Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Jiang Xueqin, deputy principal at Peking University High School, at The Diplomat's China Power blog:
Nowadays people may admire China’s economy, but not Chinese creativity. Chinese architecture and art, music and movies are derivative, and many a Chinese enterprise is merely a carbon copy of an American one. China’s best schools may produce the world’s best test-takers, but the United States’ best schools produce the world’s most creative talent. . .

The best US education institutions endow students with creativity by providing a relaxed and secure learning environment in which students share in the refined emotional experiences of humanity by reading books and developing the logic necessary to share in collective emotional experiences through debate and essay writing. A dynamic learning environment allows students at many US schools to feel joy and despair, frustration and triumph, and it’s these ups and downs that encode the creative learning process into our neural infrastructure and make it so transformative.

A Chinese school is both a stressful and stale place, forcing students to remember facts in order to excel in tests. Neuroscientists know that stress hampers the ability of the brain to convert experience into memory, and psychologists know that rewarding students solely for test performance leads to stress, cheating, and disinterest in learning. But ultimately, the most harmful thing that a Chinese school does, from a creativity perspective, is the way in which it separates emotion from memory by making learning an unemotional experience.

Whatever individual emotions Chinese students try to bring into the classroom, they are quickly stamped out. As I have previously written, from the first day of school, students who ask questions are silenced and those who try to exert any individuality are punished. What they learn is irrelevant and de-personalized, abstract and distant, further removing emotion from learning. If any emotion is involved, it’s pain. But the pain is so constant and monotonous (scolding teachers, demanding parents, mindless memorization, long hours of sitting in a cramped classroom) that it eventually ceases to be an emotion.
I would add only that teaching kids how to think isn't merely essential for their emotional development; it's fundamental to the skills needed to compete in today's information and services economy, as reader OBH persuasively has argued.

(via Instapundit)


OBloodyHell said...

Glad you remembered that.

I'd forgotten all about it. :^D

OBloodyHell said...

Not the content, just the extensiveness of it... mind you.

Kurt said...

Of course, this also sounds like the established practice in global warming "science," where one dare not ask the wrong kinds of questions.

A_Nonny_Mouse said...

Thanks for the link to "Why I Blog".

I find that writing (even a "short reply" like this) helps pin down what I think. (Guess my thinking is really fuzzy in its original state!!) It can be agonizing to write down what I think and why; then my excess verbosity forces me to go back and pare away the excess qualifiers and tangential analogies until there's one clear understandable thought revealed. It takes lots of false starts, lots of editing & reworking, and sometimes I just run out of patience with the whole thing and wind up abandoning the attempt.

People who write clearly and succinctly make it look SO EASY (Mark Steyn comes to mind, or Victor Davis Hanson); I admire their ability to distill a thought down to a clear and precise sentence or two.

But -- dang! When I try it, my own attempts leave me humbled every time.

OBloodyHell said...

ANM, I can only recommend more and more practice. I've found, as noted elsewhere, that it helps both focus the mind on the various elements that are involved in constructing your position, as well as forcing you to re-examine them for continued veracity in an ever-changing world.

As a secondary benefit, exposing them to challenge by others can also help either fix the position or render it recognizably incorrect, depending on the holes others may find that you missed.

A true intellectual doesn't shy away from challenges to his positions, he rises to them and faces them squarely and with intellectual honesty.

That's why I consider most so-called "intellectuals" pseudo-intellectuals. They prance and preen as intellectuals, but it's usually all smoke and mirrors. Challenge them and the smoke dissipates and the mirrors shatter and they are left with nothing but the Emperor's New Clothes.

...At which point the screaming, yelling, and name-calling starts.

OBloodyHell said...

Bertrand Russell's 10 commandments for philosophizers:

1 - Do not be certain of anything.

2 - Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence,
for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3 - Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.

4 - When met with opposition, even if it should come from your husband or
your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by
authority, for a victory based upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5 - Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always
contrary authorities to be found.

6 - Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you
do, the opinions will suppress you.

7 - Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted
was once considered eccentric.

8 - Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement,
for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a
deeper agreement than the latter.

9 - Be scrupulously truthful, even when the truth is inconvenient, for it
is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10 - Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's
paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.