Posted on November 10, 2017
Sports Day at Shenzhen Baocheng Primary School
Since arriving in China, I have been impressed with the amount of physical activity that I see everywhere. I have always heard how the students do nothing but study all day. Soemtimes when I see my students, I think they do nothing but run around yelling all day. They have so many opportunities to get physical exercise. From seven o’clock in the morning until seven o’clock at night, the students are out on our sports courts playing basketball, running and marching. I would think that is enough, but they also spend a lot of time chasing and wrestling each other in between classes as well.
Being the only foreign teacher at my school and a mom, I was not asked to participate in any of the preparations for the 24th Sports Day here at this primary school. For two weeks, the preparations have been in full force. The students are practicing dances, twirling and singing in preparation for the opening ceremonies.
I could not understand the importance of a sports day for the entire school. To my Western mind, a whole day for the entire student body to participate in sports is inconceivable, let alone three days. I asked around until I received a better understanding as to why have a sports day. The answer: Tradition. The Chinese schools have Sports Day because that is what has always been done and because it is what you do.
One adminstrator with whom I spoke said that the final exam for high school students now contain a physical education portion. The students must pass this portion of the test. Because it is basically the simpliest part, worth 120 points, students try to keep active when studying. Physical education classes are at least three times a week for all students in primary and secondary schools.
When Sports Day finally arrived, I was pleased to stand on the sidelines, take pictures and watch the festivities. Every class, with the exception of Grade 1, performed a small 30 second routine and participated in the parade. That means 36 classes marching around the school in full makeup and costume. They performed for each other and for their parents. It was beautiful.
Not being fluent in Chinese, I did not enroll Bean in any activities. I wasn’t sure if it was mandatory or if I needed to be there. I knew nothing. Thankfully, she has a kind headteacher who signed her up to participate in some sports events. Bean has never been in a competition before, so she isn’t as competitive as some of the other children. She did have fun though.
I am a very strong advocate for physical activity for everyone. I wonder how many children would become interested in living a more active life if it were accepted as a part of the daily routine; especially if they could have a Sports Day! What do you think?