Home > General > Living With the Han 3: What Were They Expecting?

Living With the Han 3: What Were They Expecting?

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.

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Categories: General
  1. August 6, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I see what you mean – bad. I did some teaching of 11 – 19 year olds after retiring from bigbiz, but wasn’t expected to ‘perform’!

  2. August 6, 2015 at 11:32 am

    In the last years there’s increasingly been a move to “student-centred” learning in which the teacher is seen as being merely a facilitator. Part of this entails an expectation that teachers are there to entertain students rather than instruct them. I find it rubbish and the collapse in the quality of education and learning standards bears this out.

  3. christinaosborne
    August 6, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Oh dear! I can’t see this job lasting the length of the contract!
    Who were you actually contracted to teach and what? What age group?
    I too detest children, (which is why I only had one, soon saw the error of my ways!) I always avoided them like the plague and have never even considered doing any teaching. Why on earth did you take the job? Unless of course you were contracted to teach adults, in which case refuse point blank to deal with other age groups!
    I don’t know about you but I would rather have a job in a factory than go near children.
    No doubt all these new fangled theories of teaching are responsible for the total illiteracy of the world population these days.
    Back in the day, the up thing was Montessori schools. The boy duly was sent off to their kindergarten at two and a half for the odd morning. At the princely age of two and three quarters he was expelled!! For beating the shit out of some other brat over who should have some toy. Oh God! Trying to keep a straight face through the whole farrago was too too much, what a carry on. So I took him home and gave him a good belting for aggravation value and banishment to bed before I collapsed in hysterical laughter. never heard so much cod philosophy in my life!
    Don’t let the bastards get you down!

  4. August 6, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Tina: fortunately I only have 2 more lessons at this school before my regular contract begins. I was contracted to teach at a privately-run, state-owned school. I was initially told that I’d teach teenagers preparing to spend a year abroad. I am not that old so I can somehow relate to teenagers. I also worked with many first-term college/university students so I know what to expect. Then they told me that I’d have to teach 3 courses at their primary school and 3 courses at their high school. Now, they asked me to help at their pre-school/kindergarten. Enough of that. I don’t like them, they don’t like me. I only took the job because I was bloody desperate! If I had known this I would have gone to work stocking shelves in Hunland.

    My boss, for my second job, used to send her daughter to a Waldorf school. She was disgusted for some time but finally had enough when a teacher told her that the reason why her daughter was getting violently bullied was latent Karma from a past life — my boss is from Germany as well. Since then, she’s been going to a Jesuit school and has been doing very well.

    I’ve stumbled upon a new hobby — speaking to random Chinese people in Swedish. Their reaction is most amusing.

  5. O Zangado
    August 6, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Ahem! Good evening. The clip of Geoffrey Palmer reading an Evelyn Waugh letter is the ultimate demonstration of the quintessential English character from both participants and one to which all liberals, ragheads, anarchists, assorted flotsam and jetsam scraped of the Eurostar undercarriage, Londonistan byciclalists and those of a tartan persuasion need to aspire lest they want deporting from our shores to whence they came pretty damn tout de suite.

    I doubt this will happen, unfortunately.

    Sadly,the second clip, which I ‘got’ ten seconds in and viewed no more, presumably Japanese with ersatz Murican overtones, seems to personify the lowest aspects of European life at present. There is a series on Auntie BeeB these weeks showing attempts by whomsoever to introduce Chinese teachers and, more importantly, Chinese school discipline into some sink-estate comprehensive schools with the highest achievement ratings under the current English system. One brat was reported for making coffee at the back of the class during a lesson (he brought his own kettle. coffee sachet and sugar) and his mother thought he was stopped only for Elf’n’Safety restrictions. No, luv, He was reported for being an uncontrollable, arrogant, me, me, me Untermenschen (is that the right word?) drip-fed as such since birth. Likewise another pupil who fled a class in tears after just learning something called Zayne had left boy-band 1D. No, I’m none the wiser either, as was the teacher, but one wonders why the little brat was allowed a smartphone in class constantly to check her MyFaceAche account rather than learning arithmetic. Sit down, you ignorant child, face the front and listen. It matters not one jot how many ‘friends’ you have on MyFaceAche. Not one of them will come to your funeral anyway and there is no time to look up everything you don’t understand on Google. Quote, “Everything written on the Internet is true”. Abraham Lincoln.

