As we are at mid-semester I thought it would be a nice time to think about Education, with a little help from Feng Zikai, Republican China’s best-known cartoonist.
Feng obviously did not think much of education in general
Education is the process of changing raw materials into something else
But it does not seem to be much fun for those who experience it.
To some extent schools are just part of a larger social process. Here the fists are labeled Parents and Teachers
Society creates social difference. Here are two sons looking at their fathers
But schools are a big part of it, as Elementary, Middle and College (in the center) teachers
Change their students into copies of themselves
Schools as intstituions were part of the problem. The monkey on top of the pole is the teacher, the administrators are playing a tune, students are watching, and of course someone is collecting money. I may have to put this on my office door.
Teachers might try to destroy student's minds with endless drill and repetition
But the human spirit will always find ways to resist
Even in the days before Facebook and texting, students could find better things to do in class that whatever they were supposed to. Here we see a student in English class reading something in Chinese, (hopefully a Wuxia novel)
a student in an economics lecture doing something of practical economic use.
Of course no matter how they fought back, the institution was still trying to reduce them to a common level, and there was not much they could do about it. Here we see the Chinese version of No Child Left Behind, leveling them all off by age.
This may make Feng look cynical. He was actually one of the most sentimental artists I know, but something about schools brought out the acid in his pen.
All images from the Chinese edition of Christoph Harbsmeier Feng Zikai Social Realism with a Buddhist Face Shandong Huabao, 2004