Thinking about Public Education – China and East Asia versus the United States and Western culture

November 26, 2014

To understand the Chinese mind, we should 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—thanks to China being a regional super power for more than two thousand years, while its merchants helped spread Chinese cultural influence and thought to the other East Asian countries they traded with.

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

In fact, we can measure the influence of Confucius on Asian-American students in the United States. For instance, in 2012, The Washington Post reported, “Researchers found that (high school) graduation rates vary by race, with 91.8 percent of Asian students, 82 percent of whites, 65.9 percent of Hispanics and 63.5 percent of blacks graduating on time.”

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.

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.

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 is also arguable that the Bible probably has a large 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.


Watch the video to discover that the agenda of the Common Core State Standards 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.

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 who don’t measure up, 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.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Chiang Kai-shek, an American ally and a Brutal Dictator

November 25, 2014

Anyone in the United States who reads and/or listens to the news has probably heard of Mao’s brutality and the alleged brutality of the Chinese Communist Party, but what about Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT, an ally of the United States during and after World War II. In fact, you might be interested to discover how much the United States has spent just from 1990 on Taiwan’s defense from the Congressional Research Service to learn how much the U.S. is willing to spend to support a brutal regime.

The Taipei Times published a piece on the front page of the paper on Tuesday, February 27, 2007, and said, Former dictator Chiang Kai-shek was a murderer, and President Chen Shui-bian said Taiwan’s former authoritarian regime and its leaders were responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians slain in 1947.

On a site that lists the death tolls for the major wars and atrocities of the twentieth century, Chiang Kai-shek was given credit for 10,214,000 democides from 1921 to 1948.

Democide is a term revived and redefined by the political scientist R. J. Rummel as “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder.”

In another post about Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, enotes.com says, “From 1927 to 1949, Chiang’s troops used murder, torture and other brutal tactics to wipe out the communists.”

Then Scaruffi.com lists a century of genocides from 1900-2000 and Chiang Kai-shek was credited with the deaths of 30-thousand during popular uprising against his regime in Taiwan in 1947.

The Boston Examiner reported that several thousand protesters marched in Taipei on February 28, 1947 against the brutality—that took place the day before—but were met with bullets. Martial law was declared and even though things had settled down by the time the Nationalist soldiers arrived, the massacre began almost immediately.

East Asia posted an Austrian Perspective by Christian Schafferer, who said the infamous 1947 “2-28 Incident” resulted in ten-to-thirty thousand civilians killed and Taiwan’s governor executed.

In addition, I discovered a book on the topic, Representing Atrocity in Taiwan, The 2.28 Incident and the White Terror by Sylvia Li-Chun, who is the Notre Dame Assistant Professor of Chinese at the University of Notre Dame.

The most powerful evidence comes from the monument in Taiwan to the incident, which says, “Within a few months, the number of deaths, injured and missing persons amounted to tens of thousands.  Keelung, Taipei, Chiayi and Kaohsiung suffered the highest number of casualties. It was called the February 28 Incident.”

Then from the Asia Times, “They slaughtered civilians at random to terrorize the Taiwanese into submission, and carried out a targeted campaign to wipe out the Taiwanese elite—local leaders and intellectuals —who represented the biggest threat to KMT rule. To this date, the numbers killed are uncertain, but historians estimate 30,000.”

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The link between the politics behind the Nobel Peace Prize and the so-called democracy movement in Hong Kong

November 18, 2014

First, according to the Democracy Index, in 2012, there were only 25 full democracies in the world while there were 51 authoritarian regimes. There were also 54 flawed democracies and 37 hybrid regimes. The Democracy Index is compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit that measures the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are United Nations member states.

With the so-called democracy demonstrations taking place in Hong Kong—a former colony of the British Empire that was never a democracy by any definition—I want to make a link between those demonstrations and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Back in 2010, the media in democratic countries sounded the charge against China when Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Western media splashed the news on the Internet, across the front pages of newspapers and repeatedly reported it on TV and radio.

For example, The Huffington Post reported, “Imprisoned Chinese democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize, an award that drew furious condemnation from the authoritarian government and calls from world leaders including President Barack Obama for Liu’s quick release.”

I’m sure that Liu Xiaobo believes in his mission as many in the West do, but I have to agree with America’s Founding Fathers. For instance President John Adams (1735 – 1826), the second president of the U.S., who said, “That the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority is demonstrated by every page of the history of the whole world,” and “Democracy … while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

What about China soon after Mao’s death when Deng Xiaoping launched China’s economic capitalist revolution, and in 1982, China wrote the first draft of a constitution designed to build an authoritarian republic—not a democracy?

Since then, China has been moving slowly down a road toward a more representative republic that fits China’s culture, which might never accept Western democracy activists like Liu Xiaobo. I wonder what America’s Founding Fathers would have done with Liu Xiaobo—probably ignored him as most Americans would, but we might find an answer with how the U.S. deals with treason.

