A Perspective on Chinese Schooling
Posted by Zuleka Irvin on Jan 10, 2011 - 11:49 AM
Having grown tired of partisan news and tabloid journalism, I recently started to watch Link TV. Link is an independent media network that reports and features documentaries about global news affairs. They will be featuring a Chinese documentary soon called Kindergarten
. You can watch the full version online
, which is what I did. I'll be honest - it is a real tear-jerker, with music in minor harmony and shots of distressed 2- to 4-year-olds who have very little idea of what their parents got them into. Looking beyond what was captured for emotional effect, I saw that this film highlights some of the facets of traditional education: parental detachment due to work demands and the idea of the school as a surrogate parent; overcrowding and not meeting individual needs; among other things lack of peer to peer conflict resolution or the encouragement of choices. There are also astounding looks into they way these youth think about themselves, their situation, and others.
What appealed to me most about this film is that it reminded me of a twin experience I witnessed when I tutored 2nd graders at a local elementary school during my senior year - the only difference being that the kids I worked with did not come from wealthy families. I too had an inside look for an entire school year at the conditions and mindsets of young children, shuffled into a situation without honest consideration of who they are or what they could do for themselves. I dealt with a student with severe depression, and a child that was nearly mute for unknown reasons during the first semester. There was a distressed and angry kid who bullied others because his "twin" made him do it (and his home life encouraged aggression), but this boy also loved art and drawing. There was a silent boy who loved math and could do much more than the class mandated, but a girl who was so confused by arithmetic that she would weep in frustration (she was later transferred out with another "slow" student and the teacher was extremely relieved). All of them were confused at how there was no more recess or play timed after middle school. I saw students outside of the class get punished before having a look into their conflicts, and much more.
Of course this was only one class I tutored for an extended period. I only had short stays in more sterile and quiet classes, as well as peeks on the playground and in the office. I can recall my own fuzzy memories of childhood in private and public schools up until high school. I have heard the experiences of my brother and friends. I have only witnessed a fraction of this system, but I can see its detriments (and am working hard to see strengths such as positive teacher/student relationships).
Overall this film will not disappoint, and if anyone views it, please send in a review or discussion-starter in the comments or (for the bloggers) in another post!