In September 2007 when my son Max was 3 years old, he began attending a local preschool in downtown Shanghai.
Our decision to send Max to local school was initially driven by economics. Even with the extra ‘foreigner fees,’ tuitions at local schools are a fraction of those at international schools, which most expat children attend. Besides saving us money, however, a local Chinese education promises certain highly attractive benefits. By the time he reaches elementary school, Max should be integrated into Shanghai culture, have a strong foundation in math and be near fluent in Mandarin (a language whose tones and subtleties my mind – despite enormous effort – seems already too old to acquire.)
What I hadn’t anticipated, however, was that Max’s attendance at a local kindergarten would offer insights into the culture of a changing China that no other research could provide. (more…)