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Monthly Archives: December 2012

This is it.  Exam week begins and within another week they will all be marked and the final grades will be given to the office.  Do they know what they are doing?  I doubt it.  Shujie still doesn’t have her schedule for next semester but she’s been told she’ll have it by next week.

I have about 175 culture exams which will be worth 10% or less so they should have no effect on their mark.  I told them that after me giving them the questions, and telling them where the answers are, failure is not acceptable.  As for the writing students, there will be approx., 130 papers to grade and that one counts for 30%.  They have to write 8 paragraphs, one for each unit in the book we covered.  I see no reason why they shouldn’t do well and I plan on “marking easy”, but it they screw it up totally I’ll fail them.

It’s hard to be fair.  I have all these students with good vocabularies, but who can’t speak proper sentences.  When they want to talk they say it in Chinese to themselves and then they translate word for word in their heads.  It’s not the best way to lean and they suffer for it.  And they know it.  So how much can I penalize them for not knowing things they were never taught?

I’ve done all my grading up to the exams and it’s a mishmash of stuff.  I look at things I have marks for and I look at their pictures and I come up with a grade and then decide how much I want to bump it up to be fair.  I’ve been told Chinese teachers give okay marks but foreign teachers give good marks.  I told the students to think of me as Chinese.  What good is it to give a student 95 when they are not worth 95?  What do they learn from that?  I’m not here to teach English, but to help them discover and use their minds.  It works on a few but I’m fighting about 16 years of the Chinese education system.

I asked everyone to write and tell me what they thought they deserved and why.  After reading about 300 of these, it can get depressing but there are a few bright spots.  We have students who think they should get 88 since 8 is their lucky number.  We have students who think they should get 90 since their English name is the same as my daughter’s (Leah).  I have students tell me  how useless they were so they “only” deserve 90.  There will be a few disappointments there.  I have students that tell me they should bet 90 so they can strive for a 95 next term.  I don’t get it, you can always strive for 95.

So you don’t think they are all bozos there were a few that stood out.  This was the best one (no translation from Chinglish to English here:

I am a very special student in your class.  I always ask questions and there are many puzzles in my mind.  Still now, I always have some problems abut the things I learned from my English classes.  I always ask the teacher to help me but only Jan (another teacher) could give me some help.  I have no time to translate all mu questions into English.  But during the vacation, maybe I can.  I will send the e-mail to you.  I hope you can help me, not like my Chinese teacher , give me the cold shoulder.  I really want to know something.  As for the grade I don’t care.  It’s so stupid.  I don’t want to be a “memory machine”.  I want to solve my problems in learning English.

She was the only student who didn’t ask for a specific grade and explained clearly how she felt.  As I told the students what they write won’t lower their mark, but it might bump it up and I had at least 10 students who increased their grade based on what they wrote.  Angela (who wrote the above) was the best example.

I told them all that they should tell me how great their attendance was since I didn’t care.  Chinese teachers give marks for attendance but I think it shows up if you are not in class.  However, about 50% mentioned their attendance.  I guess they didn’t have much good to say about themselves.

What was also interesting is that China is a collectivist culture where the group is everything.  I had my students do plays and for the plays, everyone in the group gets the same mark.  I don’t want to know who did this and who did that.  However, some students (backstabbers that they are) would tell me that THEY wrote the play, and THEY did this and THEY did that.  I was quite shocked but Shujie told be that’s common.  They sure fooled me.

It will be very strange after the holidays to start work again.  Seven weeks is a long break.  I hope we have a good time.  All my six 3rd year classes will be leaving me (and I will miss many of them), and I’ll only have 2nd year students so I will have 4 classes where I teach them 2 subjects.  I like that.  A student in one of those classes told me (under sworn secrecy) that some of her classmates don’t want me as their teacher and want to ask for someone new.  The reason is that I will ask them to talk in class and as English Majors, they don’t want to talk English.  So, to hell with them.  I I worried about everyone who liked me I’d go crazy.  I know plenty like me and appreciate what I bring to the classroom and they appreciate my attitude were I don’t act as the “wise, old man” but rather try and relate with them on their level.

