In China, boys learn to be men. In America, they are taught to whine
- American education has succumbed to the forces of cultural rot
- A society that encourages boys to be hypersensitive, whining ninnies more concerned about offending others than with truth, is preparing them to lose
There is a telling contrast between two recent articles in the South China Morning Post, which speaks of an important difference between Chinese and American cultures in the 21st century.
First, we have Nicolas Groffman’s hit piece on “Why China no longer needs the wisdom of ‘Old White Guys’” (November 5), in which he resorts to argumentum ad hominem to reject common criticisms of Chinese culture and society. Clearly, China’s education system can’t have a problem with being too focused on rote-learning, because that’s something that Old White Guys say, and OWGs are just … yuck. This attitude is prevalent in a large part of American society.
Second, there is Zhuang Pinghui’s insightful article about the Chinese version of the American Boy Scouts (“Inside China’s training camps, where boys are learning how to be men”, November 4). Not the Boy Scouts of today, which will soon become “Scouts BSA” to be gender-neutral and all-inclusive, but the Boy Scouts of yesterday, which taught the same masculine values and skills that Tang Haiyan now teaches to Chinese boys at his Boys’ Club: confidence, discipline, cooperation, and competition.
“Who is the best? I am the best!” Tang’s students are taught to shout. I am reminded of a line from Homer’s Iliad, which was hung in American and European classrooms for centuries: “Always be the best, my boy, the bravest, and hold your head up high above the others.” Such a prescription no longer has a place in American education, which has succumbed to the forces of cultural rot.
As China adopts more and more of the contemporary West’s unhealthy aspects, such as our junk food, and as increasing wealth allows for increasing leisure and laziness, the problems which Mr Tang is fighting against will increase. What he is doing to fight against them is good and right, and I applaud him for it. I wish more people in America were doing the same, but in America, if an Old White Guy had a training programme like Mr Tang’s, the liberal media would rage about “toxic masculinity” and compare it to the Hitler Youth.
The Boys’ Club thinks we should prevent young men from becoming “oversensitive, vulnerable, whiny, petty or irresponsible” – what an apt description of the values inculcated by so much of the American educational system today! Chinese parents should think twice about the idealised vision that many of them have of places like Harvard and Yale. Like the Boy Scouts, those organisations are not what they used to be. Legal marijuana is not the only bad influence that Chinese parents should worry about these days when sending their children abroad.
As Boys’ Club coach Tang put it: “Men are tough, gentlemen, full of spirit. They speak in a loud, clear voice and they stand firm. They are not shy of public speaking and, more importantly, they are ready to shoulder responsibility.” A society that teaches this to their young men is a society poised to succeed. A society that encourages them to be hypersensitive, whining ninnies more concerned about offending others than with truth, is preparing them to lose.
Perhaps the problem that both China and America have is not Old White Men, but rather young white men and their foolish, destructive ideas.
Jack Ravenwood, Shenzhen