Today in Guangzhou it was 22°C and cloudy
I was asked to speak to 2 English accounting classes (native Chinese students) about Canada. I offered to talk about personal finances in Canada but their teacher told me the students would much rather know about our education system.
I started with the birth of a child all the way up to and including university. I could write 10 pages on my day but will try to keep it short.
In Canada, having a baby in the hospital is free, as is all our health care. The students were amazed. In China, you pay.
All the students said they were raised by their grandparents, as would their own children when the time came. When I asked how their parents would know what to do with their grandchildren as they never raised their own children, the students (or the more up to date terminology “learners”) were at a lose for words.
I often find kids in high school in Ontario, Canada, kissing (necking) in the hallways. The girls giggled and stated rather negatively that in China, they are forbidden to hold hands.
I showed them graduation party photos and they were in love. China does not have graduation parties. All the girls wanted the chance to buy pretty dresses and dance with handsome boys in suits. The girls all wanted my 2 sons’ email addresses as I had used their graduation photos as examples. They asked more questions about my sons than anything else.
I tried to explain how we are inquiry based in our education system (Ontario). That understanding the “why” and self-learning were more important than dates and facts. The kids understood this, the teacher was intrigued. In China, it is all “knowledge based”, memorise, memorise and memorise some more.
I explained that I couldn’t deduct marks for a late assignment; after all, I am supposed to evaluate learning, not organizational skills. The teacher was not impressed. It was the first time in 8 months that I have seen a Chinese person show their displeasure through facial expression.
When I told them that it was illegal for me to give a grade of “zero” (Ontario), it was like I was from Mars. I admit that even Ontarian teachers have a hard time with this. The rational makes sense but it is still hard to accept.
At the end of the second class I was presented a gift of hand made (by the students) paper roses. My own students told me that this is very time consuming and difficult. When I took photos of the roses, the camera automatically went into “flower” mode.
When I showed up to teach my 2-1/2 our afternoon class, 4 students form my morning presentation showed up to participate rather than go back to their dorm. At the end of class, a tiny girl offered to carry my school bag complete with laptop, as it was “too heavy for me” (my favourite author should be so lucky).
The students stayed with me for an extra 30 minutes as I waited for my bus explaining that they did not want to leave me alone. One of them apologized profusely for abandoning me to play her regularly scheduled badminton game. Another bought me an ice cream cone to thank me for her wonderful day.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience. I have found that Chinese students are not that much different from Canadian students and vice versa. They want to learn, be nice and enjoy going to school. They all want good grades more for their parents’ approval than for themselves.