Listening (to) words

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rock and roll catDuring a recent conversation I had with my primary school friend, we touched one Chinese phrase – ‘Ting Hua’. Directly translated in English, it means listening (to) words. The real meaning of it in the Chinese context means to listen and to act accordingly. This phrase was used very often as a criteria to judge a student at our times. A good listener and follower is defined ‘Ting Hua’, subsequently he/she will be liked by teachers and given more attention and praises therefore. A ‘Ting Hua’ student’s school life is easier. On the contrary, someone who is not ‘Ting Hua’ usually finds school and even social life more difficult.

It would be too dangerous to criticise such quality and equalise some one who is ‘Ting Hua’ as some one lacking independent and critical thinking. (however many times it is true).

For someone who listens to senior attentively and follows senior’s advice, he/she is quicker in inheriting wisdom from someone older or more authoritative. For someone who does not, there are two sides of the coin. He/she might lose the opportunity to gain wisdom from others but he/she also has bette chance discovering or doing something un-experimented before, to be different in the future.

In the context of online education, a ‘Ting Hua’ student will probably excel in a learning environment where the teacher gives precise instructions. But would he/she get lost in an ambiguous and uncertain environment? Does it mean a clear step by step instruction to tell exactly what to do? Does this quality prevent him/her becoming a self-directed learner? I do not have an answer.

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