I asked my 3rd years if they had any suggestions for me on how I could be a better teacher and I got a couple.  But I also got some which shows how freaking stupid these kids are.  Mu favorite was that I should use coloured chalk.  That should help.  I should have more PowerPoint presentations (since they can just sit and watch), and I don’t smile enough (since I should be smiling all the time).  I tend to ignore these and won’t mind never having anything more to do with these poor excuses as students.  They want clowns to entertain them.

The other thing I’ve done, which I didn’tthink I would do, is was to give extra marks to students who made an effort to talk to me outside of class and who came to the movies regularly.  No one lost marks for not doing any of those things, but I think I should recognize those who actually make a move to do something to improve their English.

Today (only -16) I have to find some new glass frames.  If I look down my glasses fall off.  This should be exciting.  There is a MacDonalds close by so I guess it’s lunch there today.  We had our Pizza Hut yesterday.  Two days of “western food”!  Holy cow!  We got our shipment of lots of cheddar cheese and salsa so I’m happy about that too.

It’s not all hell here.  Dealing with the students is easy.  I just try and ignore the staff since they verge on incompetence and I have no patience for them.  If they leave me alone, we’ll get along great.  I don’t know what I expected this year but I’m not getting it.  I learn a little more every year and when it’s time to start looking again I’ll have my shopping list written out in advance.  The only problem is that it will be hard to find another University job that pays as wll.

So life rambles on and changes are always possible.  I try and keep an open mind but I can honestly say, for whatever reason, that I don’t like the school.  I know that many schools in China will be the same, but if I go to another place run by idiots, I’ll be in another part of the country seeing different things.

Life is pretty much boring.  There doesn’t seem to be much variety to it.  I thought moving to Inner Mongolia would be exciting and there would be lots of beautiful scenery to see.  I was wrong.  We are miles from anything so weekend trips are out.  It’s cold (-16C at the moment) so going outside doesn’t happen much except when necessary.  I could complain that I don’t like this school or it’s people (that doesn’t include the students who I do like), but I think I’ve done that.

The school took all the foreign teachers out for a Xmas lunch yesterday.  I guess the news that not all Westerner’s celebrate Christmas hasn’t made it to China yet.  They play that annoying music in the stores.  I might as well be in Toronto.  People don’t celebrate Christmas here except for the few Christians.  Strange place.

We went to Baotou’s finest hotel for the buffet lunch yesterday.  It wasn’t bad and one of the chef’s spoke with us.  He was from Italy.  I think the hotel business does have it’s pluses when it comes to seeing the world.  I didn’t eat too much (I’m not really a lunch person) and I didn’t die of boredom, but the more I think about it, the more I want out of here.

The coming week is the last week before exams and the holidays.  I have nothing planned so I have no idea what we’ll do after the first five minutes.  I usually let my classes out early but an hour and a half early might be a little too much.  Shujie still doesn’t have her schedule or know what she’s teaching (no one in the International school does), while at the Foreign Language school (my place) I have my schedule even thought they “officially” haven’t sent it to us.  You just need to know who to ask because why should they show they are organized.  In fact, I don’t even think the word “organized” is in the Chinese dictionary.

I decided after wrestling with the idea for a while that it is okay to fail some of my writing students.  I didn’t want to fail anyone but I decided that if they don’t care how they do in class (and all they have to do is simple things and try), then why should I care if I fail them.  I was hoping that if they failed the semester, they could save the year by doing well in the 2nd semester but that’s a no-go.  If you fail semester one then you get to take a make-up exam.  If you are still being failed then you have to pass a 2nd make-up exam that you must pass before graduation.  Why don’t they just pass everyone?  They don’t care what you know; they only care about showing that all their students pass because it’s good for business.  Realistically speaking, I would say that the administration here doesn’t really care about the students.  There are a few Chinese teachers that care along with a couple of foreigner teachers.  I guess if you dwelled on that, it could be pretty depressing.

For the writing assignment this week, I told the writing classes that they had to persuade me by argument why they deserve whatever mark they think they deserve.  It should be interesting.  I’ve only had one emailed to me so far (it’s early) and although the writing was terrible, it was well organized and well thought out and the young lady was correct in everything she said.  Usually looking at papers annoys me but it was nice to read something with some intelligent thought behind it.