“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” 18 U.S. Code 2381 – Treason

What about China’s Constitution? After all, China does have a Constitution of its own.

For instance, there is Article 35: Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

But there are also Articles 51, 52, 53 and 54:

Article 51: Citizens of the People’s Republic of China, in exercising their freedoms and rights, may not infringe upon the interests of the State, of society or of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens.

Article 52: It is the duty of citizens of the People’s Republic of China to safeguard the unification of the country and the unity of all its nationalities.

Article 53: Citizens of the People’s Republic of China must abide by the Constitution and other laws, keep State secrets, protect public property, observe labour discipline and public order and respect social ethics.

Article 54: It is the duty of citizens of the People’s Republic of China to safeguard the security, honour and interests of the motherland; they must not commit acts detrimental to the security, honour and interests of the motherland.

Nobel Prizes are awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which has been accused of having a political agenda. They have also been accused of Euro-centrism.

For the 2010 Nobel Prizes, there were five committee members, one man and four women—all white and old. Click the link and see for yourself.

In conclusion, I want to point out a few facts about China and its government that you probably will never hear from the mainstream Western media—especially in the United States.

Never before in China’s history has any government made an attempt to improve the lifestyles and welfare of its people. The World Bank reports that the CCP has lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty—90 percent of global poverty reduction in the last 30 years. Poverty in 1981 was 85 percent. In 2008, the World Bank reported it was 13 percent, lower than the poverty rate in the United States where poverty is increasing.

For more than two thousand years, China was known as the land of famines. In fact, Imperial records reveal that China had famines annually in one or more provinces, but under the CCP, the only famine was in 1958-1960—and the Western media has crucified the CCP repeatedly because of this famine and has never mentioned China’s annual history of  famines.

In 1949, when the CCP came to power, average life expectancy in China was age 35. Today it is 75. When Mao died, only 20 percent of Chinese were literate. Today, literacy is 95.1 percent.

If China is ruled by a brutal authoritarian government with a dictator—which isn’t true because its president may only serve two, five-year terms and the president’s power is limited—explain why an average of more than 50 million Chinese travel the world annually as tourists (more than any other country) and why many Chinese are free to go to college in the United States, and other countries, as foreign students.

Did you know that Xi Jinping, China current president, sent his daughter to college in the United States? In addition, in 2011, China send the most foreign students—194,029—to the USA, up 23% from the previous year.

There are more than 2,000 McDonald’s restaurants in China. KFC has more than 4,600. Pizza Hut has more than 1,200.  Walmart has been in China for 18 years and has about 90,000 employees. Starbucks is also in China and plans to have 1,500 stores by 2015.

Intel has research and manufacturing facilities in Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

In 2012, 54 percent of urban Chinese were middle class and another 14 percent were upper middle class.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Long History with Burma/Myanmar: Part 3 of 3

November 13, 2014

Enough said about The Economist, Christianity and differences between dictatorships, democracies and republics, and back to the long history between China and Burma/Myanmar, which started during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.).

Due to deposits of jade in Burma/Myanmar and that region, Chinese merchants have been involved in mining and trade there for more than two thousand years.

Then during the Qing Dynasty, there were four major invasions (1765-1769) of Burma by China’s Manchu leaders. In 1784, the long struggle between Burma and China ended and regular trade started up again.

In November 1885, Sir Robert Hart favored a proposal that China, as Burma’s overlord, stand aside and allow the British Empire to pursue her own course there provided that Britain allow Burma to continue her decennial tribute (once every ten years) missions to China. Source: The I. G. In Peking, Letters of Robert Hart, Chinese Maritime Customs 1868-1907, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, page 614, 1975.

Instead, the British Empire made Burma a province of India in 1886.

Since independence from the British Empire, Burma has generally been impartial to world affairs but was one of the first countries to recognize Israel and the People’s Republic of China.

Territories such as the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and countries like North Korea, Manchuria, Mongolia, Burma, Vietnam and others along China’s long borders were considered vassal states by some Chinese dynasties, and these vassal states often sent lavish gifts and delegations to China’s emperors on a regular schedule.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Long History with Burma/Myanmar: Part 2 of 3

November 12, 2014

What does the Beijing based unnamed critic writing for The Economist expect—that China adopt America’s evangelical, neo-conservative/neo-liberal role to spread “democracy” and “Christianity” to the world through nation building?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the critic writing in The Economist suggest that he or she expects China to spread “democracy” to countries like Burma and North Korea, which are by definition dictatorships, which the U.S. has a long history of supporting. See Cold War Origins of the CIA Holocaust to learn more.

If you haven’t read this opinion piece in The Economist, I suggest you do before going on to Part 3. Did you know that at the same time that the United States sells or gives weapons to dictatorships and authoritarian governments, it also has programs through the U.S. State Department to support religious freedom in many of the same countries?

