Contrast of Chinese and U.S. student disciplines becomes red-hot topic

March 23, 2011Jing Gao11 Comments, , , , , , ,

From Sina

A microblog post has called Chinese netizens’ attention to another difference in education between China and the U.S. – elementary school disciplines. An overwhelming majority said the Chinese version rings hollow and has no substance as to regulating student behavior. Some net users even said that the perfectionistic code should be used to educate corrupt officials instead of school children, who are mostly innocent and honest.

Disciplines of a U.S. elementary school

1. Always refer to a teacher by title and last name.
2. Get to class on time or a little earlier.
3. Raise your hand when you want to ask a question.
4. You may speak to the teacher from your desk while you are seated.
5. When you are absent, you must make up the work you have missed. Ask either the teacher or a classmate for the work.
6. If you expect to be away from school because of an emergency, tell your teacher in advance and ask for the work you will miss.
7. All assignments you hand in must be your own work.
8. Never cheat on a test.
9. If you are having difficulty with a class, schedule an appointment to see the teacher for help. The teacher will be glad to help you.
10.Students must bring a note for a parent explaining any absence or tardiness.
11.The only acceptable excuse for absence is personal illness, a death in the family, or a religious holiday. It is illegal to stay home from school for any other.
12.When a teacher asks a question and does not name a particular student to answer it, anyone who knows the answer should raise one hand.

Chinese disciplines for elementary school students

1, Have deep love for your motherland, for the people, and for the Communist Party of China.
2, Abide by laws and rules. Improve understanding of laws. Abide by school rules and disciplines. Act in line with social morality.
3, Have passion for sciences. Work hard on study. Think diligently and have a questioning mind. Be fond of exploration. Participate vigorously in activities that build social experience and/or are beneficial.
4, Love life. Protect yourself. Do physical exercises. Pay attention to hygiene.
5, Respect and love yourself. Be confident and strong. Keep civilized and healthy living habits.
6, Engage in labor. Be frugal and pristine. Depend on yourself to do things you are capable of.
7, Be filial to your parents. Respect your teacher. Be polite to others.
8, Have deep love for the group you are in. United with your classmates. Help one another. Care about others.
9, Be honest and trustworthy. Match your words with your deeds. Correct your mistakes once you are aware of it. Be responsible.
10, Love nature. Take good care of you living environment.

Most Chinese netizens find the U.S. version detailed and executable. Its everyday language and simple and understandable requirements can help children cultivate good habits.

In contrast, the Chinese version is very abstract, dogmatic and hollow. Some net users think that based on their half-baked vocabulary and limited perception, schoolchildren can barely comprehend what these disciplines really try to say.

In addition, net users pointed out that the Chinese version is so demanding that one has to be a saint to live up to all requirements. Benchmark Chinese adults against the code, and many of them will fail.

Many school principals and teachers in Shanghai, while conceding that Chinese school disciplines do seem abstract, say that parents and netizens may not the whole picture.

“Apart from the disciplines, each school actually has its own detailed rules and regulations,” Wang Ping, principal of Ruijiner Road Elementary School, said that arriving school on time, raising hands to ask a question and so forth have been detailed in the school rules. “That the country devises macro disciplines does not come into conflict with detailed regulations tailor-made to meet local and a specific school’s needs.”

Wang Ping also said that, at the start of the first semester of the first graders, students study the disciplines under teachers’ instruction to strengthen their comprehension of the articles. They also study the school’s detailed regulations to substantiate the macro concepts.

“The U.S. student disciplines seem more like Chinese code of conduct for students.” Many teachers felt this way. They think that the Chinese disciplines are a set of guiding principles which represent the general course, and that it is impractical to make the disciplines meticulous.

“The establishment of the student disciplines demonstrates the country’s educational ideal…and shows the country’s expectation for the new generation of talents,” said Wu Zengqiang, director of the research division of Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences, “Great differences exist between China and the U.S. in terms of cultural traditions and expression.” However, he also admitted that the heated discussion surrounding of the two countries’ student disciplines reflects the hope that our education can be more down-to-earth, have fewer slogan and less dogmatism, and be more viable.

Selected comments from

新浪山东菏泽lianxiang722: It should be written on the handbook, “Don’t be a corrupt official after you grow up.”

新浪河北保定妄行: Ours is virtually a guidance on becoming a saint. As we grow up, the expectations gets lower and lower.
“6, Engage in labor. Be frugal and pristine. Depend on yourself to do things you are capable of.”
—This alone can fail within a second all cadres who have secretaries.

新浪湖南长沙网友walker: If one is standardized and institutionalized by disciplines in all aspects from childhood, how can there be any room for free personal development??

