Books vs. Nobel Prize – Guangzhou Daily

 Store Images 2004109163844ZhangwyA commentary by a psychology scholar on China’s one-sided love affair with the Nobel Prize and what’s missing. Translated from Guangzhou Daily by CDT:

Every time the Nobel Prize winners get announced, China’s media mass produces articles that reflect why Chinese scholars haven’t ever gotten one. Strangely enough, less than a handful of these articles cut to the point.

I think the fundamental reason why China-based scholars haven’t gotten a Nobel is because China’s academia hasn’t yet developed an evaluation system that emphasizes “global originality.” In 2005, rocket scientist and a major contributor to the A-bomb development, Qian Xuesen (Èí±Â≠¶Ê£Æ) said to visiting Prime Minister Wen Jiabao while in the hospital that his biggest pity was that China hasn’t put in place a system that develops masters (§ßÂ∏à). What’s a master? A master is one who has major originality, new thinking and independence. This is also the core of the Nobel Prize.

What does the Chinese academia value then? The answer is: weight. This weight is more like mass in physics. And in China, people interpret it as “books,” which are heavy and thick, which then are regarded as valuable.

A joke goes, a Chinese economist went to visit a Nobel laureate in Economics in the US and asked at the end of the meeting what books he has written. The Nobel economist said he did not have a single book under his name, which stunned his Chinese visitor. “How come a master like you hasn’t written a book?” the Chinese economist wondered.

In 2003, Dean of Beijing University’s Guanghua School of Management Zhang Weiying (º†Áª¥Ëøé) proposed to reform teaching at the university, which is the only one that is leading toward originality. But the reform is doomed to end in failure, as it will tremendously harm the lives of those unoriginal scholars, who make up more than 90% of China’s academia.

I know the so-called notoriety of Zhang. But we need 741 of him in China. (China has 741 university as of May 2007.) [Full Text in Chinese]

October 10, 2007 7:30 AM
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Categories: Culture & the Arts