Recently I was discussing the Chinese education system with a Shanghainese friend, and she told told me a story. [Note: This is just one person's story, not a blanket generalization. I'm sharing it because I found it interesting.]
When I was in fifth grade, there were two girls that were at the top of the class. One of them was my friend. The other was the teacher’s favorite. I remember that there was a big test, and my friend got an amazing score of 98%. The other girl had earned a 95%, but the teacher had given her five extra “neatness points” giving her 100%.
I really didn’t think that was fair, so in front of everyone, I pointed out to the teacher that my friend’s test paper was every bit as neat as the other girl’s, and if it weren’t for those five extra “neatness points” my friend would have the highest score in class. The teacher rewarded my sense of justice by making me stand for the rest of the class.
When I went home, I told my mom about the incident. She told me that I shouldn’t have opposed the teacher, and that I had a lot to learn.
Chatting in that coffee shop, I had felt quite at ease. But then when my friend came out with that story, I suddenly felt so foreign again.