“Oh, no, I don't think you understand-- I don't want to learn how to write. I want you to do it for me."
More than a few times, when dealing with students who've made it abundantly clear that they have no interest in learning anything, and who believe that I am perfectly happy to receive a small sum in exchange for seeing to it that they slide along through the system, the thought has crossed my mind: For the sake of the integrity of education, someone needs to stop these kids before they pay their way through any more barriers. If these kids get into their "dream schools," they will take up valuable space, torture their roommates, and convince their classmates that China isn't really a country worth their respect.
This all led me to wonder, what does qualify a student for education? I can think of a few characteristics:
* The student is excited about learning
* The student is culturally aware and unprejudiced
* The student is creative and can add new value to old discussions.
In a word, one might describe such a person as "educated." But then, if education were the prerequisite for education...
As it turns out, many of the Chinese students I have met do not meet these standards, as I presume many students anywhere may not. Their parents are conspicuously wealthy, overbearing, and possibly corrupt, and the students themselves are not above leaning on their family's power and influence to avoid being productive themselves. They don't "deserve" the opportunity provided by a world-class American university.
And that's precisely why they need it more than anyone.