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The period of schooling should be shortened, education should be revolutionized, and the domination of our schools by bourgeois intellectuals should by no means be allowed to continue.
— MAO TSE-TUNG
[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 11, #44, Nov. 1,
1968, pp. 4-8. Thanks are due to the WWW.WENGEWANG.ORG
web site for some of the work done for this posting.]
The proletarian revolution in education is bringing about radical changes in China’s tens of thousands of schools and colleges. Under the leadership of the working class and the poor and lower-middle peasants, the universities and middle and primary schools throughout the country are conscientiously implementing the principle that “Education must serve proletarian politics and be combined with productive labour,” put forward by Chairman Mao Tse-tung, so as to “enable everyone who receives an education to develop morally, intellectually and physically and become a worker with both socialist consciousness and culture.” They are fundamentally changing the situation in which the schools and colleges were dominated by bourgeois intellectuals and enabling schools and colleges to train up true successors to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat.
Much good experience in this respect is being spread throughout the country and it is being constantly enriched by further revolutionary practice. Though this represents only an initial achievement of the educational revolution, it has opened up a new phase in proletarian education. Reported below, the experience gained in the transformation of education by the Wukou Part-Time Tea-Growing and Part-Time Study Middle School in Wuyuan County, Kiangsi Province, is just one of many such examples.
This school has only four full-time teachers (including one in charge). With very good results, it invites workers, tea-growing peasants and technicians of worker origin to teach. It seems quite likely that Chairman Mao’s thinking on the proletarian revolution in education can be realized more speedily in the rural areas than in the cities. This is because the predominant force of the poor and lower-middle peasants can be established more easily in the rural schools. This furnishes still more convincing proof of how imperative it is to send Mao Tse-tung’s thought propaganda teams of workers, with the participation of Liberation Army fighters, to schools in the cities. Those who do not yet fully understand the significance of this might as well study the situation concerning the rural areas. — P.R. Ed.
THE Part-Time Tea-Growing and Part-Time Study Middle School of the Wukou Tea Plantation in Wuyuan County, Kiangsi Province, was founded in 1965. At that time, it was not clear which line it would uphold, which road it would take. The leadership of the plantation and the school organized a number of meetings to discuss this question. Veteran plantation workers and local tea-growing peasants were invited to speak at the meetings. Recalling the former tea-growing vocational school and tea-growing technical school set up on the plantation, they spoke of the harm of these schools which were divorced from proletarian politics, from the workers and peasants and from labour and reality. They condemned the evils of the bourgeois educational line. The poor and lower-middle peasants made this trenchant demand: “Our school must not be run like the old bourgeois-dominated schools which caused our sons and daughters to degenerate into good-for-nothings unfit for manual labour. We must follow Chairman Mao’s teaching and train up ‘worker[s] with both socialist consciousness and culture.’” Following these meetings, the leadership of the plantation and the school took the initiative in inviting the plantation workers and poor and lower-middle peasants to take a direct part in the school’s leadership and administration. They have made a big effort to strengthen working-class leadership over the school politically and ideologically. Whenever they discuss principles and policies for running the school, they always invite the plantation workers and local poor and lower-middle peasants to participate and voice their criticisms, opinions and demands and give advice. Workers’ representatives from the plantation also take a direct part in the work of the school’s revolutionary committee. In this way, with the workers and poor and lower-middle peasants participating and giving impetus to their efforts, they have step by step carried out the revolution in education in accordance with Chairman Mao’s proletarian educational line.
Under the leadership and management of the working class and poor and lower-middle peasants, the Wukou Part-Time Tea-Growing and Part-Time Study Middle School has pioneered a new road in transforming education.
The general principle it follows in transforming education is to give prominence to proletarian politics, put Mao Tse-tung’s thought in command of everything, have fewer and better courses, closely combine study with productive labour, and study for the purpose of applying what one learns.