I’m still a movie downloading fool, but I am slowing down.  I wish I were back in Canada on December 25th for the opening of “Les Miserables”.  I want to see that so much since it is my favourite musical.  I will just have to wait until I can download it.

I forgot to show you this picture from the menu I took last week when we went out for dinner at the “Western” pizza restaurant.  Their pizza is good but have a look of their description of their “Classic” pizza.  It can always be amusing when you see English here.

pizza 7

Here is a picture of one of my 3rd year classes.  I like these kids and I’ll miss them.  I will miss all my 3rd year classes, as I had to give up things to get the same class for more than one subject.  I think class wise the 2nd semester will be fine.  I think my overall feeling at the moment is boredom.  I’m looking forward to going away on the holidays, but the weekends are a drag.

class 4-1

I really don’t have a lot to say this week.  So for those of you who think what I write is too long, you get a break.  For those of you who have the patience to read for five minutes, I apologize for the lack of interesting stories to relate.

Boy, have I been busy wasting a lot of my time.  I’ve rediscovered torrents, which are little files that you use in a torrent client such as Bittorrent that allow you to download things (such as feature films) from the Internet.  They work by keeping track of where you are in your download and constantly changing which computer they are getting things from, depending on who is online and what they have.  Most of the time the downloads return something worthwhile.  Occasionally I get a download that needs a password and to get the password (in theory) you have to go to a site and answer a few questions.  That doesn’t work so I’m learning how to recognize these faker’s.

Most of the films have been ripped from DVD’s (people are so dishonest) and then there are the lowest of the low, those that take video cameras with them to see a move and tape the movie.  The quality is weak but you get the newer movies faster.  I downloaded the new “Lincoln” movie by Steven Spielberg yesterday but I’m not sure if I’ll watch it.  I might just wait for a DVD copy.

In all I think I’ve download over 20 movies this week that are watchable.  I like foreign films so I take a chance on a lot of them hoping they have English subtitles.  I don’t always win.  It can take a few hours to download a film, or several days depending on how many people have it and are online.  I guess since they are free and what I’m doing is illegal, I can’t complain.  But I’m finding new ones and some classics so I’m happy.  I consulted “Rotten Tomatoes” for the best of 2012 list to see what appealed to me and if it sounded good, I went for it.

I bought some DVD movies and received them.  They are naturally copies but what to you expect for about $1.50.  I think they can copy Blu-Ray now, which they couldn’t do before (I think).  We watched “The Avengers” this weekend and it looked like Blu-Ray.  It’s not my type of movie but it was good for it’s kind.  A waste of time.

I’m almost finished watching Ken Burn’s “Baseball” which I never saw but always wanted to see.  I’ve seen the first 9 parts and then about 15 years later he shot a 10th part which is interesting.  It’s weird seeing a lot of the people who he interviewed and how much they’ve aged in the meantime.  Sometimes it’s quite shocking.  John Chancellor who narrated the original is no longer among the living so they had to get a new narrator.  I always liked John Chancellor and when watching elections I usually stuck with NBC because of him.

For my Tuesday movie I showed “12 Angry Men”.  It is truly a great film and the tension is unbelievable.  It’s the story of a jury locked in a room deciding someone’s fate.  It’s now a play and I’d love to see it.  My DVD was terrible and kept pausing (it worked fine last year) so I guess I’ll have to spend another dollar and get a new one for next year.  The students enjoyed it and were quite engrossed by it so I was pleased.  Next Tuesday will be my last film until March due to exams and the Spring Festival holiday.  I think I’ll treat them to “Princess Bride”.  I don’t want to throw too many intelligent movies at them at once.

My culture students did their plays this last week and some of them were unbelievably clever and funny.  They never get to do things like this in school and they enjoy being on their own and having the responsibility to do the job the best way they see fit.  There were a few dogs, but at least 70% were pretty good and a couple were excellent.  I loved it and the students loved doing them.

This week I’ll give them their exam questions (since the exam is a phony) and there marks will be based on what I think they should get.  It’s fair.  My students like me now after a rocky start when they thought I was too serious.  Now if I ask them if they think I’m serious, they just laugh.  I also let them leave early sometimes because if I’m finished there is no use repeating myself.  Class discussions are next to impossible but one on one’s work as do small groups.

