Monday, March 2, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts

Our Family at the Beach   --- by C
Lately, C comes home with lots of drawings she does at school. Sometimes, she's even willing to give up evening TV time to go draw instead. It's not just the drawing itself, but how she putting her mind to it surprises me.

She possesses something that I don't have --- imagination. Compared to her, I feel I am this monster creature born to China's force-feeding education system. I was always a good student at school and I followed the rules. But because of that, I was too scared to think out of the box, too afraid that I wouldn't get the approval from the teachers. Going down memory lane, I don't recall drawing anything out of my imagination, at all. I am able to duplicate someone else's drawing, to the tee. But I'm doomed when asked to be original.

C and I near the Cats' Water Fountain --- clearly I'm trying to tell her something
That brings my thoughts to C's education. After reading some shocking statistics I got into a frenzy worrying if she would get decent education in South Africa. She was in preschool already and they did tons of arts, but zero maths or English. Then some friends proudly informed me that in Shanghai, their kids were doing multiplication in preschool. REALLY??!! I enrolled C at Kumon as soon as she turned 4. It was pure pressure!

C has a wide range of activities now--- tennis, swimming, French, hip hop, drama, music, arts, piano, creative movements, some of which I only got involved much later in life, some not at all. She has a passion for all the things she does. Maybe this is what South Africa early education or Western education in general is about --- building up interest and passion. My father used to force me to play the piano and practise calligraphy everyday, but his method was so cruel and it became very unpleasant. Today, I thank him for teaching me, but at the time all I wanted was for someone to come and take the piano away.

Arts from School
This is my opinion only. The reason why Chinese education is so intense and desperate is probably because of the competition in overly crowded major cities. It seems kids spend all their youth studying and grow-ups only know how to work. It's like a factory. I know I was just like that, like some kind of mass production who knew nothing about life. I'm only starting to channel my creative side now, in my 30s.

All of a sudden, that learning through lots of play approach doesn't sound so bad now. I am at my happiest when I see C explore so many things and possibilities at this age already. That little girl teaches me something new everyday. And to my dear M, I would most probably still have been that one out of 1.36 billion mass production without you, so thank you.

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