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Published: December 3rd 2012
Cold, chilly, grey skies and English corner.
Getting dressed to go out now is a major marathon involving 13 items of clothing, underwear, undershirt, top shirt, jumper/vest, tights, socks, jeans, shoes, jacket, scarf, gloves and hat.
But English corner awaits and a dedicated bunch of Chinese are there wanting to chat about this that and everything. And really I use it as much for me, to glean what the real Chinese people think.
We talk pretty much without any filter, I try to remain positive but I do go near those tricky subjects of politics and religion and comparison of East and West.
Today we got around to talking about the one child policy and the implications of this. China’s population is still growing as this policy is not as simple as it sounds. It only applies to the Han (majority people) in urban areas. So if you are a minority you have as many as you want, if you are in a rural area you can apply to have a 2nd
if you have a girl first, if your 1st
child has birth defects or ill health you
English signs and carols too
Sung by Chinese people in English on constant rotation in the shops, hilarious accents
can apply to have a 2nd, and if you and your partner are singletons you can also apply to have a 2nd
. So China’s growth is 1.7 still growing, compared to Germany which is 1.4 which is declining. Most Chinese I have spoken to are not in favour of 1 child, they feel that it leads to selfish and spoilt children who are given too much by the 4 grandparents and 2 parents. They also recognise the social implications of how does this 1 child support the 6 people in their old age who may need his care.
We also chatted about the learning style of children from middle school to university. It is totally passive; students only listen to a teacher talk, do not participate at all nor are asked to, so they learn to tune out, many copying notes off others at a later stage. There is no research, critical thinking, or independence, no text books even at Bachelor level. The Chinese who come to English corner recognise this as being a very limited education style, with a very product orientated education system that does not reflect current research on how people learn. They ask
me if I like teaching like that and I tell them honestly that I get so little reward as a teacher from a passive class. But the ones that come to English corner I think are not entirely typical of the population.
So with all this in-depth conversation and a delightful interchange with 8 year old Amy about aliens and life on other planets, I was there at the bitter end (very cold by now) so I managed to wangle an invitation to lunch. There were 4 expats; Howard from Australia, Justin from Canada, Yi Kuo from USA (Taipei born) and me and 6 Chinese.
What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon; more conversation, sharing of ideas about countries, drugs, religion, aliens (again) beer, great food and a new find Hawthorn berries. Small, red, tart, applish tasting, stewed in water and put on a plate. They would make brilliant jam or jelly.
And then coffee to end the afternoon with Yi Kuo (say it like E-quo) who is an architect from Chicago working around the world, lived his first 8 years in Taiwan and then moved with his family
to USA. He is a delightful mix of East and West. His wife and child live in the States, they Skype each week, see each other every 1-2 months and he has been doing this for years working in many countries as a consultant in urban design.
Such a shame I make these connections just as I’m about to leave!
Christmas is coming; decorating and lights are to the Chinese like wine & cheese to me, they go together in large quantities.
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