From Frank Dikötter’s The Cultural Revolution:
Mao had always been scathing of intellectuals, but he now began to express doubts about the entire education system. On 13 February 1963, on the occasion of the Spring Festival, when the country welcomed the Chinese New Year, he compared tests in high schools and universities to the old eight- legged essay, a written form of argumentation that candidates for the imperial examinations had been required to master under the Qing dynasty. ‘I do not approve of this. It should be changed completely. I am in favour of publishing the questions in advance and letting the students study them and answer them with the aid of books.’ He struck an even more rebellious note when he suggested that there were benefits to cheating. ‘If your answer is good and I copy it, then mine too should be counted as good.’ He praised students who dozed off when teachers rambled on with their tedious lectures. ‘You don’t have to listen to nonsense, you can rest your brain instead.’ Mao went further, accusing the education system of favouring students from bad class backgrounds– capitalists, landlords– as they were better equipped to succeed in education than the proletariat and the peasants. Worst of all, schools were run by bourgeois intellectuals who were failing in their mission of training ‘revolutionary successors’.
Isn’t it funny how all of this “abolish the SATs” and “don’t force students to turn on the cameras” crap has been tried and tried and tried before? Of course, its proponents seem blissfully unaware of history and always roll out their methods as new and fresh.