OMG, I was interviewed and now I’m officially on a podcast! I haven’t been brave enough to listen to it, but hopefully you don’t hate hearing my voice as much as I do, so feel free to have a listen.
It was supposed to be a quick half-hour interview but Stefan (the host) and I ended up chatting forever. Like, hours. Time just flew by. Of course I was nervous, but we got along really well, and honestly, it is always nice to talk to another expat who kinda “gets” living in China. We had a lot of similarities and could talk about things that others might not understand, and we had really similar feelings about things.
Anyway, we talked so much that 30-minutes wasn’t enough and he ended up making it TWO episodes! Holy cow.
Here’s the first one
Here’s the second one
Also, more good news I was recently picked as featured blog on Inernations.org! Internations is a website for expats all over the world to connect with each other, and a place to learn and answer questions and such. They have a special section just for China and they interviewed me as a featured blogger! Anyway, it is super cool and really nice they wanted to do it. So check that out too! Click here.
Besides that, things are going great. So busy it’s been hard to fit in blog-writing time. The temps are really starting to soar here in Xiamen, which I am not a fan of, but things keep forcing me outside all day so I have to deal with the heat. (Heat rant is coming up in another blog post.)
Hope your having a good spring/summer! And hope wherever you are it is cooler than here!
Congrats and congrats again! Very cool. I prefer reading over podcasts because I can get through them so much faster, but I know so many people who love listening, and so you should expand your audience fore sure.
I only managed to listen to about five minutes of your interview but you sound much older than your appearance would suggest.
And I want to take up a point with you. You mentioned the widely-held belief of the Chinese not being encouraged to think for themselves and that’s not quite true. Rather, it’s simply that from the perspective of the Chinese, people should not attempt to form opinions of their own until they’ve achieved a certain level of wisdom. So if you’re student, your primary focus is to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge from your teacher, and only once that is achieved do you begin to think creatively and independently. (If you want to break the rules, you must learn what the rules are first, after all.) If the basic knowledge and skills are not in place, what you end up with from “creative thinking” is little more than irrational, nonsensical gibberish.
Thanks Autumn! I still haven’t worked up the courage to listen to it myself!
Suigetsu, I hope by “older” you mean more mature then you expected. haha! 😉 And I’ll definitely argue your point. You know the chinese education system doesn’t support free thinking. You answer exactly what the book or teacher says or you’re “wrong.” Then when you graduate you have to listen and do exactly what your boss says. Maybe someday if you are boss yourself you get to start giving orders, but they are in general not creative, and the only reason people listen to you is you are the boss.
I mean, even Jack Ma criticized the Chinese system for not producing more innovators. And he has said if he went to one of the countries top universities he wouldn’t have been the innovator he is today because he would have been forced to adhere to the system too much. At his “lower” university he had a chance to play, and from play came his creativity.
Creativity and critical thinking are skills that only improve with practice. In America we are actually taught ‘critical thinking’ from a young age. It’s not like if you are wise and experienced you suddenly “receive” amazing creativity and critical thinking skills. And we know most bosses (in all countries) are full of bullshit, haha. So just having years of experience doesn’t necessarily make you wise.
I don’t think this is unnecessary or a harsh criticism. It’s not even something I came with on my own. I mean, this is an issue Beijing is actively dealing with. Because of course Chinese people are smart. So why is there such little innovation here compared to other countries? Why is China famous for copying but not for new ideas? The gov’t knows it stems from the education system, but its a hard thing to change and deal with it.
And thanks for listening! And disagreeing with me. I do like talking about these issues. 😉
Well, it’s certainly true that what you say is not something you alone believe, and that’s my point. The idea that the Chinese, and Asians more broadly, are mindless drones has become so deeply entrenched and exaggerated that it is now little more than a caricature of what the reality is. Not only do people believe the Chinese in China are not creative, they say the same thing about Asian Americans, who are supposedly raised in a culture of creativity and innovation. Let’s be honest here, there is more than a little element of racism (which I’m not accusing you of) underlying the assessment of the Chinese.
For one thing, it is not as though China is not known for being creative and innovative, ever — it was after all once the most advanced society in the world. The “copying” that we see today is more of a natural consequence of a developing country playing catch-up with the developed countries. All the self-satisfied, triumphant rhetoric notwithstanding, the US, for example, did not innovate its way to the leading position it currently enjoys. No, the US appropriated technology/intellectual property first from Britain and then from Germany through the Nazi scientists after WWII. For a bit of historical context regarding China’s path of development, you should check out this article:
So the question is, why has China fallen behind? I think it’s because of a culture that, traditionally, has placed great weight on stability and security (i.e. “don’t rock the boat”, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, etc.), and that coupled with an insular, inward-looking attitude has caused China to fall behind in its development. Certainly, I would agree that this kind of environment is not conducive to creative thinking, but at the same time it’s distinctly different from simply saying that China’s culture/education system suppresses creativity.
I don’t actually have a disagreement with the substance of your argument because I also think China’s education system and culture more broadly could do more to foster freedom of thought. I simply think the idea of the lack of creativity is taken too far by Westerners. Say what you will about the Chinese system, but it has managed to produce students that top the PISA rankings, along with the students from the countries that have inherited the Confucian values from China. And while I respect the views of Jack Ma, the thing is, if he had managed to get into one of the top universities he would not have had to be creative and take risks to start his own business enterprise; he would probably be working at a stable job with a high and steady salary. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, so I don’t think Jack Ma’s creative success has much to do with the creative environment of his lower-quality university. By the way, you might find this article interesting too:
Becky! It was so great to hear your voice after so many years. It takes me back to Harlow’s.
Hahaha, Andy. Do I sound older and more mature? Please say yes regardless of the truth. ;p