The students are the boss.

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The students are the boss.

Postby TaiwanVisitor12321 » 10 Jul 2012, 22:53

Tonight I asked an extremely simple question about recent news in Taiwan. "Who did.... in Taiwan recently?".

This was just to get to the day's topic (set by the school) and get some discussion going. I got silence. Everyone knew the answer. Guaranteed.

Silence.

"Nobody knows? I'm pretty sure you guys have heard about this."

Silence.

"Seriously guys, this is not a test question or something I want to spend time on, just say the name so we can talk about this. This isn't very hard."

Finally a couple people blurted it out, and we moved on.

After class a regular student informed me that this question was too easy, and therefore stupid, so nobody would answer it. They're the boss and they can decide what they answer and what they don't. I told the student it was really rude and disrespectful because I'm trying to just TALK to them so we can get to discussing the topic. Everyone that overheard this looked rather surprised.

What the hell is the logic here? We can learn more if we fight the teacher and refuse to talk to him? Lots of classes act this way. I've heard people say they think if they talk they're wasting class time that could be used to learn new things, but delaying the class again and again to fight me about not answering questions is fine and dandy. Let's be silent and guarantee that we waste time and learn less so we can learn more.

Recently one of my students asked another student to respect the teacher because said student was being an asshole and insisting she's smarter than me and foreign people are dumb (which is typical for this lovely student.. I think that night she said that white people were barbarians... they love to make big nose comments too, it's so cute... I don't even have a big nose, but it's okay, it's just racism! I had a couple nice young girls ask me about waiguoren and their big noses today...), and the rude person told other people later, "Can you believe this? His student told me I should respect him!".. the responses were all like "Really??? I can't believe that!". Shock and awe, shock and awe. They said this in English... right in front of me of course. Classy. I told them the first student was right, but they just blew me off.

I really don't get what goes on in these people's heads. They pay me money to tell me I'm wrong, but they keep coming to class. At my school it's no big deal to go try out another teacher, and they are in no way forced to go to my class.. these are adults, not young students. If I'm so wrong, try finding another damn class so you won't waste your precious time.

I guess my question is what is my students' major malfunction? I don't see any logical thought process here.

Do you guys have any stories or observations about students' counterproductive attitudes?
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby flatlandr » 10 Jul 2012, 23:40

Don't let it get you down. I had a bully like that in my classes before who did everything in her power to get the other students to dislike me. She'd do c*nty things like fart around with the ac, tell me to speak slower and louder or mock what I said then type into her handheld computer and pass it around for others to read. At first it was frustrating but I found that if I just ignored her and pretended she wasn't there, the other students got the hint and she lost her claws.

Sounds like you've just had your confidence rocked a bit and you're on the defensive when you end up standing there like a naked juggler. As for asking them to answer your questions, I got sick of hearing monosyllable stupidity so I switched it up and make them ask me questions. I told them that where I come from teachers will consider a student a dunce if he/she doesn't ask questions in class. This seems to have woken a lot of the finger gawkers up and class rips by. You are right in that they are the boss/customer but you gotta take the bull by the horns with them and control YOUR class. You'll gain a boatload of respect for it.
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby TaiwanVisitor12321 » 11 Jul 2012, 00:11

I'm not so worried about the "bully"... that's a longtime student who thinks she's clever/cute when she acts that way. I kind of went on a tangent there about her. The point was that generally students in Taiwan (or at least mine) show a lot of disrespect (or at best, apathy) toward their teacher.

I just don't get this thing where they think if they waste class time they'll learn more. Why is it better to sit there letting me ask people three or four times about the topic of the day's discussion than to just give me the stupid answer so we can get on with it and learn something? Path of least resistance and all that.
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby Amasashi » 11 Jul 2012, 00:23

TaiwanVisitor12321 wrote:I'm not so worried about the "bully"... that's a longtime student who thinks she's clever/cute when she acts that way. I kind of went on a tangent there about her. The point was that generally students in Taiwan (or at least mine) show a lot of disrespect (or at best, apathy) toward their teacher.

I just don't get this thing where they think if they waste class time they'll learn more. Why is it better to sit there letting me ask people three or four times about the topic of the day's discussion than to just give me the stupid answer so we can get on with it and learn something? Path of least resistance and all that.

Taiwanese students actually show a lot of respect for their teachers, but only Chinese teachers, and even then only at "real schools". They know that their parents pay money to send them to cram school, and that cram school owners bend over to take it in the ass for business, so they can all sorts of misbehavior that they would never dream of doing in public school.

