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.
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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