The characteristics of the transformation of education in this school are: getting out of the classroom, making workers and peasants its teachers, using production bases as classrooms, linking theory with practice, learning both tea-processing in the workshops of the plantation and farming in the fields. By closely combining classroom teaching and production, the students are able to grasp faster what they study, remember it better and apply it when required.
Pay Great Attention to the Study of Chairman Mao’s Works. Each teacher and student is given a copy of Selected Readings From the Works of Mao Tse-tung, the ordinary language lessons are dropped and, as in the case of the political course, Chairman Mao’s works, especially his latest series of instructions and those concerning the revolution in education, are the sole teaching material. Various types of Mao Tse-tung’s thought study classes have been set up at the overall school level, in each class and in each room of the dormitories. A meeting is held regularly every week by each of the school classes to discuss their experience in the creative study and application of Mao Tse-tung’s thought. Thus, the study of Chairman Mao’s works is really given priority.
The school pays great attention to class education. It uses instances of class struggle in the locality as teaching material by negative example to educate the teachers and students. Among such instances are the conspiratorial activities of the landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements and Rightists and the crimes of active counter-revolutionaries in sabotaging the implementation of the instruction to “resume classes and carry on the revolution” in the school. All this is aimed at sharpening the teachers’ and students’ sense of class struggle and enhancing their level of consciousness in the struggle between the two lines, stimulating their proletarian feelings, and prompting them to do still better in creatively studying and applying Mao Tse-tung’s thought and to remould their world outlook with profound class feeling.
Take Firm Hold of the Struggle Between the Two Lines in Teaching, Simplify Complicated Teaching Material and Make it Suit Practical Needs. Teaching at tea-growing schools used to be done mainly in the classroom, and was seldom linked up with production; lessons were complicated and repetitious, and useless in practice. Originally, the Wukou tea-growing school gave 21 courses, including mathematics, physics and chemistry. Lessons in tea-growing alone accounted for 12 of these courses. How could students take in all this? They could not apply what they had learnt and did not learn what was needed in actual practice. The energy and time of both students and teachers were squandered. Yet the influence of the counterrevolutionary revisionist educational line and the old ideology in people’s minds were so strong that some teachers were conservative in handling the transformation of teaching material. Those teaching mathematics taught according to old, stereotyped conventions. Those who had learnt foreign languages insisted on adding courses in foreign languages. Some chemistry teachers who were keen to show off their “knowledge,” chalked the blackboards full of chemical formulas having nothing to do with tea growing.
There is no construction without destruction. In view of these obstacles to transforming teaching, the leadership of the plantation and the school put a big effort into running Man Tse-tung’s thought study classes in which the counter-revolutionary revisionist educational line pushed by China’s Khrushchev was severely denounced. At one meeting called for such criticism and repudiation. Comrade Chu Chin-kuei, who had worked for years in the old tea-growing vocational school and old tea-growing technical school, wrathfully declared: “Education in the past was nothing but a feudal, bourgeois and revisionist hotchpotch. The heads of most students trained in this way were filled with ideas of seeking fame and fortune. Such students were full of empty talk on every subject. After three years of schooling, they turned out third-grade tea from first-grade material. If any of us today should still take the wrong road of ‘study for the purpose of becoming officials,’ or ‘study for personal fame and fortune,’ and judge a student only by the marks he gets, he will fall into the trap laid by China’s Khrushchov. To be led by the nose by the landlords and the bourgeoisie means forgetting one’s own class origin in the labouring people. We must never do that.” This veteran worker’s trenchant exposure and forceful denunciation was an education for everyone present.
As everyone had enhanced his understanding, the school leadership promptly put forward the principle of facing production and reality, that is, that teachers and students should get out of the classrooms and hold classes in the workshops or in the fields and, through on-the-spot teaching and practice, assess teaching material and content, decide what should be adopted or discarded, and so carry out the transformation of teaching.
The method of going deep into practice to make experiments has produced very good results. In line with practical needs, the teachers and students collected together the complicated teaching materials and courses which originally seemed unrelated to each other, simplified some of them and edited others into concise study materials in accordance with the principle of serving tea production and agricultural production. As a result of this effort, the specialized tea-growing courses were reduced to two as against 12 before, and basic subjects like mathematics, physics and chemistry were also greatly simplified. All the teachers and students were pleased with these changes.
