Underachieving Chinese school children wear badge of shame: Green Scarf
At the gate of No.1 Experimental Elementary School of Weiyang District, Xi’an, children standing in lines were divided into two markedly different groups: one wearing red scarves, and the other wearing green scarves.
“You don’t study well, and wear a green scarf. Mine is the real red scarf…” One kid said to another. The parent who came to pick up the green scarf kid looked very embarrassed on hearing it.
Red Scarf is a badge of honor for Chinese school children, symbolizing that they have been recruited as Young Pioneers of the Communist China.
Ms. Su has a daughter in the first grade. Ms. Su says her daughter is very hard-working when she reads and writes characters. She is simply a little bit slow, and ranks average in her class. Last Friday, she came home with a green scarf around her neck. She told Ms. Su that nearly half of the class were given a green scarf.
A child untied his green scarf right after he got onto his parent’s bicycle.
“I think green scarf looks bad. But the teachers will criticize me if I don’t wear it,” a first-grader told the reporter. Mischievous and underachieving students have to wear a green scarf in and out of school. Those who untie it will be called names in the class by the teachers. Many children take off their green scarf and put it into their school bags the moment they step out of the gate. “However little the kids are, they have self-esteem. They can tell a green scarf is not a nice thing even if no one says anything to them.” Ms. Su thinks that it is a very weird thing for the school to do, and can inflict harm on children’s psyche. (Read Chinese children and teenagers committing suicide that can be at least partially blamed onto public humiliation and insults from teachers and schools. )
“We truly didn’t expect that parents would have a problem with green scarves,” A school teacher surnamed Feng explained. Feng said the purpose is to motivate students so that they can work harder and strive for a red scarf. It is not meant to discriminate academically good students and bad students.
Feng said that first graders have two opportunities to join the Young Pioneers during the school year. Excellent and conscientious students are given priority and recruited in the very first batch. Children who underperform are not given a red scarf. Some parents mentioned to the school that these kids were unhappy at home, and they expect teachers to help them using other means.
According to an online survey conducted by the news portal Sina, over 94% of respondents frowned upon the idea of green scarf.