Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT
In China, education is a matter of utmost importance for both students and parents. Parents want their children to go to the best schools so that they can receive high-quality education. However, it's by no means an easy task as the competition for a place in top-ranked schools is so fierce that not only the children, but also the parents, are put to test.
Recently, a total of 171 private primary and middle schools in Shanghai have organized student interviews for enrollment. Among these schools, Yangpu Primary School and Qingpu World Foreign Language Primary School, two prestigious private schools, asked parents to take a logical reasoning test while they were waiting for their children. The test included "graphics-based reasoning" which was too difficult for most of the test-takers.
After searching for these questions online, I must admit that I don't understand what the questions are asking for, let alone solve them. As a single woman, I suddenly feel the need to find an intelligent husband. When we need to take a test like this to enroll our children in school, he can quickly answer the questions.
I am not alone in my views. Many people have expressed similar opinions after seeing these questions. An online user said that she has no desire to find a boyfriend, get married and have children after seeing these questions. Another said that she is lucky that she has an intelligent husband.
The heated debates online have prompted one of the schools involved to release a statement explaining the motivations behind the test. It said the test was not compulsory and was meant to be a relaxing activity for parents as they were waiting for their children to complete their interviews. The school also argued that information could be collected from the test regarding the applicants' home life, education background and more, which could be helpful for the school to provide effective teaching methods and services for prospective students.
Parents play an important role in children's growth. Gaining some insights into the parents could help form a better understanding of their children, thus, promoting efficiency in education. However, Qingpu World Foreign Language Primary School asked for information not only regarding the parents but also the grandparents, including their education background.
It is reasonable for schools to have a basic understanding of their prospective students' family background. However, asking for detailed information such as which schools the grandparents attended crosses the line.
Just as an online user said, it's better to ask about the parents' values and education outlook than testing their IQ. Testing the parents' IQ and acquiring potential students' detailed family background are not directly related to the students' performance.
Through the tests, it seems that schools are trying to judge the children's performance based on their family background, which violates the principle of educational equality. Education should be an equal platform. Once equality is taken away from education, it will anger the public, especially the disadvantaged families in society.
Next time, when schools want to learn more about their students through their parents, it is suggested they adopt a different approach than giving tests.
The author is a reporter with the Global Times. firstname.lastname@example.org