I must admit, looking at that performance review was not just upsetting, it was humiliating. Our class had built a reputation of notable achievements, beating other regional schools in our grade level. But we had never faced the challenges that would come with spending so much time studying from home.
My parents couldn't believe it either. When I showed them the evaluation they were just as disappointed. They reminded me of the responsibility I have as the class leader to do — well — just that, lead. So after a few hours conferring with them about what we could do to bounce back and make our parents and teachers proud, we found the perfect solution: accountability.
See, accountability is not just the pressure we give ourselves to push us to do better. Accountability is most effective when peers encourage and challenge one another. Spending so much time at home, my mother saw how much of a distraction computers are. When used correctly they can be quite useful. Back in her day, computers were a great luxury. But nowadays, computers offer so many ways to entertain us: movies, TV shows, games, etc. And yes, like almost anyone, I too spent a great amount of time doing those things when I should've been paying attention to my teacher's lectures online.
That's when it came to me: I would use computers to keep us accountable.
I created a WeChat group with my classmates and we agreed to meet – though quite reluctantly – on Saturday at 10 p.m. for a video conference call, exactly the time when the new episode of the popular Chinese series "The Bad Kids" (yin mi de jiao luo) becomes available online. This was our first major test. Given how disappointed all our parents were, I could capitalize on scoring points by making all of us prove to them that we're serious about performing better come next evaluation.
The 13 of us the rest of the evening discussing ways we could keep tabs on each other and test each other right before and right after our online class. We assigned a class buddy to each other and every Saturday for a whole month we gathered again at the same time to then quiz one another on that week's lecture.
To our surprise it was much more fun than we thought. By the third week we even forgot about "The Bad Kids." See we were now the good kids who, of course, also binged watched the show after our video call. We stroke this balance between entertainment and study and somehow found a way to make it worthwhile.
By the end of the fourth week, we took our monthly school exam, which also included an updated report on student attention rates. I got a call from teacher Yang Friday evening. Needless to say, our scores were not only back up, they were better than ever before. This was definitely something to be proud of. We, as a team came together, made the necessary sacrifices, and we outperformed every other class, again. But what I take the most from this experience is the bond we've created by meeting every Saturday. It's now become a routine that may continue as the school year goes by.
CGTN international editor No.3
——I was in the mind of a high schooler.
Every student at Hongxing Middle School has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. Our lives have been upended, daily routines altered, and future plans clouded by uncertainty.
A recent survey showing the level of self-discipline among my classmates has come to my attention. And I must say, I'm quite disappointed in the results. Studying from home has drained the motivation and perseverance from many of you. I’m certain most of you don't even get off the couch to change your shirt or brush your teeth.
How can we fix this? Are we destined to be the worst-performing class of Hongxing Middle School graduates? Are we destined to score so poorly on the gaokao that our parents will be too embarrassed to claim us in public? I discussed this lack of gumption with my parents and came up with a solution to our woes.
In a Zoom call with my classmates, I revealed the solution: We should all lie on the next survey. Yes, you heard me correctly. After speaking to many of you, I realized I cannot motivate you beyond your capacity. You're a slothful group of students, to say the least. However, in order to appease our parents and teachers, we should all fabricate our answers. Whether or not you truly become motivated is not my concern.