"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Respond to Susan Watson's Respond

This was supposed to be my respond to Susan's wonderful comments and questions about my last post. However, it appears to be much longer than I expected, and much more ideas are integrated here. So I decide to post in case any of you may also be interested  :)

Thank you for your questions, Susan. They are amazingly inspiring and lead me to deeper thinking.

Situation in China has begin to transform now, despite how subtle it is, and the internet plays a crucial role in it. Unlike the decades ago, the individuals who are willing to change unionize online via weibo (Chinese twitter) now. They support and defend each other's voice by paying attention and reposting. When an individual's voice is echoed by millions of people online, it became much harder for the government to tranquilize it.

One recent example is the sex video of corrupted officers. An ordinary journalist posted one piece of sex video of an Chongqing (a big city) officer online, which drew attention from millions of people. The Journalist claimed that he had clips of many other important officers, which nerved Chongqing government so much that 10 high-level officers had been dismissed because of "their corrupted personal life" . However, the journalists said none of the dismissed was in his video. The police in Chongqing was irritated, and wanted to arrest the journalist secretly. The journalist updated on weibo every hour to confirm that he was still free and alive. He said if he stopped posting, it meant he was in danger. Due to the intensive attention online, he is still free and have access to his lawyer now.

Chinese netizens shoulder a historically significant responsibility to save the country and change the country by expressing themselves online despite how hard it is. Compared with the printed media and official media, the internet is fresh and flexible. Although many words are sensored, there are strategies to deal with the situation. For example, people may write something in words as capture the screen as pictures. The picture may not be immediately detected and blocked online, so that they could be available online. Also, people use words of similar pronunciations or metaphors to replace the censored words. (It could be a very interesting to research about the online literacy undre strick censorship.) Although there are always risks for the posters to be detected, tranquilized and even secretly arrested, the people are not giving up to fight again the unfairness.

I feel grateful that I have the access to different voices, although I am not one hundred sure if they are always right. However, what matters is that my deep rooted concepts are challenged and shackled. I do not necessarily embrace all the American notions, but I embrace the new possibilities, in other word, open my mind to new ways of thinking. Marxism believes that everything created by human beings is rooted in what they have been exposed to. Sometimes people cannot figure things out because they are so locked within their own way of thinking and ignorant of other's ideas. One of the contribution I could make is to suggest other ways to look at the problems. I do not have to write a book of articulate my opinion, but just ask questions. I have tried this with one of my friend. When I kept asked questions about one social issue, and follow-up questions about the assumptions embedded in his answers, what we got from the conversation was amazing. If I, as well as those who want to make a difference, keep asking questions and challenging peoples assumptions, we will discover the power in the mass.

I am also thinking about the culture shock I may encounter if I go back to work. I know for sure it won't be easy. If I choose to be a teacher, I doubt to what degree I could practice the learner-centered philosophy.  If I am a teacher, which is the authority in the teacher-student relationship, I will have to challenge my colleague and superiors to let go their domination in classroom and empower the students.   It might be great to both students and teachers in the long term, but I am not sure if we are ready for this yet.

There are so many questions need to be answered. Despite how sophisticated, object and insightful I wish I could be, the answers I provide here is just based on my personal experience and the reflection I could have at my current cognitive level. I hope you enjoyed reading it and I will appreciate your comments and questions :)


  1. Thank you, Yilan. You are amazing! You ARE an ambassador of China, and your voice is powerful.

  2. Annie, you have so much to share and teach us all. Thank you for opening up and choosing us to speak to.

  3. Annie, the insights you raise and the challenges you face are profound. It is an honor to witness the brave journey you are on. I feel like protecting you on the one hand and cheering you on the other. These are historic times, times of upheaval; you are conscious of your place in this moment of great possibilty and risk. There was an editorial in the Washington Post today by Xiao Qiang of the China Digital Times, about Xi Jinping's National Dream, the fact that personal dignity was not a part of it, and the high stakes political reasons for this. I'll bring to class, cause I cant find a link. Whew. If anyone thought literacy was neutral, they need to look no further than you postings in this blog.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.