It’s official. My homeschool is lame. We study for 6.5 hours during the day, plus an hour for karate on Tues and Thurs, plus 20 minutes of Latin in the evening with Darling Husband and 30 minutes of mandatory reading at night. This fall we’ll start watching CNN student current events during breakfast and old Bill Nye science shows on youtube during lunch. Whatever seat work that doesn’t get done in the day gets done in the kids’ spare time.
But it’s still lame.
Justin, the 13 year old exchange student from China, attends school from 7:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night. Then he comes home and does 3 hours of homework. Thirteen and a half hours a day. He became utterly serious and emphatic as he told us, “Marks are the most important thing in China. Most important. More than anything.”
So, as you can see, my homeschool is utterly lame. And so is yours. And your private school and public school as well.
His 13.5 hours a day sure are paying off. That kid is razor sharp. He sat with us and talked politics, history, and economics as if it were the most natural thing in the world for a 13 year old kid to do. We learned a lot from him.
Here are some things we learned from Justin:
1. It is cold on airplanes so you must dress warmly.
The first night they arrived, I noticed that Justin’s clothes fit him badly. I wondered at the tailoring in China. His clothes were lumpy and his legs were stuffed into the pants like sausages. What do the Chinese girls think of the Chinese boys and their lumpy clothes?
But after that first day his clothes looked normal for the most part, except that he wore a striped tie with a plaid shirt. (He loves ties.)
On the last day as he was getting ready to leave he said, “It is so cold on the plane. They tell us to wear two pants and two shirts.”
Ah. I see. So, when he’s on the plane, he’s stuffed into two pairs of pants. I’m not exactly sure who told Justin to wear two pairs of pants because John came downstairs wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I’m guessing that John was cold on the ride home and Justin was toasty warm.
Well, he was toasty warm until he arrived in China. And then he was miserably hot. Ever since they’ve been back to China, I’ve been getting messages from them. Here’s the one I got this morning from Justin:
Justin: Temperature in Fuzhou is 45celsius. As soon as I had arrived in China, I felt very hot
Me: 45 celsius?! Hot! It is 19 celsius here.
45c = 113f
19c = 66f
Now, 113 seems a bit high to me. I mean, really—113 degrees Fahrenheit? Then again maybe not. I just looked up the forecast for Fuzhou and it’ll be 104 with 59% humidity on Thursday. That’s pretty hot.
Anyway, the reason that “as soon as I had arrived in China, I felt very hot” might not have all been due to the weather. It might have been in part because he was stuffed into 2 shirts and 2 pairs of pants.
2. Parents don’t understand.
When the students were here it was probably one of the best experiences my family has ever had together. I’ve only lived in the mostly northern states of America, but I’ve heard of the graciousness of the American south. The exchange students are from the south of China so perhaps there’s something about living in the boiling hot southern regions of a country that makes for good manners.
If a door needed to be opened, they opened it. If something fell on the ground, they picked it up. If someone was lifting something, they jumped to help. They greeted us warmly each time we met (more on that later) and everything was please and thank you.
I’ve never met such gracious people. Having them in my home was so easy.
But I’m smart enough to realize it was just for 2 weeks and very likely, after time, we’d have started getting on each other’s nerves. Probably Justin’s first.
One night we were asking Justin questions about his home. We asked what happens if he gets in trouble at home. He said, “Very terrible!” Then he went on to say that he is an impatient person and when his parents don’t understand him, he curses at them.
Parents don’t understand their kids? That’s an old, old song Justin.
Literally, an old song. Will Smith and Justin would get along great. Parents just don’t understand.
3. Tomatoes and corn are for poor people.
Justin talked about how after World War II China was poverty stricken. Everyone was poor and everyone lived on tomatoes and corn. But now, people like to eat a lot of beef.
Uh oh. I love tomatoes and corn. They’re my favorites. One of my best memories growing up was when I ate 12 tomatoes in one sitting on the ride home from Harper’s Ferry.
In the picture below–dinner: tomato based minestrone soup and corn on the cob. Our students had to eat like poor people while they were in America.
Note the gobs of butter on Justin’s plate. And that was just the beginning. He added more. They buttered everything like that. The butter on their toast was thicker than the bread.
Later in the week I took them to Shannon’s house for a proper meat and potatoes American dinner so they wouldn’t think all Americans were poor, eating tomatoes and corn.
Obviously, there’s much more to say but my lame homeschool starts in less than two weeks and I’m supposed to be lesson planning right now.