A Clockwork Orange

I love this movie.  I’ve always loved this movie.  It’s mesmerizing.  It’s colourful.  It’s music is outstanding.  The acting is terrific (especially Malcolm McDowell).  The language invented is simple to understand yet fascinating.  I only have good things to say about it.

In my continuing quest to expose students to something different I showed this movie on Tuesday night with Chinese subtitles.  I have no idea what they were like but I lost 50% of my audience in the first hour.  That’s okay, we don’t all like the same things.

I think some of the girls were embarrassed by the sex and nudity.  Some boys said they had to leave early (but why come to a movie if you have to leave early)?  I had a very few students who actually said they liked it.  I figured it wouldn’t be a smash hit, but there would be more that enjoyed it.

One student told me that Chinese are conservative.  Okay, some are conservative.  Some are liars.  Some are corrupt.  Some are criminals.  It takes all kinds.  The object of the movies is to expose this people to things they never may have seen.  But so be it..

I had bought 50 films as I mentioned and about 30 of them were Blu Ray.  I tested the computer we use in the place we show movies with a “Blu Ray” movie I bought here.  Ha Ha.  No Blu Ray and it didn’t work.  I was rather disappointed so we sent them back and our money will be returned.

I shopped online last night and found them all and ever a few more.  I’ll never be able to show all these but what the hell, they’ll see something different.  I’ve been told that the students must be back in their dorms by 10PM so that makes a problem for when I want to show longer films such as “Gone With the Wind”.  I might make that a Saturday special.  10PM?  Crazy.

I have quite a varied collection and I’m trying to expose them to different things but their pea brains are programmed to like colour films of the last 2 or 3 years.  They need to expand their minds and their horizons, which is not an easy task.

I was asked to come to the office by Wang Jing and she asked me to do a lesson plan for the next semester by December 26th.  It was December 21 when she asked.  I laughed.  Chinese like to do things at the last minute but I like some early notification.  The lesson plans are dumb since I don’t follow them and they are a work of fiction.  I told her if someone emailed me the forms, they’d have them by the New Year.  Guess what?  No forms yet.  Hence, no lesson plans.  Boo Hoo!

Some of these kids are so stupid they should be shot.  It’s amazing the similarity between middle school and this college.  I gave the students a reading I did (Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears) and they had 2 weeks to practice.

When it came time to read in class I asked who didn’t practice.  Let’s get the first group of losers out of the way.  One boy said he didn’t practice.  I asked why and he replied that he lost his sheet.  I pointed out that he sees me 3 times a week so he could have easily got another sheet.  That was a tough one.  Everyone else came to practice.

I keep telling them they can’t fool me.  It’s not because I’m so smart but it’s because English is my language and it’s a language to mangle for them.  If they go to the front of the class and read like they’ve never seen it before, I know.  I stop them and ask them again, “did you practice”?, and they say, “no”.  I tell them to sit down.  Stupid lying sacks of dirt.  Why didn’t they practice?  They didn’t have time.  You know playing basketball and computer games in your free time takes up a lot of that time so homework goes to the bottom.  I’m pleased with the ones that practiced (about 75%).  Some can be painful to listen to, but it’s good practice and they do improve.

My classes I see only once a week I don’t have time to have them read in class.  It would take the whole class.  I ask them to email me their reading.  With a midnight deadline on Wednesday I had received 3 by 7:30PM.  I wrote them and told them to not bother coming to class if they couldn’t bother doing this.  Suddenly my mailbox was flooded.  A lot of these were ones I rejected last week because they sucked.  Now the new ones for many of the students were the exact same as they sent last week (I’m not a moron), and many were worse than before because they were done at the last second.

I don’t have the desire to point out who is an idiot and who is lazy and who can’t cheat to save their lives so I told them to forget this.  It’s not worth my time and if they don’t’ care, I don’t care.  I told hem if anyone wanted to participate (I’ll still do it with those that want).  No one volunteered.  They can’t see beyond their noses and the possibility that being able to speak a little clear English might give them a leg up.  Should I be surprised?  I guess not.  This is a 4th rate college.  There are a lot of good kids here, but there are a lot of useless pieces of garbage who are taking away from my air supply.

