Dear Mr Bai,


Your email message is the first I have got from my ex-students since we parted. Time flies. In a matter of weeks, your status has changed. Then you were my student; now you no longer are.


I am on my business trip in the provincial capital Wuhan. Actually I am working for the Exam Organiser. I have joined the several hundred teachers in marking the papers of the exam you sat. The venue is located on the campus of HUST. I will be here for about ten days before I make it back home.


It is clear that your mum and you are divided on the question of which major you should apply for. Your conflict reminds me of the passage you read in the English exam. You are a teenager. Teenagers are generally depicted as rebellious. And as I told you in class many a time, adolescence is a difficult stage of life. You and your peers are suspicious, sensitive and full of “wonderful” ideas which you think can save the world from perishing.


Your mother is to be respected though you may find her always lecturing you on this and that. It is a fact that experience matters and your mum has an abundance of that. Of course, she should respect your choice, too. The best solution is a compromise between you two.


I once had a talk with your mum in my office on her visit to YYHS. Obviously she wished that you could be an engineer or a scientist. That way, she thought you would make a greater contribution to the world. Her own education background influenced her and she expected you to take up the same field of study in college.


Is it a bad idea to become a teacher? Different people have differing answers. Most teachers do not make a direct contribution to creating wealth, improving living conditions or governing a nation. Compared with an engineer who has accomplished a huge project or an inventor whose invention benefits humankind, a teacher is a nobody. However, the engineer and the inventor would not have gone so far without the help and support of their family, friends and teachers. Teachers do not change the world; but they mould the guys who would do it.


At the end of the day, you will have to persuade your mum to accept your choice or vice versa. I hope you do not hate each other as a result of this disagreement. Anyway, she is important to you and she loves you, too.


Let’s come to your last question. It would be unwise to write on paper first and then to type your manuscript on the computer. In the years to come, you will have to learn to be comfortable with the computer. You will read a lot on it and you will also write on it. The switch from paper media to digital is not easy and it will take you some time.


If you like, please learn to write using some commonly-used software programmes. I write on Microsoft Word. I am sure your computer is equipped with this programme, too. If you use WORD, you will find it can help you in many ways. For instance, it offers grammar and spelling tips as you write along.


I happen to have one day off for Duanwu. Tomorrow, our work will resume. I will be back in town in a week. Good luck, lad, and do not quarrel with your mum.





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