A Grand Day Out

I never cease to be amazed about the total lack of forethought and rigid inflexibility that infuses everything that my daughter’s elementary school organises.

Today was a prime example: the spring activity day. Originally planned for tomorrow, it was brought forward suddenly because of a bad weather forecast for tomorrow.

About the school 

The school is situated at the end of a narrow cul-de-sac (that’s a dead end in plain language). At the entrance to this road is a much busier main road and correspondingly busy junction. Even on normal school days the road outside the school is blocked with parents’ cars and bikes at pickup time and there are usually a couple of Police on duty at the junction to assist with the chaos (yes, I think assist is probably the right choice of word).

It’s a popular school probably about average size for Chinese elementary schools. Each Grade has five or six classes of around forty kids. Doing the calculations for all five grades, that works out at over a thousand kids plus staff.

A Grand Day Out

So, getting back to the school activity day. When you have over a thousand kids to take on an activity, how do you plan it? 

Do you perhaps arrange it one Grade at a time, on different days, to minimise the impact. Of course not. You you take the whole school away in a fleet of twenty plus coaches.

Do you return to the school an hour before the normal pickup time to allow the coaches to disgorge their charges and get away before the rush? Of course not. You return to the school an hour before the normal pickup time and you tell the parents to collect their kids at the same time.

Do you notify the Police that pickup time will be one hour earlier today and, by the way, there’ll be an additional twenty something coaches turning up at the same time as all the parents. Of course not. I assume that there were probably a couple of bemused Police officers who turned up at 4pm as usual today only to find the place deserted. 


Total traffic chaos ensued. A few coaches managed to get to the school gates before the parents arrived, one even managed to turn around before the road was blocked, another got trapped half way through its turn. The remaining twenty odd coaches formed an orderly queue on the main road, disgorging their passengers in the middle of the busy junction while parents and teachers formed human barriers to prevent accidents and protect the kids. 


As I said at the top of this post, I am in total awe at the lack of foresight and downright stupidity of the staff who organised this activity day with absolutely no consideration for the chaos that it would cause and the risks that the pupils would be exposed to.

What’s worse is that, as a whole Chinese parents are taught to treat teachers with such respect that they will never question the decisions taken by those teachers. The teacher is always right.

(BTW: This photo was not taken today, it was taken on an altogether quieter morning)

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