Complete mess of a message?
The president of a top Chinese university who criticized the US education system as a “complete mess” has ignited a wave of condemnation online. But some claim the speech by Peking University President Zhou Qifeng has been misinterpreted and exaggerated.
Excerpts of his speech: Now an opinion seems to prevail that Chinese education is a complete mess, and Western education, especially US education is wonderful. I also think US education is good as a whole, but to be more exact, I suppose it is necessary to define the purpose of education. From the perspective of cultivating US citizens, US education is definitely the best, because they are good at raising excellent US citizens, and their presidents are the best examples. However, from the perspective of developing global citizens, I think US education is a complete mess, because they fail in cultivating qualified global citizens. What should global citizens be like? They should learn to respect others, to respect other nations' history, culture and tradition rather than impose their own ideology and belief on others all the time. For them, it's like this: "if you don't follow me, you are bad and wrong, so I have to punish you."
Video clip of the speech:
I read the original text of Zhou Qifeng's speech at Changsha No.1 Middle School on December 24. What he said is really inappropriate for a university president and deserves to be blamed, but media's chronic habit of skewing excerpts and spreading false news also calls for reflection. Every person or organization that has been pushed to the forefront of public opinion probably has all been harmed by that. Therefore, we should ask media to be more self-disciplined and provide comprehensive reports.
@Xinlangpinglun Official Weibo account of the Comment Channel of Sina.com
There may be two causes for the prejudicial excerpt: the reporters' inability to adequately express the speaker's original intentions or it is because of their wishful thinking which leads them to deliberately deliver the wrong message to the general public.
@Hejingyu Reporter at China National Radio
It is true that Zhou's criticism is not directed at the general state of US education, but rather he was critical of the US education's failure to cultivate good global citizens. However, the criticism is by no means justified. Throughout history we have never heard that the education of a nation state is committed to developing internationalists. In light of the generally low quality of Chinese education, obviously it is of more importance that the Chinese people should learn to become qualified national citizens in the first place.
@Fangzhouzi Scholar, popular science writer
I was bemused to hear that the US education is a complete mess because it cultivates only US citizens and no global ones. Yes, Chinese education, without any doubt, is better at raising global citizens, who spare no effort in applying for foreign citizenship, especially that of US, while few Americans seem to be interested in Chinese citizenship. Isn't it a proof of US education's failure?
@Zhongguoxinwenzhoukan Official Weibo account of China News Week magazine
Underlying media's misinterpretation and netizens' heated responses is in fact a widespread concern among the public about the quality of China's education.
@Yangguoying General Manager of Xinhuangpu Agricultural Technology Co.,Ltd
There are two logical mistakes in Zhou's speech. First, American presidents are elected by the people, so the so-call "imposed will" is a reflection of the national will instead of the individual will. Second, we cannot judge a country's education by its presidents' ability. As a matter of fact, closed and backward countries always have more "enlightened leaders", while an open political system only needs "run-of-the-mill presidents".
The public reaction to the speech has not only concentrated on education itself, but also quickly morphed into a debate about media ethics and social conscience. Whether Chinese education is better than US education in terms of producing global citizens is undoubtedly debatable. But before we have a truly disciplined and capable media, China will never catch up - at least as far as media industry is concerned.