Ambiguous lessons in internationalism

Hong Kong, December 1929–February 1930

Ralph and Renate Ross attend a Hong Kong school, where their father finds the Chinese children excellent pupils, yet at a disadvantage.

On the often year-long trips Ralph and Renate Ross were usually homeschooled by their mother, but on longer stays, they also attended local schools. This gave their father not only the access and opportunity for writing on school nationalism in Bolivia, methods of education in Sydney or affluent Hong Kong youths. It also informed his thinking on the intrinsic validity of racial ideology and the consequences of European influence on other countries. If Chinese or even Aborigine children do just as well as or better than Ralph, what does that spell for the idea of Europe’s racial superiority? (See Ten thousands of years apart)

Colin Ross came to different conclusions over the course of his career. This article finds him typically ambiguous. On the one hand, he observes that Chinese children are intellectually the equals of Europeans in Renate and Ralph’s classes. On the other hand, he assumes that the mixture of European and native knowledge they have to acquire will hamper Chinese children in mastering any of the two. Ross’s claim that Hong Kong university admission standards are considerably lower than those back home, backed by Renate’s test scores, lets European (specifically: German) education win for another day.

Joachim Schätz

Colin Ross. Weiß und gelb in der Schule. Auf dem Berg von Hongkong. VI. Tempo. 1931 Mar 26.

Topic: The Ross Family
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30

See also

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