With a hearty greeting of what sounded like “Nee How!”, Dr. Ed Nicholson drew in his PROBUS September audience with fascinating information about living and teaching in the enigmatic nation of China.
Dr. Nicholson is now in his 55th year of teaching, the last sixteen of which have been in China, primarily Shanghai. He has witnessed that country’s complete transformation in the last ten years especially in the field of technology. Once the suppressive mentality of Chairman Mao’s regime was lifted, China took a completely different tack, focusing seriously on educating its young people to compete in a modern world. Between 2005 and 2015 over 5000 tertiary institutions (those that teach specific capacities of higher learning such as universities, colleges, technical training institutes, community colleges, nursing schools, research laboratories, etc.) have been built.
The strong work ethic of most Chinese translates to a gruelling life for the student who wants to do well. Over 9 million students in 2016 will write the college entrance exam (the gaokao). These kids study to the point of exhaustion, often putting in 14–hour days, as one final mark defines one’s destiny. Those who succeed will then go on to the top tier universities and from there to highest level jobs they can find even though it isn’t necessarily their chosen career. For one student’s take on “Why failing the gaokao was the best thing that ever happened to me” check out this website: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/07/asia/china-gaokao-shen-lu/