By Ariketh 1 Comments
The easiest job for a native English speaking foreigner to get in China is a teaching job. I've been doing that for a while, but I am looking at getting into video production in the future. Either that, or making t-shirt. But that's something to talk about in the future.
The topic at hand that I want to talk about what I've observed regarding the education system and social development of children in China. My mother is a teacher as well in America, so talking to her about this type of thing can give me a sort of reverse culture shock about things I've forgotten about American schools when she tells me about how different it is.
For example, I hear stories about middle school, and sometimes even primary school children in America who get arrested for assaulting teachers or get suspended from schools for having sex in the bathroom. While I can't speak for all of China, this isn't something that I've ever seen happen. In most cases, students consider their teachers their friends, and will even buy you gifts (I get coffee a lot, because I drink coffee when I teach). They will keep in touch with you for years after you finish teaching them as well.
Students in China are usually too busy to get into a lot of trouble, so the idea of them having sex or getting arrested for misbehaving seems a bit insane. It could simply be that they are being watched far too much to do anything like that, or simply because information regarding sex isn't as freely available to children here as it is to kids to America. Even having a girlfriend or boyfriend before University is something that can get you in a lot of trouble. If you have a relationship, it's hardly more than sitting next to each other in class. If you get caught holding hands, they can go to some rather extreme measures, such as separating you two from the same class, and if parents find out, it can lead to some severe punishments and even removal from the school. Being removed from a classroom or even a school might not sound horrible to some people, but these kids are with their friends for years, and being removed from a school where all your friends went and placed into another school could mean that you never see your friends again, especially once you get into middle and high school. The new school or new classroom your are placed in usually asks questions like, "why did he/she get moved?" The boyfriend/girlfriend who remains in the class could become isolated as well, as the other's friends may blame them for losing their friend. It should also be noted that suicide in China is not uncommon among students. One university in Xi'an, I was told by my ex-girlfriend, was said to have at least 1 suicide on a weekly basis.
Students in 6th, 9th, and 12th grade spend almost their entire time studying for a national exam to continue their education. These scores can determine which schools accept these students, so students as young as 6 years old will begin attending additional math and English courses from training centers, not to mention any sort of hobbies they may attend, whether due to personal interest or a parent's decision. I have one boy in my English class who attends ping pong classes on a daily basis.
In primary school, kids are usually very playful, open, and enjoy everything you like as a kid. They color and draw and express themselves in ways that aren't very different from American children. As they get older, it starts to become more obvious that they are a little bit more immature than American kids in some respects - not that it's a bad thing. They are children, after all.
In 7th and 8th grade, students in middle schools are usually much more relaxed because they feel they've accomplished something major by finishing the 6th grade exam that you must pass to enter middle school. Some schools will even divide students based on their test schools and their behavior. The students with the worst scores and worse behaviors are placed in one class, while students with the best scores and best behaviors are placed in others. If a student has a good score but is a bad student, he will be placed into the class with the other students who misbehave, hereby subjecting him to a lower form of education and giving him a worse life - at least that is the belief. So students are "encouraged" in this way to behave in class. Middle school students also attend school for about 14 hours a day, if not more. This means that they usually don't have as much time to attend extracurricular activities or continue their education in training centers. Some high ranking middle schools offer dormitories as well, though it's not mandatory.
10th and 11th grade, students begin to act far more shy and it's easier to see a class divided between boys and girls. It reminds me of American middle schools in some ways, but even so, most middle schools weren't that bad about students separating themselves based on their genders. It can become a problem with some students, as girls are more likely to have boyish haircuts and may be mistaken for boys in school. High school students can attend school for up to 16 hours. Most high schools seem to offer some sort of dormitory for students, though it also isn't mandatory.
When students get to college and will have more free time. This time is spent going back to activities they did as children, or in some cases, pursuing romantic relationships, but only if they haven't been discouraged to the point where they worry about getting in trouble for it even in college. At the age of 21, girls can get married, and at the age of 23, boys can get married. Normally it's at these ages that the family begins to accept boyfriends and girlfriends. After college, there is a lot of pressure from the family to marry someone, and after marriage, having a baby. The baby is usually raised by the grandparents, whom may or may not share a house with their children - depending upon how rich the family is.
Education in America, from my experience, is normally more social and free. You can go home and play video games or watch TV after school. If you don't do your homework, it's not the end of the world. Education in China is much more...studious. They spend long hours at school doing work, and they even learn physics in school - I believe middle school. There is a lot of pressure in Chinese schools compared to American schools. I won't deny that American schools can create pressure, but it is normally a different type of pressure. Teachers don't keep an eye on you in America, while in China, we must watch the students to ensure no one is doing anything "inappropriate," like holding hands. The culture is quite different, as you would expect. But which education system is better, and in which respects is it better, is the more interesting question that we should think about.