* Are you a fan of martial arts movies?
The Chinese martial arts movies with those amazing aerial fights when the characters are going through great bamboo forests, leaping and bouncing off the trees, are very, very
exciting indeed. This story doesn’t actually talk about martial arts. But let’s talk about the bamboo forest because where they film it, it’s not just any bamboo. It’s a very special type of bamboo called moso bamboo.
What is unusual about moso bamboo? Let’s say you’ve got yourself a seed. You plant the seed and water it. You come back a week later, NOTHING. You come back a month later, still nothing. You are thinking, “Hmm… maybe I should move it somewhere else. But actually where did I plant it?”
Then you come back a year later. And there is still NOTHING. By now you think it is a total waste of time. You’ve spent money on something and nothing happened. You keep walking on the same path every day, for two years, three years, four years, FIVE years.
But then one day, you walk past, and BOOM! there is the moso bamboo and it’s up to your knees! It wasn’t there yesterday, but now, sixty centimetres tall, up to your knees, in just one day.
Tuesday you come back. BOOM! And it’s up here, up to your chest! It has grown FOUR FEET in two days!
Wednesday, JINK! It’s as tall as a man. 1.8 metres tall, sixty centimetres every single day. And it grows, it keeps on growing like that EVERY SINGLE DAY for six to seven weeks, until it’s up to thirty to forty metres tall. How incredible!
* So what has it been doing? For those five years seemingly there was no activity at all and you thought you would just give it up and let it die. For five years the moso bamboo has been planting its roots, extending its roots. They go very, very deep, and very, very wide. They have to be wide in order to support its standing so straight and so tall.
If you got martial arts fighters do that kind of kick and fight, it doesn’t want to fall over so it has to be wide in order to give it that stability. It has to go deep in order to have the kind of energy to be able to tap on the amazing amount of energy to drive it up so fast for six or seven weeks.
** So, what has it got to do with you? By the time you are in Secondary Six, you have been in secondary education for five years. Are you going to shoot up? I don’t mean physically. I don’t want to see another generation of basketball stars. I’m talking about what’s going on in your heart, what’s going on in your mind. What roots are you putting down? How deep and how wide? It is going to help you to make that kind of growth and show what you are really capable of. The story of moso bamboo is the idea about putting down roots, deep and wide.
Think about that. What does that mean? What do you have to do to make that kind of growth? Or are you just going to be the same person five years from now, no difference from when you walked into your school from Primary One into Secondary One? True story. Moso bamboo. Right here on your doorstep in China.
Additional Text: Moso Bamboo Suggested Activities
Display the picture of a panda and ask students what pandas eat.
Display pictures or realia of bamboo products and ask students to talk about how bamboo is used in daily life, e.g. bowls, furniture, scaffolding and flooring. (Please refer to the presentation slides in the DVD-ROM.) Display the following two pictures showing: (i) a baby panda and a full-grown panda; and (ii) a bamboo seed and a bamboo of its full height. Ask students to guess the answers to the following questions:
➢ How long does it take for a baby panda to grow into an adult panda?
➢ How about for a bamboo seed to become a full-grown bamboo?
Demonstrate how to find the answers to the questions from the Internet.
Tell students that it takes about two years for a baby panda to grow into an adult panda and three to four months for a bamboo seed to grow into a full-grown bamboo, i.e. of its full height. Ask students if the growth is steady throughout the period.
0 0 0 0 0
Add the word “moso” before “bamboo” and introduce “moso bamboo”, which is a temperate species of giant bamboo native to China. Show students film excerpts of moso bamboo forests in Chinese martial arts movies from the Internet.
Ask students to guess how long it takes for moso bamboos to grow into a bamboo forest as in the film excerpts. Tell students that you are going to tell them something about the growth of moso bamboo.
Present the text in your own words from paragraph 1 to paragraph 7 (marked with *). Make use of onomatopoeia (e.g. BOOM! JINK!), pauses (e.g. NOTHING), volume and pace of speech (e.g. FOUR FEET) and gestures (e.g. deep and wide, the skyrocketing growth of moso bamboo) to create sound effects, enhance understanding and communication, and engage students in the process of listening.
Indicate the growing process of moso bamboo with the following chart.
Ask students to describe the growing process of moso bamboo in their own words. Ask for ideas about what the moso bamboo has been doing in the past five years.
Growth of Moso Bamboo
50m 40m 30m 20m 10m 0
1 yr 2 yrs 3 yrs 4 yrs 5 yrs
Reinforce the message about the unsteady physical growth of moso bamboo during the period of five years.
Distribute the text to students. Display the following guiding questions and ask students to read paragraph 8 (marked with **) for the answers:
➢ What does moso bamboo represent?
➢ What does growth refer to in the text?
Display a picture of a bamboo seed, a full-grown moso bamboo, a baby and a teenager. Ask students to reflect on their own growing process.
Draw students’ attention to the different growing paces among them.
Guide students to understand that growth does not only refer to the physical growth but also mental or intellectual growth and everyone has their unique learning style and pace.
Invite students to discuss the theme, which is also the message of the text. Introduce words like “stamina”, “perseverance”, and “diligence” to describe the message of the text. Then they write a reflective journal on their learning experience with reference to the message of the text. Use the following questions to help students:
➢ Are you similar to moso bamboo? If yes, in what way? If no, why not?
➢ What is the message of the text?
➢ What would you do if you couldn’t see any expected outcomes after years of hard work?
➢ What would you do if your progress plateaued?
➢ What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your goals? How will you achieve them?
Introduce students to inspiring stories or biographies about people realising their dreams. Get students to think about what they want to achieve in their life and how they will realise their dreams. Remind students that their goals need not be limited to excellent results and remarkable achievements but finding meaning and direction in life.
Highlight the twists in the text (i.e. nothing happened after the seed was planted, suddenly the bamboo grows rapidly) which makes unexpected turns to surprise readers. Tell them that this is a kind of technique to impress readers. Ask students to share their reading or viewing experience of twists in stories, films, commercials, etc. They then apply the technique in their writing and upload their works to the school intranet or other sharing platforms. Encourage them to read each other’s work and give feedback to their peers.