Teaching has been very good lately. This week the content I had to teach the five-year-olds included the words, “fat” and “ugly”. The included grammar was: “You are fat.” “He is ugly.”
Initially I’m dreading teaching these words and I was considering just not even teaching them because I knew as soon as I taught them, they’d go around calling everyone fat and ugly. In fact, here in China, it’s not unusual for someone to tell you that you are fat or that you are not attractive. The way I understand it, they are trying to encourage you and push you to do better (to lose weight, etc.) The problem though is that I feel that the more this is done, the more irreversible the damage is. The more you tell someone how fat they are, the less likely they are to do anything about it.
After considering a bunch of factors, I instead took some other content which included “happy”, “sad”, “pretty”, “handsome”, and “thin” and taught the children how certain words are “happy words” and certain words are “sad words”.
Here’s an example:
Me: “Can we tell someone, ‘you are fat’ or ‘you are ugly’?”
Me: “That’s right; Those are ‘sad words’. Can we tell someone, ‘you are handsome’ or ‘you are pretty’?”
Me: “That’s right! Those are ‘happy words'!”
I then had the children go around and tell their neighbor to their left that they are handsome or pretty (based on that child’s gender) and then had them say the same to the child to their right. You should have seen their faces! It’s such an awesome sight to watch a kid tug on another kid’s shirt, tell them they are handsome, then watch that boy’s face smile. I’m very glad these kids get to know that they are pretty and handsome.
(On a side note: Unlike America, in China it’s not uncommon at all for a man to tell another man that he is handsome. It happens all the time. The awkward part is when there are two of you standing there, and they only tell one of you that you are handsome. Worse yet, sometimes they’ll just say, “He’s more handsome than you are.”) That’s the kind of thing I’m trying to combat with this teaching.
Over 40 five-year-olds heard this teaching, and I hope they’ll all remember it for the rest of their lives. Happy words, sad words, and an encouraging reminder that each and every one of them is handsome/pretty.
Until next time,
Jeremy, Jenny, Levi, & Liam