China is now spying on schoolchildren with their pens

China has found an amazing method to spy on students and push them to work more seriously: the government distributes connected pens to better punish them if they don’t work hard enough!

© Unsplash/Antoine Dautry

How do improve academic success? China has found an idea that we hope, will not necessarily be emulated too much. Rather than making students responsible by making them masters of their success as well as their failure, the local Ministry of Education opts for a high-tech approach that some would describe as ultra-intrusive.

Indeed, many Chinese students who are about to enter a primary school or college have received a “smart” pen free of charge. The device actually spies on everything the student does. What to punish him in class as when he does his homework at home, if, for example, he takes to drawing squiggles on a corner of the page – rather than solving his equations.

China opts for more control to improve academic success

The connected pen in question resembles devices that have been available for years to digitize handwritten notes. Nevertheless, the data it generates is enough to give cold sweats to its young users. Indeed, their teacher receives a notification as soon as they start using the device.

What a bonus to monitor the time they actually spend on their homework. The Chinese Ministry of National Education unsurprisingly defends the device. And specifies that teachers must also comply with new obligations, such as correcting homework more quickly – and using algorithms to analyze and diagnose homework.

These devices have reportedly been tested on an experimental basis for several years in some parts of the country, but this return to school is the first time the device has been used on a wider scale. But are the students as satisfied as the ministry? It’s hard to say in such an undemocratic country.

Our colleagues from 01Net, however, take up one of the rare criticisms that has slipped through the cracks of Chinese censorship and which says a lot about the atmosphere at the start of the new school year: “I am being watched […] I have lost the joy summer vacation”. Do you think this monitoring-based approach is the right one to improve academic success? Share your opinion in the comments.


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