In the video to the right, girls perform a traditional chant with percussion and accompanying choreography. There is a clear gender bias with respect to the activities in which students participate. Typically, girls focus on music and art; boys are more involved in team sports. Even in activities where both girls and boys participate, at many schools, they are separated by gender.
Chinese schools are remarkable. The first surprise is the number of children per classroom: 40 students, one teacher. That student teacher ratio is not as remarkable as the children's behavior. The students are busy working, reciting poems, singing songs, and listening to the teacher. Do students have ADHD in China? Of course. The students who are able to focus and concentrate do well in school; those who are unfocused do poorly. This is similar to what it was like in the U.S. until the 80's when ADHD diagnosis became more prevalent and accepted.
All students participate in extracurricular art, music and/or sport. Those with natural talent are identified at a young age and their gift is cultivated. Those without a natural flair for an instrument, art form or sport are assigned to a craft and taught how to play or perform to the best of their ability. Regardless of whether the talent is natural or assigned, students take their activities seriously and are expected to practice both at school and at home in order to fully contribute to the success of their team, music group or individual art form.
Students benefit from free play time as well as structured recess activities, such as jumping rope, line dancing and yoga. The sounds of the playground are familiar to American ears: a lot of laughter and screaming.
Join me on a Chow Fun tour. I look forward to the opportunity to share China with you and introduce you to the school system. Experiencing a visit at a Chinese school is fascinating.