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China's Scholar Exam 2012

31 January 2012
 

春节赶考,我就是秀才
I'm a candidate of scholar.

On 25 January 2012, during the Chinese Dragon Year festival, a scholar exam, organized by Taizhou Imperial Examination Museum (泰州科举院试博物馆) and conducted according to the tradition set up in the Ming Dynasty, was held at City of Taizhou (泰州) in Jiangsu Province, which attracted a large number of onlookers.

It was a sunny afternoon. At 2 o'clock, in the cheerful music, the chief examiner announced the ground rules for the exam and 10 candidates were soon led to their seats.

朱杰、曹燕健、詹静唅 - Prized Scholar, Eye of Board and Seeker of Flower

Unlike the old days when the exam could take days to complete, in this fast food age, the scholar exam 2012 was just 20 minutes from start to finish, and the assessment was even quicker. The Prized Paper (状元, the gold medal winner), the Eye of the Board (榜眼, the silver medal winner ) and the Seeker of the Flower (探花, the bronze medal winner) were determined right on the spot. Then the Prized, the Eye and the Seeker were put on their specially designated outfits and received the academic cirtificates from the Rev. Patron of Teacher (恩师大人).

Following the line to the antiquated exam tradition, they set no age limit for the participants; but unlike the tradition, the policy of equal opportunity for female in exam place was implemented this time, thus a 12-year-old girl became the honourable Seeker of Flower.

The scholar examination system is a revolutionary invention initiated by empror of Sui (隋朝: 581 - 618), a dynasty prior to Tang. Similar to all early forms of civilization in human history, China used to be a feudal society with rigid hierarchical structure based on one's social inheritance. But more than 2,000 years ago when the emperors of Han (202BC - 220AD) accepted Confucius humanitarian teaching as the fundamental principle of ethics and believed that all men should have equal rights to gain access to education (有教无类) and job opportunity (帝王将相,宁有种乎!) , the feudalism was abolished, and the government officials were individually selected from citizens by recommendation based on academic achievement and moral standanrd. But this arrangement was too subjective and arbitrary thus an anonymous written exam system was born.

The imperial examation was typically divided into three levels. When a man passed the county exam (童试), he would be rewarded a title of Elaborated Talent (秀才 ), equivalent to a bachelor's degree, which allowed him to enter an elite class of intellectuals. If he further passed a provincial exam (乡试), he would then receive a title of Recommended Man (举人), equivalent to a master's degree, which entitled him to be recommended for a position in a government office. The top grade exam was administrated by the Culture & Education Ministry (礼部) at the state level (会试) once in every four years, and those who passed the exam would be invited to a group interview in court, with the top three winners to be orally examine by the emperor face to face. All these men would be awarded a degree of Advanced Scholar (进士), equivalent to PhD, and all formally became government officials.

When the Europeans adapted Chinese civil service exam practice and further developed it into a tertiary education assessment and reward system and a public service exam system, the system in China lost its novelty and was decaying. Manchus dragged China back to their stone age and removed the subjects of science and technology from the examination. The so-called scholars of Qing Dynasty were on the whole just a bunch of smart ass with little wisdom, a group of crafty pettifoggers with no real skills, a collections of spin doctors with no principles. They were willing to serve anybody who was rich and powerful and could pay them with fame and wealth, regardless who they were and if they were for or against Chinese interest: be they Manchus, Japanese, or other China-destroyer aliens.

The entire exam system that became completely rotten under the Manchus was eventually ended about a hundred years ago.

Source of info/photos: 刘小敏

Or is it? May be not. This is a scene occurred on 15 January 2011 when entrance exam was held for master degree courses. Across the country a total of 1.51 million people participated in the examination in the hope of beboming a Recommended Man or Recommended Woman of the 21st century.

A state examiner checks the qualification of a recommended woman-to-be at the entrance of the exam room for the entrance exam.

Two Recommended Men-to-be prepare their exam in the rain.

 
 
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What Chinese Say

This is a sharp observation and well thought out comments about Chinese intellectuals/scholars today made by Wang Shaoguang (王绍光), a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the chief editor for The China Review, during his interview with a Guangdong-based media.

《南风窗》

不论反右运动发生的历史背景如何,但几十万民主党派人士和知识分子经过“引蛇出洞”,后来又被扣上右派的帽子,是不是在客观上造成了此后知识分子讳言政治、讳言国事的情形?

王绍光

这个说法有点问题。首先,当时称得上“知识分子”真的是凤毛麟角,占人口很小、很小的比例。按那时的标准,今天中国城市里大多数人都可以称得上是“知识分子”了。其次,为什么只关心知识分子的参政议政,而不关心普通工农大众参政议政?,54年宪法赋予公民选举权,那时候的人真的是欢天喜地,选国家主席,那是一件非常大、非常大的事情。

如果说,因为五七年反右造成了今天知识分子远离政治,就是用逻辑代表历史,但是这个逻辑是不符合历史事实的。即使在文革期间有很多右派都出来翻案,他们当了造反派,他们变成造反派得势的时候甚至去迫害当时把他们打成右派的人,比如有一个很有名的右派诗人叫XX,他文革中间是很有名的造反派,写了一些歌颂和鼓动武斗的诗歌。现在右派都是讲文革中间自己受了多少迫害,但是文革中间,他们有些人是造反派,迫害别人的时候他们也一点点不比别人不疯狂,可能更疯狂。所以人是不会学到教训的,虽然57年吓了一下,但是以后一逮到机会,还是要说话,今天还是会说话,哪有不说话的?往往是那些说话最多的人说我们不敢说话,是不是?所以我觉得不是这样的,现在这些知识分子哪些话没有说?只是说推翻共产党这句话没有人在正式场合说。讲宪政,讲私有财产,所有的政策应该怎么样,不应该怎么样,哪句话没说?都说了。西山会议,不是当着共产党的官员说的吗?所以都是敢说的,哪有什么胆小的?

