Archive for May, 2010

Collective Punishment

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Yesterday, just as we were about to leave the house, Max got into a sudden panic about not having his shoupa. “Do you really still need that” I asked. He hasn’t actually used one for ages (having sort of outgrown the snotty kid phase). Turns out it was fear not necessity that brought on the panic. If I don’t bring one, he explained, Ill get a blue ticket rather than a red one at morning inspection and if that happens the whole class will lose its sticker today.

I can tell from the snippets I hear about  Max’s day that this kind of group discipline is a common method in Chinese education. Classes are treated as units and are rewarded and punished as one. Though this is clearly highly effective I am extremely skeptical – and even a bit hostile – to this type of shame-based enforced collectivity (which seems to me at the root of many of China’s problems).

Back from holiday

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010


more pics from wonderful, spectacular Yangshuo here

Dr Max

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

From observation day at school:



charity Chinese style?

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

The last day of school before break the school hosted a charity for children who suffered from the recent earthquake in Qinghai. Kids were supposed to bring some toys to school which I presumed were going to be sent to the earthquake region. I dutifully packed up two puzzles and told Max that we were giving them to kids who weren’t as fortunate as us.

When I got home, however, Max excitedly showed me the new Ultraman he had bought at the toy sale. There was also 5 RMB laying on the table.  I quizzed Max who told me that his teacher had bought the puzzles and that he was able to buy the Ultraman with the money. All the kids in the earthquake were already dead, he insisted, which is why the puzzles didn’t go to them.

Bemused  I tried to ask my ayi  what had happened (she did pick up that day) but still do not really understand. She told me that the puzzles were expensive, which explained the toy and change, and insisted that something did in fact go to charity – but I’m still not really sure what.

At least next time there is a charity Max will be happy to give again.