More Workers and Peasants Teachers — “Bare-Foot Teachers Give Lectures”; Intellectuals and Young Students Take the Road of Integrating Themselves With the Workers and Peasants; A “Three-in-One” Method of Teaching by Workers and Peasants, Teachers and Students Is Introduced. This school now has only four full-time teachers (including one in charge). It invites plantation workers, tea-growing peasants and technicians of worker origin to teach. In addition to the ordinary classrooms, it uses the workshops on the plantation and the tea gardens and fields as classrooms for teaching the growing and preliminary processing of tea and the cultivation and management of other crops. This practice has gradually become systematized. Rich in production experience, the workers and peasants give vivid lectures in plain language which is easily understood. They are thus welcomed by the students, who say: “We have learnt from our worker-peasant teachers what we could never have learnt in the classroom before.” “We can easily understand, quickly grasp, firmly remember and readily apply the lessons taught in the workshops by the veteran workers.” A teacher said that in the past he had always spent seven or eight hours in lecturing on a diesel engine but was never able to make matters clear to the students who forgot the first half while listening to the last half of his lecture. However, a veteran worker comrade from the plantation, he pointed out, was able to lecture on the same subject clearly and thoroughly in less than an hour, taking the machine apart and putting it together with ease.
Take Part in Actual Production and Study in the Course of Labour. The school experienced a sharp struggle in carrying out the principle that “Education must serve proletarian politics and be combined with productive labour.” At the beginning, some teachers and students were afraid of hard work and fatigue and were reluctant to take part in productive labour. One teacher said: “I’ve come to teach and not to do manual work.” Some students likewise held that they had come to study and not to do manual labour. In view of these ideas, the leadership of the plantation and school organized the teachers and students to study Chairman Mao’s related writings and quotations. Chairman Mao says: “Working people should master intellectual work and intellectuals should integrate themselves with the working people.” He adds: “By taking part in collective productive labour, the cadres maintain extensive, constant and close ties with the working people. This is a major measure of fundamental importance for a socialist system; it helps to overcome bureaucracy and to prevent revisionism and dogmatism.” There was a general rise in political consciousness as a result of this study. Following the example of the Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese Military and Political College founded under the direct leadership of Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee during the War of Resistance Against Japan, they engaged in productive labour while studying and practised diligence and frugality in running their school. Thus they fostered the revolutionary spirit of hard work and persevered in following the road of combining education with productive labour.
In general, they concentrate on learning about whatever task they are engaged on and closely combine teaching with local production. The slack season in the tea-growing area, for example, is from August of one year to April of the next. The main work in this period consists of land reclamation, expansion of tea gardens and regeneration and transplanting of tea shrubs. Accordingly, the studies at the school centre on the surveying and laying out of tea gardens, the designing of preliminary tea processing workshops and the techniques of cultivating and transplanting tea shrubs. They learn in the course of doing and work while learning. There are fewer lectures in class and more on-the-spot practice.
Apart from regular manual work, in the busy season, classes are moved to the tea gardens and tea processing workshops where students work on the spot and learn from the workers and peasants in practical work. The Wukou tea plantation had a bumper harvest this year, and there was an intensive period of work in picking and preliminary processing. The revolutionary teachers and students at the school volunteered to take on the job of preliminary processing. For two months, they made great efforts to learn from the plantation workers their fine qualities of wholehearted devotion to the public interest, and of working hard and living simply. At the same time, through practice they learnt much technical knowledge and gained much practical experience in preliminary tea processing. They won a twin victory in study and in productive labour, fulfilling the task of doing the preliminary processing of more than 100 tons of tea on schedule and up to the required standard of quality. In this way, they gave great assistance to production on the tea plantation and contributed to the country’s socialist construction.
