Schools Conducted by Gaokao

This is a series of articles on education in Shanghai (I tried to avoid big topics like Education in China. The previous several articles are:

Worry about Yifan’s Education and

Worry about Yifan’s Education – Part II
Is China Changeable?

Chinese or International Eduction?

University Education = Hukou in China

I didn’t expected that my first blog about my thoughts of Yifan’s education led to so many articles about the current education system in China. Sure. I am thinking about solutions, but to help more people to understand how the system works is the first step.

In this article, I am trying to describe the life of a middle school students in the Chinese traditional education system.

Middle School under the Conductor of Gaokao

As I said in the previous article, the Gaokao (Exam to Enter Colleges) is the only thing that tells exactly what teachers, students, and parents what they need to do.

Disclaimer: I don’t know very well about today’s situation. I guess many things have changed. I only can tell what happened when I was in middle school from 1992 to 1995 in Luoyang. Different cities may also have different situation.

Since there are two tracks of Gaokao – the engineering direction, and the literature direction. From the end of second year of Middle School, students are divided into two type of classes – one just study Engineering related courses, like physics, and chemistry, and the other studies stuff like history…

Every night, students stay as late as 11 PM, or even later everyday. Since the school wanted all the students to go back to dorm and sleep, they shutdown all power supply in both classroom and dorm, and most public places. Most of the students will light up the candles, or go to the public toilet, and read behind the limited light, or use electronic torch to read with quilt covering head. The teachers will go to these places to force all the students to go back to sleep. After they leave, many of the students got back to where they were and continue to study.

That was the everyday life when I was in middle school. Everyone knows how important the Gaokao is to their future lives.

Anything else? Sorry. Don’t bother. The students will be the first to stand up if you ask them to participate in anything not directly related to Gaokao. So will the parents. The teachers think exactly the same because all the middle schools are measured by the percentage of students who pass the entrance exam.

In my previous post, I mentioned “good school”, or “common school”, that was always classified by the rate the school successfully send their graduate to the next level of education.

It is the Problem of the System

Don’t blame students. They are fighting for their future.

Don’t blame the parents. Gaokao is still a pretty fair game. Otherwise, it is a game by the power of their parents (rank in the hierarchy of any system), or how rich their parents are. So far, that is not too big a concern yet. The only thing they can do (no matter how smart, how rich, or how powerful the parents are) is still to try to push/help their children to get a higher score in Gaokao.

Don’t blame the schools, and teachers. They are doing their best to HELP the students to get a better future.

So, the tough question will be, who should we blame to?

1. The Scarcity of Education Resources. The root of all evils is, there are far less high education institutes than what people needed. No matter how fair the system is, as long as there are much more demand than supply, the problem cannot be solved.

In the recent years, everyone saw the high GDP growth of China, but investment in education, and health care are far behind the growth.

2. Imbalance and Unfair Social Resources Distribution. Hukou is just one of the example. Since university education is bound to Hukou, and Hukou is important just because different Hukou causes huge difference in the social resources an individual can get from the society. The chain of huge demands all go back through the loop and leads to one thing: social resources.

“I Have a Dream”

If I use what Martin Luther King’s format, I would say:

I have a dream that my little kid will grow up in a nation where they are judged by their characters, not what Hukou they hold, or whether he goes to university

In an ideal world, people are valued because of the person him/herself. If the person is good in personality, has skills, and is smart, hardworking, or any good virtue a person may have, we surely don’t need to pay too much attention about whether he/she enters a university. BUT, in China, we are still far from that ideal world.

In China, people are not created equal. One cannot receive education, just because he/she don’t have Hukou – just like I cannot receive even kindergarten education in 1980s because I didn’t have the right Hukou (this has changed already). He/She cannot get the job. Not because you cannot do the job better than others, just because you don’t have a university graduate certificate (this also changed a lot, but still far from what it should be). I think that is the deeper reason of why the educational system in China does not work.

To be more exact, it is because the social system does not work, and the education system is just one of the subsystem that was directly impacted.

5 Comments

  1. 我对你的看法有些偏激,我不愿谈中国的教育了,实在是没意思,不过我想到了关于怎样培养一个人成才的几点想法。

    你是否知道你希望你的儿子明天作什么?你如何知道你的儿子他自己的想法中自己想作什么。

    如果你的儿子只想着玩怎么办?

