The influence of U.S. universities on students from China

August 30, 2016

Millions of students from Communist China have attended American universities and colleges and earned degrees.

The American impression of China hasn’t stopped some of China’s top leaders sending their children to universities in the West. For instance China’s first-daughter, Xi Mingxi, the only child of Xi Jinping, the President of China, graduated from Harvard in 2014 under a pseudonym.  The New Yorker reported she “studied psychology and English and lived under an assumed (fake) name.”

In November 2015 Foreign Policy Magazine reported, “Out of the more than 974,000 international students currently in the United States, almost one in three is now Chinese.”

According to Foreign Policy Magazine there is a benefit gained from this. “Having these Chinese students on U.S. campuses helps to build a bridge between China and the United States.”

This exchange isn’t free. In fact, it’s expensive for a foreign student to attend a college or university in the U.S., and Foreign Policy says, “In the 2014-2015 academic year, Chinese students pumped $9.8 billion into the U.S. economy through tuition and fees.”

It may come as a surprise to most Americans to discover that families in China that have the money to send their children to the U.S. mostly belong to the Communist Youth League or the Chinese Communist Party and more of them are going home after graduation.

The South China Morning Post reported, “For decades, the rate of return to China remained low as students with advanced degrees did not see opportunities for research at home. Last year, more than 272,000 Chinese returned after completing their education abroad, 86,700 more than in 2011; a 46 percent increase, according to the Ministry of Education.”

When China’s evolution as a modern nation is complete, will it become a republic influenced by America’s “so-called” socialist, liberal institutions of higher education, but with Chinese characteristics like Sun Yat-sen, the father of China’s republic, said he wanted. After all, Sun Yat-sen was influencd by what he learned while attending high school and then one semester of college in Hawaii before he went home to launch a revolution that toppled China’s last imperial dynasty in 1912.

What do most Chinese students think after spending several years in the United States? Another Foreign Policy piece attempts to answer that question and reports, For many Chinese students, it’s not that simple. “I like the U.S.,” one survey respondent wrote. “But I love China; it’s my motherland.”

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.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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Does Shanghai Really have the World’s Best School System? Part 3 of 3

August 18, 2016

According to World Education News & Reviews, in 2010, senior high schools [in China] accommodated 46.8 million students (23.4% of the  199.5 million students attending K to 9). But 48 percent of that 46.8 million students were in vocational senior high schools — not academic high schools, and only 15 year olds in academic high schools took the PISA test.

That leaves 21.2 million enrolled in the senior high school academic track designed to prep kids for college—that’s 10.6% of the total number of K to 12 students in China. This means that the fifteen-year-old students who take the international PISA in China are the elite of the elite attending China’s best public schools.


Students in China are taught from a very early age how to beat tests.

In addition, what country’s public schools have been used as a role model for China’s public school system?

Solutions Journal.com  reports, “What the Chinese found valuable in American education is the result of a decentralized, autonomous system that does not have standards, uses multiple criteria for judging the value of talents, and celebrates individual differences. Recognizing the negative consequences of ‘test-oriented education,’ China has launched a series of national reforms to cultivate more creative citizens. In 1999 China’s Central Committee sought to reform testing, abolish middle school exams, and encourage local provinces to experiment with their own examination regimens. This was followed by further decrees in 2001, encouraging more diverse curricula, and greater choice for students in subject matter—although any new material used must still ‘equip students with patriotism, collectivism, a love for socialism, and the Chinese cultural traditions, as well as moral-ethic values, democratic spirits with Chinese characteristics.’”

While China is moving closer to what the American public education system was like before 1999, the U.S. with NCLB, RTTT, and the Common Core and its high stakes tests has been moving away from the model China admired, and 13 years later, China’s 15 year old high school students in 10th grade in Shanghai earned 1st place in the 2012 international PISA test.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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Does Shanghai Really have the World’s Best School System? Part 2 of 3

August 17, 2016

How did China’s city of Shanghai beat out everyone else in the world with such a dramatic 1st place average on the 2012 international PISA test?

First, the 15 year olds in Shanghai that took the PISA test had to rank high on another test just to get into high school (grades 10, 11 and 12) so they were already great test takers, the best in their generation and China has almost 200 million students in its public schools.

You see, students that graduate from middle school (grades 7, 8 and 9) in China have to take the senior high school entrance exam known as Zhongkao. Students that fail this high school entrance exam are not allowed to graduate from junior high school, and they do not get into any academic senior high schools.

Second, Asia Society.org reports that Shanghai has the world’s best school system. “China has a long tradition of respect for education. In fact, there is much societal and family pressure to do well academically. This has fostered education reform throughout history at many levels. While the entire country has made strides in education, Shanghai is at the forefront as it has been given special authority to experiment with reform before the rest of the country. … One interesting strategy employed by Shanghai (that the United States is not doing) to improve weak schools is the commissioned education program. Under this scheme, top performing schools are assigned a weak school to administer. The ‘good’ school will send a team of teachers and a principal to lead the school and improve it.”

