Chinese students' print-like English handwriting stirs controversy

Chinese students' extremely neat handwritten compositions have prompted heated debate among Internet users since photos of the compositions and a teacher's picky remarks were published on Daily Mail Online.

"Can you believe this essay is handwritten?" Daily Mail Online asked.

The website reported on the compositions that looked like they had been machine printed and on the teacher's remarks at Hengshui High School in North China's Hebei province, one of China's top 100 high schools. The teacher wrote, "not one stroke more, not one stroke less" about some compositions that weren't neatly written.

The story immediately roused heated debate among British Internet users and got 652 comments after it was published on Wednesday.

Some British readers were amazed by the neat handwriting and attributed China's growing development to this strict teaching method.

A reader named jim said, "This is another example of why China is rising to the top", and his comment garnered 72 supports.

But some readers thought the too-picky demand doesn't make sense in helping students learn better English and suppresses students' creativity.

"What's the point of this? Handwriting is something unique to the person. Why suppress individuality? " a reader named Qazplm said.

Chinese Internet users also expressed different opinions after yingguobaojie, a user of China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, posted the story along with its comments on Weibo on Thursday. Since then, the post has received 1,479 comments.

Sina Weibo user wenjinzetui said, "Beautiful handwriting proves an ability", echoing an old Chinese saying that the style is the man.

However, another Weibo user, honorificabilitus, said, "It's meaningless to pursue that neat English handwriting, since learning language is for communicating, let alone English students don't write that neatly."

As for the teacher's remark, "not one stroke more, not one stroke less", Weibo user eshouzhe said humorously: "Is the teacher a Virgo?" as those born under the Virgo zodiac sign are believed to seek perfection.

Though the too-strict demand made a British reader ask, "Why suppress individuality," many Chinese Weibo users had their say.

A Weibo user Zaoyidezoe wondered whether neat handwriting has a lot to do with creativity?

And another user, xiuxing, said it's acknowledged that exam markers appreciate neat handwriting and give test takers with good handwriting better scores than those with bad handwriting.

China is a country with a long tradition of underlining calligraphy, even in the ancient examinations such as the keju system, which emphasised good handwriting as a standard to evaluate on whether a participant was qualified to be a government official.

And in the modern national college entrance examination held every June, students' handwriting also matters.

"Careless handwriting may cause a student to lose more than three points in the national college entrance examination," Yu Delong said to the reporter with Yangzhou Evening News. Yu is a Chinese teacher from Hanjing High School in East China's Jiangsu province.

There are also many Weibo users showing worry about this too-strict teaching method, as weibo user li-owl-stop said: "We should reflect the Chinese-style education, and it's hard to imagine what would happen if all the schools in China adopted the teaching method at Hengshui High School."