Friday, January 27, 2012

Blessed Chinese Intellectuals Sworn to Keep the Caste System

When Chinese intellectuals warned interest groups had become obstacles of China's further development, they didn't mean themselves being one of the most stubborn one.

Admittedly, China's school evaluation system, in particularly the college entrance examination, is very fair on its face value. Despite sporadic and isolated cheating incidents which were extremely rare, a student must take the same exam sheet at the same time with all other kids of his age under prison level monitoring. The exam will then be graded by layers of reviewers also under absolute isolation and heavy monitoring. A high score can usually equate to a better student. However, any extension or stretching from that could be dangerous.

A most heated Online incident, which spanned through the most celebrated holiday in China, the Chinese Spring Festival, was ignited when some questioned whether a popular writer and race car driver Han Han wrote his works by himself. Led by Fang Zhouzi, a PhD in Bio-chemistry, many 'elite intellectuals' mocked Han Han for being a high-school drop-out. They asserted Han, being a 17 years old kid, would not be able to write a best seller novel. They even claimed Han would not be able to read hundreds of books as he said himself at one occasion. Then they drew the conclusion that Han must be a puppet who rely on other people to write articles. One 'public intellectuals, Ms. Peng Xiaoyun even suggested to place Han under criminal detainment to apply criminal interrogation. They deeply believe, having scored higher grade in the examination system, they have the exclusive rights to claim intellectual superiority. And, they have the ultimate obligation to suppress any outlier of this system.

The interconnected online world had captured some of these crusade against outliers.

In 2002, a Chinese student from Harvard posted on the MITBBS. He claimed to be an admission committee member who have access to application materials. He was angered when reading one application from China and notice she did not go to college immediately after high school, but rather earned the degree through self paced learning and then passing examinations. The Chinese reviewer was so angry that he not only threw the application out from Harvard, but also published her information online so that Chinese reviewers in other schools could be alerted.

That girl was admitted to PhD program in CS at UIUC, and graduated a few years later with excellent grade and research.

Last year (2011), a Google Chinese employee did exactly the same when he saw an applicant earned her degree through self paced learning. Even though the girl passed all Google interview sessions, he publicly touted in a post on the MITBBS that unless the girl gave him some 'remedy', he would talk to the HR to kick her out.

There are many reasons a person could fail in an examination system. In Han Han's example, he totally lost interest in the test-driven education system, where all students did nothing but preparing for exams. In the latter two cases, both were from poverty families who could not afford to go to college immediately after high school. But, many elite intellectuals refused to recognize there could be persons, who although scored not as high, are better humans.

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