Archive for February 15th, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

To Sum Things Up…

It’s the longest winter I have ever seen – it turned to snow shortly before Christmas, and the snow has been with us ever since. But when I went home through the white countryside late this afternoon, the sun was shining. Most days have been overcast during the past weeks, with frequent snowfalls. The noticable thing was that the sun has set only minutes ago. There is an air of spring, in terms of daylight.

Some of the lessons I’m teaching are currently China-related. The material was probably compiled in the days when  China was still worshipped, rather than it’s political system condemned. Then again, to be fair, even the material we used as students decades ago, during the cold war, painted a rather respectful picture of the Soviet Union, too. So maybe school material concerning China won’t reflect the mainstream media’s take in the future either.

China-skeptical isn’t the word to describe the mood of many of the students (all still minors). In my own mind, I welcome the turn away from the naive public attitude of the past decades. The regrettable downside of that is that the pendulum of public opinion never seems to seek a position from where people would observe and analyze a situation calmly, rather than wallowing in positive or negative feelings. Frankly, I’m glad that my main subject is English.

I stick to the material, and to the usual methodologies. But when there was another rather derogatory comment from a student last week, I wondered aloud about how rapidly the once reverent public attitude towards China here had turned into instinctive rejection, just as America was rather disliked five years ago and is now in pretty high esteem again: “Do you really think that either country changed quickly enough to justify such rapid changes in perception?”

If any reader should believe that this blog is about “China-bashing”, I can assure him or her that it isn’t going to change. I’m enjoying posting here the way I do. But indoctrination isn’t my line of business.

For a while, I have asked myself if I should add Liu Xiaobo‘s statement of December 23 to the class material. It would be legitimate – a teacher has such liberties in designing lessons. There is no need for a wall between school and the real world. I’ll make up my mind some time this month – advice will be welcome. I haven’t made up my mind yet because I distrust the intensity of my own feelings.

I feel that it is hard to think of another voice from China which could do better in describing the country’s development during the past three decades than Liu Xiaobo’s. No text of this size and nature can describe China’s sitution – or any country’s situation – comprehensively. But Liu’s statement – which apparently didn’t make it to the ears of his judges – might come rather close to such an end.

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