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Lu Qin: Enjoys Being Children's Intimate Friend
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The secret of happiness should be like this: expecting it if it is still afar; enjoying it if it is all around you; and retaining it if it has gone. -Lu Qin


Lu Qin is the associate editor-in-chief of Chinese Teenagers News and is better known as nationwide "Zhi Xin Jie Jie" (literally "your intimate sister who can have a heart-to-heart talk with you").



Born in Beijing in 1948, Lu Qin became a columnist of "Zhi Xin Jie Jie" with Chinese Teenagers News since 1980s. She initiated the Zhi Xin Jie Jie magazine and became the editor-in-chief at the age of 52.


She is regarded as a senior expert on education of children and teens. As an invited speaker of several TV programs and academic seminars, she makes efforts in promoting harmonious education which best explained in her best-seller books such as Telling the Child That 'You Are Great', Telling the World That 'I Know I Can', Good Parents and Good Kids.


In a recent interview, Lu Qin shared her views on childhood and education for children and teens ahead of International Children's Day.


Question: in your book Good Parents, Good Kids you mentioned that "it will be a misfortune if one leads a life without a happy childhood". How about your childhood? Was it happy?


Lu Qin: Absolutely right! It was very happy and sweet.


I am the fifth child of my parents; I have three sisters and two brothers. It is a blessing to have such a big and harmonious family. The most precious gift I get from my family is to share with others; we learn how to love and take care of others. It has rooted in our life. In addition, my mother is a democratic person who has neither overestimated nor overindulged us. In other words, my family gave me a happy and sweet childhood although we led a simple life at that time.


Besides, the life in primary school played an important role in my childhood. I've spent six years in Shi Jia Hu Tong Primary School (now changed into Shi Jia Primary School) and enjoyed the life there. We were encouraged to attend various kinds of activities that could help to develop ourselves in a comprehensive way.


I was good at painting so I was in charge of editing, painting and writing the blackboard newspaper in my class. My capabilities of coordination and organization have been well developed during various kinds of social activities. I was given full trust and supported by my teachers and classmates. Thus, my sense of achievement and self-confidence has been gradually cultivated and nurtured.


To a great extent, childhood is really important. A happy childhood is extremely crucial to one's life. The happiness of the childhood has nothing to do with how much money you have. Rather, it derives from a position where your interest and capabilities are allowed to develop.


There is a controversial problem related to education of young children in China. Most kids, reluctantly or not, have to join "hobby classes", they range from singing, dancing, drama, to English, and mathematic studying, over the weekends. It seems as if kids nowadays are bearing more pressures than before; a happy childhood seems a "mission impossible". What's your comment on this phenomenon?


Everything has a "balance" inside. Joining "hobby classes" has been overdone; and overdone means "burden".


Kids nowadays are dead tired, and sometimes exhausted, compare to my childhood. Their schedules are always fully arranged like this: go to school from Monday to Friday and spend four half days on hobby classes over the weekends.


To be honest, the origin of those classes was good; it helped to develop kids' interest and talent in different areas. But what turns out to be terrible is that only the "utilitarianism" will be left if kids join those so-called "hobby classes" without any hobby.


Honored as "Zhi Xin Jie Jie" nationwide since 1980s, you are considered as a senior expert on education. In your opinion, how is the psychological status quo of younger generation in China?


Not so good as far as I know.


The younger generation was born after 1980s; they have no brothers or sisters because of the "one-child" policy. They led a better life compared to their parent's generation. They have problems with studying, making friends, and applying for jobs. At the same time, they have to deal with multiple pressures from family, school, and society. It is really a big challenge to them all.


But what is gratifying is that the "post-80s generation" seems promising after they reach working age. They're ambitious, energetic and flexible. But they are too sensitive and sometimes are too easy to get frustrated.


I've met with several students who are tired of studying and learning. The main reason is that they cannot adjust themselves to a new situation so they totally give up. It is worthy of note to such kind of phenomenon.


You have mentioned "five losses" of the younger generation in China--the loss of a happy childhood, the loss of study motivation, the loss of spiritual culture, the loss of communication between family members, and the loss of a sense of achievement. How can we get those "losses" back as much as possible?


Participating in social activities is a good way, because the sense of achievement comes from what you have done by yourself.


By the same token, children and teens are encouraged to retain close links with the nature and engage in volunteer programs as much as possible. It will help them to broaden their views, and gradually understand what it means to be a human being. I’m sure that they will be benefit from what they learn beyond textbooks.


Being a human being is more meaningful than success; growing up is more meaningful than exam scores; giving is more meaningful than getting. Keep these tips in mind, our children will be grow up in a psychologically healthy way.


What are the main problems those children in urban and rural areas facing?


Children from different areas have their own happiness and vexation.


Children in urban areas have more opportunities. They have a better life in terms of both material and spiritual. They have a broader view on what the world looks like. However, they are bearing more pressures. The competition gets fiercer in cities. Their lives are boring; they move back and forth between home and school. They seldom go hiking. They are judged by exam scores and which school they are in. They feel less happy and lack of the sense of achievement.


Children in rural areas, especially those in remote areas, have less extracurricular reading materials although their studying condition is gradually improving. Their spiritual life is somehow hollow. They have a narrower view on the outside world. They do nothing but study. Thus, it might lead to psychological shortcomings or, as they say, an inferiority complex. They may look down upon themselves when they come to big cities for the first time. What is sad is they lose their self-identity and forget their unique advantage--retain a closer link with the nature. Hence, children in rural areas need more self-confidence. They should believe that they are second to none; they can enjoy a fresh air, beautiful scenery; their capability for survival is far better.


Aims to develop abovementioned advantages of children in rural areas, we plan to promote "mini breeding" program. My colleagues and I have been to Sichuan Province recently. What impressed us most was the "diary of life observing" that written by local children. They wrote down how to select and sow seeds, and their expectation of the planet's future; they noted how to select and feed rabbits, and their prescription for the sick one. They enjoyed such programs and learnt how to build up self-confidence and a sense of achievement.


In the case of migrant workers' children, they lack of a sense of security and self-confidence when they come to urban areas with their parents from a small backward area. They consider themselves as an "outsider". However, they are diligent, and know how to treasure what they get. They need special love and care, and some basic psychological readjustment and guidance in order to cultivate self-confidence and self-control.


As the number of wealthy families increases, becoming "an overseas student under the age of 18" seems a rising "trend" in China. Do you think it is good for children and teens?


To be honest, I strongly oppose this "trend".


The outside world is fascinating; the management of overseas schools is more flexible than domestic schools. But most students under the age of 18 lack self-control. It will be dangerous if they indulge themselves without any supervision.


Parents should think carefully and clearly before they make the decision to send their child abroad. In my opinion, it will be reasonable if you have money and your child is mature and independent enough--or after they get a Bachelor's degree, to study abroad.


(Beijing Review June 1, 2007)

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