Video of school kids in China bouncing balls in unison is like a cultural Rorschach test

It's been nearly 100 years since Hermann Rorschach introduced the well-known inkblot test used by psychologists to analyze personality characteristics and emotional processing. Where one person sees a bat, another may see a butterfly. One person might find an inkblot shape soothing while another finds it unnerving.

Whether the test truly tells psychologists anything definitive, there's no doubt that our perceptions are colored by our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. And that's quite clear in people's reactions to this video from a school in China.

The video, shared by ShanghaiPanda on Twitter, shows a large circle of children bouncing dozens of balls in unison and moving around the circle in a rhythmic pattern. "China's kindergarten game: Cooperation," the post reads.


Responses to the post reveal a wide range of perceptions of the purpose and value of the activity. As a former teacher, I see kids learning and practicing excellent hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness. I also see them working together, cooperating to keep the balls moving in unison. To me, it's a really cool example of using the whole body to perform a task and focusing one's attention on what's in front of them while preparing for what's to come. It also builds trust, as you have to trust that your neighbor is going to perform their task of bouncing the ball at the right time, and your other neighbor has to trust that you will do the same. (A far better lesson than, say, the cut-through terror and individual dominance most of us remember from playing dodgeball in school.)

From my perspective, this is a valuable group activity for young kids that teaches multiple skills at the same time.

But for others, it's a creepy example of group-think indoctrination, molding kids to accept uniformity and train them into obedience.

Huh.

If the first thing you think of when you think of Chinese culture is communist indoctrination, then I can see why this video would elicit that response. But that doesn't make it correct or okay.

Thankfully, most of those responses were met with rebuttals that showed the hypocrisy and xenophobia inherent in them.

Considering how we have kids recite the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag every morning in unison, the "indoctrination" argument falls a bit flat.

It's not hard to imagine very different responses if this were a group of American kids coordinating to do the same thing. They would be hailed as impressive kids who worked toward a goal, not communists.

Not to mention, nearly anything can be twisted into something dark or sinister simply by describing it that way, as evidenced by this description of "musical chairs."

The video also ignited some interesting conversations about competition vs. coordination.

Ultimately, the idea that working together in unison to build skills and create a cool effect is somehow "communist indoctrination" is purely a product of people's perceptions about China and its people. After all, our marching bands and cheer squads do the same thing.

If our first impression or reaction to a video of kids doing something educational in another country is "that's creepy" or "ew, communism" we may want to check ourselves. Replace those kids faces with ones who look American to you and be honest about what your reaction would be to see it. Our prejudices can color our perceptions, and it's important for all of us to acknowledge and challenge our own thoughts.

Especially when we're looking at children bouncing balls, for goodness sake.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.