Teaching The Cinderella Fairytale: China vs. America


From Mop:

How an American teacher would tell the story of Cinderella

The bell rings, and students run into the classroom. This class, they’re discussing Cinderella. The teacher asks one student to come up to the front and summarize the story. The student quickly finishes, the teacher thanks him, and starts to ask the class questions.

Teacher: Which characters did you like in the story? Disliked? Why?
Student: I like Cinderella, and the Prince. I don’t like Cinderella’s step-mother and her step-sisters. Cinderella is kind, adorable, and beautiful. Her step-mother and step-sisters were mean to her.
Teacher: If at midnight, Cinderella didn’t get into her pumpkin carriage in time, what would happen?
Student: She would turn back into a servant with dirty clothes. Aiya, that would be horrible.
Teacher: Therefore, you must be punctual, otherwise you might land yourself in trouble. Also, look around, all of you are very clean and pretty, you need to make sure to be clean or your friends will be scared of you. Girls, you need to be extra careful. When you grow up and go out on a date, if you’re not careful and your boyfriend sees you when you’re very ugly, he might be so scared that he faints. (The teacher pretends to faint, class laughs).

Teacher: Alright, next question: If you were Cinderella’s stepmother, would you stop Cinderella from attending the ball? You have to be honest!
(After a while, a student raised his hand and answers): Yes, if I were Cinderella’s stepmother, I would stop her from attending the ball too.
Teacher: Why?
Student: Because, because I love my own daughter, I want her to be queen.
Teacher: Yes. The stepmothers we see all seem to be evil, they don’t treat others well enough, but they treat their own children very well. Do you understand? They’re not evil, they just can’t love other children like they love their own.

Teacher: Children, next question. Cinderella’s stepmother forbade her to go to the ball and even locked her in. But why was she able to go and become the most beautiful girl there?
Student: Because her fairy godmother helped her, gave her beautiful clothes, turned a pumpkin into a carriage and dogs and mice into servants.
Teacher: You’re right! Think, if Cinderella didn’t have her fairy godmother’s help, she couldn’t have attend the ball, right?
Students: Yes!
Teacher: If the dogs and mice weren’t willing to help her, could she have successfully returned home at the last minute?
Student: No, then she would have successfully scared the prince (the class laughs).
Teacher: Cinderella had the help of her fairy godmother, but just the godmother’s help wasn’t enough. So children, no matter where you are, we all need friends. Our friends might not be fairies, but we need them. I hope you all have many, many friends.

Teacher: Now, please think about this, if Cinderella gave up because her stepmother wouldn’t allow her to go to the ball, would she have become the the prince’s bride?
Student: No! If that were case, she wouldn’t have been at the ball. The prince wouldn’t have met her, got to know her, and fell in love with her.
Teacher: That’s right! If Cinderella didn’t want to go to the ball, even if her stepmother didn’t stop her, or even supported her, it would’ve been useless. Who decided whether she was going to attend the ball?
Student: Herself.
Teacher: Therefore, children, even though Cinderella didn’t have her mother to love her, had a stepmother that didn’t love her, she still loved herself. Because she loved herself, she went to look for what she wanted. If you feel as if you’re not loved, or like Cinderella has a stepmother that doesn’t love you, what should you do?
Students: Love ourselves!
Teacher: That’s right, nobody can stop you from loving yourself. If you feel that others don’t love you, you need to love yourself; if nobody gives you opportunities, you should create opportunities for yourself. If you really love yourself, then you will find what you need. Nobody could stop Cinderella from attending the ball, nobody could stop her from becoming the queen, except herself, right?
Student: Yes!!!
Teacher: Last question, what’s illogical about this story?
(After a long time) Student: After midnight everything would transform back, but Cinderella’s glass slippers didn’t.
Teacher: Wow, you’re so smart! See, even great authors make mistakes. Therefore, making mistakes isn’t something to be afraid of. I guarantee, if one of you became an author in the future, you’ll be better than this one! Do you believe me?

The children cheer.

A Chinese teacher tells the story of Cinderella

Bell rings, students and teacher walk into the classroom.

Teacher: Greetings classmates.
Students: Greeeee—tiiiinngs—teeeeeacher—(elongated vowels)

Teacher: Today’s class, we’re discussing the story of Cinderella. Did everybody study in advance?
Student: Study? Who doesn’t know the story.
Teacher: Is Cinderella a story from the Grimm Brothers or Hans Andersen? Who was the author? When was the author born? What were the major events in the author’s life?
Student: …..(In whispers) It’s all in the book, can’t you read it yourself?
Teacher: What is the theme of the story?
Student: This must be an exam question.

Teacher: Alright, let’s start. Who can divide the story into segments, and tell me why you would divide it this way?
Student: The beginning and ending segments include…the body segment…in total…
Teacher: This segment has very vivid descriptions and precise wording. Everybody copy it 5 times for homework, then recite it. I will check next class.
Student: More recitations!?
Teacher: Not long, just that segment.
Student: So many recitation from other classes already…

Teacher: Let’s start analyzing the text, everybody pay attention. Who’s going to read the first part? Everyone else pay attention and conclude what the theme of this segment is.
Student: (reads)
Teacher: Here, everyone focus on this sentence. It is a metaphor. Is this a direct or indirect metaphor? Why does the author use it?
Students: (N number of people start to sleep)

Teacher: Everyone notice this word, if we exchange it with another, why does it not work as well as the original?
Students: (More people start to sleep)
Teacher: Did everybody notice, if I exchange the position of this phrase with the following one, does it work? Why or why not?
Student: I’m not you, how could I notice? (More people fall asleep)
Teacher: Why are you all sleeping? You need to know, if you don’t pay attention in class, you won’t get good grades, if your grades are not good enough you won’t go to university, and if you don’t go to university you can’t…You need to understand these principles of life!!!


Comments from Mop:


Well put, this is education with Chinese characteristics!


Memorable! A change in education structure must come soon! We mustn’t let the “New Theory on the Uselessness of Education” spread!


If Chinese teachers didn’t teach this way, how can students handle the exams?


The Chinese part brings back memories!


This is so real, I feel as if I’ve gone back to elementary school.


Don’t know about American teachers, but when I was young that’s how they taught Language Arts, can’t believe it’s still like this after so many years.


Do you want to become as stupid as laowais? Always asking pointless questions..


Nowadays I sometimes open my Chinese textbook from junior high, and find the stories somewhat interesting. How did the teachers make them so disgusting in class all those years back? Dividing into segments, theme, fuck.


No wonder China can never win the Nobel Prize!!!


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