我对高考的一点看法 – My views on the university entrance exam

记得过去“反击右倾翻案风”的时候曾有一部电影,有一个情节说的是学生为了获得好分数,病倒在考场,于是乎这种“非人性”的“唯分数主义”的高考制度激起了“革命群众”的极度愤慨。三十年过去了,当年的“革命群众”似乎对此已经不再愤慨了,他们更热衷的是忙着替自己的下一代或下下一代张罗着租婚车送考、买粽子吃(取“高中”之义)、抄增长记忆的食谱等等,以图个吉利。在他们看来,靠着自己的下一代去实现自己未获实现的人生理想,除了去勇闯高考那个独木桥,就没有别的路可走了。

但我们可悲的家长们为什么不想一想,这种把人的一生的命运和一次考试捆绑在一起的社会观念及其规则难道是合理的吗?

我们姑且不说那些因背负了太重的高考压力而走上绝路的学生及其家庭的不幸了。让我们看看很多高考的胜出者们的情况吧。据我所知,许多因高考而“改变”了命运的人当他们们踏上他们的人生道路之后较之那些高考的落败者恰恰更加地不幸。这种不幸体现在两个方面:

1:高学历无限扩大了他们对与生活品质、社会地位的期望值。而较高的生活品质与社会地位的获取在我们的社会现实中却实在是与学历无关,这就让高学历者在进入社会后对自己期许与社会所能给与的承诺出现一道深深的裂痕。于是乎,我们便可以在职场与婚介的场所常常看见这样的怪现象:找不到合意的工作或对象的常常是那些高学历的人,因为他们的高学历以及他们对自己的过高期许,他们发现要找到与他们的自我期许相匹配的工作或对象的空间,真是越来越狭窄了。

2:就人的本性而言,学习各种的知识是一种本能。顺应其本能地去学习知识本应该是一件愉快的事。然而“唯分数主义”的高考制度却把学习变成了一件极其痛苦的事,以至于那些为了改变命运而不能不忍受这种痛苦的学生们一旦考试过关,便再也不愿意去学习更多的知识了,因为在他们的潜意识里,学习已经变成了一种违背自己意愿而不得不忍受的负担。于是乎,在现实生活中,我们就常常看见这样的怪现象:许多拥有高学历的人有时候显得比普通人还要无知、甚至于会上一些连普通人都不会上的当。眼下许多女大学生被人贩子拐卖的报道难道不是为我们教育制度的缺失所敲响的警钟吗?

这种高考的优胜者反而变成了社会生活的落败者的现象令人想起了马克思在《1844年哲学经济学手稿》中揭示的被叫做“异化”的现象:工人越优秀、越提高劳动生产效率,就越加速了自己走向失业的命运。

马克思主义的核心思想就是人必须反抗社会所强加在他身上的一切“异化”的力量,从而走向人的全面解放。然而,非常可悲的是,经历了半个多世纪的马克思主义实践的我们的“革命群众”们的革命觉悟似乎还不如现在那些“先富起来了”的人、那些“资产阶级”新贵更高!连他们都非常地明白,高考不是什么好玩意儿。不能把它和改变命运画上等号。当然,他们手里的钱可以让他们的子女不必忍受来自异化了的教育体制所带来的压迫,而我们普通的家长们即使有了那样的觉悟也是无能为力的。他们的孩子可上不起“光*亚*学*校”那样的学校。

如果说,我们的教育体制对于我们学生们的人性而言就是一场灾难的话,贵族学校就是这场灾难的“先*跑*者”,而我们更广大的不能不忍受高考的学生们则更像是被压在现行教育体制这座“豆*腐*渣*工程”下的遇难者。

我这样说并不是主张应该废除高考,毕竟,高考并不是对所有人而言带来的都是负面的结果。毕竟,也会有人因为高考制度而真的改善了自己的命运。我只是想说,当高考成为我们整个社会的普通学生们所不得不走的独木桥并命定地忍受着它在最广泛程度上所带来的“异化”性影响的时候,我们就不能不思考如何去反抗这一命运了。

那么,我们如何去反抗高考强加在我们每个学生及家长身上的“异化”呢?

我以为,在经历了最近发生在四川的这次惊天浩劫后,我们是时候真的该认真地思考一下这样的一个问题了:人活着到底是为了什么?难道,人活着就是为了拥有一个被认为是体面的社会身份、或过着在别人看来是体面的日子吗?难道干着一份扫大街搽皮鞋修理自行车之类的工作就低人一等、不可容忍吗?

在死亡的面前,在别人眼中的体面真是一件和自己的生命毫不相干的事。然而曾几何时,我们整个社会的价值观似乎更倾向于追求外在于自己的生命本质的所谓“成功”,并为此不惜血本。在我们逐渐地为这种价值观付出惨重的代价之际,我们不妨想一想,我们为什么一点要沦为这样的价值观的牺牲品呢?

人是一种靠着价值观而存在的群体动物,一种价值观也赋予了一个社会以合法性。如果我们整个社会的价值体系是建立在人必须以做大官发大财才算成功的观念基础之上的话,我真不知道,我们的社会曾经牺牲了数百万人的生命去建立一个社会主义新中国有何意义!

