Opinion / Blog

Bohunt experiment causes total loss of face

By TedM ( Updated: 2015-08-13 14:30

British television at its worst again.

As I have been in England for the last few weeks I was interested and dismayed to see another example of British television programming that sets out to distort truth, actively pursuing and exaggerating a contrived situation in order to stimulate a viewing audience. I refer to an investigation called “The Bohunt experiment”.

I have read the comments made by Michael M in his blog ( Chinese school - the Bohunt experiment) and on the Opinion pages of China Daily, and I can confirm his opinion that the edited depiction of this school is totally misleading. As a teacher in English schools for almost 30 years and now as an education advisor in China, I can say from experience that public and private schools in the UK are rightly regarded by many as some of the best in the world. Generally behaviour here is better than in American classrooms too. Bohunt School achieves high results in a broad and balanced curriculum, yet the producers of this appalling piece of fiction have blatantly and deliberately manipulated “evidence” and have obviously encouraged unusually disgraceful behaviour from pupils to achieve their own aim of increasing their viewing figures.

My previous blog here is very similar in that it criticises British television for increasingly producing low cost, poor quality sensational programmes. First it was the exploitation of unintelligent young people on “Dream Island” with sex and bad language and now it is distorting the truth about British and Chinese education in order to ridicule all those filmed. This “experiment” was doomed to fail for a variety of obvious reasons and no regard was given to the damage done to those Chinese teachers involved. As is the Chinese way, these excellent teachers will attempt anything so as not to fail or lose face. It is clear in the programme that for them to fail will, to them mean a failure of the Chinese education system that they are proud of. This responsibility is too much for them to bear. These teachers are expected to succeed in introducing a Chinese style of teaching in a western environment. One of the teachers was sobbing as she tried to explain that she must succeed with the experiment. Unfortunately, it will fail.

Also in a previous blog I commented on a misrepresentation and misunderstanding of a previous Minister of Education who previously “jumped on a bandwagon” (another of my blogs) by saying that UK schools should go back to old “chalk and talk” methods like the Chinese use, and were used in the UK over 100 years ago. He suggested this on the basis of a handful of Chinese teachers asked to show their methods of teaching Maths to some English teachers. Chinese students seem to excel at mathematics.

It follows that a successful and forward thinking school such as Bohunt is keen to look into any initiatives that will help achieve higher grades, but this travesty of an “experiment” is not only set up to fail on many levels, but also brings both Chinese and British schools into disrepute.  Is it not obvious that improvements to education in the west , made through experience and trial and error over the last 200 years might well be more overall effective than a system that was only established in the 1970’s in an attempt to create a successful educated communist society. I mean no criticism here. It takes many long years to develop an effective education system and China is still “young”. (see my blog The Children of China).

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