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Standard answers for comprehension spoil students' love of reading

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-24 07:49

Standard answers for comprehension spoil students' love of reading

Students at a Mongolian school read in class. [Photo/bt.wenming.cn]

A NEW BOOK by Zhou Guoping, a research fellow with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has put Chinese language exams under the spotlight. People's Daily comments:

The reading comprehension part of the Chinese language exams in primary and middle schools is a headache-maker for many students, because they have to try and understand what the required interpretation of the selected essays will be.

The students may give a sigh of relief now, because a new book Zhou Guoping in Exam Papers: Say No to Standard Answers, reveals the author only scored 69 out of 100 when taking a middle school comprehension exam question on one of his own articles.

As the author of the selected comprehension piece, Zhou is justified in raising the question if the writer cannot give the right answer, what is the basis for the so-called standard answer.

Only those who decide what the standard answer will be "know" what a writer had in mind when writing the piece.

Zhou is right in pointing out that such rigid standard answers, a prevailing model in current Chinese language exams, oversimplify the comprehension process and hinders real understanding.

The standardized answers are part of the modern test system, which makes it easy to score the students' tests. But the test system, as the evaluation of a student's learning, should not hinder the students' own thinking for the sake of convenience.

The method used for Chinese language tests ultimately undermines students' interest in reading.

There are one thousand Hamlets in the eyes of one thousand readers of Shakespeare's play. Readers' unique interpretations of a writer's words are an essential part of literature's charm, and the joys that reading can bequeath.

Hopefully, Zhou's new book can awaken the education authorities to the urgency of reforming the current Chinese language test system, so as to nurture students' interest in reading.

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