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Re: Any advice?

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  • fshdt
    ... We edited ... Nostradamus ... - this ... contentious ... No, not contentious for any of my students. But my Chinese students wqouldn t know when WW2 was
    Message 1 of 14 , May 1, 2002
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      > this evening there was an e-mail from one of my editors saying - '
      We edited
      > out the piece on tarot cards + don't want to run with the
      Nostradamus
      > worksheet as it includes references to WW2, Hitler and the Kenedy's'
      - this
      > is material for SE Asia & the Far East. - are these really
      contentious
      > issues?
      >
      > Dr Evil

      No, not contentious for any of my students. But my Chinese students
      wqouldn't know when WW2 was and would be pretty hazy when it came to
      Hitler and Kennedy. They might know the name but I would have to give
      history lessons before I could use them in any sophisticated way in a
      lesson.

      Dick
    • Colin Mackenzie
      Adrian says ... Doesn t this illustrate why we want to concentrate on what the teacher and the students bring to the classroom. If the teacher has enough
      Message 2 of 14 , May 1, 2002
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        Adrian says
        > this evening there was an e-mail from one of my editors saying - '
        >We edited
        >> out the piece on tarot cards + don't want to run with the
        >Nostradamus
        >> worksheet as it includes references to WW2, Hitler and the Kenedy's'
        >- this
        >> is material for SE Asia & the Far East. - are these really
        >contentious
        > > issues?

        >Dick replies
        >No, not contentious for any of my students. But my Chinese students
        >wqouldn't know when WW2 was and would be pretty hazy when it came to
        >Hitler and Kennedy. They might know the name but I would have to give
        >history lessons before I could use them in any sophisticated way in a
        >lesson.

        Doesn't this illustrate why we want to concentrate on what the
        teacher and the students bring to the classroom. If the teacher has
        enough interest in the particular histories of WWII, Hitler or
        Kennedy, then perhaps they can enthuse the students, if the students
        know a little about them they can perhaps find something to say. If
        not, it doesn't matter if they are contentious or not, they are not
        particularly useful subjects in that classroom. It comes back to
        particularity.

        Sorry Diarmuid, doesn't really address your original mail. I'm not
        sure I understand what you mean by professional issues, isn't
        anything that impacts on what we do in the class a professional issue?

        Colin
      • Diarmuid
        Just to clarify, the term professional issues isn t mine. The brief that we ve been given is to demonstrate the skill and ability to research and critically
        Message 3 of 14 , May 1, 2002
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          Just to clarify, the term 'professional issues' isn't mine. The brief that we've been given is to demonstrate the skill and ability to research and critically comment upon a topic of professional relevance and to disseminate the researched findings to other course members.

          The problem comes from the fact that the course is aimed at people working wihin FE in England. I work for an EFL dept within FE, but we are self-financed and thus not really subject to the rules and regulations of FE. Thus, whilst 'current debates, initiatives and controversies within post-compulsory education and training' are of direct relevance to my colleagues on the course, they're not so relevant to me.

          So far, I've recieved the following suggestions: the role of coursebooks; the learning/teaching mismatch between western teaching and eastern learning styles; and choosing what type of English we should be aiming for. Any other suggestions gratefully received


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • fshdt
          ... Yes, that s about it. For many Chinese students these are not topics of any interest. I wish there was a more outward looking approach to the world but it
          Message 4 of 14 , May 1, 2002
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            > Doesn't this illustrate why we want to concentrate on what the
            > teacher and the students bring to the classroom. If the teacher has
            > enough interest in the particular histories of WWII, Hitler or
            > Kennedy, then perhaps they can enthuse the students, if the students
            > know a little about them they can perhaps find something to say. If
            > not, it doesn't matter if they are contentious or not, they are not
            > particularly useful subjects in that classroom. It comes back to
            > particularity.
            >

            > Colin

            Yes, that's about it. For many Chinese students these are not topics
            of any interest. I wish there was a more outward looking approach to
            the world but it just isn't there. I do not have time to give lectures
            (or any other type of history teaching) and I'd have such a hard time
            motivating a substantial portion of the class that I don't even try
            unless I have to. Some students would actively reject my attempts as
            trying to impose western culture on them.

            I think their attitude leads to navel gazing and also limits their
            ability to acquire English because so much material originates from
            native speakers and includes cultural and historical elements. The
            constant need to reject influences their attitude to the language.

            Dick
          • lifang67
            I wonder how many non-Chinese on this list can correctly answer the following questions: a) When did World War II start in China? (The month and the date as
            Message 5 of 14 , May 1, 2002
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              I wonder how many non-Chinese on this list can correctly answer the
              following questions:

              a) When did World War II start in China? (The month and the date as
              well as the year)

              b) Who was the Japanese Quisling who ruled China during World War II?

              c) How many Chinese died in the war?

              d) How many Chinese people starved to death during the "Three
              Disaster Years" that JFK was president of the USA?

