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Chinese educators: Be a good person, then a good student

11-05-2012 13:45 BJT Special Report:China: A Decade of Change |

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By CCTV reporter Wang Xinye

Quality education is what the Chinese government has been pushing for over the past few decades. In recent years, more and more people, both educators and parents have realized the shortcomings of exam-oriented education, or the infamous gaokao as it's known here in China. Our reporter Wang Xinye tells how China’s new generation of educators is shifting the focus from cracking exams to building a more rounded personality.

For a 4 year old child, learning to be a loving person is more important than rushing into academic studies. Every year, children from the Beijing 21st Century Kindergarten come to visit the elderly at a Shijingshan nursing home.

“I love them here. They’re so adorable. They sing and dance for us. We are so happy!”

It may not seem like a proper class, but teachers have their reasons for such arrangement.

"We believe taking the kids here gives them a moral lesson on respecting elders. This is much better than empty lectures in the classroom."

The idea came from Ms Zhu Min, the head of the Beijing 21st Century Kindergarten.

Ms Zhu holds a master’s degree in pre-school education. She has spent a great deal of time studying the effects of early age education on children’s behaviour. She believes moral education should take precedence over any other subject. In her words, nothing is more important than to teach a child to be a good person before being a good student.

Zhu Min said, “A kindergarten is the first school. We should teach the children something that can influence their whole life. And I think it is the ability of love. I hope they will love themselves, their families, their country and the environment. Also they shall know to share and to work together with other children. These are all included in moral education, which is the core of our education. ”

Apart from moral education, Ms Zhu also insists that children be encouraged to learn a passion for new knowledge. This may not be guaranteed under the exam-oriented education system.

Zhu Min said, “Exam-oriented education forces some children to do lots of reading, vocab memorization and math exercises. These can make children exhausted both physically and mentally. They may lose interest in learning when they get to school.

Chinese educators have questioned the study-for-exam type of education. But so far, exams have provided a chance for fair competition for most students, so very few children and their parents are willing to turn their backs on it.

And some parents have a stronger resolve to elevate their children from the average through strict discipline. The stories of the famous Chinese tiger mother and the wolf dad have stirred up fierce opinions on education. Their philosophy is simple; be the best or face punishment. They did send their children to the best university, but is there anything missing?

Zhu Min said, “These parents care more about their own feeling and impose their ideas on the children. There is ignorance of their children’s individuality. Their children may not know how to take care of their feelings when they grow up. In my opinion, I’d like to see a child know how to learn, how to be a good person, how to deal with things, and how to live a life, and at the same time, be a confident, loving, creative, and happy person."

China is going to see greater development of quality eduction as the government has decided to invest more in education reform. The young Chinese generations are set to enjoy the merits of both education systems.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: CCTV.com

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