Sure, our job title has the word teacher in it, but neither the school nor the students will really view us as such. We're just a marketing tool, something to prance around the school to attract parents. Hell, where I work at, the Chinese teachers and the even manager don't even try to hide how they feel, which is that they do all the real teaching while foreign teachers are just here to clown around. And they convey that to their students too.

It's not that you can't try to be a real teacher, you just have to understand that the odds are stacked against you and you'll either have to put in at least twice the effort to get acknowledged or do the bare minimum to get paid.

As far as the answering questions thing goes, that's just the way the Taiwanese education system is. Taiwanese students feel that teachers know everything, that their word is the law, and they should teach the students by just telling them everything. Asking students questions is sometimes seen as a weakness, as if you don't know the answer yourself. Also, students feel that it's a waste of time to venture out an answer because no matter what they say, you'll have a better one, so they don't want to waste time and just want you to tell them the correct answer.

Unless I have a class with students who actually participate, I just end up answering my own questions. It's much easier this way. Or, like the above poster mentioned, have them ask you questions that are related to the topic at hand. Class goes much smoother this way.
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby bob » 11 Jul 2012, 00:47

I doubt that they could articulate this but I bet part of the problem is that they don't want any contrived feeling conversation. I mean you already knew the answer to the question, why the hell would you ask them? (I know, I know, because the bosss told you to....)

I'd clean up your your original post and use it as class material. You have to make it all "real" somewhow and given that you already have a beutifully written post that expresses your frustration you might as well start with that. It's a risky move, but in my experience they always want some kind "emotional" pay-off to a class. Right now they are getting it by abusing you and it is pretty unlikely that they will stop unless you stand up to them.

They'll like that fact a story was written about "them" and they will likley disagree with your version. Anyway, without getting too emotional, really fight out all the issues about racism and abuse and then give everyone (including yourself) the assignment to write a report on the more recent class.

In the end you might wind up arguing about how to teach/learn a language for awhile but other things will turn up and you can write new stories about "those" conversations.

My guess is that if you do this it won't be long till you are writing "nice" stories about your class. Then again the whole thing might blow up in your face. What's for sure is that life is definitely too short for the shit your are describing here.
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby jimipresley » 11 Jul 2012, 01:03

What I don't get is why everyone expects the Taiwanese students to "want to be learning". It's truly bizarre. They're KIDS! There's a BILLION other things they'd rather be doing.

Through all my school years, we used ANY opportunity to take the piss and do ANYTHING but "learn". If the teacher was a bit of a nazi, we'd be subtle and get them to tell us about any old crap that we knew interested them. If they were a walkover, we'd pretty much do what we wanted. Why do we expect the Taiwanese kids to be different?

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned. :ponder:

And they're not paying for it. Their parents are. The only reason some of them "want to learn" a useless language is out of fear of punishment from Mommy and Daddy.
You can live here and have a great life and not be the least bit into living the local life. Clowns will try to diss you for it saying you gotta get down with the program, but fuck em, treat this place like a buffet and yous be on a diet. Take what you want and nothing extra, slam those oysters, but leave the bread sticks and dinner rolls behind. - Deuce Dropper

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This post was recommended by divea (11 Jul 2012, 02:47)
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby Chavvinawa » 11 Jul 2012, 01:47

These adults are probably in need of psycho-therapy, which isn't readily available in TWN so they take it out on their teachers. A lot of them also believe learning is a one way process where the teachers do all the hard work by lecturing and the students just listen and digest. They won't progress very far if they keep that up.
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The students are the boss.

Postby headhonchoII » 11 Jul 2012, 11:47

I know a way to deal it. Don't teach them. Quit and do something else. I taught adults for a while, some nice people but they just sucked the life out of me.
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby creztor » 11 Jul 2012, 13:15

TaiwanVisitor12321, very typical classroom you have there, which I am sure you know. Just ignore them. You get paid to "teach" them and they go because they want to "learn". Whatever. If you dwell on it too much you will go insane. Nothing is going to change, ever.
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Re: The students are the boss.

Postby Exister » 11 Jul 2012, 14:51

Wow, I can't believe that is an adult class you are talking about! I was going to say I've had classes just like that, but they were 5th graders! I haven't taught any adult classes here in Taiwan (well, I subbed for a friend once, but it was a small class). I studied at the MTC in Shi-Da for 2 years and I can't imagine me or any of my classmates ever acting that way during class. Why are they even there if they aren't serious?
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