My Zhenhai Middle School Days我在镇海中学的日子

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Our old daughter Serenity is entering 7th grade this school year, as I said somewhere else, in 6 years she will very likely attend college. Use her word, “I want to a quality college such as Columbia U”. I know she wanted to be a wildlife biologist and last I checked she has no intention to be a engineer or a computer scientist (like her proud dad 🙂 我们的大女儿 Serenity 本学年要上 7 年级,正如我在其他地方所说的,6 年后她很可能会上大学。用她的话,“我想要一所高质量的大学,比如哥伦比亚大学”。我知道她想成为一名野生动物生物学家,最后我检查她无意成为一名工程师或计算机科学家(就像她骄傲的父亲一样)(Chinese is done via Google translate)

The middle school seems getting more serious here. Because Serenity has a few extra curriculum activities in addition to her school, some days she will complain about the work: the homework and the burden comes with it. Plus she is in adolescent age now, let’s just say in some days (or evenings) she was not happy (mostly with herself, sometimes with us). 中学似乎在这里变得更加严肃。因为 Serenity 在学校之外还有一些额外的课程活动,所以有时她会抱怨工作:家庭作业和负担随之而来。再加上她现在正处于青春期,让我们说在某些日子(或晚上)她不开心(主要是对自己,有时是对我们)。

This reminded me my Zhenhai middle school 镇海中学 days. I had a rough ramp up period in my middle school due to two reasons, I think. Note in China middle school is really both middle school and high school in the USA. Zhenhai is a selected school (or magnet school, if I can use an analogy here). As a 5th grade kid, I never imagined I would end up at Zhenhai Middle back in 1983. In fact, even after I passed the test, and academically eligible, because I was only 12 years old, and need to attend this boarding school (there is some financial burden to my parents, unfortunately not trivia for them at the time). After some consulting with my uncle (my mom’s big brother), my parents decided to send me there. One reason is as the old saying goes, entering Zhanhai Middle means one would have “one leg already get into college”. Note going to college is a big thing for us, because at the time, there were really no other good choices other than that. At least not for us (myself, and my two elder brothers). 这让我想起了我在镇海中学镇海中学的日子。我认为,由于两个原因,我在中学经历了一段艰难的成长期。请注意,中国的中学实际上是美国的中学和高中。镇海是一所精选学校(或磁铁学校,如果我可以在这里打个比方的话)。作为一个五年级的孩子,我从没想过我会在1983年最终进入镇海中学。事实上,即使我通过了考试,并且有学术资格,因为我只有12岁,需要上这所寄宿学校(我的父母有一些经济负担,不幸的是当时对他们来说不是琐事)。在与我叔叔(我妈妈的大哥)商量后,我的父母决定送我去那里。原因之一,就是那句老话,进了湛海中学,就意味着“一条腿已经考上了大学”。注意上大学对我们来说是一件大事,因为在当时,除此之外真的没有其他好的选择。至少对我们(我自己和我的两个哥哥)来说不是。

Back to my rough ramp up period. The first reason is easy, I never left my parents or my family for that long before that, I did stay with my paternal grandma for a night during school year, or I stayed at my uncle’s home with my maternal grandma for a few weeks. I was fairly close to both grandparents. At Zhenhai Middle though, I came back home usually once a month, mainly due to the transportation cost. My big brother was attending to the same school when I was in grade 6 (he was at high school), but for some reason I don’t want to delve into, I was not close to my big brother. That situation changed when my 2nd brother joined when I attending the 7th grade. But in my 1st year I was on my own, in terms of washing my own clothes (think the cold water from faucet in winter). The second reason is there were many other talented kids, and there was intense competition mainly on academics. Related to that, my class got a very well known counselor and he was pretty strict too. He is unconventional in some ways, for example, he was math teacher, but he rarely gives lecture. He gave us a lot of homework instead, basically we learned ourselves through doing those homework. We joked the homework is never ending. Because as soon as we finish some, he would give out new ones 🙁 I recall some kids really struggled because they are not used to the pace, the work and I am guessing due to lack of instructions. I am not saying the teacher is all bad. Maybe he was not the best teacher for some of the kids. For me I think I learned self-study in his system. Also, once when I was fairly new, I got sick (fever). He took me to hospital and made sure I was treated. So in a way he was a father figure. He was strict too, as once I got fight into another boy, he gave both of us a hard lesson. 回到我粗略的加速期。第一个原因很简单,在那之前我从来没有离开过父母或家人那么久,我确实在学年期间和我的外祖母住了一个晚上,或者我在我的叔叔家和外祖母住了几个星期。我和祖父母都很亲近。不过在镇海中,我一般是一个月回一次家,主要是交通费。我六年级的时候我哥哥在同一所学校上学(他在读高中),但出于某种我不想深入研究的原因,我和我哥哥关系并不好。当我上 7 年级时,当我的二哥加入时,这种情况发生了变化。但在我的第一年,我自己洗衣服(想想冬天水龙头里的冷水)。第二个原因是有很多其他有才华的孩子,而且主要是在学术上的激烈竞争。与此相关的是,我班有一位非常有名的辅导员,他也很严格。他在某些方面非常规,例如,他是数学老师,但他很少讲课。他给了我们很多功课,基本上我们都是通过做功课来学习的。我们开玩笑说作业永无止境。因为一旦我们完成一些,他就会给出新的:-(我记得有些孩子真的很挣扎,因为他们不习惯节奏,工作,我猜是由于缺乏指导。我不是说老师都不好。也许他不是一些孩子最好的老师。对我来说,我认为我在他的系统中学会了自学。另外,当我还很新的时候,我生病了(发烧)。他带我去医院,并确保我得到治疗。所以在某种程度上他是一个父亲形象。他也很严厉,因为一旦我和另一个男孩打架,他给我们俩上了一课。