    如果你的儿子想干番事业你会不会很高兴。

    就我自己来说我很奇怪为什么我对某些事情有那么强烈的愿望,比如市场、管理、围棋、大局观。我觉得这些东西都是我天生就有了潜意识的,然后在这些意识的潜作用下我渐渐的向一些我感兴趣的东西去接触,然后成了今天的我。

    正如同你一样,为什么你会对一些事情感兴趣?是后天教育给你的吗?或许你的学习态度好,嗯,想来在学习方面的东西你一定能教你儿子不少。

    其实有你在,你儿子已经有了好的学习环境和条件,剩下的问题就是你儿子他自己了,你觉得你儿子明天会成为一个什么样的人呢?这才是你最担心的问题吧。

    但问题是他想成为一个什么样的人,你似乎不好左右它,或者干脆左右它。他要是不听你的怎么办?像我认识的一些人它们都已经不在乎自己的人生,已经麻木了,这很糟糕。有时我想一个人为什么会这样,也许是生活的困难造成的。也许是个人的原因造成的。

    还是顺其自然把,把你该作的作好就可以了,比如,你已经告诉他一些他该明白的东西,就看他的选择,而且他要为他自己下决定的选择承担后果。

    比如,如果我小学的时候就不想读书,我就对我爸说,我不读了,然后我爸对我说,如果你不识字的话会成为文盲,意味着18岁的时候还要从新学文字。

    不过这么小的小孩怎么可能懂得思考,不可能懂得明天的道路是怎样的。我是二十岁以后才考虑这些问题,回首以往,要是有人引导我的话,可能我学习的目标和方向更明确。真是麻烦啊。。。。。。。。

    我的这些思考作个参考吧。

  2. 当爹的可真麻烦,有时我也在想,一个小孩长大以后会成为什么样的人呢?二十年的光景,好长啊,可能至少要三十人生才算是一个小结吧。

    还是注重能力的培养为好,解决实际问题,如果有了自学能力,加上正确的品德,是比较好的。然后就是动手去解决实际的问题,把学来的知识运用,其过程本身也是个固化加改良的作用。我的意思就是不管它什么文凭不文凭了。等明天你给钱给你的小王自己去作买卖。如果他不想赚钱怎么办?呵呵,可能早点独立也是好事情。

  3. 其实教育从资源条件来看也是资本主义,在竞争中你有了比别人更好的资源胜出的机会就大,教育则是为了你在竞争中拥有比别人更高的起点或素质。这个社会规则是公平的,你看那些干了大事的伟人们,哪个没有受过教育?如果这些伟人从小家里穷得连书都买不起,在它们最初的阶段很难得到启蒙。所以,社会进步了,互联网也能让我这种劳动力使用上了,所以,我也有了获得知识的工具(尽管互联网跟垃圾关东多)。不过最开始我也是从跑图书馆开始的。我很讨厌学校,但毕业后因为工作的关系我也喜欢上了学习。后面这种学习的动力更足一些。因为你知道这些学习能为你的竞争力带来什么变化。你的梦想将因为你的学习而更近一些。虽然失败的可能性很大。但至少我认为那自然了,从此我怪不得谁了。是我自己选择的结果。很自然的把用与学相结合。通过高考过来的人当然也很不错,凡是参加过的人都这么认为,可惜我没参加过,所以,在某些素质方面它们认为我不如它们,有时我也承认。总的来说,受过教育的人和没受过教育的人不一样,但要接受些什么样的教育,成为一个什么样的人。我觉得自然界里的老虎们教自己的儿子也蛮有一套的,到最后,这些小虎们都能独立了。

  4. Exam’s main purpose is not to elect elites, but to filter failures, heard from someone.

  5. I think this ‘teaching to the test’ form of education is limiting the creativity of the Chinese college students. And by pushing the students in to either ‘engineering’ or ‘literatures’ at an early age, it is not give them the enough time in develop. I didn’t make up my mind on a major in college until the 3rd year. The Chinese education system fail to incorporates individualism, that help create the invitations which drives the U.S. economy.

    Three weeks ago at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting, Buffett/Munger mentioned the reason of the 10% investment in BYD motors is solely due to the large number of engineers that the company hires. I think their assumption of the quantity of those engineers can pass for quality, is deeply flawed.

    The Chinese education system will be considered fixed, when country of origin tag states “Designed in China, Assembled Elsewhere”

    Also, most of the only child generation need to realized that, although All Men are Created Equal, but LIFE is not Fair.

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