CLASS assignment at a Guangzhou university hasprovoked controversy after local press reportedthat a professor asked students to design ahypothetical plan to rob a bank. The professor saidthe same assignment had been used at the HarvardBusiness School to train students how to managehuman resources.
Many shocked commentators have criticized theassignment as absurd. They suggest that it mayeven encourage students to commit crime. Such aproject wouldn’t have any educational value, theyargue. Others say that robbing a bank is not necessarily an innovative idea for a college classproject; it only shows that the educator has run out of legitimate ideas and methods.
However, a greater number of other commentators support the project. They suggest thatsuch unconventional methods will capture students’ imaginations and make the class moreinteresting.
Students, too, came to the professor’s defense, saying it was a very inventive project fromwhich they learned a lot.
Do you think this is a project that should be assigned to a college class?
It won’t turn students into bank robbers. There’s no need to make such a fuss over it.
1. College students are adults with a well-grounded sense of right and wrong. Simply beingasked by a professor to write a plan for robbing a bank isn’t going to provoke them to docarry it out.
2. Not every lesson in a college class has to be about morals or social values. Academicfreedom means professors can give students assignments like this, as long as they arechallenging and educational.
3. The main problem with the Chinese educational system is its lack of innovation and freshideas. Students have been taught for decades to simply recite and repeat. This project is anexample of educational innovation and should be encouraged, not criticized.
There are better ways to be innovative in the classroom than designing a bank robbery.
1. A bank robbery, however hypothetical, usually involves violence. Although college studentsprobably wouldn’t carry out such an act, encouraging them to plan violence is inappropriate.
2. There are better ways to stimulate students’ imagination and critical thinking. The fact thatthe professor chose this particular case means that he is not sensitive enough to thestudents’ real needs.
3. Just because the assignment was used at a US college doesn’t mean it’s suitable for aChinese university class. Borrowing “revolutionary” educational methods from abroad withoutadapting them to the situation in China can lead to problems.