This issue of National Geographic is devoted to China. One of the contributors title the article Gilded Age Gilded Cage in which talked about my former school:
.. .. At times educators go to extremes: At the Zhongguancun No. 2 Primary School in Beijing, vice-principal Lu Suqin recently took two fifth-grade boys into her home. “Their parents couldn’t get them to behave, so they asked me to take them,” she explains. “After they learn disciplined living, I will send them back.”
Lord, they still do that? 🙂 I smiled. I attended the same primary school, and was taken in by a teacher. (Another teacher took me in in high school)
It was 1975. One day before the dismissal my home room teacher (班主任) announced, without consulting me that I was going to review math each morning before the starting of the first class. The entire class room gone quiet. It was an such off wall announcement. For one, this kind of thing was unheard of before. Secondly, I wasn’t the math class rep 数学代表. Third, heck, I wasn’t a math genius. But the teacher insisted I should do it. So the following day, I stood at the podium more stunned than the rest of the class. They looked at me and I stared back at them, not knowing where to start or what to review. I muttered something and got protest from a few smarties: I said something wrong. Ha, couldn’t believe that they were actually listening. The short 5 minutes was the longest period I’d endured there.
After couple of days, the math teacher took a pity on me, told me to go to her house in the night so she could help me to prepare. We lived very close, only couple of apartment buildings away. Her husband worked at one of the institutes at CAS. The math teacher was little out of shape but very kind. Her light rim glasses rest on her cheeks rather than her nose. She would lay out topics to cover for the next day and prep me in her cramp and dim lighted one room home that served as bed/living/dining room – the norm at time. At beginning, I did ask why was I being picked on. She only smiled and comforted me by saying it’s a good experience for me to have, blah blah blah.. .. It wasn’t nowadays’ all-out efforts by gaining leadership experience in order to get into the top high school/college. My tutoring gag was short lived when I just began to get a hang of it. The classroom teacher made the same announcement, without consulting me, that it would stop.
The second time was during middle school at Renda fu. I hurt my feet while working in the school workshop: a requirement for students when Chairman Mao was alive. I was living on my own and eating out of canteen. Limping around was very difficult so my class teacher Lin Qingqiu 林清秋 took me in for a couple of days because she lived in Renda, just a stone throw away from our classroom. It’s the typical you-live-where-you-work situation. It was no small gesture because we were all poor and feeding another person was just not easy.
Among all my teachers in China, Ms. Lin had to be the most left leaning one. While other teachers trying to jam the entire textbook down our throats she would rather follow every single meaningless directive from the above and made us stay late to discuss it – yucky!!!! What would a teenager know and interested, about politics? The best prove was that we got the model class honor, as if we cared. We respected her as a teacher, we all did. But didn’t love her as much as the math 侯 who died young or physics teachers 华之斐. Sure enough, during my three nights stay at her home, she lectured me on being politically correct.
“I’m taking you in not only because your injury that made your normal routine difficult but I really wanted to take this opportunity to have heart to heart talk with you because you’re going into high school soon and should think about your own future.”
She also brought up the fact that I was always so opinionated and most of those did not meet her approval:
“You should always think before you talk, and study Chairman Mao’s Works.”
I understood and appreciated her concern.
Years later, Yishi told me that Ms Lefty came to US. My goodness. Apparently she was needed to baby sit her grandchildren for her daughter.