To many people's surprise, one of the most popular recent TV reality shows in China has been Chinese Poetry Conference, a classical Chinese poetry competition devoid of any TV stars. What makes the show's popularity head-scratching is that Chinese classical poetry gives many people a headache during their school days.
Perhaps the excellent production values are the main attractive feature of the show. Almost every Chinese student is made to recite classical Chinese poetry during their primary and middle school, even kindergarten, days. And quite a few of them have to struggle to even recite them, because they find them boring and rarely understand their real meaning.
The rote learning method in Chinese schools may be to blame for making such poems unattractive and uninteresting to students. But the TV show has helped the audiences to rediscover the beauty of classical poetry through its lively presentation.
Competitive programs almost always draw people's attention. Rather than asking the participants to simply recite, the TV show tests their understanding and knowledge of classical poetry.
The winner of the first competition, Wu Yishu, a 17-year-old senior high school student, has garnered all-round praise for her rich knowledge and profound understanding of classical poetry as well as her excellent memory and quick responses.
The juries of the TV show, all of them Chinese literature experts, have helped the audiences to appreciate classical poetry through their lively reviews and interpretations. Thanks to the show, the audiences now realize classical Chinese poetry is not at all dull and boring. In this sense, the success of the TV show highlights the significance of communication in achieving desirable results.
All the competitors on the TV show, whether students or adults, have a strong interest in classical poetry. But they cannot expect to perform well just by reciting some classical poems; they also have to have a good understanding of classical poetry.
It is good to see a TV show promote traditional Chinese culture among the audiences. Although some Chinese customs and cultural traits are ignored by people nowadays owing to the rapid changes in society, the value of classical Chinese poetry can never be outdated.
Moreover, the popular TV show has proved that not just sensational TV programs draw public attention and raise TV rating points, because audiences can tell the difference between a good and a bad program. The popularity of Chinese Poetry Conference despite the total absence of celebrities is a good example.
For many years before the TV show became popular, rarely did people pay attention to poetry. Maybe it's a peculiarity of the times that people tend to disregard, even discard, things that do not bring tangible benefits in a short time.
"Of what use is poetry?" is a question that has sparked public debates. Although classical Chinese poetry plays a significant role in the primary and middle school education, the students and their parents, even some of the teachers, see it as a means to improving examination scores.
Hopefully, the show will prompt educators to recall an old saying, "interest is the best teacher", and inspire them to improve their teaching method for classical Chinese literature, so that today's youths can realize the true value of classical poetry.