|From a recent article on Baidu|
Although I'm a modest operation, I chart my page views around the globe. It's amazing how blogging creates international connections. After the United States, China (which is considered separately from Hong Kong) figured relatively high in my statistical count of page views until about a month ago...
On Saturday, January 31, I posted a piece entitled, "Testing as the Biggest Distraction Ever." In it, I referred to Yong Zhao's recent book, some BBC stories about academic intolerance in China and some instances of high-stakes cheating scandals in South Korea as well as China.
I noticed shortly following that post I stopped receiving page views from China. Off hand, I would guess there is an explanation for this anomaly. I would guess that my blog can no longer be accessed in mainland China. So, I attempted to look into it further.
I occasionally visit foreign search engines. It is fun. It is entertaining and it can be enlightening. Whereas I can't find my blog at mainland China's Baidu, I can find it (at least as I write this) at google.com.hk or Hong Kong. It is fascinating to me. I know that the 1989 incidents in Tiananmen Square are accessible through google.com.hk, but not Baidu. You may find an article at Baidu, however, informing you that the incident is a myth. If the giant dragon found my blog threatening enough to ban, I am a little surprised, but also somewhat flattered.
Nothing which I wrote, of course, was done with spite or the intention to mislead. If anything I said was inaccurate, I would have hoped that someone would address it by correcting me--or the BBC. When the truth must be kept from people, it is the first sign that a regime cannot honestly support itself. It may be able to rule by fear, but it cannot forever keep truth from its people. Our world is increasingly small for that.
For the record, I can find dianeravitch.net, nyceducator.com, perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com, ednotesonline.blogspot.com, nycpublicschooparents.blogspot.com, iceuft.blog.blogspot.com, thejosevilson.com, raginghorse.wordpress.com and a good many other local blogs available in Hong Kong, but not all are available through Baidu. (If you click on the links above, you are directed to the results of a Google search for each in Hong Kong.)
I searched for these same blogs in mainland China. I can find the mother of all, Diane Ravitch, at Baidu. It would be far harder to pretend she did not exist. I did not have as much luck finding nyceducator.com, perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com, nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com, iceuft.blog.blogspot.com and raginghorse.wordpress.com at Baidu. (If you click on the links, you will be directed to the Baidu search results for these blogs. The blogs do not seem to appear.) Thejosevilson.com, censored from NYC school websites, ironically is available thorough Baidu. If Mr. Vilson chooses to write a piece on academic freedom, migrants or equality in China, things might change. I could be wrong...
Although it seems I will lose a lot of traffic on my site from China, if it be so, I wouldn't want it any other way. I love China, but I favor one which allows its citizens far more freedom. And, if truth be told, one of my favorite modern-day heroes, if not my favorite, is Tankman. There are other Tankmen in China, only we do not hear about them quite so much. Any photos are destroyed. (If you haven't seen the PBS Frontline on Tankman, I recommend it. I personally believe he was executed by the goverment in 1989.)
I had the pleasure of three weeks or so in China in the summer of 1984 as a high-school student. I came away with several souvenirs. My favorite, beyond any doubt, was a book of stories and poems given to me by a guide. In it, I kept the napkin upon which he wrote in green marker (with his name in both Chinese and pidgin) "I love American people." I sometimes wonder what happened to him in the wake of Tiananmen Square. Since he wasn't in Beijing though, I think there is good reason to the hope he fared well.
I have no doubt unleashing the creativity of China's more-than-a-billion people would benefit the world greatly. I also have no doubt it would threaten China's communist government. Creativity when combined with bravery always threatens dictatorship. So, China must remain test-obsessed for its own preservation. High-stakes tests, even those seemingly built upon a bedrock of cheating, prop up its government. We must not choose that path.
Strangest of all the modern educational "reform," I cannot comprehend how our government has looked with envy at Shanghai for its PISA test scores with hardly a word about the underlying lack of freedom, academic and otherwise, there. When the obsession with test scores seems to blind our government to such things, I begin to think we need more Tankmen and Tankwomen in the United States.