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.”
Me: Right, and is the world better or worse now with video games?
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!