Monday, March 4, 2013

Virtuous reality

Shorter David Brooks, "The Learning Virtues",  New York Times, February 28, 2013: 
The contrast between the Chinese superstudent and the American slacker could be described with the usual tired stereotypes. But why bother when I've got some totally fresh stereotypes, from an authentic Oriental person with cred from Harvard and Brown?
See, to Chinese people education is all about personal morality, you study in order to become a better person, whereas for Westerners it's about learning stuff and becoming more knowledgeable. This is why Chinese students are polite and obedient while American ones are raucous, spitball-throwing hooligans, even at a reputable school like Yale, where you can be offering them the wisdom of a lifetime spent acquiring humility and they just sit there playing Pac-Man on their I-pods.

Thus, when Li Jin, known in America as Jin Li, learned from Deng Xiaoping that to get rich is glorious, she dedicated herself to the study of German literature, married an American, and wrote a book entitled Cultural Foundations of Learning: East and West that landed in Brooks's Kindle a couple of weeks ago. Aha! said Brooks to himself, with a typical Westerner's eagerness to seize an opportunity, there's a column I should be able to write in about 20 minutes. And so he did.
Celebrating the Lantern Festival. Qing dynasty folk painting, via Cultural China.

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