In the early days of the 6th grade, I recall once I came home, again the once a month trip, I believe at that time it’s 6 days a week school, so we left school at Saturday afternoon, and back to school on Sunday afternoon. And I brought homework to work on too, again the “never ending homework” from the teacher. I cried because of the burden of the homework. My father asked if I wanted to go back to Zhenhai. Obvious I could not quit. I can think of two benefits of doing the middle school there: 1) I learned self study; 2) I gained confidence among my peers, again note some of the kids are quite smart. I think the latter helped me in high school too. Since I built good foundations in middle school, I did not really worked during high school, and was still able to do decently well. A common slogan the teacher says often is 先苦后甜 or “no pain no gain” in English. 记得六年级初期,有一次回家,又是一个月一次的旅行,我相信当时是一周六天的学校,所以我们周六下午放学,周日下午回学校.我也带了作业去做,又是老师的“永无止境的作业”。因为作业的负担,我哭了。父亲问我要不要回镇海。显然我不能放弃。我可以想到在那里读中学的两个好处:1)我学会了自学; 2)我在同龄人中获得了信心,再次注意到有些孩子很聪明。我认为后者在高中时也帮助了我。由于我在中学打下了良好的基础,所以在高中的时候我并没有真正工作过,而且还能够做得很好。老师经常说的一个常见口号是英语中的“先苦后甜”或“没有痛苦就没有收获”。

Downside of this approach

Again I think for me personally I benefits from this system for the most part. But this is not for everyone. I recall for my cohorts from 白峰中心小学 (Baifeng elementary school),2 boys and 2 girls were admitted to Zhenhai Middle, 3 attended (the other girl actually joined in high school because she is really good / smart), my other 2 friends did not got admitted to the high school at Zhenhai. I also recall a fairly smart girl, who is not particularly good looking (I understand this may not be politically correct, but I am just stating something from my memory), at one time was constantly bashed by the counselor teacher: his approach did not work. I vaguely recall we lost a boy from Hepatitis A in one year (I don’t think the school has a lot of responsibility on this though). I do recall there is some cronyism as well. For example, each class in the middle school has 5 quotas for the kids directly go to high school (no test score requirement), and I don’t think it’s a fair / transparency process. Last but not least, some of the city 城关镇 kids were singled out because they did not do homework, or just lag behind on academics. I was able to dine with some of the old classmates in year 2013 (we graduated from middle school in 1986, high school in 1989), one funny story told by one of the city 城关镇 kid: once he was walking with his mother in law and kid on the street, and the teacher said them, and made a comment “你这样的人也会结婚啊?“ (his implied meaning, a fall-behind student such as you don’t deserve a love from someone and get married). This is obviously not right. Another time, when we were all new to high school, and the teacher threw out my roommate’s luggage out of window due to some discipline issue: I vaguely recall my roommate got overly excited as the next day is winter break. 我再次认为,就我个人而言,我在很大程度上受益于这个系统。但这并不适合所有人。回想起白峰小学中心(白峰小学)的同学,2男2女考入镇海中学,3人就读(另外一个女孩真的上高中,因为她真的很好/聪明),我的另外2个朋友没有考上镇海中学。我还记得一个还算聪明的女孩子,长得不是特别好看(我理解这可能不是政治正确,但我只是凭记忆说一点),有一次经常被辅导老师痛骂:他的做法并没有工作。我隐约记得我们在一年内失去了一个患甲型肝炎的男孩(但我认为学校对此没有太大责任)。我记得也有一些裙带关系。例如,中学每个班级有 5 个直接上高中的名额(没有考试成绩要求),我不认为这是一个公平/透明的过程。最后但并非最不重要的一点是,城关镇的一些孩子因为没有做功课,或者只是学业落后而被单独挑出来。 2013年和一些老同学一起吃饭(1986年中学毕业,1989年高中毕业),城关镇的一个孩子讲了一个有趣的故事:有一次他和妈妈一起在法律和孩子在街上,老师说他们,并且评论“你这样的人也结婚啊?”结婚)。这显然是不对的。还有一次,当我们都是初中生的时候,老师因为纪律问题把我室友的行李扔到窗外:我隐约记得我的室友太兴奋了那天是寒假。