I’m think I may have to fail a bunch of my writing students for lack of effort.  I don’t care if they try and make one hundred mistakes, but I hate when they are sloppy and make no effort.  Some of my comments on their papers are quite insulting like “why don’t you just stay home”.  I gave them a paper of “How to get a zero on a writing paper” and it doesn’t matter how many times I repeat myself, they still make dumb mistakes such as putting a space before a period or one space after.  They will spell a country with a small letter (china) as opposed to a capital letter (China).  I tell them they can make grammar and structure mistakes, but some mistakes are not permitted.  So I give out zeros now.  I sort of feel bad but I shouldn’t.  If they don’t try, why should I care?  I need to find out what happens to the students I fail.  I know they will get a make-up exam but even that wouldn’t make me pass them.  I’m hoping that this semester can be forgotten and it’s the end of the year mark that counts.  That way this is a warning that may stick.

Two more weeks and then exams.  What’s the exam schedule?  How the hell do I know.  What is Shujie teaching next semester and what’s her schedule?  How the hell does she know.  It’s o easy to plan the year in advance but they would rather do everything in a rush at the last second.  It’s the Chinese way and it’s hard to adapt.  I guess I’m lucky since I know my schedule.

They’ve rehired some teachers who I would not let within 1,000 yards of any child of mine.  The school claims they check the teachers and query the students to find out who is good or not, but that’s not true.  There is one bozo (there are a few bozo’s) who shows movies so he can play games on his cellphone.  I have not heard one student say anything positive about him.  I want to go somewhere where there are less foreign teachers so I don’t live in a Westerner’s ghetto (our apartment).  Some of these teachers are so pathetic that they like spending all their time going out together.  I don’t understand.  If you come to China, don’t you want a different experience?  If you want Western people, stay home.

One teacher who I didn’t mind as a person fell through the floor of my respect for him this week.  I commented that the most important thing I can do is not teach English (that’s second), but to help the students learn to think for themselves and take responsibility.  He didn’t agree with that since the school hired him to teach English so that’s his most important job.  To my mind, that’s crap.  Why not try and expand their minds a little?  Who cares what the school thinks.  To communicate we must communicate in English (it’s all I know) so they do learn English without really thinking they are learning English.  It works.  He’s an idiot.

I want a smaller school with much less English teachers so I can be B.M.O.C.  I want to be left alone by management (and they pretty much leave me alone except for making me give exams which really isn’t their fault since it’s a directive from Education Department of the province).  I’m not interested in being in a “Westerner’s clique”.  We shall see what the future holds when the future comes closer.

My VPN which allows me to access several sites blocked by the Chinese is not working up to snuff.  The brains here have come up with a new way to block it off (but since I’m posting you can get around it) and my VPN Company is coming up with new software to beat it.  There is hunger in China.  There is unemployment in China.  And what do these morons spend their money on?  To keep people off Facebook.  If they really wanted to punish their citizens they would let them on Facebook.  I went into one class this week and ranted about censorship for about an hour.  The students didn’t seem to care and then finally one girl said, “it bothers me but what can I do about it”.   That’s the problem.  If only one person stands up, then nothing is done.  You need millions to stand up to get something done.  They are so brainwashed here that they think they are free and the government knows best, but are they ever fooled.  I know I can’t change the country, but maybe I can get some young people to open their minds and think, one person at a time.

So that’s it for now.  Until we meet again, happy trails to you.

To wear that ball and chain.  Yes, it was that time of year again, the time of year when I bring my singing voice (such as it is) out of mothballs and perform for the many.  The Foreign Language Department (where I work) had an “English Night” put on by the students and I volunteered my services.  There were 2 teachers who volunteered.  The other teachers are pathetic and I wouldn’t let them teach dogs, let alone human beings.  They are so full of crap here that they care about having good teachers.  They have one teacher who only shows movies and while he shows them he plays on his phone.  That’s high quality.  Then we have the older pervert who likes to kiss the little Chinese girls.  Maybe it’s the prude in me, or maybe it’s my respect for the culture, but it disgusts me.

