Better early education urged

Updated: 2012-03-08 09:09

By Zhang Yue (China Daily)

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Appeals for generating a more diverse and open environment in primary education have aroused heated discussions during the two sessions.

Calls for a shift away from traditional methods of teaching children, which focus on discipline and academic performance, have been made by a number of CPPCC members.

The most controversial proposals include eliminating the selection of the "three-good" student (referring to a student who is virtuous, talented and good at PE), which has been the benchmark to define a well-rounded student since the 1950s.

Famous parenting
Traditional Chinese parenting focuses on discipline, obedience and academic performance. The following are three cases some said reflect the essence of that philosophy, although others say they are "over the top".

Better early education urged

TIGER MOTHER: Amy Chua, a Chinese-American mother and Yale law professor, advocated a strict parenting style in her bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which earned her the title "Tiger Mother" and triggered hot debates both in China and the US.

Better early education urgedWOLF FATHER: Xiao Baiyou, the self-titled "Wolf Father", imposes strict restrictions on his four children and will beat them if they fail to meet his standards.

Though controversial and violent, his parenting method appears to be very successful. Three of his four children have been admitted into Peking University, one of China's most prestigious universities.

Better early education urgedEAGLE DAD: He Liesheng, a 44-year-old father, recorded a video of his 4-year-old son running almost naked in a -13 C blizzard during the Spring Festival holiday in New York.

The father, calling himself "Eagle Dad", says he follows the parenting style of eagles.

"It is not a good idea to give such a clear definition of whether you are a 'good' student or not at such an early age," said Shen Peng, honorary chairman of China Calligraphers Association and also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, who suggested this in his proposal this year.

"The title of 'three-good' student has become such an important annual award for kids that many children are trying with all their might to get selected, even including bribing their teachers."

He is worried that this may not be helpful for the development of children, and even have a negative effect in the long run.

Most schools hold a selection by secret ballot in class at the end of each semester to select several "three-good" students.

Shen's suggestion was posted on Sina Weibo over the weekend, and has received thousands of comments.

"This should have been changed long ago," commented a Beijing resident nicknamed Huang Yaoshi.

"The 'three-good' student was the single criteria for choosing good students all through my student life, and was mostly defined by examination score. I think we should encourage students in other ways."

Another proposal that immediately caught media attention was from Ling Zi, another CPPCC National Committee member, who suggested that English classes should be taken off the curriculum of kindergartens and primary schools.

"The kindergarten age is the best and most sensitive time for kids' language learning," Ling said. "And it is definitely the most crucial time for them to learn their mother tongue and culture."

This also aroused a heated discussion on the Internet. While many parents recognize the importance of children picking up accurate and grounded knowledge about their homeland at a young age, they maintain learning English will help children be more competitive in the international arena.

Meanwhile, some CPPCC members want to highlight the challenges faced by rural students.

"Compulsory education still faces challenges in poor and rural regions," said Chen Xueheng, former chairman of the Gansu committee of the CPPCC, during a discussion at the ongoing session of the CPPCC.

"Nine-year compulsory education for us is not only about teaching the children knowledge, but also providing decent accommodation and, of course, safe school buses," he said.

Chen said that 28 percent of students in Gansu province are studying in decrepit buildings, and many are suffering from malnutrition.

Xie Yu contributed to this story.

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