Please be forwarned. Some people were offended by this essay when I put it up at Tianya and Rainlane in June 2007. Please keep in mind sarcasm always tends to exaggerate.
胡敏 in英语写作困境与对策 says
So, this one is for you, Mr. Wu. I am writing it paragraph by paragraph according to the guideline. (With the power and influence these big schools and gurus have, they could have forced a change in the direction in English education and testing in China, but oh, no, don’t rock the boat; it’s bad for business.)
To claim that reading the Classics will make you morally superior is ludicrous. Witness the hundreds and thousands of Chinese scholars throughout the ages who spent years studying the Classic, only to become corrupted officials after being rewarded with lucrative positions for passing national exams. Did they set out on their long and arduous journey of learning to become better humans, or to pass exams so they can “come home dressed in finery, and bringing recognition and honour to their families”? If reading the classics is indeed important to the formation of good characters, then reading Chairman Mao’s little red book would make us all good communists—champions against those evil capitalist reactionaries. Do they “spend ten years studying diligently beneath a chilly window 十年寒窗苦讀” so as to serve humanity one day or because doing so would bring them wealth and pretty women? (“In books there are gold and people of exquisite complexion 书中自有颜如玉，书中自有黄金屋.”)
Why are Chinese reading less and less of the Classics? You must be stupid or numb not to have noticed the many fun things one can do in China today. The magic wrought by born-again Capitalists has brought to China sensual pleasures for the masses. You can wash down a Big Mac with a cup of Starbuck coffee, while plugging your ears into an MP3 playing the latest downloaded pop music and occasionally freeing your fingers to tap on the keyboard to give command to your Warquest character. And, if your parents or spouse is not looking over your shoulders, make a quick connection to the latest virtual sex encounter site. So who has time for reading those dull Classics anyway? Besides, they are downright incomprehensible at times. Why waste your brain power when you can talk stupid like ah, duh, wanna f**k, gonna sh*t, got no nothing….
University students are supposed to be matured individuals who can make their own decisions. How about putting a little faith in our ability to do the right things by ourselves? So throw those Classics out the window and grab hold of the latest issue of Playboy. Yes, you heard me right, a copy of Playboy. You can learn English while having a feast for your eyes. After all, isn’t English the new “Classics” which we all must learn in order to “get ahead”, “become rich”, “have a bright future”, ”build a harmonious society”, and “help us in job hunting”, as so many other Chinese students would be quoting in their writings this very minute? If you don’t agree with me, then tell me why everyone has to pass an English exit exam in order to get their degree? (“Their” is used here as a third person gender neutral possessive pronoun)
Why Playboy, why not a copy of the Economist, you may ask? Haven’t you heard that fun and motivation are the best teachers? So unless you can get turn on by a picture of Allen Greenspan, Playboy it is. As for the ladies, they are always too serious about education, and cannot see the enjoyment in shooting people mindlessly, and blowing up vehicles and buildings in virtual space. So, let them sit in a corner for hours and read the Analects, or perhaps they prefer reading Dream of the Red Chamber instead. Either way, to each his own, so as soon as I finish writing this exam, I am going to go grab a copy of Playboy so I can, ahem, practice reading comprehension, and chat on 1-800-talk-dirty with some sexy chick so as to improve my oral English–no pun intended.
Hurray! I managed to write the whole article without mentioning “as society develops”; “globalization”; “China joining the WTO”; “opening up”; “a coin has two sides”; “on the one hand…on the other hand”; “firstly, secondly….”, and “vividly depicted by”!