Jan (the other participating teacher) and I were supposed to be the “captains” of two teams of performers that compete against each other (sort of a Chinese Idol type of thing) and we had lame dialogue to work with.  But we did our best and we were happy to do whatever we were asked to do.  I volunteered to do my “House of the Rising Sun” performance and I did.  I’ve been doing this off and on for over 30 years and people laugh, which is normal because I can’t sing.  But for some strange reason here, the students cheer and yell like I’m some sort of rock star.  I admit I get a kick out of it and I have to tell you, most of the performances were so bad (but I give everyone full marks for trying), that my performance might have been the best.  It did get the loudest reaction.

Here is my performance and invest the few minutes to watch the whole thing.  The crowd’s reaction, especially during my finish is quite entertaining.  Please perservere through the shaky section as it does get better.

After the show the last group stayed on stage while the “V.I.P.’s” came up to have their picture taken with them.  What was kind of funny was 2 Foreign teachers who did nothing got up on the stage with the pervert kissing the girls and posing in the picture.  Jan and I did not participate because we weren’t asked.  Jan, Shujie, and I get along real well because we all have the same attitude, which is to do all we can for the students.

I wrote and handed in my exams since I don’t want to make problems for the secretary’s because they are the people you should please.  As for the senior staff, they can all rot in hell.  But if I don’t write an exam (and I shouldn’t), it’s the secretary who suffers and I don’t want that.  The way this country works is the higher up you are, the more people you have to blame.  If you don’t do something, you blame the person under you.  They in turn blame the person under them and so on through the food chain.

The higher-ups like to hire dumb people so they can feel like they are the smartest.  A smart boss hires smarter people because they know they can bask in the reflection of their brilliance, and that boss is brilliant himself for hiring excellent people.  But we don’t do that here because we (Chinese) want to say that we are the best and I just have idiots working for me.  And the idiots have to admit to being idiots (even if they’re not) so they can keep their jobs.

They issued a new rule this week, which is such garbage, and although it doesn’t affect me, it offends me.  No foreign teachers are allowed to show movies in their class, without exception.  If you want to show film clips you must submit a request in writing 1 week before explaining what you will show and it’s purpose and why you’re doing it.

I believe the problem stems from the few teachers who show movies just so they don’t have to teach.  They have an English Literature course here and the teachers like to show the movie version of the book because it dumbs it down somewhat and makes it easier to understand.  Now that’s gone because of those useless people who are here.  And these morons at the school rehire them without knowing what they are doing.  It’s kind of sad and the ones who are the big losers are the students.

This week I had no culture classes since they were working on their little plays.  One group asked me to watch theirs yesterday and give me their opinion.  It was so cute.  It was the story of Adam and Eve (weird for China) and there was acting and music and dancing.  It was quite clever and I felt so good watching it.  I hope everyone is near that level or even better.

I got my schedule for next semester and they were wise and saved themselves some aggravation.  I have no classes on Friday which I told them was a must, and they did that.  I have no 4:40-6:30 classes, which is also good.   I have all year 2 students (just when I’ve finally built a relationship with my year 3 students.  I have 4 writing classes (same people as this semester), 3 oral English classes (they come from my writing classes), and 3 culture classes (where 1 of them is also a writing class).  I’m sure this will work out and I’m pleased with the schedule.  Shujie doesn’t have hers yet but when she does, there better be no Friday classes or I will have to force her to go to war.

We are thinking that perhaps a smaller town would be more suitable for us next year.  They need foreigners so I believe they will be anxious to grab one who actually wants to go there.  We are a package deal and I don’t see that being a problem since Shujie will have some teaching experience behind her.

Last night 3 of my students took us out for dinner.  They are so sweet.  I’m very friendly with 2 of them (they talk to me and come to the movies every week) and the 3rd I hardly know.  Shujie and I wanted to pay but they outsmarted us.  They ordered a fixed price meal beforehand and paid online.  They are just well brought up and very likeable young ladies.  The two I’m closer with assured me they would be at the movies every week next semester when they are not my students, and I told them they better visit and stay friends.  We got to talking about physical contact at dinner because I wanted to know what they thought about men almost 60 kissing girls and they were repulsed by the thought.  However, when we were saying goodnight they all gave Shujie and I both a hug which I thought was wonderful.  I always leave it up to the student to touch first (and China is not a touching country), and I am moved when someone feels close enough to me to step onto my side of the road (Western Culture) and do something.

