Notes of top scholars of little use to other students

By Ma Linna Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/24 0:43:03

Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT

The top scorers on the national college entrance examinations, or gaokao, that concluded earlier this month will be announced soon, followed by a scramble for their academic notes.

Zhuangyuan, literally meaning No.1 Scholar, was the title conferred on the top candidate in annual imperial examinations, which have been abolished since 1905.

However, the honorable title is still being used today for high school students who obtain the highest marks in gaokao in their provinces.

Compilations of the academic notes by these top students have reportedly grown into one of the best-sellers on China's various e-commerce platforms including e-retailer giant Taobao.

But be warned: Attempts at replicating ways of learning by simply imitating a top student's note-taking style will prove futile and end in failure.

In-class notes are simply a manifestation of a student's particular way of reflection upon a lesson and the way they represent their thoughts. Discrepancies in modes of thinking naturally generate diverse types of notes. There are as a result no superior and inferior notes. The possibility of them shedding light on another's academic quest is slim.

The proliferation of these notes is nothing more than profiting on the national exams and exploiting one's zhuangyuan title. Worshiping these notes is unwarranted, especially for teenagers who need help the most. Blind imitation is a waste of their valuable time and energy.

Recent years have witnessed an excessive worship of China's top test takers. In 2015, 10 top test takers from seven provinces were honored by an actor playing the role of the ancient Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) in Jincheng, Shanxi Province, followed by a grand parade. The ceremony included the students wearing the same historical red costumes that ancient top scholars wore.

However, it is wrong for this sort of historical appropriation to be used to generate publicity or help commercial interests.

The hype around the notes of top test takers is understandable, but young students are misled in the belief that excellence in study can be simply replicated. Academic achievements call for constant accumulation and there are no shortcuts.

Consequently, acquisition of these notes offers psychological comfort and the notes are actually deceptive in essence.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

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