Teachers bring fan culture into classrooms, sparking public anger on Chinese social media
Published: May 14, 2020 10:13 PM Updated: May 14, 2020 07:13 PM

Wang Yibo (Left) and Xiao Zhan attend a concert for The Untamed in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province on November 2. Photo: VCG

Following primary and middle school teachers, a teacher at a kindergarten in Central China's Henan Province was seen teaching children to support a Chinese idol, sparking public anger among netizens who claimed the teacher was using the students as a tool to chase her idol. 

In a video circulating on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, the kindergarten teacher can be seen teaching a group of children as they sit on the floor to say TFBoys member Wang Junkai is handsome and that she is his girlfriend. 

According to a China Newsweek report, the video was shot in 2017 and the teacher had been suspended shortly after. The manager of the kindergarten said that they will strengthen the training of teachers.

The new video follows other controversial cases in which teachers were seen encouraging their students to support Chinese actor Xiao Zhan, actions that have been criticized by netizens, officials and education experts.

"As a teacher, it is your freedom to support an idol, but your hobby and job should be separate," Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the Shanghai-based 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Teaching students to shout out support for various idols brings fan culture into the classroom, which Xiong opposes. 

"Schools and teachers should guide students to form healthy values and outlooks on life, instead of following a star blindly and participating in activities that waste time."

Xiong added that the values and outlooks of teenage students are in the development state, so they are easily influenced by fan culture. They might blindly imitate stars and begin to irrationally consume these idols' products. 

"These negative issues in fan culture all have influence on students."

Public awareness about these issues began after a short video of a primary school teacher in East China's Jiangsu Province instructing her students to support Xiao began circulating on social media.

The teacher, in Suqian, Shuyang county, posted the video TikTok on Sunday. In the short clip, a dozen or so students can be seen shouting "Xiao Zhan, you are good. We like you. Let's go!" The students also danced to one of Xiao's new songs.

After the teacher was suspended by the school, another middle school teacher in Jining, East China's Shandong Province, reportedly played one of Xiao's new songs during a livestreaming lesson, and asked a student to leave the stream because the student objected, according to Chinese newspaper Nanfang Daily.

The People's Daily called on fans to act rationally when expressing their support for their idols, and said fan culture should not extend everywhere, especially the classroom. Teachers must follow professional norms and ethics and never use students as tools to support their idols.

Xiao, at the center of the controversy, also told his fans to be rational and not to cross professional boundaries.