Is China’s Gaokao the World’s Toughest School Exam?

“For two days in early June every year, China comes to a standstill as high school students who are about to graduate take their college entrance exams… Construction work is halted near examination halls… ambulances are on call outside in case of nervous collapses, and police cars patrol to keep the streets quiet. Radio talkshow hosts discuss the format and questions in painstaking detail, and when the results come out, the top scorers are feted nationally… That score is the most important number of any Chinese child’s life, the culmination of years of schooling, memorisation and constant stress… The students who do best can look forward to glittering careers and even good marriage prospects. But for the less successful, the system is brutal.”
Written by Alec Ash, read by Andrew McGregor and produced by Simon Barnard
Photo by Zhou Chao / Epa

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 4th November 2016

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Steven Pinker on Language, Reason, and the Future of Violence

steven-pinker-on-language-reason“Steven Pinker has spent an entire academic career thinking deeply about language, cognition, and human nature. Driving it all, he says, is an Enlightenment belief that the world is intelligible, science can progress, and through rational inquiry we can better understand ourselves.
He recently joined Tyler for a conversation not only on the power of reason, but also the economics of irrational verbs, whether violence will continue to decline, behavioral economics, existential threats, the merits of aerobic exercise, photography, group selection, Fermi’s paradox, Noam Chomsky, universal grammar, free will, the Ed Sullivan show, and why people underrate the passive (or so it is thought).”
Illustration: Steven Pinker,  by Joe Ciardiello

Conversations with Tyler | 2nd November 2016 

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