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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The Cultural Importance of Education in China Caught on Film

October 25, 2016

In the Chinese film Not One Less (1999), a thirteen-year-old girl is asked to be the long-term substitute teacher in a small Chinese village.  The teacher says to her that when he returns, if he finds all the students still there, he will pay her ten yuan, less than two American dollars at the time.

When one student, Zhang Huike, stops coming to school, Wei Minzhim, the thirteen-year-old substitute teacher, follows him to the city.

There are several themes in this film. The most powerful was the value of an education and not losing face. If Wei loses Zhang, she will fail the teacher who gave her the responsibility to teach the village children. To her, that means she must keep all the students.

This film reveals one of the greatest cultural differences between the United States and China. More than 2,000 years ago, Confucius taught that an education was the great equalizer and the key to leaving poverty behind. In the United States, for the last several decades, corporations in the private-sector education industry that profit off high-stakes tests claim high-test scores will lift children out of poverty, and low test scores are the fault of teachers, not children who don’t study for whatever reason.

Today many Chinese, not all, and most Asians outside of China still believe with a passion that education is the key, and this belief may explain why the on-time high school graduation for Asian-Americans in the United States is the highest when compared to all other racial groups.

U.S. News.com reports that Asian/Pacific Islander students comprised the only subgroup with a higher (on-time high school) graduation rate than white students (in the U.S.).

In the United States, teachers are often blamed for the lower graduation rates of Hispanics (more than 74 percent) and Blacks (71 percent), while in China parents take the blame when their children are not successful in school.

This is another significant difference between China and the United States. In China it would be unthinkable to wage war against the nation’s teachers for children who don’t learn. Instead, parents, who cared, and teachers work together to do what they can as partners to make sure children learn.

And for children that live in poverty and/or with parents that don’t care, a Stanford University Researcher discovered “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country, surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States.”

Zhang Yimou was the director of this film. He said, “Chinese culture is still rooted in the countryside. If you don’t know the peasant, you don’t know China.” Because of this, there is a strong message in this film about the urban–rural divide in China, which is being addressed as China sews the nation together with high-speed rail and electricity.

This a powerful movie about children, education, and poverty that shows the challenges China (and every country) faces in improving the lifestyles of almost 8-hundred million Chinese, who don’t live in the cities. The challenge is to do this without losing the cultural values that flow through Chinese history like a powerful river.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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