Three related articles about education and values in China

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My internet circumstances at the moment (on the road, Shandong province) don't permit more than a list of three links, but: Anyone who is interested in the implications of China's educational system for China's future and for the rest of the world should read these three articles, ideally in one sitting.

First, "China's Boxed Itself In," an op-ed by Randy Pollock two days ago in the Los Angeles Times.

Then, "Cry for Freedom," a nearly full-page illustrated feature by Gong Yidong in China Daily this morning.

Finally, "Rank Corruption," a China Daily editorial today.

American press reports about Chinese education tend to have a 70/30 split. The 70% is: Oh my, China is producing a billion engineers a year! They are sure to take over the world! Woe is us. Why can't we learn from them? The 30% is: Chinese education is terrible and it means that Chinese organizations will never truly "innovate." Woe is them.

Obviously both are oversimplifications, but read these articles and consider which is a grosser distortion of the truth. More to say later. Also bear in mind (as a reminder for the zillionth time) that China Daily is the state controlled voice to the outside world, and two long, related articles with the same somewhat edgy theme don't appear on the same day by accident.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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