Caught in the Middle.

By Bryan • china, nanjing • 10 Nov 2005

My food and daily necessities are supplied via my salary that I recieve from ‘doing time’ at one of the local middle schools (apparently the best middle school in Nanjing).

The Urban Dictionary (for the net geek in all of us) describes Middle Schools as:

Deepest pit in hell, a place where despair and agony don’t just describe your energy bar, but describe your life. Joy is seldom granted, but you come out a stronger human being.

The description is most likely written from a students perspective, but it is generally a fairly good analogy for the life of a foreign teacher at Shuren International.

Enter “Drill Sergeant Bryan”. The name is now apt. I kung fu’d my desk last week out of frustration, causing the cheap illegally harvested wood particle board to snap in half. This granted my approximately 20 seconds of undivided attention which I attempted to issue instructions to “turn to page 33”. Half the class managed to complete this simple order with the assistance of the numeral 33 written on the board and page 33 spoken in Chinese.

With the exception of breaking every desk (that happend only once) such is the situation 9/12 classes.

I long for my days of earning clams at a university level. After last night, even more so.

I hosted an English corner as a favor to a friend of mine who is teaching out in the well named “University City” of Nanjing. A relativily new district, University city is good hour by bus from my home. The burbs’. 4 University campuses, with 5 more beginning construction next year.

I’m in love. This is how I’m suppose to be earning my coin…teaching people, not the wall. I did not check my watch once, instead, found myself being dragged out of the classroom because it was far, far past my allotted time. Largely because of a lengthy discussion regarding my opinions and thoughts on Shanghai (there were a few Shanghaiese in the class). This led to a very indepth forum on the situation in rural and urban China.

University City is just too far away…..

Foreign teachers should only be utilized in such an environment. Where students have a solid English foundation. They listen. They care. Grammar instruction is not needed. Discipline is not needed. One’s skills as a native speaker are utilized as a tool to introduce colloquial language, improve fluency, edit writing, discuss topics to increase language range and adapability. To hire foreign teachers in a capacity other than advanced English learning (or in some cases, motivated adult beginners) is a waste of time and money for all parties concerned.

I don’t want to work tommorrow.

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3 Responses

  1. Sue

    This must be a genetic thing. Your dad did the same thing to the photocopy machine a couple years ago (smashed the glass using a little too much force on the lid!) Maybe you need to liven your lessons up even more – perhaps a lesson in ‘Useful English Swear Words.

  2. Fraser

    I suggest a different tact – lecture about your views on the soil erosion of third generation coastal B.C. timber plots. In 10 mins, they’re all fast asleep and you’re practising your dance moves for the nightclubs.

    Seriously though (commenting on your last few posts), I can imagine it’s gotta be pretty hard at times making it through a day feeling like you aren’t being used effectively. It’s not an easy thing you’re doing B – people have a romantic notion of spending time in a foreign place, but forget how much we depend on our own culture and language to get by – don’t think about the daily struggle just to do simple things we normally take for granted.

    Keep your head up man, you’re doing well for yourself.

  3. Bryan

    Thanks guys :-)

    Yeah, I’m doing all right….and so it my hockey team!

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