China was the Most Innovative Country in the World for Fifteen Hundred Years: Part 1 of 3

May 8, 2018

It is a common assumption (a guess) in the West that Europe and The United States invented the machines that power our modern lifestyles.

However, new discoveries from ancient China are forcing us to rewrite history.

While Europe was mired in the so-called dark ages, ancient China ruled supreme as the world’s technological super power, and we are discovering that many of the inventions that have shaped our modern world had their beginning in ancient China.

There were complex geared machines that allowed production on an industrial scale such as precision seismographs that detected earthquakes, drilling machines that bored for natural gas hundreds of meters beneath the earth, or a super-scale Cosmic Engine that not only told the time but also predicted the passages of the planets and the stars.

Some of these technologies were so complex, they remained a mystery for centuries.

Two thousand year old books show in detail things that are still needed today.

Another discovery from ancient China was drilling for oil. We assumed it was modern engineers that developed oil-drilling techniques. It wasn’t. They improved the techniques but did not invent the method.

History Lines.net reports, “The Chinese have used oil and gas for many centuries. There is no record of when Chinese began using natural gas, but clearly in Szechuan the local people were drilling down hundreds of feet into the earth to get natural gas and brine before the start of the Han Dynasty, before 400 B.C. The Chinese used bamboo pipelines to carry natural gas and mix it with air to yield a usable source of fuel for fires. … By the first century B.C., the technology of well-drilling had advanced, and Chinese engineers were able to dig down over 800 feet …”

During the Song Dynasty, China’s innovations reached their peak. Inventers and engineers were creating machines that wouldn’t be seen in the West for another thousand years.

Part 2 continues on May 9, 2018

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Four Great Books of Song

May 1, 2018

In 986 A.D., the Song Dynasty Emperor Taizong ordered an encyclopedia to be written. The goal was to collect all known knowledge of the time and preserve it in print.

This ancient encyclopedia is known as the Four Great Books of Song (宋四大书), which was compiled by Li Fang and other scholars.

The last of the four encyclopedias, the Cefu Yuangui was finished during the 11th century. There were one thousand scrolls with 2,200 biographical entries.

This ancient example of the literary world printed more than one thousand years ago was commissioned by Vice Primer Zhou Bida. He had a group of scholars proofread the original copy of the encyclopedia before block printing it.

Surviving copies are kept in China’s national library but over the years bookworms fed on the paper, scarring the originals.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Earning Equality through Education

October 11, 2017

Prior to 1949, China faced a shocking literacy rate of 15 to 25 percent. But in the last 68 years, that has changed dramatically. In December 2014, The Globalist reported, “As of 2010, China’s literacy rate was just over 95 percent. … Among China’s youth, the literacy rate is 99.7 percent for young men and 99.6 percent for women.”

In addition, ICEF Monitor says, “Outside of the OECD countries, the trend toward more female students than males is also evident. In China and India, men still outnumber women in higher education, but not by much: women make up 48% of the university population in China and 42% in India.”

What’s driving these changes is explained by a teacher in China that tells her girl students, “You must matter. You must be independent.”

She said, “You don’t change overnight. It takes time. The ideas have to sink in.”

The students are schoolteachers from China’s rural areas. They have come to Beijing for workplace training and to learn more about themselves.

The rural teachers in this program study the Chinese Constitution to learn about their rights and responsibilities.

After all, men and women are considered equal under the law in China, but that doesn’t mean equality is automatic. It takes time to change the old ways of thinking and bring about real equality.

In fact, like women in the United States, women in China are often not paid the same as men for the same jobs.

One of the schoolteachers from rural China said, “You come to believe that you are not as good as men. But I hope when I return to my town that I will have the strength to stand up for myself.”

In October 2011, Chen Zhili, vice-chairperson of the National Congress Standing Committee and president of the All-China Women’s Federation, joined representatives from eleven other Asian and African countries and regions at a conference in Seoul, South Korea.  In her speech at the conference, she “emphasized the four concepts of education as a fundamental right; of education as a means to achieving gender equality and empowering women; of the health and social benefits to be gained from investing in women and girls’ education; and of the responsibility all state governments and international society bear in promoting gender equality.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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With High Stakes Tests Comes Cheating

July 4, 2017

I guess I’m naïve, stupid, or something else. During the nine years I attended colleges and universities to earn my BA in journalism and MFA in writing, I did my own work. It didn’t occur to me that I could pay someone else to do it for me. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I didn’t have the money to pay to cheat.

And when I read, “Rampant cheating hurts China’s research ambitions” (from Yahoo news), I was disappointed at the lack of balance. There was no mention that cheating is a global problem. But cheating on exams didn’t start in Communist China. For instance, the South China Morning Post reported about a tiny book that was used for centuries by Chinese students to cheat on civil service exams.

