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water brain part 1

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Published on Jul 25, 2009

A Cartoon produced by students of Guangzhou (Canton) Academy of Art, about how Chinese middle school students suffer from the work load. In our six years of middle school studies, we study Chinese, maths, English, geography, physics, politics, history, chemistry and biology (not including PE, music and other subsidiary subjects), all of which are mandatory. We can not choose what we are interested in. Also, the studies are memory based and test oriented, which means we have to remember tons of theories, concepts, terms in order to pass exams. To do this, we need to do an incredibly amount of homework. A normal middle school kid, if she/he is to finish all the assignments, won't be able to go to bed before 12:00. The teaching is completely top-down fashion. Teachers lecture, students listen and take notes. There is no intellectual discussions at all. No personal opinion is encouraged. Those who can remember the textbooks most are the best. Each day we have about 10 classes of various subjects (which means different kinds of homework) from 7:00 to 6:00. Many schools also require senior students to take extra homework sessions in the evenings so that they can make sure that the students do their homework in the evenings instead of playing or relaxing. Upper class students go to school six days a week, but one more day off doesn't make any difference because we are so used to spend all the weekends doing homework anyway. As a result, we see our teachers and classmates longer than our parents. The clip describes the life of a common upper class middle school kid (Junior Grade 3 or Senior Grade 3 kids who are preparing to take the entry exam into the next level of studies). Each day, we carry a school bag with all kinds of textbooks, notes, exercises, equipments, food, etc back and forth between school and home, which totally add up to probably 30 to 40 pounds. It is not uncommon that Senior Grade 3 students will use our books to make a small shelter or booth on our desks so that we can hide behind it and take a nap when we simply can't overcome the fatigue and the drone of the teachers. We also bring pillows, slippers, or even small bonsais to schools since we spend longer at school than at home. Why do we torture ourselves to such an extent? Well because this is the only way we can make a decent living in the future. A good university diploma is the threshold to a good job. To get one, you need to tackle the super difficult college entry exams. A good senior middle school can better prepare you for it. So, in order to get into a good senior middle school, you need to work hard from junior middle school right after elementary school. If you flunck the graduation exams in elementary school, you'll go to a bad or mediocre junior middle school. Similarly, if you don't do well in the graduation exams in junior middle school, you'll go to a bad senior middle school. Also, those who flunck in the college entry exam will go to a bad college. So it's like a survivors game, those who can survive to a good college or university have a bright future (at least that's what we are taught since young and what people believe). Those who get eliminated in any level of the tests basically fill the bottom strata of the society and stand little chance in the job market. Teachers are no better, their bonuses and salary is tied to how good their students perform. So we face huge pressure from our peers, our parents, our teachers and the whole society. Suicides are not news anymore because exam scores are everything and we are only given one shot! We have no childhood. We Chinese don't want to make fake things and copies from others, but we are just never encouraged to create, never educated to be creative, and never allowed the privilege of leisure time to figure out how to be creative. Being creative can lead to failure instead. There is a saying in Cantonese (don't know if Mandarin also has it): A gun is always aimed at the outstanding bird. I hope this clip can strike the right chord in every Chinese and foster understanding and pressure for change. Finally, I'd like to thank the producer(s) of this clip, which, although it betrays the semblance of Miyazaki Hayao's works (Chihiro), is a good beginning for original cartoons and comics of China.

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