Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Countryside School

On our trip out to the Hebei countryside this summer, we had a unique (for us, anyways) opportunity to witness the Chinese education system up close and in person.

What you are looking at is a summer school being held in the home of a local villager.  It is a one-month-long program that is, in line with Chinese education practices, heavy on rote memorization.  When this photo was snapped, the children were being tested on their ability to regurgitate a text they had been studying.

Some of my favorite little elements of this picture...

The girl front and center who is so focused on the task at hand.  She is seemingly unaware of the foreigner, maybe the first ever in the village, just feet away documenting her schoolwork.

The hands of the teacher.  On the right side of the frame, there she is supervising the two dozen students or so, who are advancing their educations in the summertime in her home, where she provides meals and even lodging for several weeks for several of the girls.

The bad boys in the back.  I especially am compelled by the little guy with the red stripped shirt, who appears to be looking over the shoulder of the girl in front of him.  It may just have been the angle and moment during which the photo was snapped, but still...

The girls with their heads down.  We often hear about how exhausting the Chinese approach to education can be for students.

The use of stools for desks.  It is amazing that local villagers are placing such a premium on the education of their children, in such a resource-poor environment.  Those are stackable stools that can be easily placed to the side when test time is over.  I'm sure I sat on several of those stools during our time in this home, where we spent an overnight.

In the end, I think that it was the four of us who received the education!

~Steve

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