This journal prompt was a reflection about what it is like to be a student at Gao Xin #1 High School. They were asked to compare BHS to Gao Xin #1. Below is Sean’s response.
I hurriedly sit down at my seat in the back of the classroom, the melodious tune of the bell ringing through the halls just as I pull out a notebook. I glance over at the schedule, noticing that this will be my first geography class. Our teacher, a woman who appeared to be in her mid-forties, strolls into class, and a cold hush falls upon the students. We stand, bowing as we greet her, and begin class. Suddenly, just as we begin checking homework, she grabs the ear of a nearby student and twists it ninety-degrees. He ducks his head, cringing as he attempts to escape his teacher’s grasp. She begins criticizing him; their tones hushed and out of earshot. An apparent look of frustration and disappointment are on her face as she lets go of her vice, his ear already beginning to turn a bright red. Then, once again, she grips the same ear and twists it even further, continuing to scorn him. Eventually, she releases her grip and begins her lecture, the class apparently forgetting what had happened only moments ago.
This example, among many others, conveys the demoralizing relationship that teachers and students share in China. From physical punishments to public humiliation, teachers use a wide array of methods to embarrass students. In fact, it is not surprising that the relationship that teachers and students share is one filled with formalities and solemnity. From a young age, a barrier is created between one another, which grows and eventually becomes impossible to overcome. Sadly, the students are losing one of the most important things during their adolescence: an ally. In America, it is not uncommon for teachers and students to develop close bonds with one another. However, students lack the insight to see how important these bonds are to their future and wellbeing. Bonds like these provide students with a place to channel their worries, a way to express their feelings, and a method overcome difficult times. Unfortunately, in China, the stress that school and family place on students is often too overwhelming to be placated through friends. An older figure is often required and the teachers, through their harsh demeanor, are simply further limiting the pool of candidates of which to allow these students to find help and peace.
The relationship between genders is something that I also find vastly different. Mingling of genders is commonplace in American high schools, in fact it is expected. However, during lunch and recess here, it is as if I have been brought back to third-grade. Males and females only tend to stay within their respective gender groups, hardly ever straying out of these “safe zones”. I have yet to see a male and female student walk down the hall together in my time here. However, this cannot be blamed entirely on the students. In fact, a large portion of it is the school’s doing. For example, if you are “caught” dating another student, you must write a letter apologizing not only to your parents, but to your teachers as well. If you refuse, you will be expelled from school immediately. Delaying the inevitable mingling of genders only has drawbacks. Students here lack the social skills to converse with the opposite gender, as I have experienced many times, which is a crucial skill. They have yet to discover how to actually talk to people, making up for what they lack in social skills with book smarts. Here, all they do is study, study, and study. The kids here are human, too. Why should they be treated like machines?