我们并不能有力量改变现行的教育体制,那么,就让我们首先改变我们的价值观吧。我们至少应该有勇气拒绝作异化的奴仆。

I remember, during the time of the ‘anti-rightist campaign’, there was a movie whose plot featured a student who, in order to get good grades, came sick to the examination room, and the ‘inhuman’ nature of this college entrance examination and its ‘mark-ism’ caused the indignation of the ‘revolutionary masses’. Thirty years later, the revolutionary masses of today seem no longer indignant, they’re too busy looking after the next or second next generation, renting a wedding car to send them to the exam, feeding them dumplings (with the meaning of ‘exam success), extend their memory through copying, and all sorts of other superstitious practices. In their view, for the next generation to fulfil the destiny they didn’t have, apart from the single plank-bridge of the University Entrance exam, there it no other way to go.

But lamentable parents that we are, shouldn’t we think a bit – is it reasonable to bundle together a whole human life and a once-off exam opportunity?

We say nothing about those students who, because of excessive exam pressure, put themselves and their families on the road to misfortune. Let’s look at the situation of those who succeed in the exam. As far as I know, many of those whose destiny was ‘changed’ through the exam have suffered more misfortune on the road of life than those who failed at the exam. There are two aspects to this misfortune:

1. People with high levels of education see their desire for social status and high quality of life expand to no end. But in reality, within our society, higher quality of life and social status have nothing to do with the level of education, and this leads to a large rift opening between their expectations and what society can give once these people enter society. For that reason, we often see the following strange phenomena in the workplace and on dating websites: highly educated people are often those who can’t find a suitable job or dating partner, because through their high level of education and high expectations for themselves, they realise that to find an adequate job or person to live with, they only have a very narrow space.

2. From human nature itself, studying all sorts of subjects is a sort of instinct. So following our instinct to go and study further is a pleasant thing. But the college university exam as ‘sole pass’ has turned learning into a painful task, and those students who just bear the pain in order to pass the exam and change their fate, then may no longer wish to study any further, because in their subconscious, study has become a burden endured against their will. For that reason, in real life, we can often observe this strange phenomenon: many people with a high level of education appear to be as ignorant as ordinary people, or even more ignorant than them. The reports that many female students are abducted by traffickers, isn’t this a warning bell for our whole education system?

This phenomenon whereby the winners of the entrance exam have become the losers of social life may remind us of what Marx called ‘alienation’ in his ‘1844 manuscript on philosophical economics’. The better workers become and the more they increase their productivity, the more they progress on their road towards unemployment.

The core idea of Marxism is that people should resist the forces of ‘alienation’ that society impose on their physical selves, and thereby walk towards complete liberation. However, the sad thing is, after experiencing over half a century of Marxism, the revolutionary consciousness of our ‘revolutionary masses’ does not reach as high as the desire to ‘get rich first’ or ‘acquire capital’ of the new rich! Even they understand very clearly that the college entrance exam is not a fun thing. We cannot equate it with changing one’s destiny. Of course, the money in their hands allows their children not to bear the full weight of oppression brought by an alienating education system. But as for us ordinary parents, no matter how aware we are, there is nothing we can do. Their children, in contrast, can decide not to take part in the ‘Asian style’ education system.

If we say that our education system is a disaster for the humanity of our students, elite schools are first in the run for this disaster, and our students who cannot but endure the the gaokao seem even more under pressure in our current education system, like beans in the press.

I’m not saying this as a way to push for the abolition of the entrance exam, after all, the exam does not have negative consequences for everyone who takes it. After all, there will be people who really improved their own destiny through the entrance exam. All I want to say is, if the entrance exam is the only single-plank bridge that everyone of our students must walk along, and are forced to endure the impact of its ‘alienation’ to the full, then we cannot but wish to think of ways to resist this fate.

So, how can we resist the ‘alienation’ brought to each student and family by the university entrance exam?

I believe, after living through the terrible catastrophe that recently occurred in Sichuan, it’s time we seriously thought about this question: what do people live for, in the end? Do people live in order to have a decent social status, or live an existence that is decent in the eyes of other people? Is it unbearable to do a lowly job on the street, clean shoes, repair bicycles, or the like?

In the face of death, what seems decent in the eyes of other people becomes an irrelevant thing. But for some time, our entire society has been set on pursuing a form of ‘success’ irrelevant to the core of our lives, and ready to pay the cost. And as we gradually find ourselves paying a heavy price for holding these values, we might start thinking, why do we actually want to be victims of this value system?

People are animals that live by relying on values, and for which values for the legitimate basis of common life. If our whole society is based on a set of values considering that a person needs to be a high official and make large amounts of money to be considered successful, then I really don’t know what was the point for us to sacrifice millions of life in order to build a socialist society!

If we do not have the power to change our present education system, well, let’s change our values first! We should at least have the courage to refuse to become alienated slaves!

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August 1, 2014 at 7:33 pm

[…] two pieces are still lacking a few paragraphs, but can already be enjoyed. Li Yehang’s ‘My views on the university entrance exam’ offers a philosophical reflection on the evils of China’s university selection systems, how […]

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September 5, 2014 at 9:35 am

[…] a large injustice, and does not reflect actual intelligence, is it not our duty to rise against it? ‘My Views on the University Entrance Exams by philosopher Li Yehang is more than just a loose opinion, but a call to reform education, for the […]

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