An award-winning Chinese schoolteacher has been discharged from duties after discriminating against students based on the incomes and positions of their parents.
The middle school teacher surnamed Xiao, from China’s eastern Tianjin municipality, was voted the “most beautiful” teacher by the school in 2014 for her outstanding performance in teaching mathematics, but had her working licence revoked last week when an audio recording of her demeaning students was released online, prompting a social media outcry.
In the clip, recorded by one of the students, Xiao can be heard saying: “Don’t blame me for looking down upon you. If I told you that the annual income of [the student] Zhao Ting’s mother is equal to what your mother earns in 50 years, do you think your qualities can be the same [as hers]? They can’t be!”
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The discriminatory comments were made after the teacher had initially criticised her class for talking during an exam.
Xiao blamed this “bad behaviour” of the students on their families, who had lower incomes than previous students of hers. She said her previous students were better behaved because they came from families of high-ranking officials and wealthy businesspeople.
She said the families of previous students attached great importance to their children’s studies because they had “high qualities”.
“Those students all listened to teachers’ instructions and behaved well. But look at you. This class has all the students from ordinary families, with parents doing various kinds of jobs,” Xiao said.
“You should think about what high qualities your parents have. [Because of the low qualities of your parents], you chat wilfully in class.”
In a statement released on Saturday, the Education Bureau of Tianjin’s Jinnan District said the teacher and leaders at the Xianshuigu No 2 Middle School were all accountable for the incident, which violated teaching ethics and negatively affected the community.
Xiao has been removed from teaching duties but remains at the school where she has been allocated other duties.
She apparently discriminated against students from different family backgrounds, instead of educating children with the mindset that everyone is equal
Chu Zhaohui,senior researcher, China’s National Institute of Education Sciences
The teacher’s comments in the clip, which went viral online, attracted a barrage of criticism from netizens.
“Judging from what she said, I don’t think she deserves to be a teacher,” one commentator wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.
“Whatever you talk about among adults is fine. But it’s wrong to speak of that to children,” another wrote.
“Maybe she is temporarily muddle-headed and her intention was not to discriminate against students and parents,” a more sympathetic internet user said.
News portal Rednet.cn said in an editorial: “We should ask what happened here [for the teacher] to go from the ‘most beautiful’ to now the ugliest. What was the criteria for the most beautiful teacher at that time?”
Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher with China’s National Institute of Education Sciences, said that it was against the rules for a teacher to speak in that way regardless of the intention behind Xiao’s comments, the China National Radio reported.
“She apparently discriminated against students from different family backgrounds, instead of educating children with the mindset that everyone is equal,” Chu was quoted as saying.
“Her teaching method is also a problem. She should not simply reprimand her students.”
Last year, China’s Ministry of Education issued a circular to highlight the importance of teacher’s ethics.
Chu commented on the circular, saying: “We must let teachers take the initiative to be good teachers because this is the only way we will be assured of high ethics. It doesn’t work for the government to release administrative orders.”
In July 2020, a teacher at a primary school in Shuozhou, in the central Shanxi province, had her teaching licence revoked and was discharged from her position for scolding students and spitting on them.
She was angry that one student’s parents sent flowers to another teacher to express their gratitude while not sending any to her, the Chutian Metropolis News reported.
In 2019, the Shanxi Metropolis News reported that a teacher from a junior middle school in the city of Shangluo, also in Shanxi province, lost his teaching licence and received a demerit in his file after a girl complained that he called her a “b****” because of her poor academic scores.
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