Monday, August 2, 2010

Junior High School

Since compulsory education ended at primary school in the 1950's, Junior High School students had to pay for their tuition. I do not know the statistics of how many people continued their education, but I am sure that there was quite a number who did not continue after the sixth grade. Most of the students in Junior High School were 13-15 years old, equivalent to students in 7th to 9th grades. None of the Junior Highs in Taipei City were co-educational, as was the case in a few larger cities outside Taipei such as Taichung, Tainan, and Kaoshung. Other schools were partially co-educational. In Banqiao Junior High School, both male and female students were admitted; however, they were separated into different classrooms. In 1951, there were three classes (fifty each) of male students, and one female class. All class activities were separate and different. Each class had an assigned classroom teacher; he or she checked the rolls, maintained class discipline, and communicated with students in the class and their parents. Other teachers came to the classroom to provide the academic lectures. The students remained in the same classroom for most of the day. A student in the class was usually elected or appointed to be the class leader. The class leader issued the "stand up" order to the class when a teacher entered the classroom, then issued the "sit down" order to the class when the teacher was ready to talk. Another responsibility of the class leader was to report to the room teacher what had happened in the classroom when the teacher was away.

Academic subjects included in Junior High School were: Chinese, English, math (algebra and geometry), geology, nature, history, and one or two of the following: fine arts, music, physical education. English was a totally new subject for everyone; we started with the alphabet on the first day! I had an older gentleman teacher, I remembered. He was not very demanding, perhaps fairly relaxed! I remember asking him if there was a difference in pronunciation between "L" and "N". He told us that they were similar, and not to worry about them. I was never able to hear the difference between these two letters. I had to apologize to every one of my General Chemistry classes later in life. I told them that when they heard "atomic lumber" in this class it was always "atomic number".

There were other things that happened besides academics in Junior High School. We learned how to play ping pong, basketball, arm wrestling, and other games. When we had a break between classes, I remember that we would arrange the tables together (they were rather small) so that we could play 10 minutes of ping pong. There would be several games going on in one classroom. And then we shuttled and dashed the tables back before the next teacher came in. For basketball we had to run to the court first, play hard, then rush back to class! Every minute was precious, we would not waste any.

I learned another fun thing to do in Junior High - developing negatives from camera film. I will talk about this next time!

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