and regimented as before? As new opportunities have begun to emerge, so have tensions. If Meijies own trajectory and her Hsylc brainchild are any guide, the force most likely to spur on deep-seated educational ferment in China may well turn out to be students themselves still struggling with stress, yet doing so in an era of greater personal independence and international openness. Overachievers of the world unite!

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.