Monday, February 9, 2015

News and Commentaries, Feb. 9, 2015

Liang (Leung) is a famous writer, journalist and commentator from Hong Kong, and has a big following in both mainland and Hong Kong

1,No matter how much you deny that you are Chinese, Westerners will still think you are Chinese. No matter how many generations your family has lived in the United States, Americans would still call you Chinese. This is an unchangeable reality!
1, 无论如何否认自己是中国人也好,西方人亦会认为你是中国人,无论你在美国生活了多少世代,美国人仍然称呼你是Chinese,这是不改变的事实!

2, However, this notion of “Chinese” is hugely different from the concept of “Chinese” that is acknowledged by the PRC. Chinese in Singapore prefer the term “hua ren”. It is a kind of racial identification, instead of a national identification. Therefore, in South Asian countries, “hua ren” is often a more politically correct term than “zhong guo ren”.
2, 可这个「中国人」和一个中华人民共和国国民所认同的「中国人」,毕竟还有着很大的差距。因为南洋华人能够认可的「中国人」,其实就像「华人」似的,乃一种族裔身份,而非一般意义上的国民认同。因此,在东南亚几个国家里头,「华人」会是个比「中国人」更常用也更「政治正确」的表述。

3, “Hua ren” are not necessarily “zhong guo ren”, just like Anglo-Saxon are not necessarily British. It is actually a very easy logic. But the problem is, when we say Chinese, there is always confusion between these two related yet different terms.

4, In my opinion, to put it simply, no matter it is origin of birth, place, lanaugage, culture, blood, or cross-boundary family and economic networks, they are all age-old and common elements of identification. A person could choose different kinds of combination among all these elements.

5, However, contemporary nationalism tends to construct an overly simple logic and equation. They blend in all these elements above and create an almost holy and absolute axis . It makes one person could only be categorized as one type of person.

Discovered this website today, called Our Education 我们的教育
They call themselves “a self-help platform” for the education in the era of the Internet. There are influential intellectuals and educators like Chen Danqing, Chu Zhaohui, Ding Xueliang and Fu Guoyong. There are also “creative activists, media people” and some topical teachers.
I read through the script of a high school teacher's speech at Get Inspired Forum (like a Chinese version of TED Talk). It was recorded on 2013. But it was uploaded to Our Education in the beginning of January.
This is the script transcribed on Douban. (Love this speech!)

Here are some excerpts.
1, We grew up drinking toxic milk. This toxic milk first means that we are living in an amazing country. We could host an unprecedented Olympic Games, but we can't even produce a trusted tin of formula. This toxic milk is also a metaphor, which I believe is food of thought for our children.
1, 我们是喝毒奶长大的。这个毒奶当然首先是实指,这是一个神奇的国度,我们可以举办举世无双的奥运会,但是却造不出一罐让人民放心的奶粉,这个毒奶也是一种比喻义,就其比喻义而言,我觉得就是指我们孩子们从小学习的精神食粮。 

2, Just because we are already at the 21st century, it does not necessarily mean that our text books follow the trend. I have studied three major Chinese textbooks with my friends in 2009 and 2010. We came to the conclusion that our children are taking the wrong medicine.
2, 不要以为现在已经21世纪了,我们所学的教材文本也与时俱进。20092010年的时候,我跟我的一些朋友,一起研究了在中国现在覆盖面最广的三套语文教材:人教社的、江苏教育出版社的以及北师大出版社的,最后我们得出的结论是:我们的孩子还在吃错药。

3, We know that this kind of education, with this kind of text books, are like a tightly intricate arrangement that shapes our children systematically, from primary school or even kindergarten. They use hollow stories and grand rendition to capture your brain. Children come to school kind and innocent, come out of school hysterical.
3, 我们知道,就是用这个教育,就是用这样的教材,用这样一种丝丝入扣的安排,制度性地塑造着我们的孩子,从小学阶段乃至更低幼的幼儿园阶段,它拿一些空洞的故事,拿一种宏大叙事来占领你的头脑,天真烂漫进去,歇斯底里出来。 

4, Another story is about my son's birthday. It is in the first month in lunar calendar. This year we happened to be in Malaysia. I was very happy and shared this news with my son. He heard it and angrily shouted: “No way, I want to spend my birthday in my motherland!”
4, 还有一件事情,菜虫虫的生日是在正月里,正好今年正月我们在马来西亚,有一天我突然想到,我带着炫耀的语气跟他说,哎呀菜虫,今年你的生日要在马来西亚过啦,菜虫虫一听勃然大怒,叫起来:“不要,我要在我的祖国过生日!” 