《南风窗》

总体来讲,知识分子参政议政的情形是有所改善的。

王绍光

精英谈的参与都是高层次的参与,都是所谓的政治参与,都是要参加选举的参与,但是,跟工人农民和普通民众关系最密切的事情,是他(她)在企业里面,在工作的八小时里面,他的命运,他的待遇这些问题。他自己能不能参与呢?以前有一点参与的权利,现在却消失了,完全被工具化了。

所以,在参与方面,我觉得知识分子总体是改善了,但是工人农民不一定改善了,是恶化了。

《南风窗》

您认为,知识分子应该和政府保持一种什么关系比较恰当?

王绍光

知识分子没有任何特权,你可以说话,政府可以听也可以不听;既然知识分子没有什么特权,他们除了要呼吁自己参与以外,也要关心普通的民众的参与。我看有些所谓“知识分子”太看重自己,把其他东西忽略掉了,而且很大程度上工农的权利被剥夺是某些知识分子忽悠出来的。

比方说产权,一旦产权定了,资本家就可以决定这个工厂的事情怎么办,但是另一种理论讲人权比产权重要。哪怕政治上的领导者是选出来的,但是资本家不是选出来的,资本家做的决定会影响一个企业几百人、几千人的命运,把一个人开除可以影响一家人的生计。资本家的决策权为什么不应该受到工人参与的制约,这是毫无道理的。一些知识分子把产权说成天经地义的事情,参与经济和社会决策过程的人权反而不是天经地义的。

我们讲经济民主,就是说所有利益相关者都可以在跟他们利益相关的地方有发言权、有参与权,一个企业不光是老板有权利决定,普通的工人也是利益相关者,甚至工厂周围居住的居民也是利益相关者,比如排污,你可能影响到工厂周围的居民,或者你在上游排污,下游的企业也是你的利益相关者,所以利益相关者远远超过几个投资者。而我们的产权理论就是讲我们的企业是老板的,他做任何决策都是理所应当的,有些经济学家就来证明为什么应该是这个样子,这完全是为了剥削辩护。所以,我觉得有些读过几天书的知识分子太把自己当回事。虽然我自己受了几年教育,但是我十分瞧不起这类“知识分子”。

《南风窗》

跟国外的情况比起来,中国知识分子对政府决策的影响的确很大。

王绍光

太大了,不成比例。你看政协是精英俱乐部,政协里面几乎没有地地道道的农民了,人大里面工人、农民也越来越少。这些我们也计算过,80年代初,人大里面有50%以上是工人、农民,现在完全不是,现在大概20%左右。他们占人口的比重可不是20%。

《南风窗》

你怎么看今天中国知识分子的命运问题?

王绍光

我现在不太关心知识分子的命运,我比较关心工人农民的命运。相对而言,知识分子的命运已经很好的,跟中国其它阶层比起来,他们是最好的了。比如,以前有一句话讲:造导弹的不如卖茶叶蛋的,即使在这句话最盛行的时候,工人的工资也从来没有跟知识分子能比的时候。由于这句话,他们能影响或者忽悠决策者,他们命运的改变、福利提高的速度也快得多. 他们在人大政协里面所占比重提得越高,他们待遇提高的速度就越快。

我不知道他们为什么老是会问知识分子命运的问题?关心工农大众的命运更重要。

《南风窗》

改革开放以后,尤其到上世纪九十年代中后期,知识分子圈子化、利益集团化的趋势确实很明显。最近一、两年媒体上关于这个问题的争论也逐渐明晰起来,对于主流经济学家的质疑就是很好的例子。对此,您有什么看法?

王绍光

我觉得现代史已经被歪曲掉了,在局外人看来,中国政治里面充满了荒唐、充满了疯狂——这不符合逻辑,也不符合历史的事实,但是知识分子为了他们的利益叙述历史,就不得不把这些历史展示成那样的方式。如果用那种方式展示,历史就变得非常疯狂,没有道理的疯狂,但是当你真正挖掘史料的时候,发现历史不是那样,它有自己的逻辑,这个逻辑已经不是谁对谁不对的问题,而是说,在当时的历史环境下,有不同社会集团之间的竞争,矛盾就用那种方式展现出来了,它们是有内在逻辑的,如果掌握了这个逻辑你可以一直追溯到土改,有很多事情就说得清楚,但是你没有这个逻辑一切都说不清楚。

今天,我们看到大量的历史被颠倒、被歪曲、被简化、被后人的叙述方式重新解读,但这个历史就不是原来的历史了。57年是如此,土改是如此,大跃进是如此,文革是如此,几乎都是如此。刚解放时有句口号,叫“把颠倒的历史再颠倒过来”。现在似乎有重提的必要。

《南风窗》

会不会有人因此质疑你们跟政府关系太过密切,怀疑你们作为知识分子的独立性。

王绍光

我从来没有为政府说话。我也觉得,独立性本身并没有任何的道德优势,如果故意要装出独立的姿态,我觉得这还是知识分子自恋的表现。如果我的研究有助于政府决策,对这个国家,对人民有好处,为什么不做?

有些所谓“公共知识分子”就是嚷嚷两句,批评两句,但是从来不做任何研究。你用“GOOGLE学术搜索”去查,有些所谓非常“著名”的学者,几乎从来不被学术刊物引用,也没有几篇文章发表到学术刊物上,他们的文章往往只有强词夺理的观点,没有脚踏实地的研究。

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