For Love Or Money

This story on Laowai!Laowai! talks about running a speaking exercise for high school age ESL students. This exercise asks each student to choose between Love or Money, and explain why.

Without exception, the boys in his class chose Love while the girls choose Money. I don’t think this would happen in an American high school, but it’s not surprising to anyone who’s spent time with teenage Chinese students. (What I really want to know is how did he get the girls to stop giggling long enough to have this discussion?) Laowai!Laowai! describes the Love vs. Money debate:

In China it’s like this: women dream of love but eventually choose the secure way of the non-perishing banknotes. Men only dream of wealth – so that in the end they actually can get the most beautiful girl in the class. But… isn’t that buying love instead of receiving it? Poor bastards.

I think there’s a hidden variable in this game. LL’s students are choosing which to discuss in class and to publicly prioritize, in front of their peers and a foreign teacher. It seems likely that LL’s students are choosing what they want their classmates to think they value, which may or may not be their real priority.

Because I’m the kind of teacher who tries sociology experiments out on my students, I tried this game for the discussion part of my teenage girls’ class. I wrote LOVE and MONEY on the board, and asked my girls to tell me which was more important.

Two girls waffled for a bit, but when pressed, all six girls picked money. They all seems to agree that love could grow in a marraige, but without money, spouses would fight more. I seem to remember a statistic about American couples frequently fighting over money — but I might have read it in Cosmo.

But I don’t think Chinese dating is really all about the Maos. When I mercilessly hounded questioned my girls about this in practical terms, no one said that they were looking for a rich husband and no one intended to stop working after marriage (although, again, there may be a gap between what’s said to the foreign teacher and what’s really thought). Instead, my class all told me that they wanted to delay their weddings until they were older and were making good salaries.

In other teaching news, today one of my students ate a sticker to impress a girl sitting nearby. He’s 11.

One Man Bandwidth also talks about Laowai! Laowai!’s article

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