In my portion of the article titled “China: Two Views” in the January/February 2013 issue of Change, I reported on my 2011 experiences teaching organic chemistry in English at Peking University (PKU) in Beijing. My report came from a set of field notes that I collected over the year, using informal interviews, conversations with colleagues, observations, student reports, and surveys.
My intent was to provide a snapshot of the year, not to imply any sort of policy or generalization about the nature of this class. My essay was neither reviewed nor subject to prior approval by my colleagues in the College of Chemistry at Peking University.
After the article went to press, there was some concern expressed that information in the article could be taken out of context, that some of the data reported might not be completely accurate due to misunderstandings during the conversations or missed information. Since this could lead to a misrepresentation of some critical policies and practices at Peking University and at Chinese universities in general, I realize in retrospect that it was a regrettable oversight on my part not to involve my Chinese colleagues in reviewing this information.
I would like to underscore the strong, lively, open exchange that I have had with PKU, and particularly the College of Chemistry, over the last decade and my sincere and honest appreciation for the great hospitality and generosity they displayed throughout my sabbatical year. It is clear that our educational systems are quite different in many respects. We benefit greatly as we learn from one another.