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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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GaoKao-gate    

By Garreth Humphris
2682 Views | 4 Comments | 6/16/2012 1:24:33 AM

If you have been anywhere near a middle school building in the last 2 weeks in China you would probably have found the surrounding roads devoid of cars and people, lots of police “crime scene investigation - do not cross” tape everywhere and a bevy of local ’pseudo-police’ sitting under umbrellas or shady trees looking menacing at the people passing by.

You would be excused for thinking it was some kind of crackdown against school students and in some ways it is, the annual University Entrance Examination, the dreaded GaoKao! It has all the planning and precision of a military operation - road closures, police warning businesses nearby to be quiet, children camping out in classrooms between towers of books, cancellation of wedding fireworks, hospital rooms to revive the stragglers.

This year saw the emergence of a number of weird stories about the examination - as you can imagine, the competition is fierce and students wanting to enter places at the most prestigious of colleges and universities are really academically-seasoned tigers - willing to do many seemingly improbable things to get high marks.

A few weeks ago, we saw pictures on the Chinese blogosphere of a classroom in Hubei where IV bags of amino acids and vitamin supplements hung from the roof feeding the students between mountains of school-books. The principal had agreed that it was in the best interests of the students to ensure their blood-stream was crammed with macro-biotic sweetness! It meant that they could remain in the classroom studying rather than bunk-off for a few hours in the local medical room to get some rest and respite from the tyranny of the study! I just hope they don't discover the studying/mind focus ability of ADHD medication, otherwise they may all be on it next year!

And at the conclusion of this years exam, the heart-wrenching tale of a young boy whose parents had been involved in a traffic accident 2 weeks ago (returning from a Parents GaoKao meeting with teachers) and his family, school and traffic-police kept it ’hidden’ from him until he completed the exam. He found out his father was in intensive care and his mother had passed away 2 weeks ago ...upon leaving the exam-room.

Regardless of whether you think this responsible or cruel, you can see the importance that Chinese families place on the education and overall success of their children, and how this pressure is shaping the lives of Chinese children.

And it seems to be getting worse - I got out of bed this morning at 6am to the tinkling sounds of my next-door neighbor’s daughter crashing the ebonys and ivories on her Steinway Baby Grand - in preparation for her music examination this afternoon after play group! Yes, you heard it right, the daughter is too young to go to school but she is being drilled on “Greensleaves” for 3 hours a day. “She enjoys it”, her mother informed me on more than one occasion, but I can tell from LittleFriend’s abject pounding that this probably isn't the thing she wanted to be doing so early in the day!

This reminded me of an incident a few years ago when a friend asked me whether I could teach her son English over the summer school holiday - my recollection of summer school holiday was doing crazy things outside with friends so I arranged a whole bunch of tasks and activities involving crashing, smashing and splashing things around, like learning weights and measures by baking cakes, physics by building catapults to launch water balloons over the nearby canal, modifying bicycles to create new vehicles, making and flying kites and building a ropeswing and zip line over the same waterway (that bit was for fun!). After a week of such activities, my friend informed me that “that was not teaching her son anything” and she locked him in the house with a Chinese teacher for 7 hours a day rote-leaning mathematics. A few weeks later, I overheard her complaining to friends that even though she had spent lots of money on a private tutor, her son’s Maths hadn't improved at school but one morning he surprised her by baking a cake for her birthday, and she had no idea how or where he had learned to do this...and he had the recipe written in English in a little workbook she had never seen before - go figure!

Never really an academic, he is happily studying Hotel Management in a ’technical college’ and will be off to Australia next year on an apprenticeship, not bad for a boy who didn't like Maths...but his mother is disappointed, she wanted him to go to university and study to become a Maths teacher or a Science teacher!

Given the above extreme example of the GaoKao-gate event described above, I wonder what this means about dating a woman with children? Is this a further complication in the already twisted relationship trail in China - the thought of having children around in a relationship is not the issue, but is the woman “interested” because of some maternal guide to propel the child - I mean, what wouldn't a Chinese family do for their child?

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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(Showing 1 to 4 of 4) 1
#2012-06-17 22:34:34 by downunder @downunder

Was once again in your city on Friday night visiting one of CLM's female members. Went to go see the musical watery fountainy thing at 8pm. Was greeted by hordes of mosquitoes and the announcement that the weekend's performances were canned due to students studying. Disappointment throughout the large crowd gathered (and the mosquitoes as their dinners disappeared rapidly). Students... harden up.
Downunder in the northern hemisphere (presently in Shenyang).

#2012-06-18 06:13:12 by aussieghump @aussieghump

Yes, this one sort of defies logic in that there is no school or even housing development close-by that display! While I understand that being kept awake by throbbing music (or worse still, whining Karaoke) from some establishment nearby your home would be very poor at that time, the 'blanket-ban' that applies to many things is strange - stranger still, there are not written announcements at the location and in newspapers...you make the effort to go there to be told it is cancelled! Ah China, crazy one minute, infuriating the next!

#2012-06-19 07:29:09 by chrisfr2 @chrisfr2

After the exam passed, i can see now hordes of students walking in the streets, invading restaurants, coffes and KTV...

seems the duty has been done and they all can enjoy the only rela relaxing time of theyr lifes : the time between study for gaokao and the announce of gaokao results...

Kind' of spring-breack

#2012-06-24 23:45:53 by davidd @davidd

This is what I think of University Entrance Exams, here in China. Written by David P Bentley June 22 / 2012 " Best Friends Forever " The two girls always reaffirmed that they were Best Friends Forever, at the end of each week. They were everything to each other; pals, closest friends, best friends, confidant, almost like sisters. Their families loved the both of them dearly. It was final exam week, and even though previously their History Teacher looked down upon them both for scoring 100% in a test he had given to the class, he thought the girls cheated some how. The girls did not let the attitude of their History Teacher bother them. After the final exams, the results were posted, and for the first time in the school's history, not one but two students won the Honor of being named " Top Student of the Year " The two girls achieved their goal, and did better than they expected. To top it off, their Homeroom Teacher was so proud, and excited, that she was willing to recommend the two girls bypass the University Entrance exam, and to be accepted by the schools of their choice. So finally after all the excitement of the past two days, when the girls were alone. They cried, and laughed together, and promised to be Best Friends Forever.

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