I don’t think it does much. Feeling obstreperous or grouchy, I mean. Wanting to lash out at all and sundry. I’ve had a funny week, one instance trying to resist this mood, another embracing it, thinking it was cathartic or some sort of tonic. Let me give you one or two examples.
On Tuesday morning, I marched into one of my Freshman listening classes, as I have one of these classes then. Now I know, and am fully expectant, that the mains power swtich on the wall will be off. I remember when I first started teaching in this classroom that nobody, used to the college and its ins and outs, fully conversant with mechaniasms and main switches, had the courtesy to brief me about where to find things or where to turn things on. This was left to the students to tell me. Well, it’s hardly surprising when polarisation’s the norm at this college coupled with lack of communication.
I started the class going off an a short verbal danda to the students about nobody helping me with the switch and that it’s always been like that. Even though they supposedly expect you to be armed with a whole bunch of teaching materials, nobody advises you about using any of it. You just have to figure it out for yourself, and it can be damn infuriating. I quickly shut up. All I got was a scowl from one of the girls who scowls anyway.
Then there was my solitary class on Friday. As the class covers the first morning periods, although I usually get up in the small hours, the students are too lazy to care, and an ‘F,’ about anything I’d laid on, apart from being and getting engrossed in some college beurocracy or other – form filling or submitting names to a table on some A4 papers. This is, unfortunately, what happens from time to time among Chinese students. Their attention span regarding all things western can be all too brief. I flew off the rails and went into a lecture:
‘Look, if you don’t want to be here and would rather do what you’re doing, then fine, we’ll just pack it in. I’ve got plenty of other things I could be getting on with.’ This just drew a silence, them almost like folding uplike limpits or clams. That’s what happens when you try this with Chinese, a brick wall starts to face.
I mean it’s so contradictory. You force them to give presentations in English when, forced out, their potential for creative imaginations and expertise from some more than others is plain to see, then this happens – apathy or lack of interest. How absurd!
Whenever I consider this, a comment from Mark Eveleigh’s travel book, Fever Trees of Borneo, about an expic adventure in the jungles of that island springs to mind
‘Getting angry in Asia achieves nothing.’
Given what I experience and have experienced in China, I can see what he means.
I also think an associate teacher in another nearby college who spends a significant proportion of time getting violently reactive should think on the above quote. It might get him thinking or do him some good. Huh, here’s hoping…don’t be a wally.