My speaking at a private school and at two teacher training universities in Beijing and Kunming, China was as culturally informative as my previous presentations in Japan, Korea, and Malaysia.

The mix of an emerging capitalistic economic system with a communist political system challenges traditional thinking. As a former teacher of comparative religions, I was also interested in the practices of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Doaism/Toasim. All three originated as philosophies to practice but are now observed as religions. Many temples have statues devoted to all three founders (Siddhartha Gautama, Confucius, and Lao Zi, respectively) side by side, and it is not uncommon to see all three religions practiced by the same person.

Two factoids may be of interest to Westerners. Chinese temples and other buildings have a step or stair at their entrances. This emanates from the belief that “evil spirits” cannot climb or walk up stairs, and a reason that buildings have curled up corners on their rooftops is to reflect “evil spirits” off and away.

The People’s Republic of China is the world’s most populist nation with 1.2 billion people and more than 50 ethnic groups. About 80 percent live in rural areas. Mandarin is the official dialect—but with many others spoken, such as Cantonese in Hong Kong. Although the written language is universal throughout the country, the spoken language is “tonal.” Meanings are conveyed by voice inflection, so people in different parts of the country have a challenging time conversing. English is taught as a second language.

Chinese education emphasizes
– learning to know
– learning to do
– learning to live together
– learning to be
Decorum, politeness, and hygiene are emphasized.

The Chinese government is making a concerted attempt to upgrade and improve both its teacher training universities and public schools. A major problem is that, after being exposed to urban life during college training, very few graduates want to return to their rural roots.

On a personal note, during dinner with the Beijing publisher of my book, I learned that in only five months the book had become their second best seller. The Chinese translation of 8000 copies of the book is now in its second printing.

I presume that the Raise Responsibility System complements Chinese society because the hierarchy explains the necessity of level C (following expectations for a civil society), yet has level D as a higher motivational level. Level D indicates the DESIRE to do what is expected—rather than to fit in order to please others.

The following communication may be of interest:

I’m Chinese. I’m a teacher of English in a key school in Beijing, China. Besides teaching English, I’m also the home teacher of a class. It has always been a headache to keep the class in a good order every day before I used your social development hierarchy. After studying the hierarchy, my students have changed a lot. They are eager to reach Level D. They evaluate their behavior every day. Even the naughtiest boy in class is now trying his best to make progress. Although there are still some problems with students, I can see hope now. I know they are making a  great effort to improve themselves. Being a home teacher is not so hard as before. Thank you for your great idea, which has brought happiness to my teaching career.

Linda Nan Lee
Beijing No.80 Middle School