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Discursive Positioning, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 476

Essay

Part One:

In my language and culture, Chinese, there is a proverb that states that “a book holds a house of gold.”  As a culture, the Chinese value education and the power that comes with an education.  Those individuals who seek an education can find wealth and knowledge and bring honor and respect to themselves and their families.  The proverb teaches a practical lesson that is encouraging to students and others who seek knowledge.  In my culture, a student who is struggling while learning a concept could be told that “a book holds a house of gold.”

The origin of the proverb is ancient.  For much of Chinese history, education has been important for all members of society.  While China had an aristocracy and a peasantry, it did not suffer a Dark Ages as Europe did.  Literature and knowledge were protected, and all members of society were expected to gain basic knowledge.  So, “a book holds a house of gold” is an encapsulation of the Chinese view of education.

Part Two:

In the Western mind, literature is thought of as both an escape and as a teaching tool.  In the Chinese mindset, literature and writing is much more focused on instruction.  Chinese people do not often read as a form of entertainment but, instead, as a form of learning.  So, because of the difference in how Western readers and Chinese readers view books, the Chinese proverb, “a book holds a house of gold,” implies to a Westerner that books are a treasure trove of experiences to live as one reads.  However, interpreting the proverb in this manner misses the meaning.

A book does not hold a wealth of experiences but instead a wealth of knowledge.  Through education one can improve his status in life and provide for his family.  He can also bring honor and respect to his family.  One does not read to escape life or for entertainment but to learn.

Part Three:

The difference between part one and part two is the difference in views between cultures.  The Chinese culture emphasizes improving yourself for the benefit of the society and the family.  Education is a matter of honor and respect.  Western society is more individualistic.  It emphasizes what the individual can receive from an endeavor.  Thus, reading is seen as a way for an individual to escape or as a way to receive information only useful to the reader.

When explaining the proverb in part one, I focused on the Chinese view of its meaning.  In part two, I discussed how the cultural view of a Westerner would cause him to misinterpret the meaning of the proverb.  The difficulty with understanding the proverb arises from the difference between the Chinese view of education and society and the Western view.  For the Chinese, education is important for society and the family.  For a Westerner, education is important only for the individual.

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