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    Throwing Eggs in the Classroom: ‘Guandan’ Fever Hits Primary Schools

    The traditional card game is being promoted among children for the soft skills it can impart, although some are not as keen.
    Jan 29, 2024#education

    In recent years, the traditional Chinese card game of guandan has been embraced by Chinese businesspeople. Now, it is even being introduced to children to improve their soft skills.

    According to local media reports, a local education group in Yichang, central Hubei province, is planning to add guandan to its curriculum for primary students and has already given each student their own pack of cards to practice with during the upcoming winter break.

    Guandan, which literally means “throwing eggs,” is played by four people split into two teams using two decks of cards. Both teams take turns throwing out their cards in various set combinations, with the goal of shedding all their cards before the other team.

    The name comes from the Chinese word for “egg” having the same pronunciation as “bomb.” An estimated 140 million people play the game in China, which hails from the eastern Jiangsu province.

    The game has proved particularly popular in the business community in recent years as a way to socialize. In Shanghai, a Guandan Sports Association was established recently with the chairman of stock information provider East Money elected the association’s first president.

    Last year, the game was included for the first time as an exhibition event at the National Mind Sports Games hosted by China’s top sports body.

    A staff member at Yiling Tianwen School in Yichang, a private primary school operated by Tianwen Education Group, told Sixth Tone that guandan is only a “recommended activity” for students to do during the winter break, and not homework.

    The school will decide whether guandan will be introduced into the official curriculum next semester based on feedback from students.

    Gao Zhenghua, party secretary of Tianwen Education Group, told local media outlet Hubei Daily that the game will improve students’ “thinking ability, adaptability, resourcefulness, and teamwork skills.”

    However, guandan’s increasing associations with social networking among businesspeople have also raised concerns that the game is inappropriate for children to play at an early age.

    According to two polls over the weekend on microblogging platform Weibo, more than half the respondents were against incorporating guandan into primary school curriculums, with a user highlighting the links between the game and gambling.

    “Sports like basketball and badminton are much better activities for students to improve their physical fitness and develop their teamwork skills,” one comment read.

    The education group’s move is not the first time guandan has been promoted in Chinese schools. In 2015, representatives of a primary school in Yangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province, announced it was introducing guandan into their curriculum to enhance students’ teamwork and other skills.

    At the time, the official newspaper of the Ministry of Education welcomed the school’s announcement as an “innovative” move.

    The game has also made its way onto university campuses, with several universities around the country holding regular tournaments, and alumni associations promoting the game as a way to socialize.

    Founded in 2004, Tianwen Education Group has more than 8,000 students in nursery, kindergarten, primary, and high schools in Hubei.

    Editor: Vincent Chow.

    (Header image: VCG)