Guided by Chairman Mao’s proletarian educational line, and under the leadership and management of the working class and the poor and lower-middle peasants, this school is training its more than one hundred students into “worker[s] with both socialist consciousness and culture.” The students who are being educated by the workers and peasants are growing up well; the teachers in the school too are taking the workers and peasants as their teachers and following the road of integrating themselves with the workers and peasants.
With boundless loyalty to Chairman Mao and to the proletarian headquarters headed by Chairman Mao and with Vice-Chairman Lin Piao as its deputy leader, the students and teachers have step by step closely followed Chairman Mao’s great strategic plan, carried out every one of his latest instructions, and have resolutely repudiated the reactionary theory of “many centres,” that is, the theory of “no centre,” and various other reactionary bourgeois trends of thought.
The students and teachers have a firm class stand and are clear-cut about what they love and hate and, in accordance with Chairman Mao’s great teaching, “Never forget class struggle,” fight resolutely and bravely against the enemy. They often travel several kilometres at night to the plantation headquarters and nearby communes to struggle together with the workers and poor and lower-middle peasants against the class enemies. One day, when a runaway counter-revolutionary was tracked to the mountains, they rushed there in the night and captured him.
Using Mao Tse-tung’s thought as their weapon, the revolutionary students and teachers of the school have carried on deep-going and sustained revolutionary mass criticism and repudiation, in the course of which they exposed and condemned the counter-revolutionary crimes of China’s Khrushchov and his agents in Kiangsi Province, Fang Chih-chun and his like; they criticized and repudiated the counter-revolutionary revisionist educational line pushed by China’s Khrushchov and bourgeois ideas of contempt for the workers and peasants. They bitterly hate the class enemies and have an ardent love for the workers and the poor and lower-middle peasants. When some students noticed that a foot-path running between the school and the bank of a stream was in bad condition and caused difficulties for the working people, they took the initiative in repairing it. As the sons of an old, poor peasant woman in the Wukou production team were away from home, the students often helped her carry water, chop firewood and raise vegetables. Workers often have a hard job hauling a cart up a slope in the vicinity of the school. The students saw this and now they regularly lend a hand in the spirit of class brotherhood.
They work hard and live a plain life. They love manual labour and display a selfless spirit. In the three years since the founding of the school, they have perseveringly followed the road travelled by the former Anti-Japanese Military and Political College. They have themselves compiled teaching material and used simple and improvised quarters and equipment for teaching and studying. Just as the old Red Army men did, they give one another hair-cuts and wash and mend their clothes and repair their desks and seats. The room of each teacher contains only a wooden bed, a table and a few stools. Teachers and students constantly engage in productive labour, planting vegetables and raising pigs. As a result, not only have they become self-supporting but they have a surplus, without getting a cent from the state this year.
The students trained in this school are good in ideology, study, manual labour and working style.
One student named Cheng Wei-shih came to the school in 1966. After just three days she wanted to go home because she was not willing to do manual work. She said: “It is a shame to do manual work at school.” When she took part in manual labour for the first time, she was assigned to carry tea bushes that had been cut down. After she had moved just a few, her hands were covered with blisters. When, on another occasion, she went up into the mountains to chop firewood with the workers and peasants, she only chopped seven kilogrammes of wood the whole morning while all the others chopped a big load each. When she got back she did not want to eat but, lying down, complained that her whole body ached. Classmates called her the “delicate young lady.”
However, after a period of education and tempering, a remarkable change took place in her thoughts and feelings. For instance, in the past, she used to hold her nose when, even at quite a distance, she saw a peasant walking towards her with a load of nightsoil. Nowadays, with her classmates she herself often carries nightsoil to the fields. When she went home in April this year after permission had been granted, her mother said: “Wei-shih, your brother has just come back from the army for a holiday. You must stay at home for a few days and keep him company. Don’t do any work.” The girl promised, but as soon as her mother left she joined the commune members at their work. People praised her: “Wei-shih has made rapid progress since she went to the tea-growing school. She is now able to do both mental and manual work. She is really a good student educated by Chairman Mao.”
