Middle school in Middle Land


When Chinese people refer to their country they say “Zhong Guo”- that’s how you say “China” in Chinese and it translates to “Middle Country”…. That will be all for today’s lesson. Get your tickets now for the school dance!
I stepped into my teaching shoes yesterday at the middle school here in Yangshou. I taught theater games to three classes. There are SIXTY students in each class. My head is still spinning from the experience and I thought it might be interesting to anyone who has ever been through a typical American Middle School experience to compare.
Now, back in my day (the paleolithic age) we called it “Junior High”. But awkward pimple-faced puberty by any other name is still a rose (thorny and blooming)
In China, when kids go to middle school (and High School), they live at the school in dorms. This school had over 1500 students from the outlying area. Students may leave Friday at 5:30 to go back home but must be back for Sunday night classes by 7:00pm, Sunday.
Here is a schedule of the school day:
6:00 Many students wake to shower, etc. There are about 6 students in each room with one bathroom that has two squat toilets and a shower.
6:30 Music blares through the school speakers to wake the students. All students must go down for their morning exercises. Students all wear uniforms – a track suit style pants and jacket- and sneakers. They stand in neat rows in their places and move to recorded counting.
7:30 Breakfast in the large cafeteria- usually it’s porridge or noodles.
8:30 – 9:15. Class
9:15 -10:00. students go to the school yard and do more exercises in rows (as you can see in the video below).
10:00 – 10:45. Class
10:15 – 11:00 students stay in their classroom seats and do their “eye exercises’ to recorded counting (also in the video).
11:00 – 11:45 class
11:45 – lunch
12:30 – 2:30 free time to nap, study, do your laundry, etc.
2:30 – 5;30 more classes with breaks for physical and eye exercising.
5:30 Dinner and free time
7;00 – 10:00 All students study in their homeroom classrooms with their teacher and do homework.
10:00 return to rooms to prepare for bed.
10:30 lights out

This is the Monday to Friday schedule Sunday classes are 7:00 – 10:00 pm.

Students must wash their own clothes- there are no washing machines, just lots of freezing water. There are no dryers either. Here’s what the dorms look like with the laundry hanging out:

oh – and I’ve heard that classrooms aren’t heated until the government decides it’s time to turn on the heat (if the classrooms have heaters) … and heat is expensive, so… layer up!
Many of the kids come from the farmland that surrounds Yangshou, where I’ve heard a monthly income might only bring in $150. Students have to buy their own books (they’re said to be quite expensive too), which is difficult for many families.
There was also an “exchange student” from Germany here. She said she was loving it.

These kids are so sweet and tender considering how tough they are. They learn lessons about getting along and being independent that most of us don’t get to until adulthood. I asked these kids if there was much fighting in the dorms and they didn’t even seem to understand why I would ask that.
Here is some footage of the school I went to.

4 Comments on “Middle school in Middle Land”

  1. Vilma says:

    Wish you were my teacher 🙂 but I guess somehow you are…

  2. Brooke says:

    Pass the clap…it never gets old. 🙂 Pretty amazing set up those youngsters have going on. Talk about discipline! I didn’t get out of bed until 11am this morning and now I feel ashamed. “We’re talking about amazing theatre. Collaborate. Collaborate!” xoxo

  3. Gretchen Penny says:

    I am sooooo showing this to Leo (10th grade) and Noah (8th grade). What a schedule! I especially like the eye exercises that resemble what I do when I have a headache. Hmmmmm?

    It is a chilly 75 degrees here! I wish I could send you some of our tropical warmth. Keep warm, sweet Laura Loo!

  4. Melani Rogers says:

    Hey Laura – Just wanted you to know that we’ve been reading and watching your adventures from the beginning. What an amazing journey and life experience! Looking forward to seeing you soon. Safe travels. Luv, Ed & Melani

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