To explain how this works, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has acknowledged a “9-6-3 rule”. This means that nine of ten children began primary school between the ages of 6 and 7; six complete the first five years and three graduate from sixth grade with good performance. The 3 of 10 that graduate from 6th grade are allowed to go on to grades 7, 8 and 9.

For a comparison to the United States, in the U.S. in 2015, 82 percent of 17/18 year olds graduated on time from academic high schools, because education is mandatory to 12th grade instead of 9th grade like it is in China.  Students that continue beyond 9th grade in China want to keep learning. To be clear, it isn’t mandatory past 9th grade.

By the time a student reaches senior high school—grades 10, 11, and 12—most enrollment is in the cities and not in rural China. Many rural Chinese don’t value education as much as urban Chinese do. Many of the migrant urban workers from rural China still have some family back in the village where they often leave their younger children. In fact, many of the migrant workers, when they retire from factory work, return to the village and the family home.

The United States, by comparison, keeps most kids in school until the end of high school at age 17/18, and another 10 percent earn a high school diploma or equivalent GED by age 24. This all takes place in academic schools, because there are no vocational public schools in the U.S.

Continued with Part 3 on August 18, 2016 or start with Part 1

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.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Does Shanghai Really have the World’s Best School System? Part 1 of 3

August 16, 2016

In 2012 Shanghai earned 1st place in the world on the International PISA test. Its score was 613 in math, 570 in reading, and 580 in science. Second place went to Singapore: 573 in math, 542 in reading, and 551 in science. The mean score for all the countries that took part in the PISA was 494 in math, 496 in Reading and 501 in Science.

Around 510 000 students between the ages of 15 years 3 months and 16 years 2 months participated in PISA 2012 as a whole representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally.

All 34 OECD member countries and 31 partner countries and economies participated in PISA 2012, representing more than 80% of the world economy. The U.S. was ranked #36 compared to the 65 countries/cities listed.

But Shanghai is not a country. It is a city and so was Hong Kong and Macao. Even the Principality of  Liechtenstein, a landlocked microstate that is one of Europe’s most affluent (wealthiest) communities, with a population of almost 37,000, was ranked in the top 10 right behind Japan. At least Shanghai has a population of more than 20 million.

The United States with 314.1 million people in 2012 was ranked much lower when the average scores were compared to all the other countries, but America’s ranking was flawed and misleading because of an error when the test was taken in the U.S.  To discover more, click the following link:  Poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance, Stanford researched finds.

At this point, you might be thinking, why is he mentioning America’s PISA score when this post is about Shanghai. In Part 3, the ironic answer to that question will be answered.

Continued with Part 2 on August 17, 2016

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.

A1 on June 22 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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Learning the power of the Talmud in China and South Korea

September 1, 2015

According to Jewish tradition, the Torah was revealed to Moses about the time of China’s Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 B.C.), more than three thousand years ago.

In fact, the Talmud is an organic interpretation through discussion and debate of what the Torah means and teaches.

In most of Asia, the perception of Jews as expert moneymakers does not have the religion-based antagonism that often accompanies the same stereotype elsewhere in the world. While both Christians and Muslims have persecuted Jews for religious reasons, China hasn’t done this.

Instead, South Korea and China respect what may be learned from the wisdom of Judaism.

The Muqata says, “Close to 50 million people live in South Korea, and everyone learns Gemara (Talmud) in school. ‘We tried to understand why the Jews are geniuses, and we came to the conclusion that it is because they study Talmud,’ said the Korean ambassador to Israel.”

“In my country we also focus on family values,” The South Korean Ambassador said. “The (Jewish) respect for adults, respect and appreciation for the elderly parallels the high esteem in my country for the elderly.”

Another significant issue is the respect for education. In the Jewish tradition, parents have a duty to teach their children and devote a lot of energy and attention to it.

For South Korean parents, their children’s education is also a top priority. For contrast, in the United States too many ignorant and lazy parents blame teachers when their children are not learning, but not in Asia.

How valuable is education to Jewish tradition? “Maimonides (1135 – 1204 C.E.) in his great code of Jewish law has an entire section devoted to teaching, teachers, students and the concept of knowledge and education. The basic value is that teachers are to be respected and given honor.

“One should rise before one’s teacher, speak respectfully to one’s teacher, and treat one’s teacher with greater probity than even one’s parent.” The Talmud teaches, “parents bring a child into this world but a teacher can bring a child into the World to Come” into a world of spirit, creativity, ideas and self-worth and ultimate immortality.

In fact, “the Talmud itself attributes to God, so to speak, the attribute of being a teacher. “He Who teaches Torah to His people Israel.” Even mortal teachers are viewed in Judaism as being engaged in holy work.

