I have been teaching at Thomas Magnet School for over three months now and can sincerely report my profound feeling that the school community here is a big, happy family.
The children here grow up quite happy as compared to children in China.
Here, in addition to normal school work, there are m
any interesting extracurricular activities and colorful festivals. Some interesting (to me) examples of exotic (to me) festivals and related include "Celebrating the 50th" and the wearing of costumes during Halloween (happy elves everywhere!)
During Veterans' Day, I was moved to see the children paying tribute to the military. The festivities in the run up to Thanksgiving have been particularly charming -- seeing teachers, students and even parents together at the school eating together, sharing art projects and enjoying the harvest time atmosphere as it were.
Overall, at Thomas Magnet School, I am seeing children experiencing the joy of learning and having an enhanced life experience as a result.
I once asked a kindergarten class: "Do you like school?" The children happily answered: "Of course we like it, because the school is very interesting."
This contrasts sharply with the lifestyle of Chinese students who seem to have much more pressure. What is compelling about the American system is that students seem to be able to form happier childhood memories -- these are precious and rare in the grand scheme of things.