中国人的创新能力是怎么被扼杀的

Nowadays people may admire China’s economy, but not Chinese creativity. Chinese architecture art, music and movies are derivative, and many a Chinese enterprise is merely a carbon copy of an American one. China’s best schools may produce the world’s best test-takers, but the United States’ best schools produce the world’s most creative talent.

当今人们可能会赞叹中国的经济发展,但却没有人欣赏中国人的创新能力。中国的建筑、艺术、音乐和电影大多缺乏创意,很多中国企业更是直接照搬美国。中国的顶级学府能培养出全球最优秀的应试人才,而美国的顶级学府却能缔造出世上最具创新能力的天才。

David Brooks outlines the four-step learning process that teaches students to be creative: knowledge acquisition (research), internalization (familiarity with material), self-questioning and examination (review and discussion), and the ordering and mastery of this knowledge (thesis formulation and essay writing).

David Brooks总结出启发学生创造力的“四段式”学习方法:获取知识(研究)、消化(熟悉材料)、反思和检查(复习和讨论)、整理和掌握知识(论文和笔记)。

However, this isn’t a linear process, Brooks points out, which means that the learner ‘(surfs) in and out of his unconscious, getting the conscious and unconscious processes to work together – first mastering core knowledge, then letting that knowledge marinate playfully in his mind, then wilfully trying to impose order on it, then allowing the mind to consolidate and merge the data, then returning and returning until some magical insight popped into his consciousness, and then riding that insight to a finished product.’

然而,布鲁克斯指出,这并不是一个线性过程,这意味着学习者需要在他的潜意识中来回穿梭,将意识与潜意识融为一体——首先掌握其精髓,再让这些精髓一直活跃在他的大脑中,进行各种排列组合、巩固加强、合并重组,如此循环反复直到灵光乍现,然后趁势付诸实践、创造出成果。

‘The process was not easy, but each ounce of effort and each moment of frustration and struggle pushed the internal construction project another little step,’ David Brooks continues. ‘By the end, (the learner) was seeing the world around him in a new way.’

布鲁克斯继续写道:“整个过程并非一蹴而就,每一分努力、每一次挫折和拼搏,都使内在理念更趋于完善。最后,学习者会以全新的视角看待他的周遭世界。”

But what permits our brains to turn a chaotic sea of random facts and knowledge into an island of calm understanding? Believe it or not, it’s our emotions that permit us ultimately to become creative thinkers. In his book The Accidental Mind, the neuroscientist David J. Linden explains how emotions organize our memories:

但是,究竟是什么,让我们的大脑将一团充满随机事件与知识碎片的混沌意识,变成冷静而理智的认识?信不信由你,事实上正是我们的情感最终让我们变成具有创造力的思考者。神经科学家David J. Linden在The Accidental Mind一书中解释了情感是怎么组织我们的记忆的。

‘In our lives, we have a lot of experiences and many of these we will remember until we die. We have many mechanisms for determining which experiences are stored (where were you on 9/11?) and which are discarded (what did you have for dinner exactly 1 month ago?). Some memories will fade with time and some will be distorted by generalization (can you distinctly remember your seventeenth haircut?). We need a signal to say, “This is an important memory. Write this down and underline it.” That signal is emotion. When you have feelings of fear or joy or love or anger or sadness, these mark your experiences as being particularly meaningful…These are the memories that confer your individuality. And that function, memory indexed by emotion, more than anything else, is what a brain is good for.’

“我们一生中会经历很多事情,其中许多我们致死都将铭记在心。我们脑中有许多机制,来决定记住哪些经历(9.11事件发生时你在哪里?(注,作者是美国人)),遗忘哪些经历(一个月之前你吃的晚餐是什么?)一些记忆随时间流逝而褪色,还有一些记忆会因过于平常而被混淆(你能清楚记起你17岁时的发型么?)。我们需要有一个信号给予提示:“这是一条重要的记忆。记下来并且加上重点标记。”那个信号就是情感。当你感觉到喜怒哀乐时,这些情感会给你的经历刻上“意义非凡”的标记。这些记忆赋予你独特性。大脑唯一能提供的就是用情感索引的记忆。”

What this means is that memories are ultimately emotional experiences, and that effectively learning must involve the learner emotionally. The very best US schools are seen as such because they inspire their students to be curious, interested, and excited; China’s very best schools gain their reputation by doing the opposite.

这就意味着记忆最终都是情感经历,并且有效的学习是需要学习者全“情”投入的。美国的顶级学府都是如此,因为他们赋予学生求知欲、兴趣和激情;而中国的顶级学府恰恰相反,因压抑学生而著称。

Thinking is the conscious effort of applying our memories to understand a new external stimulus, and creativity is asserting individual control over this process to create a synthesis between memory and stimuli. In other words, thinking is really about applying previous emotional experiences to understand a new emotional experience, whilst creativity is the mixing of old and new emotional experiences to a create an entirely new and original emotional experience. 