These ancient Jewish values have also found a home in China.

Newsweek reported, “The apparent affection for Jewishness has led to a surprising trend in publishing over the last few years: books purporting to reveal the business secrets of the Talmud that capitalize on the widespread impression among Chinese that attributes of Judaism lead to success in the financial arts.”

Newsweek said, “Titles such as Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules, The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book, and Know All of the Money-Making Stories of the Talmud share the shelves with stories of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.”

“The admiration for Judaism stems from a history that goes beyond business,” Newsweek continues. “About half of the dozen or so Westerners active in Mao Zedong’s China were Jewish, and that also led to increased interest in Jewish culture among Chinese intellectuals,” says Xu Xin, professor of Jewish studies at Nanjing University.

______________________________

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

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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The Cultural Glue that Holds China together

August 26, 2015

Under Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor, who united China in 221 BC, a standardized written language was mandated for an empire that once resembled Europe with many countries and written languages, and this created a unique cultural identity from the rest of the world.

To understand this, I’m turning to a conversation thread from the Yuan-Xiao Festival. Alessandro, a European with a degree in East Asian studies, who lives in China with his Chinese wife, wrote a comment that helped me understand something I’d read years ago written by Lin Yutang.

Writing of the Chinese Mind on page 81 of the 1938 Holcyon House Edition of My Country and My People, Lin Yutang wrote, “The Chinese language and grammar … in its form, syntax and vocabulary, reveals an extreme simplicity of thinking, concreteness of imagery and economy of syntactical relationships.”

I didn’t clearly understand what Lin Yutan meant until Alessandro’s comment. “The Latin alphabet is a phonetic one,” Alessandro said, “and as such, it simply reproduces the sounds of the spoken language, making it more susceptible of changes whenever the spoken language changes. Chinese Hanzi, on the other hand, conveys almost no ‘phonetic’ information by itself … (and doesn’t change much in its meaning as time passes).”

 
Cultural Competence: Managing Your Prejudices

Alessandro went on to say, “Both Europe and China have had political upheavals and long periods in which they were divided, but (China) having a stable writing system that doesn’t change as much as an alphabetic one helped them not to lose an important element of cultural unity, therefore of ‘national’ identity…

“The Chinese concept of ‘nation’ has nothing to do with the ‘nation state’ concept common in Europe (and North America).

“European nation states are more or less based on ethnicity, while in China it was – and it still somewhat is – based on cultural elements.

“You were Chinese because you shared a common culture, because you acted as a Chinese and assumed Chinese customs.

“Europe never regained the unity that existed during the Roman Empire, while China always strove to regain unity after each period of division. The traditional saying 合久必分,分久必合 — means more or less ‘after unity comes division, after division comes unity’.”

While the West—North America and Europe—has many written languages, China has had one for more than two millennia and this has been the glue that creates a sense of unity and what it means to be Chinese. Westerns don’t have that sense or cultural identity or unity.

______________________________

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

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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Writing her way out of Poverty: Part 2 of 2

July 29, 2015

A few days after Ma Yan heard that her family could not afford to continue her education past fifth grade, Pierre Haski, the French journalist, visited her village.  After seeing the diaries, Haski promised that he would help her continue school then go to a university or even further than that.

Needless to say, after the publication of her diaries, Ma Yan continued on to middle school along with lots of attention from the media.

Ma Yan says that most of the media asked her about her experience at school, and she wanted to tell them what it was like so the world would hear of the other poor children that wanted to go to school longer.

Because of that media attention, the students at her elementary and middle schools received offers of help.

That outpouring of interest led to the founding of Children of Ningxia, but it closed its doors in 2013. Details about funding for this project may be found at Global Giving. Global Giving reports that they have helped 245 young people from Ningxia through this program and 34 already graduated.

China’s government also abolished school fees through ninth grade but many remote, rural families still struggle to pay for boarding fees.

As the Al Jazeera segment of Ma Yan’s Story ends, I thought of the billion people living in poverty around the world. Less than 10% of those people live in China and this story is only of a few of those people.

In fact, child poverty in the United States is among the worst in the developed world, and many American children who live in poverty also can’t afford to go to college. More than 15 million children in the US—22% of all children—live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. – NCCP

As for China, a survey conducted by Peking University and Beijing Normal University on young people in 18 counties in 2010 revealed that 4.9 percent of the respondents live in poverty. China has a population of 309 million under the age of 18, of which 60 percent live in rural areas. The survey findings suggest there are an estimated 9 million children living in poverty in rural China. – SOS Children’s Villages Canada

Curious to know what happened to Ma Yan all these years later, and what she was doing with her life, I used Google search but found nothing. I then found Pierre Haski’s Facebook page and left a question asking if he knew what had happened to Ma Yan in France. Last time I checked, I couldn’t find my question, and Haski has not replied.

Return to or start with Part 1

______________________________

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

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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