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Creativity and the Chinese student

These kids are workers. Give them a task and show them how to do it once. They will gladly grind through the task a thousand times. However, ask them to analyze the process and they shut down. Ask them to get creative and think outside the box and they get frustrated. They "do" very well. They don't handle constructivist investigations very well.

Okay. There's a bit of hyperbole here, but there's some solid truth to what I'm getting at. Discipline, obedience, and structure are pounded into the average Chinese child by their parents starting at a very early age. They get lots of drilling in various subjects and do quite well when practicing skills. However, they don't do so well when asked to investigate a new topic on their own. Building their own theories and hypotheses isn't a strength. They do much better when given a formula and asked to utilize it over and over.

This stems from the Confusian philosophy of parenting. The most important aspects of raising children here are modesty, filial piety, and conformity. Be quiet and do as your told. Now this next bit is going to sound weird, but parents are largely successful in following through in this philosophy while simultaneously spoiling the crap out of their kids. It may be due to the "one child policy" that stood as law for quite some time, but is also likely due to the nature of the family structure here.

Three generation households are the norm here. Parents work while grandparents take care of the children. Parents get home and act as the hammer while the grandparents are loved for being the spoiler. I'm looking forward to spoiling Arthur when I get the chance. I remember living in this dynamic with Moira and my mom for ten years. My mom spoiled Moira to a degree for ten years and I'm sure Moira thought of me as the authoritative influence in the house. I've got regrets there.

So, does all this mean the kids here aren't creative? No, that's not the right word, but they certainly lack something that American students have in spades. It's that willingness to dare to be wrong. It's the confidence to be bold, to try, to show intiative and think outside the box.

In other news... today was Cocoa's last day at HIS. She worked in the library. She resigned her position and gave the school notice a month ago. She wasn't happy with the expectations the school had for the position so she's letting someone else step in. Zach told me she wanted to train kids to research. The school had a different vision. It wasn't a confrontational ending. She's turning into a regular at my poker game after learning the game on our ladies night. We all got together to give her a send off tonight tonight at Angelo's tonight. Same place where we did Paul's birthday last weekend. Cocoa is the lady sitting next to me in this pic. Her husband Miles is on the other side of the table.

Her identical twin Gillian is married to my friend Zach. They're both regulars at my poker game too. It's super tough to tell the "Double Dragons" apart. That's the title Zach has given them. Cocoa has a small freckle on her nose. Otherwise I would have no chance.

I'm not an overly social dude. Very happy that I've been able to make friends here in Hangzhou.

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Mar 06, 2023

To be fair we have a batch of kids right now who can't think outside the box, can't investigate anything, and can't do repetitive tasks. Can't or won't. I'm still not sure but it's been a huge struggle. I'm still not sure why as I have now spent six months working with them, breaking tasks into small chunks and trying to get them to a) use the chunks and b) take the chunks a step further. And risk taking? I have had more than one kid complain that no one wants to be asked a question because if you get it wrong you are "humiliated". Anyone who has seen my classroom knows that this is the furthest thing fr…


Very interesting stuff. Works well for their economic system. Am anxious to hear about the golf outing. We have started golf here at Meridian. I have 13-14 girls!

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