“Please Return Happiness to Learning”, Chinese Reactions

Li Chengyuan on Chinese speech show 超级演说家 Super Speaker.

Li Chengyuan on Chinese speech show 超级演说家 Super Speaker.

The following microblog post was published on Children’s Day on the official Weibo account of government newspaper People’s Daily

From Sina Weibo:

@人民日报: This speech has become popular! Students, do you agree?


The full segment featuring Li Chengyuan’s speech, on Youku:

This is from the May 9th episode of 《超级演说家》 “Super Speaker”, a Chinese speaking talent competition TV show that is similar to The Voice of China. The judges or “coaches” on the show are Chinese celebrities:

  • Chen Luyu, a talk show host;
  • Li Yong, a CCTV presenter;
  • Lin Zhiying aka Jimmy Lin, a Taiwanese singer recently famous for his participation in the super popular Where Are We Going, Dad? TV show; and
  • Le Jia, known as the psychologist on the popular Chinese dating show If You Are The One.

At the beginning of the video, Li Chengyuan introduces himself as someone who has previously studied abroad in Australia and is now an English tutor for middle school students in Shanghai. He explains that as a student, he was an excellent debater in debate competitions, as well as a fenqing. He has always spoken up about his social criticisms.

Today, he is on Super Speaker to petition on behalf of all of China’s middle school students, about a problem they are facing. He is critical of teachers who assign large amounts of homework to students. He believes they are transferring their own work pressure to increase student graduation and admissions to higher grades/schools onto the students.

The first half of his speech is mostly translated above.

In the second half, he argues that teachers should seek effective teaching methods, improve teaching quality, and pay more attention to each student they are responsible for, as opposed to constantly assigning a lot of schoolwork/homework, increasing the burden of students. He says he dare not say whether or not he knows teaching, but he at least knows that allowing children who are physically and mentally still growing to sleep only 5-6 hours is not okay. He ends by saying society should not deprive children of their right to a healthy life.

Although the audience applauded Li Chengyuan multiple times in his short speech, none of the judges/coaches selected him for their group. After the speech, two coaches, Li Yong and Le Jia, mention that teachers were ordered to reduce homework for students. However, within days, parents complained and demanded that teachers increase homework.

Ultimately, Li Chengyuan was eliminated from the competition after being rejected by Lin Zhiying as well.

Li Chengyuan’s speech was titled “Please Return Happiness to Learning”.

Comments from Sina Weibo:


Can we not have a close-up of Luyu‘s head…? [黑线]


Although I’ve complained like this in my high school days, but when I think about it now, if one really wants good grades, then having a lot of school work is still correct. As for him saying “then what are teachers for”, this comment is simply illogical. The methods of solving problems that the teacher teaches you during the day and the methods of learned while doing homework problems at night are completely complementary.


Don’t find high-sounding excuses for your own lack of effort. In the present environment, only those who do more can possible earn more. Don’t say irresponsible things just to cater to some children who aren’t sensible. I can say I am someone who has gone through this, and I really regret not doing more school work back in my time, because otherwise I would be looking at a different world now.


Expresses that this person is purely a stupid cunt.


How many students would voluntarily doing homework/school exercises? How many students can learn without a teacher? Knowledge of course requires large amounts of repetition to train one’s memory. So the speaker is a stupid cunt.


Demagoguery. What high-achieving student didn’t come from doing lots of school work [homework exercises]? Who can reap without sowing?


This guy even talks as if he is right and knows everything. If the amount of homework problems does not reach a certain level, then grades really will not go up. What more, it is only academic dregs [underachievers] who have to spend so much time doing them. With academic tyrants [overachievers], you don’t have to assign them homework and they’ll find homework problems/exercises to do on their own. Although I am a student, I have experienced the gaokao and know well that sort of cruelty. If students from humble families aren’t even willing to do some homework, then how are you going to compete with those rich second generation and official second generation [children of the wealthy and government officials, children of the privileged classes]?


Hehe… [汗] pandering for the applause of those children.


Based on the classrooms commonly seen in Beijing, it is 40 students per class, and a teacher teaches two classes. If a teacher assigns one set of homework, then that means correcting 80 sets of homework! Hehe, do you think teachers have nothing better to do than insisting on assigning homework? Talking about easing the burden [on students] without reforming the educational system? That’s all empty words! Merely using formalism/superficialism against formalism/superficialism! It sounds good here, but if teachers do not give homework, just wait and see if parents will say the teacher is being irresponsible! Pshhh!


As a teacher, I want to ask, do you think we teachers want to assign students homework? If we don’t assign, wouldn’t it be easier for us? When [a student’s] grades are bad, the first person parents criticize is the teacher. Actually, the homework that teachers give students these days have all been considered [calculated]. The majority of students can finish them in [the anticipated amount of] time. If some students are slow in doing things, then of course they’re going to take a long time! Do you think the majority of students can grasp the academic lessons without going through homework practice problems?


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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