Underachieving Chinese school children wear badge of shame: Green Scarf

October 18, 2011Jing Gao11 Comments, , , , , , ,

From Sina

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.





Related articles:

11 comments to “Underachieving Chinese school children wear badge of shame: Green Scarf”

  1. dobbstopper | October 18, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    What happened to positive reinforcement? They could’ve just made a “yellow” scarf for students that do exceptionally well – it would be a lot more effective and give kids a clear goal

  2. Joel | October 19, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I also just posted about this, or rather how it’s been stopped. Nice pictures. I need to get more pictures on my site, then I can be more awesome and popular like you guys :)

  3. [...] elementary schools in China force children who have bad performance to wear a green scarf. (via Ministry of Tofu) [...]

  4. Phoenix | October 20, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Interesting article, but please fix the link to say “‘public’ humiliation”! ;)

    I think this kind of negative reinforcement is excessive and risks more than it gains. The lack of a red scarf should suffice as a motivator.

    • Jing Gao | October 22, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      Thank you so much for reminding me…I feel embarrassed about my typo…:P

  5. Augis | October 22, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I wonder if there are kids who wear their green scarfs with pride :)

  6. 12345 | October 23, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    the form teachers should be given a green scarf if there is any student who wears a green scarf in her class. the principle him/herself should also wear a green scarf for effectively demoralise students. i get that grades are important, but students who are slow or having personal problems should be helped instead of ‘stepping upon them’ and be condemned. this system is ridiculous. you dont have this sort of system in malaysia or singapore, and students in these countries excel the same.

  7. [...] أصحاب التحصيل المتدني على ارتداء وشاح أخضر. (بواسطة Ministry of Tofu) [...]

  8. huhu | February 9, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    i never post the f word in public but what the fuck is this? what the fuck is this?… retarded school teachers, the school principle should be given a green scarf, what the fuck is education bureaus for? oh right, they are retarded too!

  9. [...] or “encouragement”  is shame. In such a culture, this would be true for children in school, for spouses toward each other, for employers toward employees. It would be true in every [...]

  10. lighght | July 1, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    It’s always amusing to read the feigned surprise of the teachers, administrators, etc, who come up with this shit. “Why, we had no idea that public shaming of six year old kids could cause any problems. We are just motivating them to work harder!” The suicides of kids who have been subjected to this treatment apparently goes completely unnoticed.

    I don’t believe in the “prizes for all” mentality, either, but I am in complete agreement with the posters above who suggest just giving a scarf to the students who have done particularly well, rather than going out of their way to humiliate the children who haven’t yet made the grade.

Leave a Reply