Only a few more weeks until vacation.  Vietnam is planned.  We’ll go to Baoding for 7 to 10 days of boredom but I told Shujie that however long she wants to go for is fine for me.  It’s her family.  And, we are going to Harbin which I’m really pumped about.  They have a big ice and snow festival every winter which is supposed to be beautiful (look it up) and I’ll get to see the Jewish Museum for at one point in time Harbin had the largest Jewish population in China.  Most of the people came from Russia to escape the pogroms and while there are no longer any Jews there, it should be quite interesting.  Except for the 29-hour train ride from Baotou to Harbin, I’m really excited.

We actually saved the money to do these trips so that’s good.  It won’t fill 7 weeks but it’s a start.  The weather is getting cold and it stings your face.  And it’s a very dry cold which I’ve never experiences.  The apartment is warm so that’s good.  Maybe we’ll go skating this weekend as they made an ice rink for the students.  So they actually did something positive for the students.  Will miracles ever cease?

I must have been living in some sort of fantasyland last year.  I was treated well.  The people I worked for cared if I was happy.  Some would go out of their way to make sure I got what I wanted.  I have nothing bad to say about last year.

Students are students.  In China students are treated like little children.  Their work is mainly memorizing everything they are told.  They learn it’s a bad idea to ask a teacher a question because maybe the teacher doesn’t know the answer.  If that happens, the teacher loses face.

Don’t give the students responsibility because they are too stupid to handle responsibility, and the teacher knows what is best for them and must instruct them every step of the way.  That’s not what I believe, but that’s what happens.  It probably was like that last year only I didn’t get to see it because I was totally left alone.

It’s coming to exam time.  Last year I really didn’t give an exam.  There was no written exam because I don’t believe in them.  If students here fail the exam, they get to take a make-up exam, which is stupid.  So, I will never fail anyone since no one wants anyone to fail.   It’s bad for business.

This place is a different kettle of fish and other foreign teachers tell me that it is more typical of the Chinese experience.  This school is really two schools.  I work for the Foreign Language Department in the regular school.  This is a public school where you go to if you have the marks.  They also have an “International School” which is a private school for students who were too stupid to qualify for this school and whose parents pay lots and lots of money for their kids to go to.  The schools have some different rules and are run by different people.

I have to write 2 exams.  One of them is the regular exam and the other one is the “make-up” exam for those that fail.  Another teacher here (we think alike) asked if we had to have a make-up exam since no one was going to fail, and we were told “yes”.  So my exam will be a sham.

I will decide what mark my students get without using an exam.  Then I will give them an exam where they will know the questions in advance and they will have to write (or pretend to write) for about 100 minutes to make it look legitimate.  All classrooms have cameras in them (I didn’t know that) so this is really dumb.  I’m thinking of hanging coats on them during the exam.

Their exam mark will be whatever it needs to be to make their final mark work out to what I think it should be.  I’m not sure if they have other rules as to what percentage of a mark certain things should be.  For example, in the “International School” attendance is worth about 10% of your mark.  I’m speechless.  I will not mark the individual questions, I will just write a number at the bottom of the exam.  Fuck them.  They are so stupid and ignorant and refuse to change and be flexible and modernize, that I will circumvent their stupid rules to do it the way I want.

My make-up exam that I have to hand in will be the same as my real exam, only with the questions in a different order.  I mean if you want to do dumb things, then expect dumb things from me.  I don’t like anything really about this place.  I have no problem with the students but these B.S. rules turn my stomach.  I don’t really like that there are so many foreign teachers (and some of them are crap).  I want to be the BMOC so I should be at a small school.

Now Shujie’s story is a little different since she works for the “International School”.  She teaches “Business English” and “Marketing”.  The “Marketing” is in Chinese.  She told her business students that their “exam” was going to be that they would be in groups, create a company, and have different people role play some of the different areas of the business.  This is an excellent type of exam since it shows you how clever the students can be, and what they’ve learned.

