Yesterday we posted the essay questions for the national college entrance exam and found them a bit perplexing, to say the least. Students were given a cartoon of three cats eating fish, scolding a fourth cat, “Such times we live in! Why would you catch mice when we have fish?”
We raised some eyebrows as to what it all means, but teachers and experts across the country said that the three cats’ attitude reflects China’s transitional period. Students shouldn’t focus on the lazy cats, that’s “no way to get high scores,” said professor Yu Dan of Beijing Normal University. Instead, they should recognize that the fish “represents reaping without sowing, or various kinds of desires.” (That clears things up.)
As for the Shanghai essay questions, about Danes going fishing with a ruler and ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius using a mesh grid to catch smaller fish, the overarching topic was environmental protection. Again, though, the underlying theme seems to be China’s transition in the world today, including its measures towards ecological preservation, and how students are reacting to it.
Here’s hoping they understood the questions better than we did.
Image via China Daily