Modern and traditional education in transition

In Chinese culture, it is the parents’ deepest wish that their child may outshine all others. This hope is expressed in the Chinese proverbs “wang zi cheng long” (the son becomes a dragon) and “wang nü cheng feng”(the daughter becomes a phoenix).

Parents in China see their children’s lives as a continuation of their own desires and history, and so they try to make their life as comfortable as possible, so that the offspring can concentrate on learning in school. This overprotected generation of single children are therefore called “little emperors”. Single children exist everywhere in the world. In China, however, there is a special twist: due to traditional role models, Chinese parents try to protect their offspring and make their life “easy”. Many rich parents think they will do their children a favor by constantly paving their way into adulthood – all while the crushing expectations of the family, the parents and grandparents loom over the child; be it in the choice of study subject or the life partner. Children should be obedient and show respectful to their parents. In western worlds, children are considered and promoted as individuals. Little attention is paid to children´s wishes in China however.

Chinese people are inspired by Western educational ideas and are looking for new forms of education. The previous teacher-centered approach, the competition, and the focus on the acquisition of knowledge are slowly taking a back seat to a stronger promotion of self-determined learning and fostering of individual talent. Attitudes, values, cultural influences play a major role here. Practical implementation will take a lot of time, but with the end of the one-child policy, it is a timely and necessary development.

Author: Yuan He