VPN’s don’t cry

There are small moments of joy here.  I get to laugh and enjoy the company of some students.  On the other hand, I get puzzled and a little annoyed at the mentality here.  Is it culture?  Maybe.  And if it’s culture, who am I to be critical of it just because it doesn’t match my own.  It’s a fine step I walk.

I took in more complaints/suggestions from the students this week.  Let’s just say for every good suggestion there are about 10 idiotic comments.  Things like “maybe I’m too old” or “I need to have more energy”.  I asked them what energy should I have?  I stand the whole class while they sit.  I move up and down, side to side, back and forth and they sit there.  Do they want jumping jacks?  I tried to explain “constructive criticism” but I think that concept is a little too difficult for many of them.

The low point was when I asked a class why so few answered questions.  One boy (let’s just call him an idiot) gave me an answer.  The reason he doesn’t answer questions is that my question are too easy.  My comeback was his brilliant suggestion for our class is that we should play games.  I can’t change them.  They don’t want to put up their hands, they just want to shout out their answers.

It seems that my 2nd year students are a little more mature than my third year students.  It should probably be the other way around, but so be it.  It is what it is.  I would rather have freshman because it seems that the level of enthusiasm drops as the students advance.  They think they’re pretty smart English majors for students who cannot speak a grammatically correct sentence and can’t write a proper sentence to save their lives.

So at the moment my thoughts are to hell with those that are too stupid to live.  They will be ignored as long as they don’t participate.  As much as I’d like to fail them, I won’t because then the school will want me to give them a “make-up” exam.  The school really doesn’t want anyone to fail regardless of how stupid they are.  It’s bad for business.  So I will give them the lowest pass mark allowed.

As for my students that make an effort and contribute, they have nothing to worry about.  There is only a small group in each class who speak and participate, but what can I do.  I told them from day one that if they don’t volunteer to answer, I won’t be asking them questions.  They are 21 or 22 year olds and they act like 12 year olds.  I’m not their babysitter and they have to take responsibility for their actions.  It’s a bit of a conundrum because of the way they are raised.  Their parents tell them everything to do, and their teachers tell them everything to do.  They are not taught to think for themselves, which is what I require of them.  I can’t change to this absurd (in my mind) Chinese way.  I try to treat them like adults, but as the Chinese teachers tell me, they are just children.  Yes they are, but I will tilt at windmills and not play their game.

I have invited every student I have (and that’s about 300) to feel free to approach me outside of class to talk.  Maybe to come over for a cup of tea.  I told them that I won’t approach them because I don’t know how busy they are and I don’t want to put them on the spot, so they have to approach me.  I have not had one request to talk outside of class.  Sometimes when I see a student outside they will walk with me for a minute or two or stop to chat, but they have no desire to attempt to improve their English by speaking with a native English speaker.  I think that’s pretty stupid for English majors.  I asked them if they talk to any foreign teachers outside of class and they said no.  I tell them they have to take advantage of their opportunities.  They don’t listen but I say what I believe is true.  It’s up to them to follow through.

On Wednesday night I showed the film “Boys Don’t Cry” with Hillary Swank in her first Oscar-winning performance.  She was great and the film is great.  I’m not sure how many people were there when I started (I think about 30), but at the end of the movie there were 3 people and I.  It seems that everyone but those 3 walked out during the sex scene between the two girls.  This is not what the movie was about, but part of the movie.  We are talking about 21 and 22 year old people and they are so immature and repressed it’s scary.  They are brainwashed to be offended by such things.  I would think that your mind should open at that age, and that it narrows at an older age.  I find my mind expands so it’s not a hard and fast rule.  But if these morons are the leaders of tomorrow, this country, as big as it is, will stay a 2nd-rate country.

I spoke with 2 of the young ladies who stayed and they explained why so many people left.  But these 2 young ladies are a little more mature and open to seeing new things and trying to understand Western Culture through the movies.  They are a pleasure to speak with and because I won’t be showing “A Clockwork Orange” to the general public, we will invite them over for a private screening.

I’m serious.  It’s scary that these “young adults” behave in such a manner.  Is it culture?  Some would say yes but I think of it more like stupidity.  And it’s stupid people making a conscious decision to stay stupid.

It’s been six weeks so far (feels like six years) and I think I’ve learned just like Joni Mitchell that you don’t it always seem to go, that you’ve don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.  This place with its B.S. English majors is no better than the “dummy school” in Jurong.  At least in Jurong they didn’t pretend they had good students.  I think if I want top-class students I would have to teach at one of the top-ranked universities in the country, and they won’t be hiring me.  So we’ll let it ride until April and then start evaluating the situation.

And now let’s talk about VPN’s.  A VPN stands for a virtual private network.  As you might know, China spends millions of dollars trying to disallow their citizens from seeing much of the outside world.  No Facebook (good idea), no YouTube, no western blogging sites, and so on.  If you want to access them you purchase a VPN service, which you connect to and then it changes your IP address to the country where the server is.  So if I connect to a server in the U.S., it looks like I’m in the U.S. and everyone who monitors me sees me as being in the U.S.  It’s good for getting on those streaming services such as Netflix and watching films.  The problem is that it’s very unstable.  Things can change daily and I keep trying different services.  I was with one service that started out well and then the service was horrible and virtually unusable.  They would tell me to change my server.  They said that because I’m in China I might have to change the server I use every day.  What they didn’t mention is that I am only allowed 5 changes a month.  That’s a Catch-22 and quite unacceptable.  I cancelled them.  I’m now testing a new one.  I don’t think I’ll get perfection, but I would like honesty and logic in the company I deal with.  It’s a real pain and it takes up too much of my time trying to make things work.  It’s not that I have so many better things to do; it’s just that it is so annoying.  The Internet in Jurong was better than here.  It seems I say that a lot about the things in Jurong.

So it’s Saturday morning.  I have papers to mark, which is not my favourite thing to do.  I lose patience after seeing so many poorly written things.  I think the students I grade closer to when I start get better marks than those I grade near the end of the ordeal.  It’s not fair, but it’s reality.

In my Culture class this week where they don’t like the book and want to talk about different things I tried with the topic of dating.  What a disaster.  They had next to nothing to say.  I would think dating would be interesting and we can compare dating in China to dating in the West, but I think the subject is a little too mature for them.

I keep videos on an USB to show if I run out of time and those aren’t good enough.  A great Jerry Lee Lewis performance at his best doesn’t interest them as it’s not their type of music.  I show them educational films from the 50’s which I think are a laugh, and they are lost.  The only thing that was a hit is the scene from “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel are working in the chocolate factory.  That doesn’t fail to have them rolling in the aisles.

This week I will be subjecting them to “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” as part of my visit to the culture of the 50’s.  I’m sure most of them will be bored.  I think if I don’t want them to be bored I should play Chinese pop videos.  But that’s not going to happen.

The beat goes on.


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