For instance, Saudi Arabia, a country that prohibits any religion other than Islam and has a long history of human rights violations (Human Rights Watch World Report 2013) . On October 20, 2010, the US State Department notified Congress of its intention to make the biggest arms sale in American history—an estimated $60.5 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The IAGS says this about Saudi Arabia: “Much has been reported about the complex system of terrorist financing and the money trail facilitating the September 11 terror attacks. Individuals and charities from the Persian Gulf—mainly from Saudi Arabia—appear to be the most important source of funding for terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda.”

Continued on November 13, 2014 in Part 3 or return to Part 1

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Long History with Burma/Myanmar: Part 1 of 3

November 11, 2014

The Economist (September 9, 2010) published a critical piece about China’s relationship with MyanmarWelcome, Neighbor – China hosts another tinpot dictator from next door

“Tinpot dictator” are the two key words in the title of this opinion piece, as if the United States or the UK has never hosted and/or supported “tinpot” dictators.

A well-written criticism of the U.S. government from Sri Lanka sets the record straight.

“I wish the spokesman of the (U.S.) State Department … would explain how Washington’s concern for democracy in Sri Lanka squares with US support for repressive regimes such as the one in Uzbekistan or the autocratic rule in Saudi Arabia, both countries in which the U.S. has military facilities.

“In post-World War II period, Washington has militarily propped up such dictators including several in South Korea, Ferdinand Marcos who was ousted by the Filipino people, Indonesia’s Suharto also thrown out by the people, Vietnam’s Dinh Diem, various military governments in Thailand, Singapore’s autocrat Lee Kwan Yew, the military dictators in Pakistan from Ayub Khan to Pervez Musharraf, all of them from our part of the world…” The Ugly Americans Once More (Lankaweb, Sri Lanaka’s first Social Media website)

The Economist only mentions a half century of history between China and Burma/Myanmar, yet, China’s history with Burma and then Myanmar goes back about two thousand years.

The opinion piece also does not mention that China, since 1982, has not been into nation building as the U.S. has since 9/11, when President G.W. Bush launched wars against Iraq and Afghanistan with threats to Iran and North Korea.

Continued on November 12, 2014 with Part 2

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_______________

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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Halloween in the United States versus The Hungry Ghost Festival in China, and the money to be made

October 31, 2014

The closest celebration in China to Halloween in the United States is The Hungry Ghost Festival, which is celebrated the 14th or 15th night of the 7th lunar month in July or August.

The Ghost Festival, also known as The Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries, in which ghosts and/or spirits of deceased ancestors come from the lower realm and/or hell to visit the living.

Buddhists from China and Taoists claim that the Ghost Festival originated with the canonical scriptures of Buddhism, but many of the visible aspects of the ceremonies originate from Chinese folk religion, and other local folk traditions (see Stephen Teiser’s 1988 book, The Ghost Festival in Medieval China).

In America, most children wear costumes and go door to door collecting free candy.  In China, food is offered to dead ancestors, joss paper is burned and scriptures are chanted.

Chinese Culture.net says the Hungry Ghost Festival is “Celebrated mostly in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and especially in Singapore and Malaysia… It is believed by many Chinese that during this month, the gates of hell are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then want food.

By comparison, History.com says, “Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.”

I found it interesting that the dead linked both America’s Halloween and The Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival—at least historically.

As a child, I loved wearing a costume on Halloween and going out “trick-or-treating” at night to return home with a heavy bag (usually a pillowcase) filled with candy.

I still remember how much my stomach hurt and how terrible I felt after gorging myself on all that free candy.

Today, due to the epidemic of diabetes and overweight or obese children in the United States, I do not celebrate Halloween and do not give candy to children. The last time I gave treats to children on Halloween, I handed out small boxes of raisins (sweet dried grapes) instead of candy, and one mother called me cheap.

But Science Daily.com comes to my defense with: “Teenagers who consume a lot of added sugars in soft drinks and foods may have poor cholesterol profiles—which may possibly lead to heart disease in adulthood, according to first-of-its-kind research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.”

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, “Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups and have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults and children, type 2 diabetes.”

Then the Mayo Clinic said, “Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes. But type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise, fueled largely by the obesity epidemic,” and the American Diabetes Association says, “25.8 million children and adults in the US have diabetes while 79 million have prediabetes.

“Due to excessive sugar consumption, the risk of diabetes may lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, and/or amputation of feet and legs.”


Americans are Addicted to Sugars

To be fair, I can’t leave out the for-profit candy and costume industry in the U.S. that salivates when Halloween arrives. For instance, Forbes reported that consumers spent $1.96 billion on decorations, $360 million on greeting cards, $2.08 billion on candy and $2.6 billion on costumes. Consider that next time you go out shopping for Halloween candy, you’re helping make the rich wealthier at the cost of your child’s health.

In fact, Americans should learn something from the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. Do not feed sugary candy to children.  Instead, give the sugar to the dead and eat an apple—because there’s a lot of truth to the old saying that if you eat an apple a day, it will help keep the doctor away. And if you doubt that, then I suggest you read this post on Science Daily.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217210549.htm

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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