“Cramming for College at Beijing’s Second High” by April Rabkin
Fascinating, funny account of Chinese students – those who defend the gaokao and those who don’t. Written by a foreign reporter who returns to the Beijing high school where she was an exchange student. (3900 words)
Excerpt: “For many years, long hair, perms, and hair dye were banned, though it could be a sign of China’s baby-step liberalization that girls may now grow out their locks. ‘Before, they didn’t. That was a violation of our human hair rights!’ says Yang Keyang, a senior with long braids whose English names include Coppelia, Pealina, Coco, and Rosalind. (English names being one of the few areas of total liberty for the students, she chose those–all of them.)”
“Stuck in the Middle: Inside China’s Art Cram Schools” by Guo Juan, translated by Michael Einar Engstrom
LEAP: The International Art Magazine of Contemporary China
What does it mean to cram for an art exam in China? Another article about the institutions and rituals that spring up in response to the pressure-cooker Chinese educational system, but from the angle of a niche field of study that one might expect to offer its students more of an outlet for creativity. (2849 words)
Excerpt: “In the materials room of one school there is a so-called ‘CAA Gray Series’ of colors, said to be made at the peculiar whim of a CAA [China Academy of Art] graduate according to the preferred pigmentations as mixed at CAA. Before, it was popular practice to have examinees mix their own watercolors, but now, even this step can be skipped. The phrase ‘a good sense of color’ is no longer applicable, as all a student has to do is use the existing colors correctly.”
Read more here.