Friday, May 20, 2011

On Childbirth and Ignorance

Even after almost two years, I am sometimes astounded at the apparent naivete of my students. Here's a recent example. A student wrote in her journal that her sister-in-law was due to give birth to a baby on April 30. She was a bit worried for her sister-in-law, because she had heard (just this year, from one of her Chinese English teachers) that childbirth is difficult and painful, and also because the sister-in-law is over 30. In China, this is considered borderline "too old," and some ladies over 30 will go to special high-risk doctors for their pregnancy.

Anyway, April 30 came and went, and no one called my student to tell her that the baby was born, so she was even more worried. She  suspected something must have gone wrong and no one was telling her.  So she texted her brother in a panic, wondering what was going on.  Her brother assured her that nothing was wrong, and that the baby would probably be born soon. Then my student searched on the Internet and learned (for the first time, apparently), that babies can be born a couple weeks before or after their due dates. They are not always born on the due date. And this is OK.

My question: China is one of the most study-crazy countries in the world. But can an educational system which turns out students so completely clueless about these and many other basic facts of life really be called successful?

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