|Students begin the day at school with a flag raising ceremony. (China Daily/Hu Yongqi)|
In an era that overemphasizes efficiency and promotes shortcuts to success, we have to acknowledge, to the dismay of many, that there may not be any universally applicable "key" to success in, or through, education.
The Chinese used to have a lofty term for teachers, "gardener", implying that teachers should care for each student as a gardener nurtures each plant with its own defining characteristics.
Some plants are strong and staunch, some are weak and elegant, but each shines to the delight of its owner's eyes. But in reality, what does education do?
Although educators and philosophers of education have repeatedly professed the belief that each individual student is unique, our education actually functions on an "industrial logic", calling students "products", training them as a skilled worker for an assembly line.
The problem lies in the science of education that attempts to generate "laws" governing the secret to success in, and through, education.
Statistics seem persuasive and convincing, yet the actual paths to individual cultivation and societal success vary from case to case. Just think, of all the exceptional young talents selected to enter college ahead of school before the age of 16 through a fast track, how many of them have amounted to true "successes" who have made valuable inputs into science and technology? Of those Chinese students who went abroad to study at the Ivy League schools at college age, how many have emerged after more than a decade as truly accomplished gentlemen or ladies?