I know, this title is creepy. Please trust me, it is still a blog about education not about people taking their clothes off.
I like swimming. In both Cambridge and in Shanghai, I go to public swimming pools a few times per week. I could not help noticing the differences of the changing room setup.
In the Cambridge swimming pool, men and women share one big changing room. There are separating small rooms for people to change. In the Shanghai swimming pool, men and women go to different changing rooms. Within the changing room, it is all open. I was embarrassed at the beginning but pretty soon I got used to it.
This design difference, for me, is less an issue of civilisation, more as an implicit reflection of what each culture values. One emphasis on individualism and privacy, the other triumphs community and conformity.
Understanding this changing room setup also made me recall our school system. When I was in school in Shanghai, our exam rankings were displayed and compared on the wallpaper. There was little chance to hide in your own ‘changing room block’ . Instead, everything was exposed in the public. Deal with it.
I am not judging what is good and what is bad here. But being able to realise the connection between seemingly random elements does make me want to be more observant.