Sports versus Scholastics

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.

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