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January 18, 2019


Chinese children, almost from the moment they leave the womb, are under the gun to pass the test that will get them into the best universities. Or into any university at all. But, once they enter a university, there's not much they do or don't do that will cause them to fail. Universities view failures as reflecting badly on the university.

"Many of you ask us if they should study at a Chinese university, whether it be for a degree program, or just a year abroad. We talk about Winston's experience as a Chinese learning student, as well as C-Milk's experience as a university teacher."
It's IMPOSSIBLE To Fail College in China (YouTube video blog)

I admit to a longstanding low opinion of tests. Not of testing per se -- tests are quite useful for learning which parts of a system need attention. But testing, specifically of human ability, seems seriously deficient.

To take one acknowledged but ignored problem, people who take more tests become "test sophisticated." That means they learn how test creators' minds work, and hence what kinds of answers will be "correct" . . . even if they know nothing of the subject. For example, if you think about it, a multiple choice test will typically have a couple of obviously wrong answers. If you eliminate those, raw guessing will get you 1/3 - 1/2 correct, well above the 20% that designers assume.

Also, lots of tests of people are, if anyone bothered to check, simply not repeatable. Certainly not at the level claimed. Creators of IQ tests will tell you that their accuracy (standard error) is plus or minus 3 points. Multiple test results will be randomly scattered in that narrow vicinity around the true result. But then, I see my results, which a) spread across 40 points, and b) are monotonic increasing rather than random.

And that's before we even look tests of less measurable things, like personality traits or academic potential (which is what the tests in writes of supposedly do).

Chinese children, almost from the moment they leave the womb, are under the gun to pass the test that will get them into the best universities.

Charles, I don't deny that the testing culture of China (which is not a recent phenomenon, but something going back over a millennia cf.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_examination) is problematic and it is exacerbated by the results of the one child policy, your language sounds a bit like 'yellow peril' warnings. 'the moment they leave the womb'? As if the idea of helicopter parents is never found in the US? Failing to understand this as a phenomenon of our age rather than some sort of failing on the part of Chinese parents is a bit narrow-minded...

As for the problem of failing, students CAN fail if they don't pay their tuition, and the rise of for-profit schools has exploited that in a way that Chinese universties have never dreamed of.


Granted, almost from the moment they leave the womb, is a bit of hyperbole. But, I thought, not entirely out of place on these threads. :)

As for helicopter parenting:

"Supervised, enriching playtime. Frequent conversations about thoughts and feelings. Patient, well-reasoned explanations of household rules. And extracurriculars. Lots and lots of extracurriculars."
‘Intensive’ Parenting Is Now the Norm in America: The style of child-rearing that most aspire to takes a lot of time and money, and many families can’t pull it off.

The style of child-rearing that most aspire to takes a lot of time and money, and many families can’t pull it off.

Funny how that works out, eh?


Entwined with the evolution of helicopter parenting is the ubiquity of the mobile phone.

Most days I would like to throw my phone in the lake.

That is all.

After coddling their children all their lives, I wonder if parents of millennials wonder why a third of them are still living with the parents.

During the years when I was growing up, several of my aunts or uncles -- spouses and children in tow in some cases -- went back to live with my grandma when things got difficult in one way or another. I spent almost as much time in an extended family context, amongst my tribe of cousins, as I did with my nuclear family at home. This was not unusual in the world in which I grew up. My parents and grandparents weren't helicopter parents in the contemporary sense, but they had an opinion about every goddamned thing you did, and they weren't shy about sharing it with you.

I suspect the # of millennials living at home has no more to do with "coddling" than it does with the staggering cost of housing, crap wages, and student loan debt (let me not get started).

And as for "a third of them" -- Forbes says, in a piece published last June, that it's 23%, based on a study of "the country's 50 largest metros."

Most days I would like to throw my phone in the lake.

Personally, I'd start with other people's phones. (And it would not be necessary for me anyway since I do not own or carry a mobile)

Millennials still live with their parents because we've been busy destroying their ability to earn a living wage without taking on crushing debt and to find affordable housing near the place in which they work.

Our students have not been coddled. We have lied to ourselves about the world we were making for them and they are suffering through the results of our self-delusion.

or sometimes millenials live with their parents because their parents need someone to take care of them and they can't afford to hire anyone because their 401k went tits-up at just the wrong moment but at least since they're old enough to be the parents of millenials they bought a home in like 1978 so they own it free and clear

but no it's all because millenials are all coddled weenies

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