Chinese and its Mysterious Connection to Abolishing Grades

Every Saturday, I drive to the nearby middle school and situate myself in a class full of Chinese kids aged 6 and 7. Why? Because I want to learn Chinese. Out of my own desire, I am enrolled in classes that take up 2 hours of my Sunday. The beauty of these classes to me is not only are they Chinese classes for the Chinese but the students here are placed into classes almost solely based on level or preference, not age. What if our normal schools were like that?

I know high school sophomores who could tutor seniors in calculus, who could teach the Latin class, and who write their own computer programs. These same students are often stuck in classes suitable for their age, but not their ability.

I am thankful that my school is not so much like this. There can be seniors in a freshman language class and sophomores in a senior math class. To the best of their ability, they try to “sort” based on ability.

Why then, is this not the norm? Why is it customary for us to jump through all the hoops at the average pace? What if I want to go through one set of hoops faster than another set? We aren’t all equally talented and or abilities aren’t equal across departments. If so, why are we put through school all at the same pace?

Not being in an environment with your peers is not at all bad, or boring, or uncomfortable and anywhere near as socially awkward as people make it out to be. I can attest to that, because somewhere in the back row, feeling tall for the first time in my life, Chinese, a language of precise tones and complex characters, became fun for me.

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