I taught journalism and was an adviser for an award winning high-school newspaper for several years, and the student reporters learned to write balanced pieces, even for the opinion page. I said that both sides of an issue should be heard even if the balance isn’t perfect and one side is not politically correct.

Since Yahoo is or was an American company (I read recently that Yahoo was sold to another company), I’m going to start with cheating in America to correct this imbalance. It’s worth noting that since student test results are being used and abused in America’s k-12 public schools to rank teachers and schools and then fire or close them, the odds are that someone who was once honest will cheat to survive. Imagine punishing a child’s teacher for the results of a test the child took. This is insanity, and it is a crime. No other country in the world, even China, uses student tests to rank-and-fire teachers and close public schools.

Lawyers.com reports, “In a 2005 research study, 75 percent of (U.S.) students admitted to cheating in school; 90 percent admitted to copying another student’s test paper or homework. A 2009 study of 2,000 middle and high school students showed 35 percent of them used cell phones to cheat and 52 percent used the internet to cheat.”

But Chinese and U.S. students aren’t the only ones that cheat. The Conversation.com says, “Students at a medical college in Thailand have been caught using spy cameras linked to smartwatches to cheat during exams. They used wireless spycams in eyeglasses to capture exam questions, transmit them to associates elsewhere and receive responses through linked smartwatches.”

CBS News reported that Indian parents scale school walls to help students cheat on exams.

In addition, there was this about cheating in the UK. The Telegraph says, “Invisible ink revealed as the latest university exam scam.”

News24 reports “Cheating students on the rise … Johannesburg (South Africa) – A survey has found that universities are battling a rising tide of cheating by students who brazenly take the easy route to a qualification, reports the Sunday Times.”

And just to make a point, I decided to include South America. Peru This Week.com says,”Imposters arrested for cheating on teachers’ exams in Peru.”  All I did was Google the same question, “Cheating on school exams (name of country)” and changed the name of the country each time.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Will Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Save America’s Global Image?

May 23, 2017

The Independent reports, “Donald Trump has ‘dangerous mental illnesses, say psychiatry experts at Yale conference.” … Mental health experts say President is ‘paranoid and delusional’

With a dangerous nutcase as president of the United States appointing diplomats that think like him, who will become the diplomates of good will in countries like China to influence future generations to love America and see it as a peaceful fun nation to be friends with?

The Financial Times says that Disney Publishing Worldwide has been opening English language schools in China.

The curriculum features Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, the Little Mermaid and other Disney characters.

Enrolling children in this privately funded Disney language school is not cheap. It costs between $1,800 and $2,200 annually depending on which publication you read.

I’ve written before about how important an education is to Chinese parents so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Disney isn’t having problems finding students.  The challenge is to find enough qualified teachers.  Each classroom has “a local and a Western instructor.”


A Lesson for Disney – How to Teach English Correctly

Disney English continues to operate less than 30 schools in China nationwide. Since opening in 2009, many English language schools have opened their doors or copied the Disney English teaching method across mainland China. Disney English Centers continue to operate strongly in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzen, and Chengdu.

On the other hand, we learn from Vice.com that the ESL teachers hired to work for Disney English have discovered that Mikey Mouse and Donald Duck might not be that friendly.

***Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times just because she was Chinese.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Living with Disabilities in China

March 8, 2017

Facts and Details.com reports, “China is home to the world’s largest disabled population. There are 83 million disabled people in China, with a million in Beijing alone.” No mention of the fact that China also has the largest population in the world.  For a comparison, in the United States, there are about 48.9-million people with a disability. China has more than 1.3-billion people. The U.S. has about 315-million.

After Mao’s Cultural Revolution, China’s education system had to be rebuilt, and in the late 1990s, teams of Chinese teachers traveled to the United States to learn from America’s public schools and teachers. What they learned, they took home to Shanghai and more than a decade later Shanghai earned 1st place in the international PISA test thanks, in part, from what was learned studying America’s public schools.

China never had a public education system for everyone until after Mao, and the job isn’t done yet. China still has work to do to provide a quality education for all children.

For instance, the art displayed in this post comes from deaf artists, who are graduates of the Shandong Provincial Rehabilitation and Career School, an institute in China that trains young Chinese with disabilities.

a1-art-work-from-disabeled-chinese-artists

In 1949, Mao Zedong launched the People’s Republic of China and ruled with an iron fist for almost three decades. During Mao’s time, there was almost no free artistic expression in China unless the art served the propaganda needs of the state.

Today, that has changed.

After Deng Xiaoping opened China to a global market economy, the post Mao generation was introduced to Western art and theory.

It wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s that art from China started to emerge.

3-disabilitiesThe photos in this post are presented with permission from “Embracing the Uncarved Wood, Sculptural Reliefs from Shandong, China“, which was made possible by a generous grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and with assistance from the Office of the Provost of Franklin & Marshall College. ISBN: 978-0-910626-04-0

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Do the Chinese think of education the same way Americans and Europeans do?

