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Chinese Government is Brainwashing Children with Books

Chinese Government is Brainwashing Children with Books

The government has quite a bit of control over education. This is no secret even in countries like the United States, where educational reforms come down the pipeline from the President himself. What children learn is directly related to what politicians want them to learn. Luckily, it seems that, so far, the Common Core national educational standards seem pretty well-rounded and leave a lot open for teacher interpretation, especially when it comes to the reading and language arts standards. Literature teachers such as myself have a lot of autonomy in choosing books for their classes to read. Unfortunately, in China, this is not the case.

On July 15, the Chinese government released a list of 100 books and 100 movies, documentaries and television shows they found suitable for the nation’s youth to read. This list was a joint effort from three organizations:†Central Propaganda Department, Ministry of Education and Central Communist Youth League. These organizations plan to promote these works heavily among China’s youth. According to them, their goal is to “deeply and thoroughly realize the spirit of the Partyís 18th National Congress, to strongly promote the national spirit and the spirit of the age among the youth, and to encourage all youth to fight to realize the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

What does that mean exactly? It means that they want to promote Communist ideology and Chinese nationalism. Just look at the titles of the first three books on the list: “Stories of Marx,” “China Has a Mao Zedong,” and “Zhou Enlai: the Early Years.”

Luckily, Chinese parents aren’t happy. The list was circulated electronically, and parents had their say in the comments sections with comments like, “When I have children, I guess Iíll buy books and read to them myself. This brainwashing is too intense.” The former head of Google in China, Kai-fu Lee, sent out this tweet that seemed to capture the sentiments of the nation: “I recommended the following childrenís books, but they were politely rejected by a certain department: Cinderella, Charlotteís Web, The Princess Diaries, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Now that Iíve seen this list, I understand why.”

Even though you would think such things wouldn’t happen in a democratic country like America, it most definitely does. I have had numerous parents ask that their students be given different books to read when we start “1984,” George Orwell’s infamous look at a too-controlling government. Parents sometimes don’t want their kids reading books with any kind of sexuality in them, and often times don’t appreciate the anti-government tones. Similarly, I was concerned when I started reading “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley with a class of sophomores, but I haven’t received any complaints about that yet.

It is for this very reason that books are banned in this country. People fear the power the written word has over young children, and they don’t want those children exposed to anything that might be contrary to what is taught at home. This movement in China is the opposite of the Banned Books movement in the United States in that the government is actively trying to use these books to brainwash the nation’s youth, but the message is the same: words are powerful, and they can be used to teach children whatever we want to teach them, just by allowing them to open up a book.

It is a power that should be respected and, as parents, teachers and citizens, we should be aware of what our students are reading to ensure that, by reading them, they are not participating in some kind of governmental brainwashing conspiracy. China’s parents had it right, and if their government continues to push ideology they do not agree with, it will be important for them to present a balanced view at home.

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Photo Credit: Montgomery Planning Commission

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110 comments

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12:24PM PDT on Sep 3, 2013

Thank you Ashley for a good article with great information, And also thanks to the 108 care 2 members that commented on this subject. I was very enjoyable reading all of them. I love the attitude of the parents, if the kids can not get the books in school, the parents will just buy them and read to them at home....period.

7:24PM PDT on Aug 30, 2013

Noted.

4:23AM PDT on Aug 27, 2013

Thanks.

8:16AM PDT on Aug 16, 2013

For years in America if not "Brainwashing" I would call it Controlled Information is what is produced by the Major Liberal Networks ie: NBC doctoring tapes to fit their agenda

6:21PM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

Before you complain about Chinese schools, and there is a good amount to complain about, look at American history book, which very often still give us a slanted idea about Native Americans and slavery. Or check out all those states that basically forbid science books to mention evolution. There is a lot that has to be done in this country, too, so don't feel to smug.

9:19AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

In the meantime, the US is mainly informed by the very corporations which destroy the lives of its citizens visa Fox News, every program is censored and edited by the companies which run the stations and every program and spare piece of space is punctuated by an advert for those corporations ... and MacDonnalds sponsors the education system.
Because you grew up under this brainwashing you regard it as 'Normal'. Worse, you'll support it as 'Part of free-speech'.
Now, try putting up a message which a corporation DOESN'T like in a public place.
See how long it stays there.
Or - more specifically - what happened to the advert about oil companies which was paid for and legally agreed to be broadcast during the last Presidential appearance on 'Today'?
It was never shown.
You have little effect on China (Not that it's not worth having a bash - everyone could do with free speech and they DO own a LOT of the US and other countries, so it IS in our interests for them to be democratic) but some effect on your own country.
Petition your own local paper to have less corporate brainwashing in YOUR media.
Good luck - really. We need more people doing this.
And, thank you.

6:23AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Im not surprised. They are teaching the nation opinions of the government and not useful information. How annoying!

1:11PM PDT on Aug 7, 2013

And the stupid republicans use Faux News. No biggie.

11:27PM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

Ashley, I think you are so right. The Chinese should immediately start to get skin grafts or start taking chemicals to change their skin colour and undertake surgery to alter their facial features so that Chinese people can provide the appearance of being Caucasoid instead of Mongoloid. Along with that phenotypic transformation of their features they should eradicate their past, and pretend their history has only several generations of extension, such as our own American past. They should especially do this by reading western literature instead of Asian literature, and certainly the Chinese Communist Party should be foremost in backing this effort. Thank you for your insightful commentary.

8:43PM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

No surprise here

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