It’s no secret that Chinese society places an excessive emphasis on academic records. Many parents believe that entrance into a good school corresponds to their children’s happiness. Some parents go so far as to bribe teachers to have their children’s grades raised and, in some extreme cases, teachers actually demand bribes from parents.
In such a society where the school teacher holds a unique position of power, it is crucial to foster a set of strong moral standards and ensure that teachers adhere to them.
Or you could go ahead and publish a wacky set of guidelines like those found in the Guangdong province’s “Teacher’s Professional Ethics Reader,” which contains all the ground rules you need to know to be an ethical teacher, including: “Gifts from parents and guardians must be returned within 24 hours,” “No photos of family members in the teachers room,” and “No vintage or worn jeans.”
Though an official set of guidelines discussing the role of teachers in the classroom were established by the national government in 2008, officials in Guangdong judged them impractical and went ahead and drafter their own from scratch.
The new guidelines are composed of 101 articles, divided up by the three traits deemed necessary in teaching staff: morality, decency, and integrity.
However, many teachers point out that for being as detailed as they are, the guidelines have nothing to do with being a good teacher and don’t do much more than try and strip them of their individuality.
Take the following 2 sections, for example:
[How to refuse gifts from parents]
“Refusing the gift directly will cause the giver to lose face and therefore it should accepted temporarily and then returned within 24 hours. Be careful not to rip or damage any wrapping. In the case of raw food etc, a substitute good should be given instead.”
“No vintage or worn jeans, stockings, or tights with holes in them.”
“All articles of clothing should not show any more than 3 colors at the same time.”
“Eyebrows should be shaped moderately. No drawn eyebrows.”
“Men should wear long socks and must not expose their ankles.”
…and so on.
Of course, guidebook does discusses more relevant issues like bribery and voyeurism (though we don’t think a guidebook is required to understand those are no-no’s), but it’s difficult to understand what color-coordinating your attire has to do with teaching students.
Luckily, this guidebook has no legally binding power and there is no penalty for failing to comply with any of the standards. All the officials in Guangdong can really do is hope that public school teachers use a little of their bribe money to purchase the book and use it for personally reference in the future.