Before leaving for China, I heard a rumor that Chinese kids are very disciplined and well behaved.

Which was immediately squashed day 1 of my training. Yes, the Chinese public school system is intense by Western standards. Even the youngest kids are in school or studying all day. I could see the cultural differences in my classes from the beginning. In the upper age groups, the kids stand up out of their chairs to answer questions, since that’s how they recite in regular school. Some of them call me “teacher’ or “LAOSHI” instead of my name. Boys and girls refuse to work together since there is little socialization between boys and girls.

But kids are kids, wherever you go.

They’re silly, they’re loud. Sometimes they need motivation, sometimes they need a kick in the pants. Sometimes they need a hug.

Some of them, I worry about. I know that special education resources aren’t much of a thing in China. But some students would definitely be considered for meds or an IEP in the West. Since that’s not an option, we do what we can and are delicate with the parents so they don’t lose face. Special education is dear to my heart, so it frustrates me to think that some of these kids might struggle in a system that isn’t designed for them, but I don’t want to violate any cultural norms or be a West-is-best foreign dick.

Still, it’s nice that even in another continent, a constant is that when I walk into a room of 5 year olds, they scream GRAAACE and tackle me.


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