despite China’s many technological advances, in this new cyberspace race, the West had the lead.
Xi knew he had to act. Within twelve months he revealed his plan to make China a science and technology superpower. By 2030 the country would lead the world in AI, with a sector worth $150 billion. How? By teaching a generation of young Chinese to be the best computer scientists in the world.
Today, the US tech sector has its pick of the finest minds from across the world, importing top talent from other countries – including from China. Over half of Bay Area workers are highly-skilled immigrants. But with the growth of economies worldwide and a Presidential administration hell-bent on restricting visas, it’s unclear that approach can last.
In the UK the situation is even worse. Here, the government predicts there’ll be a shortfall of three million employees for high-skilled jobs by 2022 – even before you factor in the immigration crunch of Brexit. By contrast, China is plotting a homegrown strategy of local and national talent development programs. It may prove a masterstroke.
In 2013 the city’s teenagers gained global renown when they topped the charts in the PISA tests administered every three years by the OECD to see which country’s kids are the smartest in the world. Aged 15, Shanghai students were on average three full years ahead of their counterparts in the UK or US in maths and one-and-a-half years ahead in science.
Teachers, too, were expected to be learners. Unlike in the UK, where, when I began to teach a decade ago, you might be working on full-stops with eleven-year-olds then taking eighteen-year-olds through the finer points of poetry, teachers in Shanghai specialised not only in a subject area, but also an age-group.
Shanghai’s success owed a lot to Confucian tradition, but it fitted precisely the best contemporary understanding of how expertise is developed. In his book Why Don’t Kids Like School? cognitive Dan Willingham explains that complex mental skills like creativity and critical thinking depend on our first having mastered the simple stuff. Memorisation and repetition of the basics serve to lay down the neural architecture that creates automaticity of thought, ultimately freeing up space in our working memory to think big.
Seung-bin Lee, a seventeen-year-old high school graduate, told me of studying fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, for the three years leading up to the Suneung, the fearsome SAT exam taken by all Korean school leavers on a single Thursday each November, for which all flights are grounded so as not to break students’ concentration during the 45 minutes of the English listening paper.
Korea’s childhoods were being lost to a relentless regime of studying, crushed in a top-down system that saw them as cyphers rather than kids.
A decade ago, we consoled ourselves that although kids in China and Korea worked harder and did better on tests than ours, it didn’t matter. They were compliant, unthinking drones, lacking the creativity, critical thinking or entrepreneurialism needed to succeed in the world. No longer. Though there are still issues with Chinese education – urban centres like Shanghai and Hong Kong are positive outliers – the country knows something that we once did: education is the one investment on which a return is guaranteed. China is on course to becoming the first education superpower.
Troublingly, where education in the UK and US has been defined by creativity and independent thinking – Shanghai teachers told me of visits to our schools to learn about these qualities – our direction of travel is now away from those strengths and towards exams and standardisation, with school-readiness tests in the pipeline and UK schools minister Nick Gibb suggesting kids can beat exam stress by sitting more of them. Centres of excellence remain, but increasingly, it feels, we’re putting our children at risk of losing out to the robots, while China is building on its strong foundations to ask how its young people can be high-tech pioneers. They’re thinking big – we’re thinking of test scores.
soon “digital information processing” would be included as a core subject on China’s national graduation exam – the Gaokao – and pictured classrooms in which students would learn in cross-disciplinary fashion, designing mobile phones for example, in order to develop design, engineering and computing skills. Focusing on teaching kids to code was short-sighted, he explained. “We still regard it as a language between human and computer.” (My note: they are practically implementing the Finland’s attempt to rebuild curricula)
“If your plan is for one year,” went an old Chinese saying, “plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.” Two and half thousand years later chancellor Gwan Zhong might update his proverb, swapping rice for bitcoin and trees for artificial intelligence, but I’m sure he’d stand by his final point.
John Richard Schrock is Professor of Biology Emeritus at Emporia State University in Kansas. He is currently in China. While China is growing its universities, the U.S. is retreating from its historic commitment to make higher education accessible to all qualified students.
the elderly administrators soon retired. There was no supply of experienced junior administrators due to a Cultural Revolution that had closed many universities for a decade. That left China’s Ministry of Education with an opportunity to completely re-build its university system nationwide.
So by 1998, the situation was different. Weak universities were closed or merged with strong institutions. China doubled its university capacity, then doubled it again in the early 2000s, and doubled it again by 2010. The cities of Xi’an and Guangzhou built “university cities” with 10 new universities each. Chongqing built their “university city” with 17 different universities totaling 300,000 faculty, students and staff. –An area equivalent to the size of Wichita! -But all just universities. This was the greatest expansion of higher education in human history.
Now, the majority of their students who passed the gao kao high school leaving exam could now attend college. But students would now pay full tuition. And that greatly improved the faculty salaries and living conditions. Classrooms and labs soon became state-of-the-art.
In 1995, China selected over a hundred universities for its “211 Project,” feeding federal money toward building modern universities.
And as of two months ago, China began its Double World-Class Project. Their Ministry selected 42 universities to move to world-class status by 2050. 36 are Category A and 6 are Category B with a focus on applied research. It also has over 400 “key disciplines” spread across these and another 50 provincial universities that will receive additional generous governmental support.
Their National Natural Science Foundation announced a dramatic increase in grant funding two years ago. With a decade of substantial cash incentives for publishing in high ranked English journals, Chinese researchers have rapidly risen in authorship of research papers in the top science journals Science and Nature, second only to the U.S. in authorships. If this trend continues, China will be the top producer of research in a few more years.
For nearly four decades, China has invested in roads, railways, and other infrastructure. But the most important of these investments was education. Roads and rails move people around. Education moves people ahead. And it has paid off in raising the productivity of China’s population beyond expectations. The affluence of their institutions and the majority of their students reflect that payback. China understands that education is not just for filling those jobs needed today.
