My German mobile works in China. Even the original German SIM card works. This is a relief. I was involved in an hours-long argument, often heated, over whether I should purchase a smartphone in the People’s Republic. As a rule I refuse to do such a thing. I enjoy being detached and unreachable. I spend enough time on computers for work purposes. There is no need to have a miniature computer with me at all times. Never-the-less, I consented to purchases a Chinese SIM card. My Chinese teratoma’s father lives and works in Huzhou and agreed to help me buy one. Communication was difficult due to his very limited English and my lack of desire to learn Chinese. SIM card duly purchased, he drove me to a friend’s company for tea.
This particular friend owns several tea plantations in the region and imports teas from Sri Lanka for certain blends. A nice enough man, really. He gave me a package of his finest local green tea. Organic, of course – there is no need to risk one’s life with Chinese pesticides. Soon after, we went to dinner at a lake-side restaurant. The food was underwhelming. In Zhejiang, fresh-water fish is the staple. If it isn’t fresh-water fish, it is shrimp or frogs. With little exception, I dislike fresh water fish. The taste makes me gag. Worse yet is the way Chinese prepare shrimp. I quite like shrimp, but not when I am expected to peel shrimp with my teeth and spit out the legs, sex organs and digestive tract. Still, I survived the ordeal. My Chinese counterpart was likewise underwhelmed by the meal. I didn’t complain, but ate sparingly.
My papers are slowly coming together. I opened a bank account Monday which was an ordeal not made easier by my father’s nationality. I was obliged to fill in several extra forms for the bloody US government. Never mind that this is China, a sovereign state, ‘Murca, ‘Murca über alles! I need a few insurance details arranged before I can receive a residence card, but that is easily done.
What is most grating at the moment is idiocy at work. I agreed to help teach demonstration classes. I have no experience working with young children. I never liked working with young children. In fact, I never liked small children. Even when I was a child I didn’t like children. I kept a stiff upper lip and went through with it. No one fell asleep and no violent riots ensued. For me, at least, that was a stunning success. Halfway through, I let another teacher take over the lesson. He has more experience with young children and a better way with them. He is also far more energetic than me. The children did not mind me, but they thought he was more fun. Furry ‘nuff, as our much-cherished absent Ferret would say. I never claimed to be a bundle of energy; or, for that matter, to have much energy at all.
I was asked to go to the company’s new training school which follows the Waldorf curriculum yesterday. No one told me about this in advance. I was simply tossed into it and have tried not to show my searing contempt for that pseudo-intellectual, vapid bollocks too much. Had I known it was a Waldorf school I would never have consented at all. But, the horses are miles away from the barn at this point. I filled in the forms as well as possible and was asked to stay for the other teacher’s class. Bloody hell was that an experience!
He is a trained musician; specifically, a vocalist. He can change pitch, tone and voice readily. He can easily stretch syllables out so far that mediaeval torturers would have found it to be in excess. It sent chills down my spine. Even as a child I preferred simple, straight-forward lectures. More than half the class was dedicated to playing games – card games and numbers-games. If children made mistakes they were forced to make spectacles of themselves. Most went along with it, but one girl absolutely refused. She was far too dignified for that. I asked him several times over the course of the 15 minutes he was grilling her if this was quite necessary. He assured me that it was.
After that session mercifully finished I was detained and asked to give a sample lesson in front of the assistant teacher and 3 others. I had 5 minutes to prepare. As you could imagine, my lesson was not exactly well-structured or organised. The 4 discussed matters and left for 10 minutes to give me a list of “suggestions”. After 10 minutes the assistant teacher returned with a list of stinging rebukes.
Some of you have met me. Some have not. Those of you who have met me know that I have a fairly staid, low-key way of speaking. I fall short of my ideal, which is best illustrated in the following video.
However, this is my aim and what strikes me as best for my voice and personality type. I was thus accused of being boring, dull and unacceptably low-key. The following video is what they expect of me.
I was left utterly disgusted. They wanted me to make animal sounds and dance around in front of class. They wanted me to lead songs. I have a very thin, weak singing voice. I don’t sing well. On a good day, I sound like an asthmatic mule. I accepted their other complaint that I might try to introduce too much at once. Well, they had another complaint – that my dialogues were too complicated. What did they expect? My education experience includes writing lecture notes for university-level classes and assisting university and college professors. I rejected their singing, dancing and animal-sound suggestions out-of-hand. I told the assistant that these children are not idiots and should not be treated as such. They would, I argued, be able to tell right away that this was a pathetic ploy. I gave him a few samples “meows” and asked him if he thought that could pass muster with anyone. He laughed and admitted that it was pathetic. I nearly quit after that. Well, at least at that school. They would have enjoyed that, no doubt. Their foreign administrative teacher resigned his position last weekend. This leaves me and their American instructor as their only main potential teachers. Since I have 6 courses at their main schools, I am disinclined to give further lessons at their training school. It is not in my contract and I have other obligations.