Where exactly is
Wuxi Who is David Scott
The Basis of Cultural
The First Words We
Learned to Read
In Australia we were
given a book written by an ex-patriot Chinese,
"Mao's Last Dancer" by Li Cunxin.
It's a fascinating story of a poor peasant boy who grew up
during the cultural revolution, was chosen to train in Madame Mao's
Dance Academy, and defected to the West after Nixon visited China.
One thing that impressed me, of many, was his account of going to
school in the 1960's and the first sentence he learned to read:
"I love Chairman Mao".
I asked my students last
week what the first sentences they learned
were. One response:
"I am a Chinese. I love my country." Another was "My
mother loves me. My father loves me. I love my mother and
Contrast this with the first
sentences we learned to read. "See Dick. See Dick run."
Our primer emphasized independent action, not emotion or
connections. The connections were there and implied, but not
expressed. Our culture is all about individual actions, with or
without others involved. The Chinese culture is all about
community, connection to family and country.
I'm not making a judgment
here. Frankly, I prefer my culture. Western people tend to
find emotional expressions of love for family or community a bit
embarrassing, even cloying, except on special occasions like weddings
and funerals. It's stating the obvious. I think my family
connections were intense enough without my primary school education
re-enforcing them. But it is interesting to note the difference
between my culture and the Chinese culture. Maybe this is why we
find our students such sweet people.
Comment on this Post
First time comments will not appear until they have been approved.
Your comment will not appear until you have refreshed this page.
The Man in China archive index
Incredible Summer of 2010 Wedding and Honeymoon
The Man in China Home
This website is owned and maintained by
David James Scott