新浪广东深圳网友: The disciplines for Chinese school children are impossible for us to comprehend for the rest of our lives. So esoteric….

新浪四川德阳网友Dream: This one must be supported.
I call on those who study abroad to compare and introduce more advanced methods of foreign countries. After all, the new China has grown from learning.

新浪韩国kyonggi-do人卜已占: Damn. Is the Chinese one for real? So demanding. A person has to be practically a perfect one to fulfill it.

新浪浙江绍兴邮电局机: I think the Chinese one is better. It has depth and quality. The U.S. one is like fast food, with no nutrition. School children can take time comprehending it. They don’t have to get it after one teaching. Otherwise, what’s the point of studying it?

新浪湖南郴州sutailao: I didn’t know that our country has been educating people to love the country and the party, to abide by laws from their childhood. The U.S. version didn’t mention a word about it. We can compare adults of the two countries. Americans outperform Chinese adults in comparison when it comes to law-abiding, let alone love for the country. How many Americans have you seen embezzle colossal sums of money and flee abroad? Why our education that teaches the positive ends up the opposite? Who can explain it? Shouldn’t Chinese education be called a failure?

新浪河南郑州一闪: Americans abide by laws? Then How do you think the tens of thousands of victims who die from gun shots each year and their friends are going to react to you?

新浪北京大兴网友bolk001: Having lagged behind is not terrible. What’s terrible is the mentality that denies having lagged behind.

新浪黑龙江哈尔滨网友: To teacher: I have fulfilled all of it. But I still have no house, no cash or wife! I can’t afford to see a doctor. I have deep love for all. Who has deep love for me?

新浪北京大兴网友: Why having deep love for a certain Party has become a discipline? Shameless and despicable.

新浪湖南岳阳网友王水: Obviously all school children are going to be cultivated to become our country’s great cadres.

新浪湖南郴州网友sutailao: To require so much meaningless stuff of a child who has just got exposed to the society in all aspects would end up blotting out a child’s natural instincts. This is China’s education!

新浪北京: Any disciplines in China needs just one article to cover all: “Always listens to the Party!!” Any more would be superfluous words.

新浪宁夏石嘴山网友vvislovelycow: If one can fulfill them, one can be an excellent party cadre.

新浪广西mhz19620317: This reflects our country’s characteristics: fake, big, hollow.

新浪浙江杭州网友james3619: No adult can abide by such a “discipline,” let alone school children.

丁棡 Chinese education with socialistic characteristics…

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11 comments to “Contrast of Chinese and U.S. student disciplines becomes red-hot topic”

  1. Hao Hao Report | March 23, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….

  2. Jimmy | March 23, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Having gone to US schools 1, 4, 11, and 12 are not necessarily true. It highly depends on the teachers.

  3. Martin | March 24, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Yes… and no not quite. Yes because the system is indeed very different and yes because the Chinese education system does seem to be a hot topic of discussion at the moment, online as well as offline. But also no not quite because I feel that this article does not seem to have a good eye on everyday practice in education in present day China, at least as far as I know.

    Whilst studying among Chinese students in a university in China, I have learned these two things. First, rules in the way the are written do not reflect the way in which they are followed in practice. That is not strange: the article itself mentions how one has to be a saint (some kind of Lei Feng?) to follow the rules in a perfect way. So in practice the rules are only followed in a so-so way. I first noticed that in spite of the sign in each and every classroom saying "Speak standard Chinese", a lot of students and professors still use dialectish ways of speaking. My Chinese fellow students do take classes that seem to aim at turning them into good citizens, but they seem to be attending those classes with a 'yeah yeah whatever' attitude. Ordinary students do not seem to care about the "hollow and dogmatic" rules as much as the quoted netizens or the author of the article does.

    And second, the "hollow"ness of the way in which the rules are written, is completely in line with the way in which textbooks and even newspapers are written (at least in many cases). If you don't believe me, open any edition of the Renminribao (which I secretly nicknamed the newspaper that nobody reads), or read my Journalism textbook of last semester.

    With regard to the "dogmatic" appearance of the Chinese rules, I wonder why the American rules are not considered dogmatic. The U.S. rules are written a lot more understandibly, but any explanation as to the background of the rules is absent, just as absent as in the Chinese rules.

    The appearance and many rituals may be very different in schools in the two mentioned countries at the opposites of the globe (and perhaps at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum), but the ground principle is the same: stay away from trouble and behave yourself when you are in school.

  4. Kedafu | March 24, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I love the this ministry!

    Song of the Article



  5. sascha | March 24, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    the US version seems to treat the kids like … kids, while the Chinese version sounds like what a council attended only by loyal comrades might come up with to impress their superiors.

    German schools are awesome, at least the gymnasium imo.

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