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Ah finally. The end is in sight.

To wrap things up, China has a different style of thinking than America. China is more focused on unity and harmony than on fighting their way to the top. Their primary concern is “saving face” when it comes to public interaction. To keep from shaming themselves or another is constantly at the forefront of their minds. In America, striving toward person goals and improving personal standards is more important than watching out for the interests of others.  Standing out in a crowd is an uncomfortable feeling for most, but in America, there are those who thrive on the experience. Being so uniquely individual is preached here as an expectation. We are taught to “be all that we can be” and to “be ourselves.” In China, blending in and being one in a million is encouraged and expected; to stand out is socially unacceptable. Educationally, Americans are taught to problem solve and to think critically. We expand our knowledge through experience and by discussing what we think, feel and believe. Analytical processing is another part of our testing standards. We have freedom in our learning style to make inferences and make our own answers for the most part. The Chinese prefer structure in everything that they do; from learning, to the workplace, and in home life. Educational thought in China is overly logic based, leaving little room for imagination.

In terms of religion, Americans have basic constitutional rights to protect us from religious discrimination. We are able to freely express what we feel, as we feel it, even in protesting. America is primarily Christian, (this includes all Christian sub-sets and derivations). China is much more limited in its religious freedom. Because their government is communist, atheism is promoted and expected. “Non-threatening” religions such as Buddhism and Taoism are tolerated, while Christianity is currently illegal in much of China, though still practiced by some. When it comes to politics, China is, as stated before, communistic, which follows their need for rigid structure accordingly. America is conversely a democracy, (though arguably a representative republic).

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On to politics!

Both China and America have significantly different ways of running their countries politically. China is known to be communist, while America is decidedly a democracy.

Who can blame China for wanted to be controlled though? With a population topping 1.3 billion, and on the rise, a little order is, well, in order. Though communism is not ideal when put into practice, it may be just what the doctor ordered for the huge nation. China occupies roughly the same amount of land as the United States, though the U.S. holds a mere 307 million. If the citizens of China had free reign to do whatever they saw fit, there is simply not enough elbow room. Communism was initially established by Mao Zedong back in the early 1900’s because of the Boxer Rebellion, which brutally killed many and starved the rest. The Great Revolution soon followed and Zedong’s communistic rule came as a welcome relief. As an aside,  I stated briefly in the religion portion of this blog that religion in China was regarded as outdated, and their current government even goes so far as to equate communism with atheism.

America is a sort of representative republic at this point. We claim democracy, but inch closer to socialism with every decision made in the government. “The people” make the decisions in America by electing officials. Though we are many individuals with differing ideas, our system of government brings us together in our common values to move the nation forward.  While democracy is arguably better than communism, it would be a stretch to say that it is the perfect form of government. We are currently learning in Government class that our house of reps and senate are extremely partisan. The Democrats and Republicans are in constant rivalry with each other. They undermine the ideas of the other party, in turn making any real progress a difficult, if not impossible, task. It must be said that Americans do have incredible privileges in this country though. The Chinese would be forced into jail for expressing any feelings of distrust or disapproval of their government. Here, we can protest all we want thanks to the first amendment.

Go America.

An extension beyond what has already been said about education:

This site talks about how Chinese children prefer order and structure in their educational lives compared to American kids. U.S. kids enjoy schedules that are flexible and school that “feels like play”, while the Chinese want to be told where to be, what to do and how to do it, at all times. To each his own, I suppose. Americans prefer to discuss possibilities. This is exemplified by our very own Penn High School, when classes break into small groups for discussion, or “circle up” in large groups for a seminar style type of learning. By sharing ideas and proposing feasible solutions to contextual questions, we learn by suggestion. It must be said though that Chinese girls, more than boys,  prefer “feeling” styles over “thinking” styles of learning. Critical thinking skills are not only encouraged here in the states, but are tested upon in the majority of school districts in America. Conversely, Chinese classrooms are significantly more authoritarian and material is “tell it like it is” in nature.

Death by Internet!! I just thought this was interesting, though unrelated.

A look at religion in Chinese and American societies:

This article entails the history of Chinese religion, or lack there of. The state was very much in control of the religious practices occurring. The Confucian government discouraged Buddhism and Taoism, going so far as to convert temples for more common use. The government is much less religious now, and are simply striving to promote their control. I would say that they are threatened by a so-called “higher power”, finding it necessary to assert their superiority. Religion is viewed as a practice of the past; a display of pre-scientific thinking.  During China’s cultural revolution in the late 1960’s, religious practice basically ceased to exist. It was almost 1980 before public expression was again allowed by the party and state. And even then, this allowance was based on recognizing and remembering China’s rich cultural history that ties directly to the nation’s identity. Quietly peaceful Buddhist doctrines were not seen as threatening, but Christianity was outlawed.

In modern times, the spread of religion in China is much more obvious, and not nearly as private. This link gives some specific numbers regarding China’s current popular religions and the populations of each. As can be seen, a larger percentage of Chinese claim no religion compared to Christianity, Buddhism and other such preferences.

Now on to America.

Our national motto is “One Nation Under God“, which even appears on our currency. This country was founded on Christian morals and beliefs, though recently, the religious aspect of America resembles more of a tossed salad of differing religions. According to this site, which claims to be current, 78.4% of Americans are Christian, with Judaism coming in second at 1.7% and surprisingly, Buddhism in third with 0.7%. Obviously Christianity is still the primary religion of America.

