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Print Edition> Forum
UPDATED: May 27, 2011 NO. 22 JUNE 2, 2011
Is Wealth the Only Standard for Success?


Cultivating students' awareness about wealth is part of Professor Dong Fan's self-appointed job description. "If you become rich, you can create more GDP, more tax revenue and more job opportunities for society. You can also help low-income people around you and avoid being a burden on society," said Dong, Director of the Real Estate Research Center of Beijing Normal University, in his microblog on April 4, 2011. "For people with higher educations, poverty means humiliation and failure."

Dong even said that students should not even bother visiting him or saying they were his former students unless they had accumulated 40 million yuan ($6 million) by the age of 40. His remarks started a heated debate almost immediately. It focuses on the question: Is wealth the only standard for success?

Supporters collectively agree that everyone loves money. As a teacher, Dong's use of wealth as a motivational tool to encourage students to make money is a good way to push social development. Since life's ultimate goal is happiness, money can play a large role in helping people realize that.

Opponents suggest teachers and society in general shouldn't evaluate students based on their incomes. Universities should be the cradle for cultivating social elites and teachers shouldn't measure success with the sole standard of money.


Dong Fan (http://t.163.com): Chinese people are always ashamed to talk about money, but the fact is that everyone wants to be rich. We can't deny the function money plays in society. The standard of success is quite subjective and it's OK and very natural that some people take wealth as their standard to measure success.

Xiao Yong (http://epaper.shaoxing.com.cn): The 40 million yuan ($6 million) goal can easily be met. The salary today is 40 times that of 30 years ago. Dong's students were most likely in their 20s when they attended his classes, and 20 years later it's also likely that their salaries will have increased 20 times, making it totally possible that they are earning millions of yuan each year. Together with property income, it's quite possible that they will have 40 million yuan ($6 million). This goal is reachable. Dong is just using it as a prime motivator to encourage his students.

Bafen Shanyudi (http://bbs.umiwi.com): We shouldn't blame Dong as it's only a teacher's way to encourage students. Many people think it's inappropriate to link poverty and humiliation and failure with high educational level. But we should also notice that most of Dong's students become businesspeople or enter the real estate industry, which have relatively high incomes. Forty million yuan ($6 million) is just a good wish from a teacher to his students.

Yu Biediu (www.naivix.com): I completely agree with Dong's special ways on encouraging students by using higher salaries and property as a standard. In the market economy, wealth is a very important standard to measure whether one is successful or not.

If it's acceptable that the goal of companies is maximized profit, why should we blame the individual for taking the same approach to life? For Dong's students who are engaged in the real estate industry or whose major is management or economy, it's quite acceptable to take money as the standard for success.

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