The semester started yesterday, and Diane came back with a story about the new cameras that have been installed in her classroom. There is a little monitor by the teacher’s desk where she can see herself as she lectures. Why is this done and who is watching? Is this some way to help students revise or is it the authoritarian state which extends its control into the classroom? If the latter, pity the poor censors who have to listen through all those lectures! But perhaps it is rather a matter of self-censorship. A lecturer who knows that he/she is being watched is less likely to insist on the unpatriotic right to academic freedom.
In the afternoon I got an email from my office at the university. Apparently there is a company that wants to film all my lectures. I was promised several thousands of RMB in return. What is this “company” and what are they trying to do? Is this some scheme to make money selling university lectures to prospective students or is this too a way to exercise thought-control? Perhaps the government censors are the people in charge? Perhaps they realize that most professors never will accept a camera in their classroom unless they believe it gives them a shot at money or fame? Yes, I declined the offer.
One of the problems of life in China is that no one seems to be able to answer such questions and that no one trusts the answers even if they are given. It’s makes for a cynical and paranoid way of life.