Sunday, May 20, 2007

"No why!"

One my favorite observations from teaching these kids is watching them react to questions that are not answerable with an absolute right or wrong answer. While most Chinese students have a commendable memory, the Chinese education system leaves little opportunity for critical/creative thinking or opinions. So, I start easy with some material from the book:

Me: “True for False, the first video games were invented in the 1980’s.”
Student: “True”
Me: Right, and is the world better or worse now with video games?
Student: Better
Me: Why?
Student: (pause….) No Why!

“No Why!” is now my favorite answer! It is as if they are correcting me on my ill-formed and nonsensical questions. I have been told by my older Chinese students and friends that you learn early in China that the “why” question is useless in many arenas. “No why!” Priceless. I actually find my self trying to ask why about subjects that I think might evoke the “no why!” answer just for my own amusement!

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