Winter is here -end of semester stuff (skip if you aren’t a teacher!)

Well we are fast approaching the end of our first semester here at ZAFU. The time seems to have really flown by. Everyone is making plans for traveling over the 5 weeks or so vacation that we have. We are going down to Xiamen for 2 days,then on to Hong Kong. From there we will come back here to fly home to Israel for a couple of weeks,before returning here mid-February to start second semester. I have been reflecting on the teaching experience a little here- and it is really hard not to make comparisons with “back home” even though it may be a little unfair,since I have not really taught much in the University in Israel (except for the Hebrew U summer programs and a few short courses here and there). Anyway what have I learnt? Firstly students here are SERIOUS! And I mean that. They are now all studying hard for their final semester exams,sometimes leaving the dorms at 7am and leaving the library at night.They don’t seem to have much life outside their studies except for a few clubs and activities that they participate in. Now the students who did presentations for me in class were very earnest and tried very hard,but were very boring on the whole.Many used powerpoint and played movie clips and music,but mostly just read from the slides and were terrified to just speak,in many cases they had no clue what they were actually reading. I think they had used the Chinese version of wikipedia and just run it through the translator.Yesterday I gave a class on the Liverpool Poets and tried to explain to them about the atmosphere of the 1960s,the Hippies and the Psychedelic music and art,and they were completely baffled. I just can’t get them to be creative at all,it’s really hard.They are polite,and attentive but they just answer you what they think you want to hear.

I would be happy if my colleagues respond as I am curious how it all sounds to you from “over there”. It’s pretty cold over here now-thank goodness we have a/c in the apartment and the electric blanket was the best thing we EVER bought. And the noodle soup in the new cafeteria helps a lot too (it’s a do-it-yourself thing-choose what veg,noodles and meat you want and they make the soup for you and all for 6 shekels a bowl!)




3 thoughts on “Winter is here -end of semester stuff (skip if you aren’t a teacher!)

  1. Ruth, my guess is that the Chinese classroom is probably geared towards hierarchy and probably still highly teacher-centered. What I have learned from your observations is: Students can either be creative and disruptive, or uncreative and cooperative, or uncreative and disruptive.

  2. Firstly, let me say how much I am looking forward to seeing you .To professional matters, SERIOUS IS GOOD!! The trouble here and the reason why education is going ( has gone) down the tubes is that the kids are absolutely unmotivated and the system doesn’t really give them any incentive to become motivated. And creativity – well, we don’t have much of that here either, except in the very good classes. And Google translation – well, half the work that is handed in(the other half doesn’t get handed in at all) is in Googlespeak, so – enjoy the seriousness at least, plus of course enjoy every minute you are over there.

  3. its natural to make comparisions. I think that in the school system here you encountered EVERYONE (since pretty much everyone goes to school) but in your universtiy setting I would imagine that students invested effort in being ABLE TO attend, so they take it very seriously.
    Enjoy your vacation!

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