Having read my last three posts that discussed some lovable and quirky behaviors of my Chinese students, some of you might be questioning my decision to teach at my current position. I mean, surely if it’s that bad, I should just move on, right?
I would like to clarify that I am discussing the rather far end of the Chinese student spectrum. You’ll be glad to know that once I purge myself of all the negative student behaviors I see and experience, I plan to follow with posts discussing the best things about my student, because there are, of course, many good things about my students. So don’t despair! I do not plan to wallow much longer, just long enough to surprise and hopefully amuse you with my stories of teaching in the trenches of China—a country with an educational system quite different from our own.
So! On to more student wackiness.
The Chinese student is not well versed in the procedure for passing in papers. When the teacher requests students to pass in their papers, most students hold their paper up in the air and wave them for the teacher to personally collect them. The Chinese student is apparently loath to hand their paper off to anyone else. Which is curious because usually they encourage their classmates to look at their papers, especially at quiz time.
God forbid they pass their papers down the row so that the teacher can collect each rows’ assignments at one time. No, the teacher must walk up and down, leaning across several students to get the outstretched piece of paper being held at full extension by the student on the very end of the row. Teacher begins to feel like a spinning top as he/she whirls around and around responding to the cries of “Teacher! Here!” from all corners of the classroom. Though the teacher might try to train students to pass their papers in in an orderly fashion, the success rate remains low.
For any given assignment, the Chinese student may choice to write their assignment on a number of paper types and sizes. Though many students will turn in assignments on paper of an acceptable size, other students seem to take pride in using the smallest pieces of paper known to mankind or being strangely thrifty by reusing previous assignments.
In China, based on this teacher’s experience with students, there does not seem to be a standard type of paper used for school assignments. In America, 8 ½ x 11 inch lined paper is the standard; I would not think to turn in my homework on anything else. I would not use cutesy little notebook paper the size of a Post-It with bunnies and Chinglish. I would not use paper that looks like it came from a refrigerator To-Do list. I would not use the back of my last homework assignment. I would not rip one piece of old notepaper into four pieces to share with my friends, none of whom came to class prepared. Though I included “acceptable paper choices” into my first class introduction lesson this semester, it does not seem to have stuck.
Am I off base here? Overreacting? Shouldn’t university students give some thought to the presentation of their work and follow any instructions given by the teacher? Sometimes I feel like I teach primary school, not university.
One more related behavior that I believe supports my portrayal of this particular breed of Chinese student—the student who comes to class with no textbook, no paper, and no pen. Behavior #8. And when the teacher asks him/her what on earth they plan to do in class without those essential items, the student rarely has an answer. Sitting in a classroom does not a student make. Period. Full stop.