Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/354

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348
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SOME PHASES OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROBLEMS IN CHINA.
By WALTER NGON FONG,

PRESIDENT OF LI SHING COLLEGE IN HONG KONG; FIRST CHINESE GRADUATE OF STANFORD UNIVERSITY.

ON dealing with any part of the educational problem, it is necessary for us first to define our field. In this paper we shall consider the subject from the standpoint of one endeavoring to introduce 'western' learning among the Chinese. The fact that the Chinese do want to adopt western ideas and learning does not facilitate the task of regenerating the Chinese mind to as great a degree as the casual observer might suppose. While the present conditions are, of course, much more favorable for the introduction of new things into the Chinese life than they were a few years ago, still innumerable obstacles and difficulties remain in the path of one who wishes to be of some real assistance to the 'Coming New China.'

The ignorance of the students' parents and relatives or guardians is one of the most formidable enemies of modern education in southern China. As soon as the student reaches the age of sixteen or seventeen his parents get him a wife. We might think that a student who can get a wife without bothering his head over the affair has the advantage of saving the time which would be spent by a European or an American in courting. Still, to assume the responsibilities of married life at the age when he is just able to begin higher studies will prove an almost insurmountable barrier to the advance of the average student. Perhaps he is furnished with enough money to go to school, yet his wife must have some 'pin money,' and as she does not like to ask her father-in-law for every cent she needs, she soon begins to make demands upon her husband's slender purse.

As the Chinese 'gentleman youth' is not trained to do anything, he can not earn any money by doing 'odd jobs' while in school. Therefore, he embraces the first opportunity to obtain a position of some sort and leaves school. His school career is now ended forever and his desire for higher learning gradually becomes extinguished.

Very few Chinese realize that a useful education must be thorough and that to obtain a thorough education requires time. While they are willing to permit their boys to be crammed with obsolete classics for fifteen or twenty years with the hope of becoming Mandarins, yet they are not willing to let them study six or eight years in a modern