I Pledge Allegiance

But not to China.
It’s come to my attention that my children don’t know or can’t remember the Pledge of Allegiance. Living in China is providing me all sorts of excellent parenting and teaching opportunities. Note to self: bring back an American flag from the U.S. so we can recite the Pledge every morning.

You may find me patriotic, and after living here, I am more so than before. I’ve been through the ringer here and I’ve learned about many cultural differences. Some have brought tears to my eyes. Native sources, who shall remain anonymous, have discussed with me types of discipline conducted by school teachers, beginning in middle school. There is a hierarchy to the corporal punishment used in the educational system, ranging from public humiliation to physical violence:
1. Standing (fa zhan)
2. Being kicked
3. Face slaps

Are you ready for a major cultural difference?
Standing. The most minimal punishment is usually reserved for students who haven’t completed homework or are tardy to school. Students are forced to stand on top of their desk or in a corner as they face public humiliation, while a teacher berates them in front of their peers.

Being kicked. Usually reserved for boys, they can be kicked on any part of the body. A friend told me the worst punishment he or she had ever witnessed was when a teacher disciplined two students for fighting in class. The teacher lined up the boys and proceeded to kick them across the room, one at a time. Each time they crashed to the floor, the teacher called them back and kicked them again. My friend was twelve at the time and was deeply impacted by the memory. He or she mentioned that the punishment was conducted in front of a class of eighty students, who watched in silent terror. Another friend mentioned that a student was called to the teachers area for disciplinary action and was kicked from one teacher to another. Three teachers kicked the student, passing him to each other like a soccer ball. Hearing this, that a child would be treated in such a manner by teachers, brought tears to my eyes. There truly is no regard for human life in this country.

Face slaps. Girls tend to receive a smack across the face, as opposed to a kick. Apparently, it’s much more humiliating for a boy to receive a slap in the face than to be kicked across the room.

I asked about kneeling (fa gui) and a friend mentioned that only a parent has the right to demand such obsequiousness. Good to know there’s a line somewhere. (Sarcasm intended.)

Perhaps it’s time for the Chinese to learn about “Time Out.”

10 thoughts on “I Pledge Allegiance

  1. That is CRAZY. No wonder the Chinese are so ahead of Americans in schooling. They must be terrified to fail. I take it you’re homeschooling…

    • Hi Annette, the exam systems here are rigorous. A friend told me that her peer in first grade failed their exams and repeated first grade four times until they gave up and quit school altogether. I suspect there was a learning disability. What a sad story, to be considered a “failure” at such a young age.

      Fortunately, my children attend International School. However, now knowing about local school discipline, I would certainly home school them if there was no alternative.

  2. Yikes!
    Humiliation doesn’t work in the US. It is like the auto-kill button and kids shut down under even when just suspecting or presuming attempts to humiliate might be made. I can hardly question kids for clarification before they shut-down.
    Our PD (professional development) was about finding the root source of poor performance and/or inappropriate behavior. Using analysis to search deeper than the surface behavior. Intending to treat the sources, not just the symptoms. No physical threats involved. I could not hurt a student intentionally…and there are some very trying, obnoxious, unruly kids on campus this year!! That story makes me queasy.
    I’ll have to pray for Chinese students too.

    • la o,
      It was disturbing to discuss corporal punishment with native friends. They wanted to know how American schools compare with Chinese schools. It was unfathomable to them that we don’t beat our children, whether in our homes or in our schools. In fact, out here, parents prefer the discipline to be doled out by educators.

  3. Oh my goodness, my stomach dropped when I read this post. So sad to think that things like that could go on in a school and nobody stops it, it is just considered okay. It is horrible that the two boys got in trouble for fighting by being kicked around, that kind of sends a mixed message. They are being disciplined with the same method they got in trouble for doing. So sad! I am glad your kids are in the International Schools.

  4. I would love to read about how your parents (or grandparents) escaped this culture and moved to the US. I am sure your love and gratefulness overflows that your life is American… it could have been so different for you.. right?

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