Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Note.

Something else that came apparent that I'm not sure I mentioned in any earlier posts is the incorrect perception that the Chinese educational system does not produce critical thinkers and that a systematic change is required before they will be common in China. I kept getting told, the whole time I was traveling around, that this was a fact. The way it was presented seemed to suggest that critical thinking can be taught, but will be extraordinarily rare if not developed in an educational system. While this is true, I believe the managers with whom we spoke are putting just a little less faith on the Chinese people than they would put on their own countries of origin and their own cultures.

When I got to Chongqing, I was again met with people like Professor Cao, Tong Zhi Hong, Yang Shifu and Yao Wei. These men are either well-versed professors in arenas like Chinese literature, where discussion is (gasp) occasionally promoted in class, or they are business men, artists, and photographers with the ability to constantly change and utilize the improvements in technology in China. They would not be as successful as they all, to the last person, have become over the past eight years.

There are plenty of critical thinkers in China. The problem is that many of them are also entrepreneurs. It is tough to live in a country that populated, with such an elevated number of opportunities (11% annual GDP increase for the past five years cannot be ignored) and posses the critical thinking skills companies want without realizing the heightened potential to be your own boss. But this is where I found all of these managers at fault. They kept talking about changing the educational system so that it will develop critical thinkers to hold key management positions. I posit that the need is not for critical thinkers, but for enough critical thinkers that they can be retained and won't leave either for higher pay or in the entrepreneurial spirit.

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