He Weifang: No Free Speech, No Political Progress

On China Media Project, legal expert writes about the ongoing debate over public governance course at Chinese universities:

Public governance courses are offered with a mind to improving students’ acceptance and understanding of our existing political and administrative system, but in fact there’s little way of knowing what impact these courses actually have. My understanding is that most students have a strong aversion to the courses. Those opting to take them do so only to satisfy basic requirements for the conferment of their degrees, and the teaching methods employed by course instructors are necessarily dull, constricted as they are by political necessity — if instructors attempt teach more openly and creatively, they risk “breaking with form” and are courting trouble. Instead, teachers stick rigidly to the rigid course materials.

Even more serious is the fact that the inflexible theories taught in these courses do not engender in students the idea that the study of politics is a process of truth seeking and rational exploration. Inevitably, certain precepts cannot be questioned. Facing a chasm between theory and practice, in fact, we’ve all become two faced. We engage in a kind of double-dealing, paying lip service to one set of facts and ideas, and harboring a completely different one in our hearts.

This disconnect concerns the mental integrity and health of everyone in our country, and this is an issue we should all confront.



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