She got an email yesterday (actually I got it and was told to pass it on to her since no one has bothered to get her email address), that told her that she needed a written “Business English” exam.  She had to write 2 exams (1 for real, 1 is makeup) and the school will randomly choose which one to give.  She should write the exam as hard as possible and the students have 2 hours and they should not be finished in less than 100 minutes.  As for Marketing, it said there was no exam since it was an “oral” course.  I’m not sure what they were talking about since there is no “Marketing” course in English.  We decided she would interpret this email literally and give no “Marketing” exam.  That’s what the email said.  If they wanted a “Marketing” exam, then they should have asked for one.

She has decided to not be Chinese and good for her.  She will tell her students the questions in advance and that the exam means nothing.  The two exams will be identical but worded differently.  Regardless of what they write on their exam, their marks will be how they were graded for their “Business creation” project.  They have a different formula in that school for how much of what a mark is.  The usual is 10% for attendance, 20% for midterm, and 70% for the final exam.  Therefore classwork is pointless since there is no mark for it.  As for midterm, she had no midterm.  No one asked for it.  So she will make up the numbers so they total the mark she feel they should have.

So I guess you can take the girl out of China and the Chinese out of the girl.  Good for her.  She has said from the start that she wants to stay here next year to get more experience and she doesn’t want the hell of moving.  Her story changed this past Thursday.  She’s ready to leave.  She hates this place (but not the students).  So I think we will be packaging ourselves up for next year to get a job.  We can go to a smaller place where foreigners don’t want to go, and to get me, they should be happy to take her too.  After all, she lived in Canada for 3 years.  That’s the plan at the moment but things may change.

But what a stupid place run by stupid people.  You see, what happened was 1,000 years ago someone decided how they would do things.  Since no one questions the person above them (rank and power are everything), nothing ever changes.  A good idea is not considered because the boss has to be the smartest person around.  Now I think a good boss is one who hires smarter people so that he or she looks good.  Here they want to hire dumber people so the boss looks like the smartest, even if the smartest is really stupid.

There is some type of show this coming Thursday put on by the students.  I thought it was a Christmas show (but it’s happening on December 6th) so I’m not really sure what the purpose is.  Jan (our teacher friend) asked if I wanted to participate.  It seemed some students asked her and she said yes.  She asked a bunch of other teachers and they all said “No”.  What a place.  Of course I said yes so we are both in it taking part in some inane skit but if it’s what the kids want; we’re happy to participate.  I will also be doing my unforgettable version of “House of the Rising Sun”.  Today was the big rehearsal and I did the song.  The people there loved it but they don’t think it’s funny.  They take it seriously and they are impressed with my singing.  I think they’re crazy.  They love when I go down on my knees at the end (look at that old guy).  I really don’t understand why any teacher would say no to participating if asked.  Like I said, I’m not enamored of all the foreign teachers here.

Last Tuesday I had 5 people at my movie.  I can’t figure it out except there are a lot of extremely lazy students.  Three of my regulars weren’t there but they had a birthday party to attend so they’re forgiven.  I’ve decided that as long as 1 person is interested, then I’m game to show the movie.  It’s funny, I spend money trying to get movies they aren’t familiar with that I think they’ll enjoy and learn a little about movies from.  I show many of my movies with Chinese subtitles to be sure they understand.  I showed “Thelma and Louise” this week and they loved it.  I just don’t get it.  The student’s whine, “we want to learn more about Western culture” but they can’t get up off their asses to come to a movie that will show them a little.  Oh well.

I’m finally getting to know my 3rd year students and they are finally getting to know me and be comfortable with me.  They also are learning just how humourous I am.  But the semester is almost over and I won’t have them anymore.  I only have 2nd year students next semester.  So four of my classes will be the same as I have now, and I’ll have the other two 2nd year classes.

It’s really dry here.  You have to drink a lot of water in class to keep your voice working and I talk a lot.  It hasn’t gotten really cold yet (only about -10C at it’s lowest daytime temperature so far).  They are starting on building the skating rink so we’ll have to find some 2nd hand skates.  I wish I brought a hockey stick.

Even with how annoying the students can be at times, this would be a much better place if there were only students and competent teachers.  The rest of the staff can go rot in hell.  Yup, sounds like I don’t like this place.  It’s a shame.