The Premier of China was in the UK this week and signed a deal with the UK worth £14 billion. That’s more than the entire GDP of Bahrain. And with so many teaching opportunities in China, I think it’s worth taking a deeper look at who the Chinese are because I think we judge them by the news headlines, which isn't fair to do to anyone. I’ll look at two facets of Chinese culture in this blog: Love of learning and Relationships.
Love of Learning: The Chinese have lived for many centuries with a monarch or ruler, and culturally Chinese are comfortable with hierarchy. At the same time they have for many centuries had an alternate path to success- if you were clever enough and could afford the education and pass tests, you could enter the government as a scholar-bureaucrat. This respect for and love of learning (as well as passing tests) permeates society even today. When you meet a Chinese person, don’t be surprised if they tell you where they went to University, where their children went to University, what they studied and so on. Educational attainment is a prized possession and teachers are revered. Good news for you!
Relationships and Saving Face: China is a collectivist society, meaning family/group relationships are more important than individual attainment. Care and respect for the elderly, close ties with the extended family and favouritism towards one’s family/group members are expected. It also means that harmony within a group is important – dissent may be expressed with silence or non-verbal cues rather than open confrontation because of the importance of saving ‘face’. ‘Face’ is the respect you get from others and it’s important to act in a way that does not publicly demean another.
A bit of fun trivia
China is a fascinating place – a huge country that is diverse in so many ways; in climate, religion, ethnicity and language – yet one that has for most of our lives been hidden. But now, the opportunity to learn about China first hand is at our fingertips.
学习是永远跟随主人的宝物 [學習是永遠跟隨主人的寶物] Translation: Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere (old Chinese proverb)