China Central Television (formerly Beijing Television), commonly abbreviated as CCTV, is the predominant statetelevision broadcaster in the People’s Republic of China. CCTV has a network of 50 channels broadcasting different programmes and is accessible to more than one billion viewers. As of present, there are 50 television channels, and the broadcaster provides programming in six different languages. Most of its programmes are a mixture of news, documentary, social education, comedy, entertainment, and drama, the majority of which consists of Chinese soap operas and entertainment.
p. 501 – is political science “softer” than the other soft social sciences?
thus… political science “may never live up to its lofty ambition of scientific explanation and prediction. Indeed, like other social sciences, it can be no more than a ‘ science in formation’ permanently seeking to surmount obstacles to objectivity.”
p. 502 disciplinary parochialism
the fetishes of pure observation, raw experience, unambiguous rationality, and one-way causality were formative influences in the genesis of the social sciences. the ‘unfortunate positivism” of such impulses, along with the illusion of a value-free science, converged to produce a behavioral revolution in the interwar period Behaviorism was then followed through an epistemological twist, by boldly optimistic leaps to an “end of ideology” and ultimately to a claimed “end of history” itself.
early positivism was openly underpinned by an European condescension toward Asians’ “ignorance and prejudice.” Behind similar depictions lay a comprehensive Eurocentric social and political philosophy.
this is illustrated its view of China through the grand narrative of modernization.
Robert McNamara famously reiterated that if World War I was a chemist’s war and Word War II a physicist’s, Vietnam “might well have to be considered the social scientists’ war.”
Although China nominally remains a communist state, it has doubtlessly changed color without a color revolution.
In the fixed disciplinary eye, “China” is to specific to produce anything generalizable beyond descriptive and self-containing narratives. The area studies approach, in contrast to disciplinary approaches, is all about cultural, historical, and ethnographic specificities.
If first-hand information contradicts theoretical conclusions, redress is sought only at the former end (my note – ha ha ha, such an elegant but scathing criticism of [Western] academia).
The catch [is] that Chinese otherness is in essence not a matter of cultural difference (hence limitations of criticizing Eurocentrism and Orientalism) and does not merely reproduce itself by inertia.
Given a long omitted self-critical rethinking of the discipline’s parochial base, calling for cross-fertilizing alone would be fruitless or even lead only to a one-way colonization of seemingly particularistic histories by an illusive universal science.
political culture, once a key concept of political science’s hope for unified theorization, has turned out to be no answer
Long after its heyday, modernization theory – now with its new face of globalization – remains a primary signifier and legitimating benchmark. To those, who use it to gauge developments since 1945, private property and liberal democracy are permanent, unquestioned norms that are to be globally homogenized.
Moreover, since modernity is assumed to be a liberal capitalists condition, the revolutionary nationalism of an oppressed people remaking itself into a new historical subject noncompliant with capitalism cannot be modernizational.
Political scientists and historical sociologists… saw the communist in power as formidable modernizers, but distinguished the Maoist model from the Stalinist in economic management and campaign politics.
Their analyses showed how organic connections between top-down mobilization and bottom-up participation cultivated in an active citizenry and high intensity politics. My note: I disagree here with the author, since such statement can be arbitrary from a historical point of view; indeed, for a short period of time, such “organic connection” can produce positive results, but once calcitrated (as it is in China for the past 6-7 decades), it turns stagnant.
the state’s altered support base is essentially a matter of class power, involving both adaptive cultivation of new economic elites and iron-fist approaches to protest and dissent. By the same weight of historical logic, the party’s internal decay, loss of its founding ideological vision and commitment, and collusion with capital will do more than any outside force ever could do to destroy the regime.
That the Party stays in power is not primarily because the country’s economy continues to grow, but is more attributable to a residual social reliance on its credentials and organizational capacities accumulated in earlier revolutionary and socialist struggles. This historical promise has so far worked to the extent that cracks within the leadership are more or less held in check, resentment against local wrongs are insulated from central intentions, and social policies in one way or another respond to common outcries, consultative deliberations, and pressure groups.
The word “madness” has indeed been freely employed to describe nations and societies judged inept at modern reason, as found in contemporary academic publications on epi- sodes of the PRC history. My note: I agree with this – the deconstructionalists: (Jaques Derrida, Tzvetan Todorov) linguistically prove the inability of Western cultures to understand and explain other cultures. In this case, Lin Chun is right; just because western political scientist cannot comprehend foreign complex societal problems and/or juxtaposing them to their own “schemes,” prompts the same western researchers to announce them as “mad.”
This is the best and worst of times for the globalization of knowledge. In one scenario, an eventual completion of the political science parameters can now seal both knowledge, sophisticatedly canalized, and ideology, universally uncontested – even if the two are never separable in the foundation of political science. In another scenario, causes and effects no longer rule out atypical polities, but the differences are presented as culturally incompatible. In either case, the trick remains to let anormalies make the norms validate preexist- ing disciplinary sanctions.
Overcoming outmoded rigidities will nurture a robust scholarship committed to universally resonant theories.
Colonial interests compelled Great Britain to build a complex economic system that funneled resources and wealth to the home islands. Great Britain’s time as the central organizing great power came to a rapid end, with the United States filling that central role.
the United States can no longer uphold all its commitments to international laws and norms. Gaps in attention to historical American commitments have opened the door for competitor nations, including China, to challenge U.S. leadership at the margins.
p. 17 Does China have a strategic plan to replace the United States as the leader of the world? Some voices suggest that it does; however, it is important to note that they do not suggest that it is modeling its ascent upon the United States’ rise a century ago