The Study of Individual Identity Construction under the Rudimental Chinese Education System in Light of Invisible Man

Prof. Wang Tianhua, Heilongjiang University, China, ID CLEaR2017-441;    Abstract: This paper is aimed at understanding the rudimental Chinese education system’s impact on each individual student’s identity-building process. Inspired by Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, this paper attempts to recreate social circumstances the protagonist faced during his intricate self-realization process in the novel to examine whether they apply in the Chinese education system. These circumstances include outside perception, voluntary rejection of identity, surrounding blindness, limitation of opportunities, and social illusions. Although scholars have previously explored the relationship between education and identity and the definition of a holistic education on a political as well as theoretical ground, this paper attempts to provide an evaluation of the Chinese education system’s efficacy in identity cultivation directly through the lens of Chinese students. This type of research is necessary because students are capable of producing an intimate and authentic depiction of the essence of the Chinese education system. The research method employed in this paper is the ethnographic method of semi-structured interviewing. The research was set in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China. Six thorough interviews were conducted with students from different schools representing different age, gender, grade, ranking, and personality. For the purpose of cross-comparison in the same social circumstances, the interviews are separated into segments concerning career preference, persistence in choice, parental authority, opportunities for reflection, awareness of individuality, value of grades, self evaluation, etc. to illustrate more detailed aspects of the Chinese education system’s influence. An empirical analysis, a summary, and a transition are presented after each group of interview segments. Additionally, this paper examines the situation of LGBTQ students under the Chinese education system and the authenticity of the stereotype “Chinese tiger parents”. This paper ends with a qualitative conclusion of the Chinese education system’s influence on individuality. Furthermore, this paper proposes suggestions for future prospects of development in the global educational sector.


Key words: ethnography; semi-structured interview; identity construction; holistic education; the Chinese education system; Invisible Man