Wednesday, December 29, 2010

UK Wants a "Cultural Revolution Just Like the One They've Had in China"


I can't quite describe my feeling.  Words fail me at a moment like this.  So let me just point out one eerie thing:   Mr. Gove appears to be very well suited for the role of "Cultural Revolution" education secretary.  During that wondrous period, you know, uneducated people took over the leadership of China's educational system.  Universities were closed to the public for 10 years.  High schools closed for 6 years. Elementary and middle schools closed for 3 years. Not to mention libraries were sealed and books were burned. I can see why Mr. Gove thinks this was definitely the cause of China's academic success today.

Great. Let’s watch the UK have at it!

11 comments:

TCG said...

You're severely taking this out of context! They mean cultural revolution as in lets improve the education standards in the UK. The current standards are pretty appaulling. So you want an A? You get 14% That is not a typo fourteen percent.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure who is out of context here. From my reading of Gove's op-ed piece he is either unaware that there was something called the "Cultural Revolution" in China, or simply does not know what happened in that time. Perhaps that is not surprising. He is, after all, a product of British education.

I guess that is the point of Xujun's post. The ignorant leading the education system does not usually turn out that well.

Mark T said...

Incredible. His editorial reads like satire. I suspect he was counting on his audience's ignorance, ironic for an 'Education Secretary'.

Denis said...

There's a cheap political metaphor in there, which seems to have convinced at least one person, but not many more.

Its so bad that its laughable,
*except* that violence and terror were such an integral part of the Cultural Revolution. Perhaps, in a roundabout way, Gove is condoning the recent UK rioting following student fees hikes?

pug ster said...

Agreed with TCG, that you are taking this out of context. If you read rest of the article, it talks about raising the standards of UK's education and nothing to do with the 'Cultural revolution' in China.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Been said.

Denis said...

Gove - an idiot abroad
http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/01/michael-gove-an-idiot-abroad/

S.K. Cheung said...

It looks like Mr. Gove borrowed a couple of phrases that sound good in the context of what he was trying to say, without taking into any account the historical baggage and connotation of those phrases. Either he's unaware of those connotations, or he's hoping British citizens are unaware of them. Neither option speaks too highly of Britons.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with closing down schools for a year or so?

Sending the spoilt students we have today to the countryside for a few years might actually have a positive effect, both for them and for society at large.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Anon, Mr. Gove did not actually suggest this, but you might have a point if not considering the historical context. On the other hand, China's Cultural Revolution sent us to toil in the rural fields not for the purpose you suggest, but because, in the revolutionary chaos, there was no job or school for us in the city, and Mao was transferring the burden of the idle and destructive youth to peasants, in the name of a lofty purpose ("re-education"). Universities were shut down for ten years, not just "a year or so." The consequence was a big disruption and destruction in China's cultural and social development, not to mention that, by imposing millions of city youths upon the rural villages, it severely worsened the peasants' poverty. There was no constructive social effect with that "sent-down" movement.

Personally speaking, I found the four years (many had to spend much longer) that I was forced to labor in the countryside provided two side-effects: on the good side, the rural poverty planted in my teenage mind the seeds of doubt about Communism; on the bad side, the long disruption in my formal education after high school destroyed my dream of being a mathematician (I still believe I could have been a very good one). The society thus lost a "good" mathematician, while gaining a skeptic. :-) Sort of a draw in my case, I guess.

But we are going far beyond Mr. Gove's subject now.

Anonymous said...

It seems from the context that Mr. Gove meant culture revolution (cr), not Culture Revolution (CR). Maybe he is not as versed about modern China history as we would like. This dose not bother me as much as when he cited Long March metaphor at the end of his article. Did Gove imply that Mao lead cr? CR, lead by Mao, is a disaster for China and did not lead China into the education result Gove so eager to imitate.