“Created in China:” PRI’s The World Radio Series on Creativity in China
To those who want to learn more about innovation and creativity in China, I suggest that you listen to to read the transcript of this series produced by PRI and reported by The World’s Asian Correspondent: Mary Kay Magistad. While it is very consistent with what I have written in my book, Catching Up or Leading the Way, it draws on different sources.
Part III of the series examines “the ways China’s educational system thwarts innovation.” Here are some of the highlights:
“Innovation comes not just from infrastructure and investment – it comes from a culture that encourages originality and creativity, rewards risk-taking and tolerates failure. In the People’s Republic of China, that is still a work in progress. Today, we continue our series “Created in China” with a look at the roots of innovation, at how Chinese children are or are not encouraged to be creative, and how that’s evolving as the government makes innovation more of a priority.”
“They [Chinese students] are taught to absorb vast amounts of material, and prepare for the next exam. – in the case of the high school kids, for the college entrance exam. Li says this is how one teacher would get her students ready for the next exam.”
“If you ever encounter a test question on this topic, this is how you should answer it. And she would outline exactly how you should answer it and even to the point where at the end she would say oh if you run out of things to say you could always just praise the Communist Party. And this is how you praise them.”
“Actor Nick Li says he had much the same experience growing up in China. He says that experience wasn’t exactly fertile soil for the seed of innovation to grow.”
“Nick Li is one of many Chinese of his generation whose creativity thrived only when they transplanted themselves into more fertile soil.”
“China’s Ministry of Education is trying to move more of China’s public schools in this direction. It’s part of the government’s effort over the past decade to transform China into a more innovative nation, one that can create its own processes and products, rather than just manufacturing those of other countries.”
“Chinese engineers, the critique goes, are too often trained in the last best technology. They are not trained to be critical thinkers. They are not trained to solve the problems that have not yet been posed. It’s one reason, perhaps, why they have a much higher unemployment rate than some who have graduated from other disciplines in China.”
Well, you get the idea.