April 24, 2005

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Promised Goods

How would you feel if you were promised something when you were very young and later realized that those promised goods may never arrive?

I teach at a prestigious economics and finance school in Shanghai, China. My students, freshmen and sophomores, have started to realize that the happiness that they were promised as a youth may never arrive.

Chinese culture is known for its focus on education. Students are told that if they study hard they will get high marks, high marks will mean getting into a good university, a good university will result in a good job, and a good job will mean a happy life.

One student in a recent class proclaimed loudly during a discussion that she was not happy. Her classmates, with their facial expressions, agreed with her proclamation. When will the happiness arrive that we were promised when we were young?

University students are often placed into their major on their first day of college. This means no liberal studies during the first year or so to try and "find themselves" and what path they should take in life. Further, Chinese schools discourage the switching of majors by their students. What is a second year accounting major to do when they realize their passions are elsewhere?

The China Daily recently reported that "... 10 out of every 100,000 Chinese college students once attempted suicide...." and earlier reported that "Among some 2,500 middle school students surveyed in Shanghai, 24 percent contemplated killing themselves."

This issue of happiness is something that needs to be addressed immediately in the Chinese education system.

You can read my blog at http://daveinchina.com/weblog

posted by DaveInChina on 04.24.05 at 09:04 PM in the Blogging category.


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Promised Goods
Excerpt: I am guest blogging for Simon World this week....
Weblog: daveinchina
Tracked: April 24, 2005 09:25 PM


Hi Dave,

I think that's pretty pandemic, think Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong...

posted by: YC on 04.24.05 at 10:40 PM [permalink]

Promised Goods reminds me of Social Security and the US. Will it be there when the current generation is old enough for it?

posted by: JackH on 04.25.05 at 12:23 AM [permalink]

I've never been to Asia and so can't comment on what it's like there, but it seems like I've met quite a few Chinese nationals here in the US who studied computer programming because their parents forced them to, and now have jobs they hate. Not just the company they work for (there are plenty of crummy places to work), but the actual tasks involved. I've never met a Western engineer who feels this way (though I'm sure they must exist).

I personally love programming, but I don't see how one could do the work if they *didn't* love it. Sitting in front of a computer for hours and hours, day after day, solving one problem after another is not something most people can tolerate.

posted by: Derek Scruggs on 04.25.05 at 01:23 AM [permalink]

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