Does the Tiger Eat her Cubs: A WebQuest on Children & China

Click on the title to explore its meaning.

Introduction | Question | The Process & Resources | Conclusion | HyperText Dictionary

Attention Teachers

A number of adoptive parents of Chinese children have expressed concern that as the number of such adoptees increases it is quite possible that you may well have children in this situation in your classroom. It is advised that you consider this possibility as you decide whether to use this activity. You might think about really "finding the truth about how children are treated in China" as it applies to the current conditions. Many changes have taken place since this WebQuest was first written in 1996.


Reports have come out of China suggesting some terrible things about the way children are treated in Chinese orphanages. As with most things relating to this complex country, it's hard to tell what's true and what is propaganda. In this WebQuest you and your teammates will explore reports about how children are treated in China, the U.S., and other related topics. Your task is to come up with your team's version of the truth. In other words, your job is to prove the old Chinese proverb, Paper Can't Wrap Fire.

Question / Task

What's the truth about how children are treated in China?

To unwrap the truth about how orphaned children are treated in China you and your teammates are going to read background articles, learn how there are different opinions on the topic, discuss your ideas and feelings with your teammates, write a thoughtful letter, and mail the letter using Email or the U.S. Postal Service to real people in the world who care about your opinion.

The Process and Resources

Here's the step-by-step process you'll use to do to decide whether the tiger eats her own cubs. Because these are real articles written for people all over the world, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use the online dictionary or one in your classroom.

1. Background: Read Information that Started the Scandal

2. Looking Deeper: Different Perspectives on the Topic

You will divide into three different groups that will look at the treatment of orphans in China from three different perspectives.


  1. Individuals or pairs from your larger WebQuest team should choose to explore one of the three groups below.
  2. Read through the files linked to your group. If you print out the files, underline the passages that you feel are the most important. If you look at the files on the computer, copy sections you feel are important by dragging the mouse across the passage and them pasting it into another program.
  3. Note: Remember to write down or copy/paste the URL of the file you take the passage from so you can quickly go back to it if you need to prove your point.
  4. Be prepared to focus what you've learned into one main opinion that you hold after reading all the files in your section.

Group One: "Fact Sheets"

Group Two: The Chinese Response

Group Three: China's One Child Policy and its Impact

3. Debate and Discuss What You Learned

In case you haven't guessed already from the files you read, the truth about this topic is pretty complex - a lot of people have different opinions about how orphans are treated in China. But remember, your team's job is not to let the paper (like newspapers, fact sheets, transcripts, articles, etc.) cover the burning truth. So now you have to come together with your team and see what you all believe.

Use guidelines for consensus decision making to help your team reach a shared decision. Because the topic is so complex with different sides basically calling the other liars, you will have to examine the details of the passages your underlined or copied, the source of the information, and whether any other file gives better evidence on the same issue.

4. Mail Your Opinions to the World

Once your team has reached its consensus decision about the situation of orphans in China, it's time to send your ideas out into the world. Decide among your team members which of the three people you will each send a letter to. You can send more than one letter to one of the sites as long as letters are sent to all three locations.

Write Your Congressional Representatives

Write a Human Rights Posting page

Write the President of the United States


The old Chinese proverb says that the tigress doesn't eat her own cubs, meaning that even the most vicious animal protects and cares for its children, also meaning that adults who hurt children are worse than beasts of prey. We hope that you have seen that although fire easily burns paper, when that paper bears words and propaganda, the flame must burn bright to shed its light of truth. After exploring this WebQuest with your teammates you have some idea about the complexity of issues between China and Western nations like the United States and Great Britain. Other issues present the same kind of problems: trade, freedom of religion, and China's relations with its neighbors. If you found this interesting, please look into the other activities linked to the "Searching for China" Website.

Last revised February, 2005
Created by Tom March, tom at ozline dot com
Applications Design Team/Wired Learning