思考是运用我们已有的记忆来理解新的外界刺激的意识活动,而创造力则控制这个过程而创造出旧记忆与新刺激的复合物。换句话说,思考就是通过往昔的情感经历来理解一个新的情感经历,而创造力则是通过混合新旧情感经历,进而去创造一种全新的独创的情感经历。

The best US education institutions endow students with creativity by providing a relaxed and secure learning environment in which students share in the refined emotional experiences of humanity by reading books and developing the logic necessary to share in collective emotional experiences through debate and essay writing. A dynamic learning environment allows students at many US schools to feel joy and despair, frustration and triumph, and it’s these ups and downs that encode the creative learning process into our neural infrastructure and make it so transformative. 

美国最棒的教育机构,给学生提供轻松自在、无忧无虑的学习环境,在这里,他们通过阅读可以分享人类思想的精华,并通过辩论、撰写论文来提供共同的情感经历,以培养他们接受分享所必需的逻辑推理能力。许多美国学校通过丰富多彩的学习环境,让学生体验到兴奋与绝望、挫败与成功,正是这些跌宕起伏将有创造力的学习方法编入我们的神经网络,而且能活学活用。

A Chinese school is both a stressful and stale place, forcing students to remember facts in order to excel in tests. Neuroscientists know that stress hampers the ability of the brain to convert experience into memory, and psychologists know that rewarding students solely for test performance leads to stress, cheating, and disinterest in learning. But ultimately, the most harmful thing that a Chinese school does, from a creativity perspective, is the way in which it separates emotion from memory by making learning an unemotional experience.

中国的学校则是一个压抑、没有生气的地方,为了考试成绩,强迫学生死记硬背。神经科学家都知道压力会妨碍大脑将经历转化为记忆的能力,心理学家都知道仅仅用考试成绩来考查学生会导致压力、作弊、厌学。但是最终在创新能力方面,中国的学校做出的最有害的一件事是在教育过程中分割情感与记忆,使学习变成“无情感的经历”。

Whatever individual emotions Chinese students try to bring into the classroom, they are quickly stamped out. As I havepreviously written, from the first day of school, students who ask questions are silenced and those who try to exert any individuality are punished. What they learn is irrelevant and de-personalized, abstract and distant, further removing emotion from learning. If any emotion is involved, it's pain. But the pain is so constant and monotonous (scolding teachers, demanding parents, mindless memorization, long hours of sitting in a cramped classroom) that it eventually ceases to be an emotion.

无论中国学生尝试将什么个人情感带入教室,都无一例外地会被抹杀掉。正如同我之前写到的,自从开学的第一天起,爱提问的学生发现沉默是金,尝试展现个性的学生受到处罚。进一步让情感远离学习之后,他们所学的知识的显得无关紧要、单调乏味、抽象而晦涩。如果说还有什么情感的话,那也是痛苦。但是这种痛苦却是始终如一、单调乏味的(老师的斥责、家长的苛求、机械的记忆、长时间地坐在拥挤的教室里),这唯一的情感也将失去“感情色彩”。

To understand the consequences of Chinese pedagogy, consider the example of ‘Solomon Shereshevskii, a Russian journalist born in 1886, who could remember everything,’ whom David Brooks writes about inThe Social Animal:

为了更好地理解中国教育的后果,让我们看看Solomon Shereshevskii的例子,“他是一个生于1886年的俄罗斯记者”,David Brooks在The Social Animal中写道:

‘In one experiment, researchers showed Shereshevskii a complex formula of thirty letters and numbers on a piece of paper. Then they put the paper in a box and sealed it for fifteen years. When they took the paper out, Shereshevskii could remember it exactly…Shereshevskii could remember, but he couldn’t distil. He lived in a random blizzard of facts, but could not organize them into repeating patterns. Eventually he couldn’t make sense of metaphors, similes, poems, or even complex sentences.’

“在一次实验中,研究人员给Shereshevskii出示了一张纸,上面写了一个由三十个字母和数字组成的很复杂的式子,然后他们把这张纸放进盒子里封存起来。十五年后,他们取出这张纸,Shereshevskii能够一字不差地背出来……Shereshevskii能记起来,但他不能提炼加工。他的脑海里充满了各种孤立的事实,但他不能归纳出一些共同的模式,将它们组织起来。最终他不能理解隐喻、明喻、诗歌,甚至于复杂一点的句子。”

Shereshevskii had a neural defect that prohibited his brain from prioritizing, synthesizing, and controlling his memories to permit him to formulate an understanding of self and the world. Like many a Chinese student today, he could experience, but he could not feel.

Shereshevskiis的神经有缺陷,他的大脑不能对记忆进行排序、合成等加工,也就无法形成对自我和世界的理解。他同许多今天的中国学生一样,只能经历,不能体验。

Chinese schools are producing a nation of Shereshevskiis, students with photographic memory and instant recall, but who can never be creative.

中国的学校正在制造Shereshevskiis之国,这些学生跟Shereshevskiis一样,只有快照记忆和短时记忆,绝不可能拥有创新能力。

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