Archive for June, 2009

Free time

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

How much free time do kids really need? The question is creating a crises in both the East and the West. While in China – where kids are basically never free –  there is a growing anxiety about all the extra classes and endless hours of homework.

At the same time, the West seems increasingly gripped by the opposite concern as both these recent articles – the first from the Atlantic,  the second from the Economist -make clear. Indeed much recent research appears to conclude that the most effective method of education reform is to increase the hours of the school day and shorten the summer vacation.

Activity day

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009


The demands on Zoe’s class were small. The wheelbarrow race was about as challenging as it got. In Max’s class, however,  – where the kids are just one year older – there were already hints of the pressures to come.

Chopstick skills are supposedly not introduced until next year.  But it was clear at the ‘practice playing with chopsticks station’ that for many kids training has already begun. The girls especially seemed to take delight in showing off their prowess.


If Max is to catch up with his peers chopstick practice will have to be added to our summer tasks. So it begins…

Why I hate tones

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

From Wangjianshuo via The Shanghaiist


If you directly use Pinyin to translate the article into something people from other countries can at least pronounce, just like people translate my name from my Chinese name to Wang Jian Shuo, here is the translation:
Shi Shi shi shi shiShishi shishi Shi Shi, shi shi, shi shi shi shi.
Shi shishi shi shi shi shi.
shi shi, shi shi shi shi shi.
Shi shi, shi Shi Shi shi shi.
Shi shi shi shi shi, shi shi shi, shi shi shi shi shishi.
Shi shi shi shi shi shi, shi shishi.
Shishi shi, Shi shi shi shi shishi.
Shishi shi, Shi shi shi shi shi shi shi.
Shi shi, shi shi shi shi shi, shi shi shi shi.
Shi shi shi shi.
I know it is nightmare to read it.

Here is my translation of the article (well, just roughly)

A poet with last name Shi living in a room made of stone,
loved lions, and sware to eat ten lions.
Shi often go to market to see lions.
At ten o’clock, it happened that ten lions came to the market.
At thsi time, it happened that this Mr. Shi came to the market.
Mr. Shi looked at the ten lions, and used the power of arch, killed the ten lions.
Mr. Shi picked up the body of the ten lions, and got to the stone room.
The stone room was wet, Mr. Shi asked servant wipe the stone room.
The stone room was done, Mr. Shi started to try to eat the body of the ten lions.
When he started eating, he found out the ten lion body were actually ten stone lion body.
Try explaion this.


Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Swamped with other stuff but, for now, some interesting tidbits on the ongoing gaokao here, here, here and here.

Olympic math class

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Shanghai Daily on the harmful effects of Olympic math and other extra curricular activities.

Here’s a taste:

“For example, a question is like, ‘What’s the sum of the first 500 figures of 1,2,3,2,3,4,3,4,5,4,5,6’ … Do you think the question means anything in life?” he asks. “The class is like poison to me. I hate it.”

But Xu’s mother doesn’t agree. “Almost all the kids in his class are attending such classes,” she says. “I am afraid he would lag behind if he didn’t. The competition for a good middle school is so intense.”