"The Making of a More Creative Chinese Student"
At a friend's house I saw her
young son and another boy put plastic chairs on their backs and pretend
they were turtles- nothing special for imaginative children. However,
those same children after a few years in the Chinese educational system
would see their creativity suffer. Chinese education is well known to be
heavy on facts and memorization for a high score on the Gao Kao college
entrance exam, and other tests in between. PhsyOrg.com, an on-line
scientific journal, writes that 86% of Chinese students prefer careers
in science and math because of the similarity to their rigid system of
schooling. In contrast, 60% of students in the United States prefer an
education relating more to the "discussion of ideas and possibilities."
While the current education system does not mean that all Chinese will
be devoid of creativity, how many more would have greater innovation if
they did not go through it?
Xu Guixiang, a teacher trainer in
Jiangsu, has thought about how to extract more creativity from students:
"What concerns the education sector of China is to allow students to be
creators and innovators in all walks of life." One area that he
specifically points to is the entertainment industry of the United
States and Japan. "Why can't China have its famous animation or movie
studios that make films people want to see worldwide," he says. Once in a
while Chinese films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are great hits
around the world. Every year in Chinese theaters Hollywood movies come
through and make money to repeat the process the next year. Xu knows
that China is falling behind the rest of the world in creativity.
for the past decade China has been well represented in its
international patent applications as they have increased at a
substantial rate. Sociologist Doctor Cong Cao states that companies like
Huawei Technologies ranked first in international patents with 1,737 in
2008. He also cites a Thompson Reuters Scientific piece, that when
written, had predicted that by 2010 China would pass Japan and in 2011
the United States in patent applications.
In one article
debunking "Five Myths on Business in China," the Wall Street Journal
does not agree that the Chinese are great imitators but are innovators
citing the rising number of PhD's in the realm of technology. Most of
these new patents are for improving present day technologies though.
China is not known today for great discoveries or innovations. Xu wants
his future students to come up with new ideas that no one has thought of
before. "My dream is for modern China to produce its own Steve Jobs and
Steven Spielbergs at the same time," he states.
As a teacher
trainer, he has visited countries such as Canada has seen their methods
of education. One glaring difference between Canada and China is how
non-science and math classrooms are run like business meetings where any
student can give an opinion. In China, the teachers' opinion is the
most important and the students listen. During his staff trainings, he
suggests new methods for teachers to use such as Differentiated
Instruction that takes into the account that students learn in different
ways through their senses and personalities. When possible, he also
invites foreign teachers to give seminars to primary and junior middle
However, Xu is also conscious that the teachers
themselves are constrained for they have to teach their subjects aimed
at the exams. As an interim step, he also advocates that teachers be
more creative in assigning homework. While students can be prepared for
their tests, they can also think about more creative ways to find the
answers. "Until China introduces more reforms and integrates more
innovative teaching styles, I am afraid Chinese teachers can only change
their teaching styles a bit as long as the current test-based system
exists." He knows that many teachers read educational books from
overseas and are aware of modern teaching techniques.
out of school, Chinese employees face obstacles to their creativity as
Linda Tischler on Fast Company Magazine's website writes. Even those
students who have a creative mind are hampered by a deep in-grained
cultural notion of obeying one's superiors in order to avoid conflict.
Innovators and inventors by nature are those whose ideas and
personalities may not conform to the standard way of thinking. A person
only has to think about Galileo and a sun centered solar system and his
conflict with the Catholic Church. Tischler further comments that when
an original idea does come out of a company or organization, everyone in
the hierarchy gets some of the credit. A person with new ideas might
not present them for they would not receive the credit. She also states
that in other countries a creative person can leave a company and start
their own, something not easily done in China where loyalty to a group
or company is more important than the individual.
|Mr. Xu during teacher training in Canada|
2011 issue of China Today concentrated on a concept called "Creative
Capital." The article outlined China's past decade long growth in its
creative industries. The heads of these companies want to add to the
"Made in China" exports with a new line of "Created-in-China." One
example is the novel Du La La that as a privately published book sold
430,000 copies and made 340 million RMB of worth of licensing revenue.
Other examples are the computer industry of Haidian District said to be
China's "Silicon Valley" along with so called Creative Industry Zones
around Beijing like Jiukeshu Modern Music Zone.
At the moment Du La La is no Harry Potter nor is Jiukeshu Modern Music Zone a rival to Hollywood, but it is a start.
Mr Cervante's first series of stories was titled: 'Postcards from China' and written under the name "T. D. Polo-Sanchez".