Different schools train different people. The masses of workers and peasants are the best judges in telling which graduate is good and which is not. Both Yu Ching-hung and her cousin are of poor peasant origin. After they had finished primary school, Yu Ching-hung entered the tea-growing middle school and her cousin entered an ordinary middle school. At that time their political levels were virtually identical, but they have turned into two quite different persons after being trained in these two different schools. Yu Ching-hung made rapid progress. She has been cited many times as an activist in the creative study and application of Mao Tse-tung’s thought and she has attended conferences of such activists held both by the plantation and county. She has boundless love for Chairman Mao and has often said: “Chairman Mao is the saviour of us poor and lower-middle peasants. Everything we poor and lower-middle peasants have, we owe to Chairman Mao. If it were not for Chairman Mao leading us to stand up and win emancipation, how could I enter this school! We must never forget the past. I will always be loyal to Chairman Mao and follow him closely in making revolution!”
But what about her cousin? He also changed. He wore better clothes and his skin became fairer. At first, when he came home, he did some manual work, but later he was reluctant to do this. Seeing the changes in the two, the villagers said: “The tea-growing school is really good. It is good for us poor and lower-middle peasants. It didn’t cost the state a cent and the students it turns out are good.”
The students of the tea-growing school have not only made great progress politically and ideologically, but have also rapidly increased their store of professional knowledge. They have gained both theoretical knowledge and the ability to do practical work. Before entering the school, they hardly knew anything about tea production. Now, they are proficient in the whole production process, including cultivation of tea shrubs, management of tea gardens, elimination of plant diseases and insect pests and the picking and preliminary processing of tea. Students enrolled in 1965 are now able to lake part in planning tea gardens, designing preliminary tea processing workshops and installing machinery. They are much more capable than graduates of the secondary tea-growing technical schools. The head of the present tea-growing school is a former tea plantation technician from a poor peasant family. Shortly after graduating in 1954 from the Central-South China Tea-Growing Technical School, he came to work in the tea plantation. He compares himself with the students of the present tea-growing school: He came with some book knowledge, but was not able to cultivate or process tea, design tea processing workshops or install machinery. It was only later, when he followed Chairman Mao’s teachings, took the road of integration with the workers and peasants, learnt honestly from them and made a new start in studying through practice, that he gradually mastered the skills required in tea production and other related skills. His real teachers were the workers and peasants. He often refers to his experience, telling everyone: “The workers and peasants are our parents. They are always our teachers. If we want to achieve some ability in serving the people, we must follow Chairman Mao’s teachings, take the workers and peasants as our teachers and take the road of integrating ourselves with them.”
Praising the students of this school, the local poor and lower-middle peasants say: “They are truly our students. Such youngsters are indeed practical and reliable and our minds can be at ease about them!” People in many places in the county often ask the school when it will enrol new students. Many poor and lower-middle peasants want to send their children to study there.
Chairman Mao teaches us: “The period of schooling should be shortened, education should be revolutionized, and the domination of our schools by bourgeois intellectuals should by no means be allowed to continue.”
Recently, Chairman Mao again penetratingly pointed out: “To accomplish the proletarian revolution in education, it is essential to have working class leadership; the masses of workers must take part in this revolution and, in co-operation with Liberation Army fighters, form a revolutionary three-in-one combination with the activists among the students, teachers and workers in schools and colleges, who are determined to carry the proletarian revolution in education through to the end. The workers’ propaganda teams should stay permanently in the schools and colleges, take part in all the tasks of struggle-criticism-transformation there and will always lead these institutions. In the countryside, schools and colleges should be managed by the poor and lower-middle peasants — the most reliable ally of the working class.”
The experience of the Wukou Part-Time Tea-Growing and Part-Time Study Middle School in Wuyuan County has proved the greatness and brilliance of these instructions from Chairman Mao. It has also proved that the establishment of such new-type schools integrating theory with practice — schools advocated by Chairman Mao — can completely be realized. A rising tide of revolution in education is coming throughout the country!
(Originally published in “Hongqi,” No. 4, 1968)
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