Wanted in China – “an education” – Part 2/5

September 9, 2011

PBS Wide Angle reports on what it takes to be number one in China. Watching this four-part series may shock you when compared to the average US child and how they study (or don’t), behave and what they believe.

Aaron Brown of PBS: Wide Angle says, “Imagine for a moment that the most important decisions about your future will be made by the time you reach seventeen.”

The reason for this is that in China, merit counts more than anything and most children and people compete to earn the right to move up. Success is not promised as if it is a guarantee.  In China, reality is a fact not a fantasy as it is in the US.

In the real world, there are winners and losers and not every one can be a winner. Even in the US, the facts say that not every one wins even if self-esteem driven parents often tell their children that dreams come true.

In China’s senior high schools during the senior year, the only time students have to socialize is during meals. There is no television, no Internet access and no common room. Even extra-curricular activities such as sports are banned and dating is not allowed.

The reason why Chinese students accept these Spartan rules is that social class is a reality in China as it is in the rest of the world.

However, social class is a controversial issue in the United States, having many competing definitions, models, and even disagreements over its existence.

Many Americans believe in a simple three-class model that includes the “rich”, the “middle class”, and the “poor”. More complex models describe as many as a dozen class levels, while still others deny the very existence, in the strict sense, of “social class” in American society. Source: Social class in the United States

In other words, “politically correct” Americans pretend there is no social class and everyone is equal.

Pay close attention to what Aaron Brown says in this PBS Wide Angle report.

What he doesn’t say is that mandatory education in China only goes to age 15 but by age 12, about half of Chinese students have already dropped out of the public school system. Students that go on to the senior high school education system want to be there and compete.

However, in the United States, education is mandatory from age 5 or 6 to 18, and it doesn’t matter if you want to be there or not.  You must attend or else and when students do not want to be there and US public school teachers fail to motivate these students to learn, the teachers are the ones blamed by conservative critics.

However, no matter how much politically correct Americans ignore the reality of social class, there are still more than 40 million Americans living in poverty, and CBS News reported, “The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S.”

Continued on September 10, 2011 in Wanted in China – “an education” – Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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