It’s a strange sight: Twenty children between the ages of four and five are sandwiched between mattresses and piled on top of each other. On top of this pyramid, a teacher does the splits. Not surprisingly, this photograph shocked the children’s parents…
This picture was taken in an elementary school in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. It was published on an online forum for students’ parents on November 27. Many of them were outraged, saying that their children clearly seemed to be suffering, while the smiling teacher appeared indifferent. In the photograph, some of the children in the top row are smiling; those on the bottom, however, look much more uncomfortable.
Chinese media quickly picked up the story, and found out that this exercise has a name: the “hamburger”. According to the school’s headmaster, it’s a common exercise that is meant to help students warm up before physical education classes. The teacher’s participation, in this case, was supposed to “strengthen their resolve […] and their team spirit.” The headmaster also stressed that security measures were followed.
Local media cited an expert who said that the physical pressure exerted on the young students is tolerable. However, also said that young children’s bodies are fragile and that risky exercises like this one should be avoided.