About the Defaced Desks

Earlier this week I wrote about how some students wrote all over their desks with markers or pens and how upsetting I found that. A Chinese friend, who’s sympathetic to my outlook responded with this explanation:

I’m not surprised by what those kids did, but still I feel really angry at their behaviour.

Literally in Chinese we name these students’ daubs and drawings on desks as student desks culture. You can see this nearly on every school, from elementary schools to universities. I guess many students develop this kind of bad habit when they’re learning at elementary schools. There used to be an article in our elementary textbook, describing a story about a famous writer in China named Lu Xun. It said that Lu Xun once went late for his class, and he got criticized by his lecturer. Then Lu Xun carved a character 早 on his desk, which means ‘early’ in Chinese. From then on, Lu Xun never got late for school. This story intends to make pupils learn the importance of being punctual, but it turns out many students learnt the other thing instead.

Influenced by this story, many students carved 早 on their own desks, and this is the beginning of student desks culture. When the students go to high school, they might feel it’s too naive to carve just one character on their desks, so they start to present more creation. And this continues in universities.

I just searched on the internet and found out that the story about Lu Xun are no longer available in elementary textbooks. However, it seems this story is still very popular, and many teachers encourage their students to read this story. Then, still I guess many kids learn from their elder brothers and sisters, defacing desks in schools. It seems that this has become a tradition for many students, and that’s why the student desks culture are so popular in China. But I feel this is a real great shame.

I don’t think there is much we can do. I just hope many students can realize later that their behaviour isn’t moral. Student desks culture cannot be changed in one day.

Hmm. I never dreamed this would be ingrained behavior from a famous person. I wish they’d emulate people who were extra tidy or generous.


6 thoughts on “About the Defaced Desks

  1. I don’t take the action personally since the desk with the most writing was done in a room I only use on Tues. I see this writing as coming from someone unable to think beyond his or herself and one who’s more accustomed to mess. Generally, Chinese schools are very dirty and messy. They seem to prefer chaos.

    It’s the opposite of what I like in a classroom. And while I can be messy about my own workspace my mess consists of piles of paper and books. Nothing permanent.


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