Other hits and misses (or just random facts) in my middle school:

1) I recall we (boys) played quite a bit co-ed basketballs with the girls in the class, that’s until the 2nd or 3rd year, when they girls started their adolescents years (starting period etc.), and they have their separate PE (physical education) class. Some of the girls are very good academically. And I still don’t understand why the St. Louis based private school such as MICDs separate boys and girls on STEMs in middle school (that’s what I heard). 2) I like running but I was not very good at it. So in the 800 meter race, I would use all the energy in the first 200 or 300 meters, then lag behind. 3) I was able to join the computer club and worked on very simple BASIC programming language (a few lines, go to statement etc), and it seems today’s MicroBit and Arduino programming are similar. 4) I could not fall asleep during the ZhongKao (中考) : it’s the admission test from middle school to high school. I recall 2 of my dorm mates were very nice, and tried to help me fall asleep. I think one reason is I knew I had to be successful (and the pressure came with it). Three years later, I had similar issues during GaoKao 高考(college admission exam). Note in China, middle school is 3 years, and high school is also 3 years. 5) We worked at a farm couple times, again because of our counselor (the strict teacher). I think most kids hated it. Because we dealt with cow manure. On the other hand, it was a bit funny for me to explain how rice was grown to a city kid. 6) Talking about city kid, note half of the kids live at home, they are from 镇海城关镇,the other half live in the dorm. The boys were able to live in the newly built dormitory building in 1983, the girls new dorm was built a few years later. I think there are stories on the old dorm too. We did not have hot water for shower. At one time, when we were in high school, we borrowed teacher’s shower room key (it was cold water shower, but still works in summer). 1)我记得我们(男孩)和班上的女孩打了相当多的男女混合篮球,直到第二年或第三年,当他们女孩开始青春期(开始期等)时,他们有自己的独立PE(体育)课。一些女孩的学习成绩非常好。而且我仍然不明白为什么像MICD这样的圣路易斯私立学校在中学的STEM上将男孩和女孩分开(这就是我所听到的)。 2) 我喜欢跑步,但我不太擅长。所以在800米比赛中,我会在前200米或300米用完所有的能量,然后就落后了。 3)我能够加入计算机俱乐部并从事非常简单的 BASIC 编程语言(几行,go to 语句等),看起来今天的 MicroBit 和 Arduino 编程很相似。 4) 中考(中考)睡不着:这是从初中到高中的入学考试。我记得我的两个舍友都很好,并试图帮助我入睡。我认为原因之一是我知道我必须成功(压力随之而来)。三年后,我在高考高考(高考)时也遇到了类似的问题。注意在中国,初中是3年,高中也是3年。 5)我们在农场工作了几次,也是因为我们的辅导员(严格的老师)。我想大多数孩子都讨厌它。因为我们处理的是牛粪。另一方面,对我来说,向一个城市孩子解释水稻是如何种植的有点有趣。 6)说到城里的孩子,注意一半的孩子住在家里,他们来自镇海城关镇,另一半住在宿舍。 1983年,男生得以住进新建的宿舍楼,女生的新宿舍是几年后建成的。我想旧宿舍也有故事。我们没有热水淋浴。有一次,我们上高中的时候,借了老师的淋浴房钥匙(是冷水淋浴,但夏天还能用)。

Also: I talked about the clubs here.