What an interesting find! In line with traditional Chinese collectivist thinking, I found this link that describes China’s basic educational culture. It is known that conformity is expected in Chinese culture, but what you may not know is that unlike American children, these kids extremely are uncomfortable, and are even dishonored by being “singled out.” American children love attention, but the Chinese would much rather fit in and become just another face in the crowd. Standing out and expressing individuality is discouraged by their society and undesired by the kids themselves. Another interesting tid-bit: Chinese kids are not normally grounded for their inappropriate actions, but are instead encouraged to think about what they have done wrong and basically beat themselves up for it. Fascinating, yea?

This blogger entails that Americans, (ranked numero uno in terms of  individualism), have a distinct way of communicating that is shared by few other cultures. American discuss stories and information in a general format that involves telling the overall point of a story and further filling in the details later. This style of communique is polar opposite to the method of speaking shown in Germany. Germans tell all the details and names of people involved before “getting to the point.”

We all know that climbing the socio-economic ladder in today’s world is by far the most important accomplishment to be made in one’s lifetime. But where Americans and Chinese differ is the approach in which they rise to the top. Americans are so focused on promoting self-value and personal achievement, that they are blinded to the needs of others. In the U.S., we build work relationships to “get ahead” and advance in the workplace. Conversely, in China, workers strive to develop overall harmony and endorse the common good. They grow closer to their peers because they want everyone to feel accepted. Who knew? If someone disagrees with another, they will take them aside privately and express their differences. Publically saying “no” to a coworker, or anyone for that matter, is an extreme blow to the other person’s dignity. Of the utmost importance is “saving face”; both thier own honor and that of others. If you have any respect for them, that is. The workplace embodies a much more harmonious, respectful air, which, my fellow Americans, doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me.

As Mr. Coffee so accurately pointed out, and as I mentioned before, though America is predominantly individualistic, there are certain aspects of our culture that lean towards collectivism. For example,  the old idiom “There is no I in team” serves as a reminder that working together brings the group to common goal quicker.

In the most basic sense, collectivism is about holding the needs of others, or the whole, above your own. This is displayed in a captitalistic society and is another collectivist attitude exhibited in America. In China, communistic views are currently running the show. Every person has a place in society that they are expected to fill. Striving towards one’s own goals is discouraged and simply not accepted. In America, we are taught from a young age to “be ourselves” and that “we can be whoever we want to be” as long as we work hard.

The United States is a young country in comparison to China and many other countries around the world that are more “established”. While we have been a functioning nation for less than 300 years, China has a cultural history stemming from over 4000 years of trial and error. Edward Yui-tim Wong, an assistant professor at Lingnan University suggests that “for key elements can be identified to be common in the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong and probably among overseas Chinese. The four elements are respect for age and hierarchical position, group orientation, concept of face and importance of relationships.” Based on this observation, collectivism is clearly a staple in the morals of Chinese society.

As I continue to trek through the vast expanse that is the internet, I realize that posting random links in this blog without set up helps neither you nor I. That leaves the option of summary and nutshelliness, which takes so darn long. I suppose that is the point of this blog though; to keep the researcher on her toes and accountable for the information provided.

Or perhaps its sole purpose is to further our appreciation for summer vacation.

Either way, this endeavor is going to take a very long time. Sigh.

In a blog called The Communicator, the author points out that individualism should not be confused with selfishness or egoism, but rather a personal need to express “competition, personal achievement, promotion of one’s own interests, well-being, freedom, uniqueness in personality, dignity, pride, self-satisfaction, independence, autonomy, initiative and creativity.”

Other cultures may look at us and condemn our actions as being self-serving, instead of recognizing America’s general pursuit towards improvement. The United States is continuously remaking itself; furthering our knowledge and technological understand. Sure, we want to be the best. It must be recognized that in being the best, we are setting the standard for other countries, such as China, to follow. We are able to help countries like Haiti in their greatest time of need because we are leaders. We have the technology, the initiative, the focus needed to realize what we want. Because we are individuals. Because we make up the greater whole with our strong individual differences.

Excuse me while I step off of my soap box. Ehem.

My next post will describe collectivism in similarly adamant  detail, if that is possible in spite of my American heritage. Same time, same channel.

Welcome to QuailTheatre. I encourage you to notice the United Kingdom way of spelling “theatre”. I assure you, this was no accident. As long as clarifications are being made, it must be said that this blog does not, and will not, have anything to do with quails or theatre. My apologies for dashing any hopes to the contrary.

This blog is in fact dedicated to the senior exit project required of every AP Lit student at Penn High School. Nifty, huh?

In AP Psychology class, we briefly learned about the differences between individualistic vs. collectivist systems of living. I decided to research both mindsets in the context of the United States and China. I want to know how each society is represented by these labels and if one is better than the other somehow.  As of yet, I of course am significantly bias toward individualism, considering my current citizenship in the U.S. Putting that aside though, I hope to dig deeper and surpass the shallow partiality I have to this mentality. For all we know here in the States, collectivism could be a highly superior way of life and state of mind. Neither societal idea is exclusive however, as both countries possess a portion of the values shared by the other. Even so, the difference is large enough to be noticed.

So hop on the train folks. You might just learn something.