China's traditional education style of treating learners as lifeless and characterless stuffed ducks is facing unprecedented challenges as the country braces for the market economy.
"Quality education", which means everything but the old emphasis on unity, rote learning and ignoring mental development, has become a fashionable term among educators and ordinary people.
The stress of having to recite every word of a textbook is a result of the distorted civil servant examination system that existed in China for hundreds of years. It gained further ground in modern China in the fierce competition for limited college places.
Though that same factor still exists today, more and more people have realized that to succeed in a business-oriented society, one has to be creative, adaptive and co-operative. It's better for you to have good professional skills, and even better if you have special talents.
The Chinese State Council formally declared in 1999 a push for "quality education", which is widely regarded as the official renunciation of the old "examination-oriented education."
A revolution in education has been taking place since in China.
A survey by Beijing University shows that one third of its students are studying for second bachelor degrees, and one third have jobs in their spare time.
"Foreign languages, computer certificates and driving licenses are essential for graduates. Otherwise, there is no job for you," said Wang Bi, a student of international politics.
On-job training is a nationwide fever with an estimated 100 million Chinese plus taking various training courses each year.
The criteria for being a good student have also changed. Those with creative minds, good language skills or organizational ability are more popular among classmates and teachers.
Colleges are also changing their curriculum to make their students more welcome in the job market. MBA, insurance and other new subjects are drawing more and more students.
Though China is a society with a long tradition of discrimination against merchants, elite universities such as Qinghua and the People's University of China have recently launched courses on how to start your own business.
"Quality education" means students with unusual talents as wellas obvious failings are encouraged or tolerated by more and more people.
China has seen several teenage writers emerge in recent years. One such, Han Han, is the author of a best-selling novel. But his refusal to go to university made him a controversial figure.
"This society should allow people with special skills to develop their talents," said educationist Huang Heran.