China Power

How the World is Like China

Depressingly, China isn’t the only country with serious issues in its education system.

Some readers of this blog might think I’m a self-hating Chinese. Actually, this isn’t true at all—I am, above all, a self-hating global citizen. It’s back-to-school time, and I’d like to share some stories that demonstrate that education systems around the world are just as hopeless as the Chinese system. 

1. This country is financially and ideologically bankrupt. Its elite seem like a kleptocracy, and the people are discontented, joining radical groups.  In response, its politicians decided to print money. China? No, it’s America, where public officials have responded to financial implosion and public cynicism by spending $578 million dollars building the world’s costliest school.   

Surely, Chinese officialdom won’t sit idly by and let US politicians outdo them in extravagant waste of public resources? China’s poorest children will be happy to hear any and all potential funding for their school will be diverted to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen as they compete to build the world’s costliest school so that the Chinese bureaucracy can maintain its reputation.

2. Teachers who don’t teach, and students who don’t study. Falling standards and discipline. Too much drug-taking and video-game playing on campus. Governments around the world are failing to reverse these trends, and so one government has taken the novel approach of deciding that these could be, in fact, positive trends. 

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You’d think that that government would be China, which I called doublethink nation previously. But it’s actually the government that legalized pot.  This outrageously glib article discusses how a school is responding to the Dutch government’s call for ‘self-directed learning’ by overhauling the traditional classroom:

'The prototypical factory model with its self-contained classrooms is replaced by an environment that features a diversity of spaces that flow into one another. The design promotes reflective, collaborative learning that mimics the way teenagers think, learn and socialize.'

Maybe it’s just me, but reading this passage and looking at the photos I get the feeling this school will become the ideal setting for students just wanting to smoke pot and play World of Warcraft together. But, then again, what better model of ‘self-directed learning’ is there than World of Warcraft?   

3. Okay, maybe no one really cares what the Europeans think and do anyway. So let’s go back to the only place that does matter—namely the United States, and specifically Princeton University, where a student created a ruckus, made an ass of himself, is proud of it, and isn’t Chinese. 

Ebay billionaire and California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s son and captain of Princeton’s rugby team Will Harsh apparently willfully and harshly (!) kicked softball-playing graduate students off the rugby field, even though they had university permission to be there.   

You can’t blame the Chinese princeling wannabe though. First, he was merely defending the divine and universal right of the rich, white, and foolish to indiscriminately bully anyone who is not rich, white, and foolish. He also has an older brother who at a Princeton eating club apparently threw beer at someone, and explained his actions by pointing to himself, and saying, ‘Billionaire.’

Still, can any parent naming a child ‘Will Harsh’ really expect him not to grow up to be a mean idiot?