December 21, 2016

To understand the Chinese mind, it’s a good idea to start with Confucius (552 – 479 BC), who is arguably the most influential person in Chinese history, and by extension the rest of East Asia: Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. The reason for this is because China was a regional super power for more than fifteen hundred years, and its merchants helped spread Chinese cultural influence and values through trade.

An important Confucian influence on Chinese society and the rest of East Asia was the focus on education and scholarship, and it’s no secret that Chinese (and other Asians) students put in more hours in classroom study than their Western counterparts; even in the United States.

In fact, we can measure the influence of Confucius on even Asian-American students in the United States. For instance, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Education reported that (high school) graduation rates vary by race; with 89.4 percent of Asia/Pacific Islander students graduating on time compared to 87.2 percent of whites, 76.3 percent of Hispanics, and 72.5 percent of blacks.

In China, the hallmark of Confucius’ thought was his emphasis on education and study. He disparaged those who had faith in natural understanding or intuition and argued that the only real understanding of a subject comes from long and careful study.

Confucius goal was to create gentlemen who carried themselves with grace, spoke correctly, and demonstrated integrity in all things. He had a strong dislike of the sycophantic “petty men,” whose clever talk and pretentious manner easily won them an audience of easy-to-fool people. In fact, it’s safe to say that Confucius would have despised Donald Trump.

Confucius political/educational philosophy was also rooted in his belief that a ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his own example, and should treat them with love and concern. Donald Trump fails this test too.

To understand the importance of education in Western culture, we first look at what Plato (about 423 – 346 BC), Socrates (about 469 – 399 BC), and Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) thought.

When Plato talked about the education of the body, he said we had to take Spartan military gymnastics as a model, because it was based on physical exercises and prescribed severe control over all pleasures. Plato also argued for the public character of education and that it had to be given in buildings especially built for that purpose. In these schools, boys and girls should receive the same teaching and that the educational process should start as soon as possible, as young as three-to-six-years old.

Socrates believed that there were different kinds of knowledge, important and trivial. He acknowledges that most of us know many “trivial” things, and he said that the craftsman possesses important knowledge, the practice of his craft, but that this is important only to the craftsman. But Socrates thought that the most important of all knowledge was “how best to live.” He concluded that this was not easily answered, and most people lived in shameful ignorance regarding matters of ethics and morals. Socrates devoted much thought to the concept of belief, through the use of logic.

Aristotle, however, said that the purpose of the state was to educate the people; to make them virtuous. He said virtue was the life principle of the state. The goal of the state was to educate with a view toward its own institutions (to preserve them); through the political education of all citizens.

It’s also safe to say that Donald Trump doesn’t fit what Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle thought about the proper educated citizen.

It is also arguable that the Bible probably has a larger impact on what many Westerners think about the value of an education, but the focus of the Bible is mostly on fear of the Lord when it comes to learning—a mixed message at best when compared to what Confucius, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle thought.

Proverbs 9:9-10 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 John 1:9 – Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Donald Trump also fails the Bible’s test too, because he prefers people to fear Donald Trump and not the Lord.


Watch the video to discover that the agenda of the Common Core State Standards and the autocratic Corporate Charter School reform movement in the United States is similar to the agenda of the Prussian Model of Obedience.

In conclusion, the value of an education is clearly defined by Confucius providing a solid foundation for East Asia, while in the West, the message is murky and confusing at best, because the Bible focuses on fear of the Lord, and that Scripture is profitable for teaching and training the righteous compared to Plato’s focus on harsh Spartan physical training in addition to severe self-control over all pleasures starting at an early age, and Aristotle focused on preserving government through political education of the people. In other words, brainwashing them.

Socrates may have been closer to the way Confucius thought about the value of an education, but not as clearly defined as Confucius was.

Out of this muddle of Western thought eventually emerged the 18th century, Prussian Industrial Model of education more aligned with what Aristotle thought, and this system was adopted by most of Western Culture during the industrial revolution, including the United States.

The Prussian system instituted compulsory attendance, specific training for teachers, national testing for all students (used to classify children for potential job training), national curriculum set for each grade and mandatory kindergarten.

The Prussian public education model attempted to instill social obedience in the citizens through indoctrination. Every individual had to become convinced, in the core of his being, that the King was just, his decisions always right, and the need for obedience paramount. There was no room for individual thought or questioning authority that would develop in the United States and other Western countries after World War II.

Maybe the blind obedience that gave power to dictators like Hitler had something to do with that change in Western thought about public education, but today, with the emphasis on the Common Core State Standards and harsh punishment of children and teachers that attend publicly funded, autocratic corporate charter schools, it’s clear that the United States may be returning to the harsher Aristotelian, Prussian Model of education to brainwash children so they grow up and give blind obedience to their leaders; something, for sure,  Donald Trump will agree with.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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