I have to share this.
This Chinese School concept in the UK is so funny.
Look at the fierce Chinese teachers, it does remind me of my Chinese school days in the past.
When I first went to the UK on an exchange project, I was invited to a local compulsory school to introduce my school life back in China and exchange ideas with local students there. Talking in front of about 200 British students (that’s about the size of the school from year 1 to year 9, ridiculous!) for the first time in my life, I was surprised that they don’t do ‘morning exercise’. And then one of the students asked me, what do I do after school, I said, oh, we do Chemistry, Biology, Math and English study groups!
Now I would laugh at my silly answer when think of that moment. When I watched the first episode of this BBC documentary series, I thought of my school years back in China, it was a proper, typical, long 12 years (which does not include my BA times). But I do not regret the time I spent on studying, even though it might seem without a purpose. I once asked the same question from this documentary, ‘why do we need to learn geometry?’ This question hasn’t been answered even till now. But my biggest guess is, we don’t need it, but we need to know it.
This BBC documentary may not offered the view of a typical Chinese school life, not even a British one, according to comments on social media who claim to be students at private schools in the UK. Private schools are just as strict as it is compared to Chinese schools. And We always have naughty students who don’t really care about discipline. Chinese students are not robots, I’ve had classmates who just love to make noise in a 50-pupil class. And there was once a teacher who teaches Chinese at my school, waited for the students to ‘all be quite’. She failed, the whole class just could not stop talking. I was at grade 9 back then.
But the interesting fact still, is the Chinese students put so much effort to learn so much in advance at school. The society is just too competitive. A forceful education has always been a problem in China, not every Chinese is proud of it. We mock ourselves as ‘test machines’ at school, and education in China is no more than a ‘test-based system’. However, if you ask me, whether I will allow my children to go through the same process, I probably wouldn’t say no.
What Chinese education gave a student is a different kind of ability, learning. It seems that the Chinese school focus on the students’ actual ability to learn, rather than what they’ve learned. And the society in China seem to judge children not by what they are capable of, but by how fast, how good they’ve mastered a skill, such as writing poems, singing, dancing, playing instruments, or maybe just simply mathematics. After going through this 12-year ‘learn to learn’, I some how feel no regret. I became a fast-learner while having a lot of knowledge. Why not?
On the other hand, I think social welfare does affect students’ conceptions about studying and gaining degrees. If the Chinese government took care of its people with all-rounded social welfare, I guess a doctor’s degree won’t mean much to Chinese as well. Then again, degrees and certificates are just tools to achieve one’s life, it is not the only way to have a good life.
Nevertheless, knowledge makes humble. The more I learn, the more I appreciate the knowledge I have. My thoughts are widen by knowledge, with structural and critical thinking. This makes my life more effective in a way, thus enables me to create more value for the world and for my own life.
Back to this BBC documentary: it is not about knowledge anyway! But please take a look at the ‘scary’ Chinese school, I find it amusing, don’t you?