Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Saudis vs. the Chinese

I was hoping for a 180 degree switch from the difficult Saudi students I had, but that was not to be. There are a lot of similarities between the Saudis I taught for 5 or 6 years and the Chinese kids I teach now.

There are a couple of big similarities:

1. Highly motivated not to study -- The students I've taught in both places are or were not there by choice; their families sent them there. The Saudis were 18 - 24 or so, the Chinese kids I teach now are 12 - 15, but they're at a similar level of maturity, and don't see that anything they do now will much affect their future. Students in both cases would spend a lot more time and energy trying to cheat, copy, or distract the teacher with various ruses than if they actually just did whatever meager work is assigned them.

2. Utterly sick and exhausted -- In both cases, I'm teaching kids who are living away from home for the first time, and are completely unused to taking care of themselves. In addition to being homesick, both groups will generally stay up all night playing video games and shitting around on their phones, and eat nothing except junk food if allowed. Therefore, keeping them awake during class is one of the biggest tasks.

The big difference however, is:

Chinese kids are really emotionally needy.

 This is exhausting me far more than the rowdy, disrespectful ones. Most of these Chinese kids rarely see their parents and got very little attention from them, and come across as very neglected. Showing them some kindness gets them following you around like puppies and trying to hug you every morning and things like that.

The Saudis all came from huge families and (if nothing else) had a tremendous sense of community and national identity; they surprised me with their confidence and, all things considered, seemed to be pretty well-adjusted.

These Chinese kids, however ... well, I'm pretty sure the term "basket case'" is not politically correct but I can't think of another one. Autism spectrum, ADHD, and dyslexia are just three things the Chinese school system doesn't seem to believe in, so those kids get kicked out or fail out of the state schools and then -- if they have the money -- end up in places like this, one of the international curriculum schools that actually have very few international students.

I compared this school to a reform school in the last post, but maybe it's more fair to call it something like the Island of Misfit Toys.

Anyway, summer vacation starts next week, and I'm planning to come back in September for the next school year to finish the 2-year contract.

That's the plan, anyway ...