A article titled "When the primary school students meet Su Shi" was posted on the official WeChat account of a sixth grade class.
Research done by primary school students on the Song Dynasty poet Su Shi, also known as Su Tungpo, became an instant sensation on Chinese social media, with many awed at the sophisticated results from such young students.
Titled "When the primary school students meet Su Shi", the article was posted Monday on the official WeChat account of the sixth grade class.
As part of a themed academic event commemorating the 980th birthday of the prose and poet, the students created exquisite paintings and handicrafts featuring the master. The article also showcased the full text of five of the 23 research papers written by the students.
Since being published, the article saw an unexpected amount of views and thumbs up from citizens. At the end of Wednesday afternoon, it had been viewed over 100,000 times on WeChat with hundreds of netizens marveling at both the scope and depth of the kids' literature studies.
In one of the five selected essays, named "A Study of Su Shi with the Help of Big Data," the five-student research group employed multiple professional study methodologies including big data analysis to gain a better understanding of Su Shi's literary works.
"First, we collected all 3,458 poem verses by Su Shi which have added up to some 250,000 characters. Then we found that productivity of Su Shi is almost equivalent to that of 120 poets in the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties since altogether 9,552 poets during this period had only created an average of 28-29 poems each in their lifetime," wrote the students.
One of the paper's authors even made a detailed analysis of the words most used in Su Shi's poems with a computer program he developed with the help of his father in an attempt to further grasp the major themes in the poet's masterpieces.
The reports were conducted following the strict format of university dissertations with an introduction, key words, and bibliography, wowing netizens with the level of insight as well as the use of professional methodologies.
"I give up… I could not even make up a paper despite I'm already at an age of their aunts," said a user named @Coco_pororo after seeing the report and photos of the students attentively discussing their work in front of computers.
Though hot online, the article also stirred up controversy about the involvement of teachers and parents in the work since the scope and depth of the research are thought to be far beyond the academic capabilities of those sixth-grade students.
"All credit should go to their parents," an unidentified netizen commented, questioning the authenticity of the papers and whether the academic work was accomplished by parents and teachers instead of the primary school students themselves.
The painstaking papers are a "showoff of academic skills" with the cliched topics presenting as "a pretended academic maturity that does match the students' age," noted Shen Yan, a professor from Peking University, who has also extended concerns as to whether the assigned research homework amid the National Day holiday have brought extra burdens for both the overloaded students and parents in a signed article in the wake of the social media sensation.
The controversy comes from "a lack of understanding of the primary school students as well as our school" a school staff member on Wednesday told Star News, a newspaper affiliated with Chengdu Business Daily, adding that the studies are a manifestation of the students' academic ability developed over the years through multiple similar research projects the school has initiated.
"The participation of parents in the students' schoolwork is inevitable, but that does not mean the students are not able to finish the study on their own," the staff member further noted, suggesting that though parents and teachers have lent a helping hand during the research, the essays were almost accomplished by the students themselves.