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Thoughts From The Corner

May 13, 2012

"private lessons sociology

Recently I was preparing for an English private tuition lesson, reading words written approximately 2,500 years ago. Then it came to me why the words struck a chord. Things haven’t changed that much!

In olden times, people studied to improve themselves.
Today, they only study to impress others.

(Confucius 551-479 BC)

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It’s amazing how the mind wanders! One minute I’m pondering one to one tuition (home tuition – call it what you like) and then there I was with Confucius wandering through the Forbidden City – though not 500 BC but 1993 AD, and actually I wasn’t really with Confucius, I was with Norma, Sociology, Child Development and Research Methods, private tutor for ‘Experienced Tutors’.

When one thinks of ‘Education’ in the wider scheme of things, then anywhere – any time – any place that we learn something, can by pigeon-holed as Education. Harking back to those six weeks in Beijing, my on-board ‘Education Hard Drive’ must have ran out of virtual space, so much education did I devour.

In 1993 we arrived in a city still recovering from the 1989 Tianenmen Square massacre. It is interesting that Wikipedia describes it as ‘the death of several hundred civilians’. The word ‘massacre’ sounds so much more politically forceful. As someone giving private English lessons and dealing with ’emotive language’ for examination purposes, I should perhaps re-assess. However, I digress. . .

Our arrival at the airport was in itself an education. There were more bicycles (9 million?) criss-crossing the runways (not sure if any of them made it into the air) than I had ever seen in my whole life. After that reality check we ended up in a queue waiting to enter the building for passport control. SCARY! Surrounded by mundane, yet sinister, concrete building and machine-gun-wielding-unsmiling-soldiers, we all waited in silence. Definitely not like passport control in Alicante! After queuing at the hole-in-the-wall to change our money (not allowed to take any from England), we stumbled out into the melee that masqueraded  as a taxi rank, with our stuffed pockets of Chinese beans.

Tired, anxious, excited and scared I proceeded to have my toes ran over by a yellow taxi – it had to be yellow there were no other colours. Fortunately, it was the end of my shoes and no damage done. He dropped us off at the wrong hotel and was there waiting to take us to the correct one – after charging us a second fare. Airport taxis – same the world over. I suppose ‘getting done’ by them is part of the education of travelling. Upon arrival at ‘The Overseas Chinese Hotel we were told we had to pay (even though we had paid for the hotel in advance) – are you ready for this – an ‘Olympics Tax’. China was bidding for the 2000 Olympics, hence the tax; as it happens Sydney won. I Still await the return of my money. A whole bagful of education in such a short time.

Alas, I have digressed. . . the Confucian quote above set off a train of thought that shunted me back almost twenty years. As to whether Confucius had it wholly or perhaps just partially correct, that will be up to you to decide. This Thoughts From The Corner post is there to ‘prod and poke’ not supply the answers!

The following four minute video shows our more positive educational experiences in Beijing.

Prefer Full Screen Superior Quality  –  click here. The link takes you to the Photodex Presenter, which will download and the video will open up for viewing. Don’t be SCARED – it will all take less than a minute and the next time you wish to view one of our videos ‘Presenter’ will already be downloaded for you.

Video production by: Gossamer Images

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