Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chinese Words and Phrases 3: 自我批评 zìwǒ pīpíng

Looking through old text messages on my phone I was reminded of something Andrew had passed on to me from a mutual student we've taught:

"Oh, Dolly [classmate] is very afraid to see our headmaster, you know the self-criticism only has 3,000 [characters], not 10,000, so she had to write the rest. She is very busy these days! Terrible!"

A self-criticism (自我批评) is a very Communist Chinese phenomenon that I know of mostly through its use during the Cultural Revolution, when as part of the political paranoia of the time people were obligated to make criticisms of themselves and their failings to uphold the ideals of the Communist Party, or in more extreme cases to confess their "counter-revolutionary" crimes. At that time this was often done in an atmosphere of intimidation and threats. Mao on self-criticism: "Conscientious practice of self-criticism is still another hallmark distinguishing our Party from all other political parties. As we say, dust will accumulate if a room is not cleaned regularly, our faces will get dirty if they are not washed regularly. Our comrades' minds and our Party's work may also collect dust, and also need sweeping and washing." Recently the governor of Shanxi province in northern China publicly made a self-criticism for the slave labor scandal in which hundreds of people had been kidnapped and forced to work in illegal brick kilns.

I never did find out what my student got in trouble for or what she had to write about. Another curious feature of Chinese education.


SeaverQ said...

nice to meet you
in fact , we say "自我批评"="zi wo pi ping"
yes , self=自我=自己
but self-criticism=自我批评

im not teaching you chinese here , hehe , i dont wanna be your teacher , i wanna be your friend , may i ?

you said you curious feature of Chinese education
what do you think Chinese education ?
in my mind , i think education should be learning knowlege to people , tell people how to live how to work etc.
but in China , i think education means examination
you know , im work now , but when im in school , im afraid to see teacher , im afraid to go to school , because in school ,there is always has examinations
in China , examination is the way to choose person with ability , your mark of examination is high , people think you are the person with ability , you know what i mean ?
but i think the mark is can not prove people with ability or not
do you agree with me ?
the system of Chinese education now is looks like the system in ancientry , you know ?

im so happy to know you
may i be your friend ?
oh , by the way
sorry man , you know , my English is not good enough
but whatever
ill try to let you know me

Dan said...

Thanks for pointing that out, I've made the change. Like many foreign teachers my opinion about Chinese education is that it needs some major reform. Like you say there is much too much focus on exams. Students are not encouraged enough to question what they learn or think for themselves, and I think the joy of learning is squashed beneath the endless hours spent in the classroom or studying for examinations. Students at my school come in as freshman with a lot of enthusiasm and expectations about the freedom and excitement of college but after a year or two I see most of them feeling disillusioned and let down. University in China is quite different from in the West and this is one area where I strongly feel China should make some major changes.