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Chinese parents cheer for China’s losing math Olympiad contest to the USA

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For the first time in 20 years, China has lost a world math championship to the United States — and many in the world's most populous nation seem happy about it.

中国20年来首次将一项全球数学锦标赛冠军头衔输于美国——而这一全球人口最多国家的很多人似乎对此很高兴。

 

The unexpected defeat came at the prestigious annual International Mathematical Olympiad, a championship Chinese high school students have won 18 times since 1990.

这一出乎意料的失手是在国际数学竞赛上到来的。自1990年以来,中国高中生已18次捧得该赛事冠军。

 

But to some, losing the Olympiad offers hope that painful, nightmarish years spent studying for the contest could finally be over.

但对一些人来说,输掉赛事使其看到希望:为比赛痛苦花费多年噩梦般的日子终于可以结束了。

 

"This is just wonderful that China finally lost the contest," one Chinese Internet user exclaimed on social network Weibo. "Hopefully the Math Olympiad won't scourge our children anymore! It has shattered so many kids' dreams!"

一位中国网民在社交网络新浪微博上兴奋地说:“中国终于输了,这太棒了。希望奥数不再折磨我们的孩子了!奥数已经打碎了太多孩子的梦想!”

 

Parents chimed in as well.

家长们也随声附和。

 

"I can't care less whoever got the golden cup, as long as math Olympiad is not popularized in China and my child won't be forced to study it," said one mother.

一位母亲说:“我根本不关心谁得了冠军,我只希望奥数不要在中国普及,我的孩子不会被迫学习奥数。”

 

Some users offered a more sarcastic lament.

一些网民在表达遗憾的同时带有更多讽刺。

 

"Uh oh, the U.S. now defeats China in exams. Isn't our exam-oriented education supposed to be superior?"

“哦,美国现在考试上打败中国了。我们的应试教育不该是更胜一筹吗?”

 

Unlike many American students, ordinary Chinese pupils are no strangers to the difficult math completion. Students often start getting math Olympiad training in elementary school. The demand for the training is so high that classes and schools have popped up in every corner of the country.

与很多美国学生不同的是,对中国普通小学生而言,高难度的数学竞赛并不陌生。学生们通常从小学起就开始奥数培训。对奥数培训需求如此之高,以至于全国各地都出现了培训班和培训学校。’

 

And it's not necessarily because they love math. The motivation is rather pragmatic — winners of math Olympiads have long received bonus points in school entrance exams, high-stakes tests where a small score difference can dramatically alter a student's future.

这并不一定是因为他们喜欢数学。相反,动力来自于实际考虑——奥数获奖学生长期以来一直可以在升学考试中加分。这些考试极为关键,因而分数细微差别就能极大改变一个学生的未来。

 

So the math competitions become another bitter pill to swallow along the cutthroat road to success.

因此,数学竞赛成为通往成功的残酷道路上要吞下的又一颗苦果。

 

One Chinese commentator, Wei Wei, compared math Olympiads to "gutter oil," a reference to an infamous type of distilled sewage used by some restaurants to cut costs.

一位中国评论员魏巍将奥数比作“地沟油”。这是指某些饭馆为降低成本使用的一种经蒸馏制成、臭名昭著的污油。

 

"It makes people uneasy while eating it, and feel disgusted thinking of it, yet they still fight for it because it's profitable," he wrote recently on Hong Kong-based news site ifeng.com.

他近日在凤凰网上写道:“地沟油吃着不放心,想着恶心,但是因为有利可图,还是有很多人争着吃。”

 

In the last year, some provinces have taken steps to eliminate the bonus point policy, as educators wonder whether the math Olympiads are actually serving the right purpose.

去年,一些省市已采取措施取消加分政策,由于教育工作者质疑奥数实际上是否在起到正确作用。

 

In an opinion piece in the China Youth Daily Wednesday, the director of a well-known education think tank, Yang Dongping, wrote the competitions were a "waste" of talent.

某知名教育智库主任杨东平8月5日在《中国日报》发表评论文章写道,竞赛是对人才的一种“浪费”。

 

"The question we should ask is why we don't have great mathematicians in China," he said.

他说:“我们应该问,我们中国为何没有伟大的数学家。”

 

Then, appearing to answer his own question: "Not many of our math champions continued to study math — many left academia for Wall Street."

随后,他似乎自问自答道:“奥数竞赛冠军继续学数学的不是很多——很多人逃离学术界,去了华尔街。”

2016-06-24

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