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  • Matthew Hora

The national exam (gaokao) to rule them all!

A quick post and update, as I sit here exhausted and a little sick in my executive suite in the "teachers garden" (faculty housing) at Qingdao Technical College. Today saw one classroom observation, one company recruitment lecture, and five interviews with instructors and a career counselor. While I relied on translators, I know these data are going to rock, big time. Exploring the deep rivers of Chinese culture and how they impact parenting, schooling, and the future are proving to be very productive indeed.

First, a list:

1. Chinese pedestrian safety needs some work; Cars rule, then motorbikes, then bikes, then people on foot are fair game.

2. The rate of growth here is mind-boggling; I visited a huge manufacturer yesterday whose facility didn't exist 1 year ago. The development zone of Qingdao is barely 20 years old, and skyscrapers, schools, and malls now sit where recently there were farms and peasants.

3. Chinese students sit quietly, are super obedient in class, and don't appear to be afraid to ask questions, contrary to the assertions of many teachers. That said, they sure aren't blurting out contradictions to the teachers lecture.

4. The national exam looms over everything, about how young children are raised, the type of teaching children are exposed to, the hierarchy and prestige in society, and on and on. It truly is that one policy that shapes so much, seen and unseen, within a country that cannot be ignored.

And so the trip and research are going great. People here are VERY interested in this topic and issue, and I don't see not devoting considerable time and resources in my career the next several years to comparative higher education research.

This city did not exist 25 years ago.

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