In China: Student’s Note Brings the Music
Six years ago, I was an 8th grader in a middle school in Hangzhou, China. I was required to take 12 different courses all at once from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays and extra test preparation classes on Saturdays. There were limited extracurricular activities or playtime. Students were overwhelmed with work and were undergoing an inappropriate level of stress for our age.
As naïve as I was, I wrote a complaint letter to our school president. I was too scared to put my name on the letter or to show my own handwriting. I asked my mother to rewrite the letter and put it in the president’s mailbox. At that time, complaints on heavy schoolwork and criticism on the education system were common; however, it was very rare for students to speak up in front of teachers or any “authorities”—much less the school president. I was expecting the worst: to be expelled from school or at least a school-level detention. However, I also knew that the school wouldn’t give me any punishment because I was one of few students who had the grades for the best high school in the province. Middle schools were evaluated and ranked by the number of students who tested into top three high schools in the province. If the school had given me any official punishment, even a tardy, they would put my future and also the school’s reputation into jeopardy.
Shockingly, two months later, our president read part of my letter and announced the “music program” in a school-wide meeting. After several meetings with faculty members, he said, they decided to implement a music program to de-stress students. The music program was to play 30 seconds of classical music before each class, as both entertainment and as a way to help students get ready for class. He deliberately picked “The Maiden’s Prayer” as the first piece because “from the handwriting, the letter was a kind wish from a girl.”
I was astonished. Back then; students wouldn’t have the chance to talk to the president. Thus, his positive response to an anonymous letter was extraordinary and very unusual. Till this day, I still haven’t told anyone that I wrote this letter. Although I doubt how effective the music program was—since most of us used that 30 seconds to finish up work before class—the implemention of the music program gave me, as well as many others, a bit of hope for improvements on the middle school education.#