5, So often, as parents, we feel so proud; and as educators, we call ourselves the architect of people's souls. In my view we are none of that. We are just tamers in the circus.

6, A friend of mine, a PhD student at Nankai University, once told me the story of cinderella. Cinderella wanted to go to the dance party hosted by the prince, but her stepmother didn't allow her to go, and put a bowl of beans in ashes. She demanded Cinderella to pick up the beans in the ashes. She said if she could pick up all the peans within four hours she could be granted the permission to the party. The thing of picking beans itself is futile, but it is big enough to stop Cinderella to engage in another meaningful activity. This significant event is the prince's party.
7, One of my favorite movies is Dead Poet Society. They talked about “Seize the Day”, which means sucking out the marrows of life. I often think this is a great metaphor. Our education is like the beans in the ashes, which is actually meaningless. But it could cost our best time and most dynamic energy. It could tear off our free will and stop us from engaging some truly meaningful and creative endeavors. Eventually we didn't go to the prince's party. We went to the pledge rely for gaokao. This is quintessential black humor. Facing this kind of rigid educational system, everyone sighs for our helplessness, because one person can not change the world.
我非常喜欢的一个电影《死亡诗社》里有一句台词:「Seize the day」,翻译过来是「萃取生命的精华」,我经常觉得这真是伟大的比喻,教育就是灰堆里的豆子,它本身毫无意义,但是它却能够耗去我们最好的年华与最活跃的能量,磨损我们的自由意志,让我们不能去从事那些真正需要创造力的事情,最后我们没有去参加王子的舞会,我们去参加了衡水二中的高考誓师大会。这是一个成色十足的黑色幽默,面对这样坚硬的教育体制,每个人都在哀叹我们无能为力,因为靠你一个人无法改变这个世界。 

8, Local media has also interviewed me and created me as a topical teacher.
8, 本地媒体也采访过我,他们把我塑造为一个话题老师。 

9, What is interesting is once at a salon on education, a parent found out that I was the teacher reported by that newspaper. She said to me, "Oh, it is you, my husband said that if he sees you, he is going to kick your ass". Just because we have different views of education, does not necessarily mean we need to resort to physical violence.
9, 但有意思的是,在一次教育沙龙当中,当一位家长最后知道我就是报纸里介绍的那个老师以后,她说哎呀你就是那个老师呀,我老公说他要是知道你看到你,就要打你一顿——教育观念不同,不一定要用打的方式来解决嘛。

(Towards the end he talked about he chose to stay working as a high school teacher and try to educate the freedom of independent thinking to his students)

Apparently he is very famous. He is a prolific writer, according to Baidu Baike. His work criticizes the current education system and advocates freedom of independent thinking.

He is also the owner of a bookstore called Xin Qing Nian (New Youth), same name as the magazine where Lu Xun, Li Dazhou, Chen Duxiu, etc. were editors. He lives in Shaoxing – a good coincidence. There are regular cultural salons in this bookstore.
The Beijing News (a rather respected newspaper wrote about him in 2012, with an interesting title: Cai Chaoyang: Modern Citizen, Life is Right Here.

This leads to another story, or intellectual who promotes rural cultural development.
School of Tillers in Bishan village,
碧山理農館 鼓勵青年返鄉
Artist, poet and publisher Ou Ning's efforts on promoting reconstrcution in the countryside and encouraging young people to go back to their hometown from inhabitable mega cities.
(I stayed for a couple of days at Ou Ning's house in Bishan village, Yixian, Huangshan, Anhui, beautiful space.The notions of anarchism, eco commune and slow life is also becoming popular because of publicity and advocacy of intellectuals like Ou Ning).

Zhao Sile, A younger “intellectual”, journalist and “feminist”, wife of a social activist Liu Jianshu who was detained for a month in the end of last year.
This is also in accordance with some theories in Leta Hong Fincher's book Leftover Women (I read this book in the past summer. I think it is well-researched and her arguments are quite convincing). Both Zhao and Fincher believe that the notion of leftover women is socially constructed to pressure young educated women to marry so that there will be fewer unmarried men, who would be problems for social instability.

Zhao is interesting because she is only 24 years old but her articles are very well-written, and perspectives are assuringly new and modern.

She wrote an article called Women, what you need are not “warm men”criticizing women's roles in relationships. “Why there are so many people, especially women, who like men to treat them as little girls, rather than equal adults?”

Women aspire to be with a “warm man” (a man who is sensitive enough to cater women's physical and material needs -- often too sensitive). The needs for a “warm man” is actually because of a series of systematic difficulties in our society. 

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