I’m learning too much

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.


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