The "first class". Photo: Sina Weibo
Monday, the day that the majority of Chinese primary and middle schools kicked off a new term after the winter break, was particularly focused in 2021, since Chinese schools across the country had prepared for children a special "first lesson" that explores China's treasured national-level heroes.
"Our first lesson was a creative writing and sharing session, in which my students used whatever form they wanted to finish a paper that explained their thoughts and emotion on inspiring details about the five precious frontier soldiers," Luo Ling, a Chinese language teacher in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province told the Global Times on Tuesday while introducing the new semester's lesson about the frontier soldiers involved in the June 2020 border conflict with Indian troops at Galwan Valley.
Luo was not the only teacher who opened the new school term by touching on a patriotic subject. In fact, it is quite a tradition for Chinese schools, especially for primary and middle schools, to welcome students back with patriotic-oriented ceremonies or events. The "first lesson" is a general term to describe these activities.
Paying homage to China's frontier soldiers has been adopted as a general theme by schools in provinces like Zhejiang, Sichuan and Hubei following the Galwan Valley border conflict, in which four young martyrs - Chen Hongjun, Chen Xiangrong, Xiao Siyuan and Wang Zhuoran -sacrificed their lives in defense of their country.
While students of a middle school in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, organized a stage performance to express their gratitude toward these frontier heroes, primary school students in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, had the opportunity to hear real life stories shared by two former frontier soldiers.
"We all know that what our hero city Wuhan has gone through, so this year students not only paid homage to those military heroes, they also reflected on our medical heroes," Zeng, a teacher/principal of a village school in Hubei Province, told the Global Times.
"We would continue this first lesson tradition," Zeng emphasized, adding that the school faces educational and financial resource limitations.
Students and teachers are clearly not the only group of people who see the importance of the "first lesson" custom as the topic began trending on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Monday; netizens flooded the platform to wave the flag for China.
"I'm inspired, and I'll figure out a way to use such topics to organize something for my students' speaking practice," Xiao, an English teacher of a middle school in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"Like what I used to read in books when I was in school around 20 years ago. The first lesson about those heroes was so vivid, and made me feel very proud of being Chinese," wrote a netizen on Sina Weibo.
"It [the patriotic lesson] is one of those things that we need to let our children experience, and taking myself as an example, I feel it getting stronger the older I grow," posted another.