Parent-School Tensions in China, Why and How: Local and International News Compared.

Comic from Veritas China, translation added by the author.

The Paper, one popular news outlet in China, posted an article about the recent heated discussion around parents and schools’ tension. This topic’s popularity was sparked by a short video posted by a father complaining about how frustrated he was by being expected to correct his kid’s homework and communicate with teachers in a parent group chat. Many parents echoed his experience on social media, and on Sina Weibo alone, this topic garnered 760 million hits and 87,000 discussions in two days. Shortly after, some municipal education bureaus published rules to regulate teachers from asking parents to review students’ homework, and violations of such rules can lead to penalties on teachers’ performance evaluations. While this is a local issue, I found that China Global Television Network (CGTN) published an English article on this topic. I wonder how the presentation of this issue will vary when it is delivered to foreign readers. 

Both articles started with a summary of the augmentation of the tension between parents and schools. While The Paper opens with the spread of the overwhelmed father’s video, CNTG’s report begins with the applause to recently published policies from the public. When diving into the causes of the heated debate, the English article contextualized the demand of parents’ engagement in children’s homework as a “strategy” in the digital era and is strengthened as a ripple effect of the pandemic remote learnings required parents to supervise students at home. The author even emphasized that the parent group chat was originated with “a good intention.” In contrast, the article geared towards native readers referred to a few more examples of stressed-out parents in the past two years and positioned the vulnerable relationship between schools and parents as an example of the social anxiety around children’s education. 

When discussing the solutions to this issue, both articles discussed the focus and boundary between family education and school education. As a media outlet renowned for its investigative report and relatively autonomous position under the heavy state media censorship, there is little surprise that The Paper offered a more thorough discussion on this issue. The Paper interviewed Bingqi Xiong, head of the 21st Century Education Research Institute in China, and two other education experts to explain the blurry line’s root causes and outlook between schools and families. They called for policy renovation on a larger scale to reduce the burden of both students and teachers, stricter implementation of policies at a local level, and more structured parent-school cooperation. Interestingly, the English version quoted Xiong’s interview with The Paper, but only to conclude that asking parents to engage with homework correction can hurt the parent-child relationship, which was not mentioned in the Chinese article at all. Overall, the parent-school conflict is more simplified in CNTG’s report. It sounds like a relevant recent issue that is a problem of a few teachers who crossed the line, and governments have published new policy to solve it. The intensive stress that teachers are experiencing, the school board’s missing role, and parents who considered the group chats as a necessity were left out of the discussion. 

Neither of those articles included children/students’ voices on their own experience in this tension. I can’t stop wondering how they feel when spending every day with anxious and tired teachers and parents. 

Written by Echo Xu

References:

  1. Li Zhao & Mingyi Xing. (2020, November 18). “Behind Parents’ Call for “Quitting the Group Chat”: The Root Causes of Parent-School Tensions.” Retrieved on November 27, 2020 from The Paper.
  2. Ai Yan. (2020, November 12). “How much should parents be involved in kids’ homework?” Retrieved on November 27, 2020 from CGTN.
  3. Wikipedia. “The Paper (Chinese newspaper)” Retrieved November 28, 2020 from Wikipedia.

Published by Echo Xu

Echo Xu is from Henan, China. She is a passionate believer in citizenship education and community empowerment in rural China. For the past two years, she has been designing and organizing art workshops to encourage the youngsters in rural Hainan to re-discover their land and culture’s beauty and value. Through this work, she has also learned the importance of educating young leaders in the community to participate and lead local development while increasing outside companies are entering this isolated village.

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