A class of their own
Updated: 2013-09-29 07:14
By Zhang Yue (China Daily)
[Photo by Liu Guanguan/China News Service]
A 55-year-old father, who would only give his surname, Zhang, says he was shocked at the teacher's reaction when he told his 9-year-old daughter's instructor he was pulling her out of school.
"She didn't even ask why," Zhang says. "It was sort of understandable because there were more than 60 students in the class. The teacher was probably happy to have one fewer kid to deal with - at least one whose grades weren't top-of-the-class."
Home-schooled children generally have broader and deeper knowledge but typically lag in certain subjects, such as math, says Yuan Fangyan, a researcher with 21st Century Education Research Institute, a nonprofit focused on China's home schooling. Their social skills also suffer, she says.
"Most parents who home-school later believe they made the right choice because they get good results," she explains. "But without a high school diploma, you can't take the National College Entrance Examination."
It ultimately depends not only on the parents' pedagogical philosophy but also on their worldviews.
"Why must we find a path to drag our children along?" asks Song Xiayan, a 39-year-old mother who founded a home schooling group in Yunnan province's Dali in 2010.
"And why does everyone have to go to college? The key to home education is to disregard the social regiment and create your own ways of living."
That, she believes, is one of the most important lessons parents can teach their children - and one kids will never learn in school.
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Zhang Qiaofeng arrived upon the idea of home schooling after contrasting two photos of his son - one taken before he entered primary school and another shot a month after he started - and noticing a vast difference in the boy's apparent mood. Zhang teaches the boys Chinese, math and English himself. He hires professional tutors to teach them soccer, swimming, martial arts, calligraphy, chess and fine arts. He also arranges such activities as tree climbing to teach bravery. Photos by Liu Guanguan / China News Service
(China Daily 09/29/2013 page1)