“He can go to technical school” and teachers’ impact on students

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When I was in the 5th grade in village elementary school, once a teacher said to my dad (they probably knew each other): your son (me) can go to a technical school (they are like technical high school), but he needs to work harder if he wants to be admitted to college/university. This is a not too bad assessment for my dad, because in my case, going to technical school or 中专 means I will get out of the village and be a white collar worker down the road. This is a big jump for kids in village due to the China hu’kou system: essentially a person jumped from the lower class to the upper class. Also, I don’t think he said it out of a strategy of 激将法 (a way to motivate me), he was mostly giving an honest assessment at the time.

Eventually I didn’t disappoint the teacher and my dad, I was able to attend college in China, via gao’kao. There are probably a lot horror stories on gaokao in China. Mine was I could not fall asleep as I was nervous, but nonetheless I was able to carry through. As my now deceased uncle (my mom’s big brother) liked to say: he (me) drunk the wines to help sleep before gaokao (I stayed at my uncle’s house during gaokao).

I think I talked about my strict teacher somewhere in my blog (search for: “a very well-known counselor”). So I am not going to repeat it. I think overall my teachers had an impact on me (search: “When I was a middle schooler”) made me a better person both academically and otherwise.

My old daughter is a 7th grader now, and she knows some good colleges and wants to go to one when it’s her time. And I just realized her homework load is not light, to say the least. And she has some very good teachers too. Once she told her she may fail the class, which was a bit surprising. Later I realized her teacher was mostly to make sure the kids do their work. Another time, she got this red carpet award, I am the proud dad here :-), and she told me winning the award was easy: she followed the teacher’s directions while some other kids don’t (yesterday she told me some kids using AirPods in the class, she did not give specifics re: which class). Now I realized with the tiktok and smartphone, today’s teachers have a much tough job than our time in middle school.

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