Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Unforgettable Episode

At the Banqiao Junior High School Reunion, in the Canadian Rockies early this summer, we were talking about our teachers. I mentioned our music teacher Bi to the group. My good friend Taotze immediately jumped in to ask if we remembered his problem with the teacher. That was certainly an event that he did not and could not forget. During one of Bi's music classes, Taotze off-handedly said something which implied that the music teacher would not be there teaching if she had been able to practice her profession elsewhere. Teacher Bi was furious! She reported to the school official that Taotze's behavior was not acceptable and she requested Taotze's dismissal. I remember our classroom teacher Tu went to talk with her, trying to ease the tension. Taotze, in the end, received one "large strike" on his permanent record. In China, it was then a very severe punishment, as one would be kicked out of school forever on his or her third large strike.

When I look back on this episode, while I was close to Teacher Bi and enjoyed her classes, it was clearly an overreaction on her part. Teacher Bi seemed to have forgotten that she was dealing with a fourteen year old boy! Just like everywhere else in the world, music and arts were never considered as serious academic subjects. They were never included in any entrance exams for high school or college. The whole society looked at them as luxuries. Taotze's comment was just an honest reflection of the time. But that was exactly Teacher Bi's frustration and her painful wounds resulted from society's general attitude. I am sure that Taotze was also hurt deeply and this episode was imprinting in his memory forever.    

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