Homework is an unending journey

The entire country is in a perpetual state of self-improvement so as to reach the next level of the socio-economic ladder.

Since time immemorial, each generation worked to widen the proverbial door for the descendants, they had believed was closed to them. When they tell you Chinese people are hardworking, they didn’t make up that stereotype. It’s true.

As a child in China, one is never free from the clutches of school homework, even on a weekend. If it’s not multiplication tables, it’s copious Chinese text to copy and memorize.

That’s all one ever does. Memorize.

Meanwhile, pencil to paper is all you can do to make the time fly by before playtime, even if all the answers were wrong.

If you’re a more naughty or reckless child, you’d hide the workbooks away and lie about them being completed. Of course, adults always catch on. Who are you kidding? Parents did it growing up too, and rarely succeeded. I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said, “Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.”

That’s when you hear the parent chasing the child around the room, sometimes wielding a threatening slipper. “Sit down! Stop running! Do your work!” A hard thwack on the bum to set you straight and a firm thump of the table to drive the point home.

Sometimes, you can hear the yelps, laughter and wails of pain from the next alley over.

November 2009


3 Responses to “Homework is an unending journey”

  1. March 3, 2010 at 2:38 am

    One of my all time favorite image

  2. 2 Nick
    March 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Love this photograph, is that the grandmother helping the grandkids?

    Having only recently discovered your site and noticed the pictures aren’t quite posted per date, so am curious how the pictures (or their order) were selected?

    Keep up the fantastic work!

    • March 3, 2010 at 6:46 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Nick! It is the grandmother. Parents tend to be working and are of a younger age.

      As to your other question, it’s a messy science really. I’ve been photographing and writing these stories for a while but hosted them on my Flickr account. The content on this site is a mix of old (sometimes revised) and new stories/pictures. So I date the photographs according to when they are taken.

      Sometimes, I go back to my archives to pull out unpublished photos and drafts of stories. Othertimes, I photograph a place repeatedly and eventually write a story about it.

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