Spoiled and Confused — China’s new urban generation – Part 3/4

A special (guest) report from the front lines of teaching English in China
By Chris “Foreign Monkey” Bewley

Most recently, I found myself having to literally, physically, throw out my Chinese teaching assistant (a recent college graduate with no classroom experience hired right off the street for a minimal salary) to avoid a mutiny from within.

You see, she absolutely refused to discipline the rowdiest students, and did nothing to help control their deafening volume when I was trying to teach.

A quarter of China’s rural youth overweight!

When I approached her about this, her response was: “you are not a real teacher!” I imagine that this assistant was once (11 years ago, to be precise) a spoiled, indifferent primary school student herself; how sadly ironic that at age 21 she still indentified with the students rather than with me, the teacher.

China’s universities are being touted with utilitarian promise, a promise that trickles down all the way to the elementary school level. The Chinese’s fear of poverty has undermined intellectual diversity; plagiarism and cheating are rampant and go unpunished, reading books is not encouraged, greater importance has been placed on math than any other subject starting in the earliest years of child development, and there are no other languages other than English offered until university.

Continued on May 28, 2011 in Spoiled and Confused Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Chris Bewley has taught English as a foreign language for the past 10 years all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil.

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One Response to Spoiled and Confused — China’s new urban generation – Part 3/4

  1. “reading books is not encouraged, greater importance has been placed on math than any other subject starting in the earliest years of child development”

    Unfortunately reading books among the under 40-age group is suffering in the US too. Most book sales and readers appear to be over the age of 40 so the publishing industry is desperate to find a way to get younger people to enjoy reading books.

    At least in China there is a focus placed on math.

    In the US, the only focus from the average parent is to encourage the average child to have fun and follow his or her dream as if the dream is everything and there is a guarantee that it will come true.

    In today’s America, many children grow up without the Cinderella concept that the coach will become a pumpkin at midnight and the horses will turn into rats or mice. Instead, the perfect prince is already waiting with the perfect job that will fulfill all a child’s dreams and wishes as if God includes a warrantee at birth.

    While I was still teaching English in a California public high school, we were urged to stop using red ink to correct papers since it might cause a student to feel depressed and to use another color such as green since it was considered a more positive color.

    In addition, it was suggested that we not tag homework as “work” because the word “work” had a negative reputation among many of America’s children. I never did figure out how to respond to that one and fool my students that work could be fun and kept on calling it homework.

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