It’s that time of year again.
It’s reached that point in the year when I’ve had enough of the little shits in one class or the other. Again, the catalyst is the arts class, namely Class 5, who did absolutely bugger all yesterday. By the end of class I was so infuriated that I beat up some of the desks after class, and last night I woke up (2am or 3am?) to find that I had something like a migraine splitting the right-hand side of my head. I think it was a tension headache rather than a migraine, and having taken a couple of Panadol for it, I went back to bed and seem to have fallen asleep. The headache had abated by this morning, but because I hadn’t slept well, the rubber band had been stretched to breaking point.
As a consequence, Class 7 got it with both barrels this morning. Then when I resumed playing the tape, and because I could see Tony’s mouth moving, I paused the machine and told him to shut his mouth. That got a response in Chinese, which is all I’ve ever had from Tony. But he wouldn’t let it go and we got into a confrontation from which I was not going to back down. But because he’s not responding in English, I have no idea what he’s saying and only learnt afterwards from Linda that he claimed he wasn’t talking. But even although I couldn’t hear him because he was using the sound of the tape recorder to mask his voice, his mouth was moving in that way suggested speaking, some aside to Young, who sits next to him.
Admittedly, I may have been mistaken (he might’ve been talking to himself or have said, perhaps, one word), but he doesn’t get to talk back, and if he does, and I can’t understand it because it’s all in Chinese, then he’s doing himself a disservice because I’ll assume that he’s using some inappropriate diction. He’s typically late to class, usually pays no attention, chats away or plays with his mobile phone or both. In other words, it’s hard not to expect the worst out of him. He’s the very epitome of an arrogant 小皇帝. I’ve seen him in a fruit juice shop up the street on odd occasions in the evening where, on one occasion, I observed him sounding off as if what he had to say was ever so important. Well, pupils in my classes now and in the past, in a nation of 1.3 billion, what makes you so special?
None of this would’ve happened if some of the bratlings in Class 5 had actually done something yesterday and not made me feel as if I counted for nothing. I was nice enough to explain the features of Band 5 writing. No one paid attention. I was nice enough to go through the writing task to help them understand the topic, how they might structure their answer, and what their main points might be. No one paid attention. That left about half the class for them to do something. That’s not enough time to do the whole of writing task 2 in the IELTS exam, but they could’ve done something. No one did anything.
IELTS is rather difficult when you’re only Band 4 or 5. It’s not just the level of the English in the exercises, but also the language of the instructions – by native speakers, requiring a higher level of comprehension. The Chinese education system does no one any favours by generally overloading pupils with school work to do as little as possible to complete an exercise. Because of this, it means the moment they’re faced with actually having to put some effort in, to understand a text beyond simply reading the words, they don’t bother.
As I said in a post not so long ago, my Classical Greek is far less competent than their English. I’m much more dependent on notes and a dictionary, yet I still make an effort to understand writing that’d be classified as IELTS 9. It’s a hobby rather than an imposition, but I don’t start bleating, “Lots of new words” or “It’s too hard”. But I enjoy pursuits of an intellectual nature, whereas the kids in my classes are the ones who are academically sub-standard and who have merely bought their way into the school.
I would deserve my salary just as much if I didn’t bother doing anything in class since trying to teach my little darlings something achieves just as much as doing nothing. Ironically, we had a mail message from Central Command yesterday about the coming end of the term and how our pupils would remember us for years to come etc. I’ve probably taught about 400 students in my principal classes since I came to China. I’ve positively affected 1½ of them, I’d say, and positively affected another 1½ who were never in my classes. As for the rest, I’ve never had any further contact, although that doesn’t bother me.