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Homeschooled 20-year-old defends father

People's Daily Online | Updated: 2016-08-23 10:03

Homeschooled 20-year-old defends father

Li Tiejun, a father in Luzhou, Sichuan province, teaches his daughter Li Jingci, 20, how to paint on Aug 17, 2016. [Photo/IC] 

In 2005, Li Tiejun, a father in the southwestern city of Luzhou, made headlines across China when he challenged the public education system. He had his daughter, Li Jingci, then 9 years old, drop out of primary school since, according to Li Tiejun, "the kid can't learn anything there," Chengdu Business News reported on Aug 22.

Later the same year, Li Jingci's mother sued Li Tiejun for depriving their daughter of her right to receive nine years of compulsory education, as demanded by Chinese law. The high-profile case ruled against Li, and ordered him to send his daughter back to school within five days.

"I'd rather be sent to jail than hand my daughter back to that school," Li Tiejun was quoted as saying after the ruling was delivered. He never obeyed the court's demand, continuing instead to teach his daughter himself. In 2007, he claimed that by 2014, when his daughter turned 18, she would be an expert in the field of biomagnetism.

On Aug 17, a reporter from Chengdu Business News visited Li and his daughter in their home. Li Tiejun, now 74, never married the girl's mother. After retiring from his construction job, Li has stayed single, living with his daughter.

According to Li, in the past 11 years, he has taught Li Jingci everything from painting, music and literature to astronomy and medicine. To demonstrate the efficacy of his education, Li instructed his daughter to make a pencil sketch of Alexander the Great. With Li pointing out various faults as she worked, the girl kept erasing and correcting lines. One hour later, she still wasn't done with the outline.

The two later played a traditional Chinese piece of music, "Moon Reflected on the Er-quan Spring" (Er Quan Ying Yue), with Li Tiejun playing the erhu, a stringed instrument, and Li Jingci playing the electronic keyboard. Their cooperation was generally smooth, excepting two sections for which they forget the sheet music. Li said they have practiced dozens of traditional Chinese melodies.

Eager to show off his daughter's knowledge of Chinese classic literature, Li Tiejun demanded that Li Jingci tell the reporter the names of the "four ugliest woman" in Chinese history. As she recited the answer, Li's face registered great satisfaction.

Li Jingci nevertheless admitted that, although she has never tried, she believes she would definitely fail a number of basic high school tests. She says she is terrible at math, physics, chemistry and English, all essential courses in public school. Her father, Li Jingci explained, believes such courses to be "useless."

"The school teaches nothing but flattery," Li Tiejun told the reporter. And his daughter does indeed have some faith in his doctrine.

"I'm fine. Many college graduates also can't find jobs," she pointed out.

Neighbors said that as the girl's peers entered university and started to get married, she just stayed at home with her dad. Her mother came back once, several years ago, and made an attempt to take Li Jingci away from her father. But she refused.

"I learned the most important principle of living in this world from my dad," she said. Here, her father cut in: "That is, to have no principle at all," said Li Tiejun.

The two now live on Li's retirement pension, 3,000 yuan each month. Li doesn't worry about his daughter's future after he is gone.

"It's easy to make a living--just do anything. She can clean people's shoes," he offers. For his part, Li Tiejun said he will continue teaching and researching with his daughter.

"But I wanted to get married before I turn 25," his daughter interjected.

"Well, scientists usually stay single for a long time," Li mused.

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