I started my “Teacher for 10 minutes” program yesterday.  One student picks a topic (anything they want) and they talk on it for a minute or two.  Then they engage the class in questions.  In one class I had my worst student go first (luck of the draw) and I thought he was brilliant.  It was only about “what do you like to do on the weekend” which is fine.  But he would come out with remarks like, “speak English” that had me rolling in the aisles.  I love to be impressed.

In another class the student talked about the coming New Year vacation.  It was brilliant in it’s own dishonest way.  She had choreographed the whole thing.  I was impressed.  She spoke for 2 minutes and then she would ask certain students questions.  She wouldn’t ask for volunteers but call them by name.  The students stood up (they never stand for me) and they gave her answers.  Very slick.  However, she had notified those students that she would be asking a certain question and they should have their answer ready.  It was too slick.  The big giveaway was when one of the students picked up a paper after hearing the question and started reading from it.  I don’t think she would have fooled me because it was too smooth.  But I give her full marks for at least being clever.  When I asked her if her students were “planted”, she admitted it.  So she’s honest.  At least she’s cheating and using her brain.  So she’ll pass because she gave it some thought on how to succeed.

I also sometimes have students come to the front of the class and give them something to talk about for a minute or two.  It might be animals; it might be what would you do if you knew you were going to die tomorrow.  The sweet thing about the die tomorrow is the student who says they would find a friend to look after their parents.  If a North American child said that, they’d be laughed out of class.  Personally I was touched by it.

I called one boy to the front and he said, “no”.  I said, “why no” and he told me he wasn’t prepared.  I told him no one is prepared because no one knows the questions.  He said he didn’t feel like talking.  That’s okay.  I don’t feel like giving him a passing grade so he fails the semester in my class.  I’m easy.  If you make an effort, even a small one, you pass.  If you sit at the back talking to your friends or not paying attention and never participating, you fail.  I have no exam.  It’s a speaking class.  IT’s based on their day-to-day work.  I don’t know how some of these marks will appear to them.  Will I be my own subject on the report card or rolled into the “Englsih mark”.  If I’m rolled in I’m sure my failures won’t count because this is first and foremost a business and it’s not good for business to fail students.

On New Year’s Eve there is a part.  It’s like a show and Wang Jing asked me if I wanted to participate.  I laughed as I can’t sing and I can’t dance.  I told Shujie and she suggested I do my deadly version of “House of the Rising Sun”.  I improvise and go overboard.  You might think it’s stupid or you might laugh your guts out (Shujie’s friends did when we visited in October).  So I think I’m going to bite the bullet and do it.  My hope is to show the teachers that they don’t have to be afraid of the foreigner.  The kids aren’t but the teachers lack any friendliness.  Shujie will attempt to film it so we’ll see what will happen.

We are also invited to a “Christmas Party” tonight.  Let’s see, there is officially no religion in China.  I don’t celebrate Christmas.  But they think foreigners do this so they are trying to be nice.  We were invited 2 days ago (why the hurry?) and we’ll go.  It’s dinner (I’ll eat a bowl of rice) and then off to KTV (Chinese Karaoke).  I could try out my version of “House of the Rising Sun” and see how they react.  If they don’t smile, I won’t do it.  If they laugh, I’ll do it.  I know my students will laugh but they know I’m a little off-center.

In the “if it doesn’t rain, it pours” department, Estella called last night to invite us to a party tonight (Friday).  I had to decline because of our previous commitment.  I’ve never been invited anywhere by the school and now this.  The school should have taken the foreign teachers out at the beginning of the term (there is me, a Korean teacher, and a Japanese teacher).  But I guess they’re corruption fund to cover those expenses.

We are looking forward to it since it’s getting out.  Wang Jing will be there and we’re quite fond of her.  Christie, the bitch she works for, will be there and we have no use for her.  She’s a liar, and she takes money from students.  I don’t know if the other Chinese English teachers will be there.  They are nice I guess (but they lie like rugs) and the head of the department is a moron (and that’s giving her the benefit of the doubt), but things can change when you’re outside the school environment.

So that’s that for now.  Only 3 weeks until vacation and we are in the process of booking our Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia tour.  I guess it sounds exciting to those in North America but if you want to go for the least expense, you stay close to home.  And this is home.

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