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By Anita Chan

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Extra info for Children of Mao: Personality Development and Political Activism in the Red Guard Generation

Sample text

Many boys took the red scarf as an unwanted symbol of conformity to adult authority, no longer as a glorious cloth dyed red by the blood of martyrs. Several interviewees recall that they had begun refusing altogether to put on the scarf. In one interviewee's class, the peer-group pressure not to wear the scarf became S() strong that few boys wore it despite persistent harassment from teachers and student cadres. It was not uncommon in upper primary school to have student cadres stationed at a school's main gate to intercept any students without scarves , jot down their names and report them to the teachers.

But because Chang's positive orientation to the values was not manifested by conformity , it went unrecognized. For how did a child show himself to be 'a good student of Chairman Mao' except by externalizing it, by conforming actively to the school authorities' demands? In his 'political manifestat ions' (biaoxian) Chang appeared at best ordinary, at worst antisocial. He did not distinguish himself in manual labour , in organizational ability or concern for his classmates. He had no interest in outdoing his peer group in public displays.

1 was stubborn. 1 said to myself: 'I lost my red scarf and so what. What's your business to keep on asking me about it. ' The teacher punished me by making me stand . 1 stood for a long time. For several weeks 1 was not allowed to put on a new red scarf. Oh, the teacher was so furious . She punished me for so long. 1 was such a good student and had become this bad! 1 cried and cried in front of the school office. At last they gave me another one, in a big and impressive ceremony. Political Education, Character Formation in Primary School 29 Ao held the red scarf as sacred .

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