Question: When is a job posting not exactly a job posting?
Answer: In China.
I have begun my serious search for employment in September for the next school year. I usually reply to agencies who act as agents for the schools because the schools rarely post themselves. I’m talking about real schools here, and not the “English Academies” which are “schools after school”. I want a University position, or a College position with students who must learn English so they have some kind of motivation besides me.
So I write about the jobs and when I don’t hear anything back I ask why. Is it my resume, my picture, what? The answer I get is that schools will not begin looking at people until April or May. So why are the jobs posted now? To fool me, that’s the reason. And they do. Where I come from you post a job when you need someone. You don’t post it 2 months in advance. This is a weird place, but I think I’ve mentioned that.
I showed “Gone With The Wind” on Sunday and it was reasonably well attended and everyone stayed for the 4 hours except 2 students. Why did they leave? I don’t know. Because they have the attention span of gnats? (I don’t mean to insult gnats). I was pleased that everyone appeared to enjoy it. I think that’s my only Sunday afternoon movie as the longest film I have now is 3 hours and 15 minutes and I can squeeze that in on a Tuesday with a 6:15 start time.
I showed “Bridge On The River Kwai” on Tuesday and I started on time for the first time. Enough waiting around. I don’t want to wait around and I don’t think the students who show up on time want to wait around. It was another hit as everyone enjoyed it. We had one small problem. It’s a 2 DVD set and the 1st DVD worked fine. The 2nd DVD jammed a few times so I had to take it out and start again and just move a touch past where we were. What a pain. That’s what I get for buying films in China.
Next Tuesday I’m moving to comedy with “The Princess Bride”. Inconceivable, you say. No, it’s not and I think (but can never know in advance how humour will work) that it will be enjoyed by one and all. I’ve only really showed one comedy this year (Big) and that was a hit. I have “The Hangover” for later as an example of what defines a cream of the crop comedy these days. This one I’m not too sure of.
I will be doing a class on the Holocaust for my two 1st year classes, and for the 2nd year classes I used to have. I don’t think they learn a lot about it so I may well show them pictures and video and explain what happened. This will lead into me showing “Schindler’s List”. Movies are an “easy” way to show some history. It’s not perfect but these are not English speaking students with an understanding of all this. Movies are prettied up versions of how people starved, died, and looked. They know about Japan (how could they not) and WWII, so let’s show them people who were worse than the Japanese. I don’t want to get into “my bad guys are worse than your bad guys”, but hopefully they will see the difference.
In case you’re wondering, to me the difference is that the Japanese believed they were a superior Asian race and should rule China and Korea. Chinese and Koreans were beneath them and you could do what you want with them. Working slaves, sex slaves, whatever. Whereas the Germans believed the Jews were a plague on the earth and should be exterminated and so they had a well though out plan to kill them all. To me they’re both horrible, but the Nazi’s win that competition of evil.
I ordered a bunch of DVD’s yesterday including “The Artist”. I’m looking forward to getting it. 11 movies for about $9. I can handle that. These are not for my students but for Shujie and I to enjoy. Maybe they’ll be here tomorrow but we won’t rush through them. Tonight we eat upstairs again (at Eleanor’s) which is nice of her. She grabs food here all the time which Shujie likes. So she wants to pay us back. I hope we don’t get into any political discussions. Eleanor asked some questions and I kept saying “don’t ask that”. Shujie won’t admit she’s wrong and she feels that because she’s Chinese she knows more. I feel that because she’s Chinese she knows less. It’s called censorship. Anyhow, it’s a topic we stay away from.
On Monday my arch-enemy June called me (head of the English department). I think she was trying to show off what a moron she is. She told me that all the teachers had make up exams the past weekend but where were mine. Well June, you insipid moron, no one asked me to have a makeup exam for the bozos who failed (and it’s tough to fail my class). I didn’t bother telling her I don’t do exams as that would really throw her. She wanted me do them Tuesday morning and have the marks to her sometime Tuesday. I don’t care what the rules are. If I’m trapped, I’ll do them, or fake them But for her to ask my on Monday was the height of inconsideration and disrespect. Shujie says shes nice and that well may be true. As the head of an English department she’s a perfect example of why this is a 4th-rate school.
My makeup exam consisted of the questions, “Why do you think you failed”, “Did you deserve to fail”, “What could you have done better”, and “What will you do next term to ensure you don’t fail”. They’re writing is at about a grade 3 level and I don’t think they could put a sentence together if you put a gun to their head. What are they learning in their other English classes except memorizing words (which is no way to learn). I had decided beforehand that if they put their name on the paper, they would pass. I don’t need the annoyance and if the school doesn’t care and these kids will never lose English (close that door to me), then I’m not failing them. So next semester, no makeup exam. Everyone passes. Is it right? No. Is it fair? No. Is it real life? Yes.
I tried something new in class this week and I think it worked. I went around the room and each student had to contribute one sentence to follow the previous student’s sentence in an effort to build a story. The story in my first class was silly (they are all silly) but I could follow it and it ended with it being a dream. The 2nd classes story was just plain dumb but it did end with a dream. They told me they used to do this in Chinese in middle school, but it’s a “fun” exercise and except for me telling them to be quiet it doesn’t require much of me.
On student who was “teacher for 10 minutes” played a game after her little preamble. She had questions in a box and you keep tossing the box to someone until someone says, “stop”. Then you either have to answer a question that’s picked from the box, or ask that student to do an “adventure”. They were out to get me near the end and every time I tried to pass the box off the students would fold their arms. Then they asked me to dance. The only thing I do worse than singing, is dancing. So I danced a little and then grabbed my little friend Estella and tried doing some Jive with her. It was fin and I’m pleased that they feel comfortable enough to include me.
I opened my big mouth on Thursday. I tried to explain to them come June 30th they have 2+ years in front of them to prepare for the real world. That was their problem and not my problem. Come June 30th, I’m gone. I don’t think they knew that. I sort of got out of it by telling them that even if I stayed, I still wouldn’t be their teacher. I hope at least some of them go on to have fulfilling lives. I like the little monsters.
I have decided I hate my Tuesday electives. Only 12 weeks to go but how do you teach 40 kids English in 80 minutes a week? The answer is that you don’t. What I think the school should do (and will never do) is have special classes for those whose English is okay and want to participate and learn. Throw out those who don’t have a chance, or stick them with some Chinese teacher. They are wasting a resource here (that’s me). Not that I’m great, but I bring something different to the table.
The cold is till with us and it looks like it will be another 10 days at least. I can’t wait for spring. I’m always cold and I’m so tired of complaining of it. Next year I should live in the true south (where it is warm) or the true north (where everything is heated), and not this “phony south” with no heaters or air conditioners in the classrooms or the dorms. I live in one of the best provinces in China (Jiangsu), but I’m game to try something else as long as the work sounds good.
Ideally I’ll find something in Baoding which Shujie would prefer, but I doubt it. The university there pays peanuts and she has no guarantee that she’ll make money. I think she’d be involved in some sort of start up with a friend, but that’s no guarantee of money. I want her occupied next year. She’s enjoy life more. I don’t think she’s minded this year, but she may have to push herself a little harder to get that “ideal” job with 2 day weekends.
I’m sure I’m have a new job in the next 2 weeks (call me Mr. Optimism). I’ll be giving up things such as Wang Jing, and a decent apartment, and decent (but not bright) kids. Anytime you move you are taking a big chance since you don’t know what you’re actually getting into, until you get into it. But that’s adventure.