Ed Darrell at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub posted this article with a (correct) suggestion that the educational system in China is “kicking U.S. butt.”
I have to agree in many ways. While it’s certainly not at full-force as too many are left under-educated and poor in China, the population getting an education will be competing heavily with Americans in the next century. Susan Jacoby’s entry in a related Room for Debate post sums it up:
…But the utilitarian problem — we don’t have enough diplomats, spies and business people who know other languages — is rooted in the much larger dumbing down of the American concept of what it means to be an educated person. Most states have dropped foreign language requirements for high school graduation, and most students complete college without studying any foreign language. We’re a Know-As-Little-As-You Can-Get-Away-With Nation and proud of it.
As an American public school teacher, I had to sigh with a bit of truth as I read the original article’s description of students responding to the teacher. Call me old-fashioned, but education in America has babied students for too long. Moreover, any educators who do NOT baby students are left with obstacles greater than the teacher – overactive parents, consumer-gotta-have-it-now culture, and test score-obsessed administrators make a teachers’ job impossible.
It will be interesting to see what will happen in Taiwan. I don’t expect a complete walk in the park as my students ARE kids after all. I do, however, expect students to be overall more serious about their daily class time – maybe this will be the case… maybe not.
In other education-related news, Mrs. Mimi has a great – but unfortunately usual – post about our country not valuing teachers. I wonder if living in a culture where teachers have their own religious holiday will change things?
One can hope.
Now back to my own language lessons… hmmm…
OK – after a phantom blog traffic spike (30 per day when I don’t even check WordPress?), I’ve been inspired to say a little bit more… thanks again goes to Taiwan Blogs!
Lisa is an English teacher in Korea who posts about her experiences and I’ve been keeping an eye on her blog through an RSS (RSS MY BLOG NOW) for the past few weeks.
Her recent post does a great job of giving some examples of some notebooks with English writing that is just horribly mistranslated. Even my school’s webpage has big issues. While I’m all for realizing that their English IS better than my Chinese (my girlfriend Yuling is a great example – her English is always improving but kicks the ass of my attempt at Mandarin), it’s easy to realize that English ain’t easy just by looking at this (God, that sentence was confusing… consider me an example).
At the same time, I almost LIKE the “Engrish.” In Houston, we have a branch of a Japanese store called Fit. (Yelp) “Fit your life, fit your style” is the motto – not bad. The stuff they sell, however, is full of the nebulous and strange… sometimes unsettling… random sayings.
I’ll have to report back with some of MY OWN photographic evidence at some point. A big place you’ll find it is with cute animals and food with faces printed on plates and bento boxes. It’s great stuff. For now, check this out:
In other news/observations, Yuling watches a lot of a Taiwanese show called 康熙來了(Kanxi Lai Le, or “KanXi Arrives” – a variety show – see the Wikipedia here). Being a variety show, it contains a LOT of random stuff that I don’t understand. One of the most interesting things about all of this are the SOUND EFFECTS!
You’d think these things died out in the 70′s. Thanks for keepin’ it alive, Taiwan! The sound effect creators of the world love you.
Oh, and 5 weeks of school left – nearing only 3 months until departure!
This week, we’ve been getting ready for the state-mandated TAKS test at school. While this is a normal part of most states after the No Child Left Behind Act and I DID experience this in Ohio while student teaching…
…well, they say “everything’s bigger in Texas,” right?
TAKS testing is something that the state of Texas takes very seriously. Like cover-your-walls-you-know-students-taking-a-math-test-will-use-social-studies-maps seriously. Like OMFG-why-haven’t-you-covered-your-walls-yet seriously. Many teachers would rather be… teaching, but forget about that. In Texas, we test.
Since politicians who have never been in a classroom as a teacher are the ones who decide this, it usually sucks. I’m not going to get into the whining about my life next week, but here’s a rundown of what my school/district have done to “prepare” teachers and students:
- TWO hour-long trainings before each bit of tests (the first battery was in April for English/Language Arts) – complete with instructional videos that someone in Texas got paid for… yes… on how to monitor a classroom during a test!
- Daily ten-minute long Math-related “Jeopardy!” games instead of announcements. ”Because having announcements during class time instead (and taking time out of teaching the um… material) makes so much sense!
- Daily reminders instilling the fear known as “testing irregularities.” As far as I’m concerned, they’re thankfully like Bigfoot – I hear about them but haven’t seen them… yet. Wink, wink.
- On Monday: a TAKS Pep Rally! GOOOO Denominators(?)
In all honesty, I have no problem with some standardized testing. My problem comes with too much emphasis being placed on it for schools and teachers. My problem comes with politicians fudging numbers to look better – for example, the students can pass with a 60%(WTF?!)
Testing is something that a lot of teachers complain about – but it’s not just the pressure we’re complaining about. Politicians need to make a decent and well-thought out appeal to teachers by understanding that kids can’t be measured like lab rats. More trust being given to the teachers would be nice, too – but God forbid that happening.
I think I’ll go get some Rio Blanco Pale Ale now. As much as I hate TAKS training, at least my week hasn’t been like the owner of this red car:
(Different video, but same idea used by BadKidsGoodGrammar. She’s right when “Happiness is cold beer,” though I prefer the bottled variety.)