    Christopher, I hate children too and have none, as far as I know. One of my best teachers when I was at school felt likewise with hindsight, but, as I grew up, turned out to be a superb mentor, teacher and a thoroughly good chap. You are one of few who has been welcomed to The Cave so far and I hope you enjoyed your visit.

    OZ

  6. sheona
    August 6, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    “Those of a tartan persuasion”? Hmm! And I was just going to say how pleased I was with England’s cricket success, OZ.

  7. August 7, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Sheona, you clearly pass our Norman’s cricket test anyway. It is on days like today that I really really miss Bearsy. 😎

  8. August 7, 2015 at 3:42 am

    Oz: many children are utterly useless. The “self-esteem” movement has taught at least two generations that they are special no matte how dull, drab, insipid, underwhelming or otherwise cretinous they are. They should “feel” good about themselves simply because they are able to breathe.In that case, perhaps cardiac arrest would be exactly what their delicate little egos need. It’s really no better in China and I am stuck teaching the mentally deficient progeny of les nouveaux riches de la nouvelle Chine. These are the children who could not manage to pass entrance examinations into higher-quality state schools and go there for their parents to save face. A few weeks ago one of their students caused significant water damage at UCLA because he used the ceiling-mounted fire extinguishers as a clothes-line. I envy the elderly.

    I remain grateful for being permitted to take refuge in the cave. One day, I hope, I might be permitted to again avail myself of its security without being and absolute nuisance.

  9. August 7, 2015 at 6:15 am

    Au contraire, some of my best friends, clanwise, are children. 😊

  10. August 7, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I suppose some children aren’t so bad, Janus. Then again, many adults behave worse than children.

  11. August 7, 2015 at 9:17 am

    My point exactly, C! 😏

  12. sheona
    August 7, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Oh Janus, be kind. You can’t expect Bearsy to emerge from his bedroom with the soggy pillow to face us.

  13. August 8, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Sheona, I was complimenting our host for his passionate support of the antipodeans. 😏

  14. Boadicea
    August 8, 2015 at 11:37 am

    How sad Christopher. I thought that China was the last refuge of ‘real’ education. I’m sad that my illusions have been destroyed. I loved teaching the Chinese and Indonesians in Darwin – they truly understood what education was about.

    Like Oz, I only managed 10 seconds of your second video… Not for me either!

    I do think some children are OK – but, like you, I despair at the ideology that teaches children that everything they do is ‘Wonderful’ and that they can do no wrong.

    A couple of years ago I read an article about my school, where the teachers were having to teach their students that ‘failure was OK’ because one could learn from failure. How sad. The Head Mistress of my time had no problems with telling us that we were wrong and needed to do better – and we did.

  15. August 8, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Boadicea: part of the problem on the mainland is that single children are spoilt rotten. Those living in rural areas or from poor families are not so bad, but those from affluent families are ruined. Many are unable to take care of themselves and require constant assistance.It is far better in Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Japanese continue to do fairly well.

    I try to encourage children and let them know when they get things right, but also let them know when they get things wrong.I made it clear that if they expected me to actually sing and dance I’d rather fly back to Germany. That made them back off quickly. They already lost one teacher.

  16. Boadicea
    August 8, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Christopher
    I recently read an article by an Ozzie Chinese woman who was bewailing the fact that one of her Chinese relatives expected her to meet her Single-Child son, who was about to study in Oz, unpack his clothes, do his washing, clean his flat, cook for him, etc etc. Needless to say the reporter was less than impressed! She quoted a Chinese report about one of these Single Children who had never even cut his own food, but had stabbed and killed someone who had not taken him seriously… what worried her most was that the general consensus amongst his friends was that he was entirely justified in his actions.

    If China goes down the road of educational ‘singing’ and ‘dancing’ they might well find themselves with the same bunch of illiterate, educated young people that infest the West!

  17. August 8, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Boadicea: oh, I met many people like that at university! Many more functional young Chinese are horrified by their counter-parts. I have already heard horror stories about the mentality that many have. They think that money will buy them everything they want. Well, it will buy them something — but maybe not what they expected. China will have terribly problems with the next generation.

    China’s poor get old-fashioned educations. They can’t afford anything else.Many of the more affluent are given “trendier” “educations” so that they, and their parents, can look more “modern”. Some have joked that it took the West 3 generations to decline as quickly as China did in one.

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