Archive for November, 2009

Ultraman returns

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009


This ‘Tribute to Ultraman Dyna’ is Max’s new favorite video (don’t ask how he finds these). Its a mix of Japanese hard rock and Ultraman kungfu. I can’t help thinking  that – in its own way – its pretty cool.

Sports versus Scholastics

Friday, November 20th, 2009

At a weekend party a friend of mine who teaches IB math at one of Shanghai’s international schools was contrasting students from the West with those from Asia – his school gets a lot of students from Korea and Hong Kong (or at least it did before the financial crises).

The biggest difference, he said, has to do with what determines popularity. When the Korean kids come here they all don’t get it – I’m doing well in school, they ask, why am I not popular?

He told a story of a mixed race kid who had made it till the age of 16 in Chinese local school. When he finally switched to international school he soon realized that unless he learnt to play soccer he would not make any friends.

Every day my friend would see him after lunch, outside, by himself, practicing kicking a ball. An ethic of hard work goes a long way in all sorts of situations, he said.

Banning Homework

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

I doubt that this could ever happen here

High Stakes

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

A teenage friend has, after months of strenuous study, successfully completed an exam that may allow her to bypass the dreaded gaokao. She is lucky – and smart – enough to attend one of Shanghai’s key schools that offer this alternate path to university.

Having done better than expected on the exam she is one of 10 names being put forward for one of the country’s top universities. Early acceptance will ultimately be determined by interview. If past experience is anything to go by 9 of these 10 will be accepted. Though the chances are good, she is still pretty nervous – with good reason.

If she is accepted she gets to take the rest of the year off (and a successful future is pretty much guaranteed). If not it’s back to square one – 8 more months of arduous study before undertaking the brutal gaokao in June.

Netizens critique Chinese Education

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Teaching Cinderella: China vs America – from Chinasmack

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009


In honor of Max’s 5th birthday I had to link to his favorite video. As far as I can tell its a Japanese girl band doing a cover of the Ben 10 theme song. Max likes to try and sing along.

Eye exercises

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009


On my way back from work the other day I passed a primary school. All the kids were standing in the courtyard doing their eye exercises. These massage techniques –drawn from Chinese medicine –  are meant to improve vision. Though in recent years their effectiveness has come under fire.  Nevertheless, the practice continues in most schools and even in many offices. I suspect that while it might not make you see any better, few people object to taking a few moments off to rub their eyes.

Scratch 4 Kids

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Looking for a creative way to introduce your kids to the amazing world of digital tech? Check out Scratch, a programming tool for kids developed at MIT. In Shanghai Scratch 4 kids classes are being run at Xindanwei. Last week Max programmed a ghost avatar to change size and color while saying ‘broohaha.’ Pretty cool for week 2!