              (Answers below)

              Some Chinese kids might have some trouble with the last one, because
              it's still a state secret, but I'm quite sure they could answer at
              least two out of the first three (as long as they are mainlanders).
              In fact, they can probably sing you a very beautiful song in answer
              to the first question.

              My point is not a general one about not confusing a particularly
              tendentious variety of human history with the total human experience--
              although during the period of history we are talking about the
              Chinese view of events was far more representative of humankind than
              the view which has now become standard "world" history (that is, the
              official hagiography of Western imperialisms).

              My point is this: your learners DO bring of knowledge about World War
              II and even JFK to your class. It's just not the same knowledge that
              you have, or your textbook contains. Vive la difference!

              dk

              a) The 18th of September 1931, with the Japanese invasion of Chinese
              Northeast.
              b) Wang Jingwei, whom the Allies first denounced as a Communist and
              then helped to prop up; he abandoned the Allies because he thought
              Japan would win the war.
              c) Over twenty million, that is, over three hundred times the number
              of Americans who lost their lives.
              d) Somewhere between twenty million (official figure) and forty
              million (unofficial). It is the only time in recorded history that
              the population of China declined. China could not receive famine
              relief because of the opposition of JFK.

              d
            • fshdt
              ... II? ... experience-- ... War ... I took a little time to reply to this because I wanted to check it out with students. My mainland students are a minority,
              Message 6 of 14 , May 14, 2002
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                --- In dogme@y..., "lifang67" <kellogg@n...> wrote:
                > I wonder how many non-Chinese on this list can correctly answer the
                > following questions:
                >
                > a) When did World War II start in China? (The month and the date as
                > well as the year)
                >
                > b) Who was the Japanese Quisling who ruled China during World War
                II?
                >
                > c) How many Chinese died in the war?
                >
                > d) How many Chinese people starved to death during the "Three
                > Disaster Years" that JFK was president of the USA?
                >
                > (Answers below)
                >
                > Some Chinese kids might have some trouble with the last one, because
                > it's still a state secret, but I'm quite sure they could answer at
                > least two out of the first three (as long as they are mainlanders).
                > In fact, they can probably sing you a very beautiful song in answer
                > to the first question.
                >
                > My point is not a general one about not confusing a particularly
                > tendentious variety of human history with the total human
                experience--
                > although during the period of history we are talking about the
                > Chinese view of events was far more representative of humankind than
                > the view which has now become standard "world" history (that is, the
                > official hagiography of Western imperialisms).
                >
                > My point is this: your learners DO bring of knowledge about World
                War
                > II and even JFK to your class. It's just not the same knowledge that
                > you have, or your textbook contains. Vive la difference!
                >
                > dk
                >
                > a) The 18th of September 1931, with the Japanese invasion of Chinese
                > Northeast.
                > b) Wang Jingwei, whom the Allies first denounced as a Communist and
                > then helped to prop up; he abandoned the Allies because he thought
                > Japan would win the war.
                > c) Over twenty million, that is, over three hundred times the number
                > of Americans who lost their lives.
                > d) Somewhere between twenty million (official figure) and forty
                > million (unofficial). It is the only time in recorded history that
                > the population of China declined. China could not receive famine
                > relief because of the opposition of JFK.
                >
                I took a little time to reply to this because I wanted to check it out
                with students. My mainland students are a minority, 6 out of a class
                of 23. Some of the Macau students are mainland born but it doesn't do
                to ask too many equations about this. Any way, none of them knew
                the answers. The mainlanders are not typical because they have been
                given scholarships here and so they are rich or at least have guanxi
                to get the money.
                When it came to JFK one student asked a question, something that does
                not happen every day, not spontaneously. She did know about the famine
                during the 'great leap forward' and wanted to know how JFK or any
                foreign leader could have sent aid to a famine that was vigourously
                denied by the government of China, a government that also controlled
                all the means of distribution.

                This leads to another problem that crops up every so often in my
                classes. I want to be student centred (though of course every bit of
                student centering I do has a fair dollop of me in it, but I try) but
                my mainland students recently volunteered some information to me and
                the class. They told me that Tibetans, being primitive peoples, had
                special dispensation from the Peoples Government to commit two murders
                for free before they would be arrested. I've managed OK with the old
                heavy US turbo-prop committing aero-suicide by out-manoeurvring a jet
                fighter and with the HK beief that the civil service pension fund was
                bankrupt because it had been emptied to fight Maggie's Falklands War
                (no, no, no, she was evil but not stoopid). I've survived Poles who've
                told me that Hitler was too soft, Saudis who've explained that in
                their country women are treated equally but different and that's why
                they can't be allowed to drive cars, explanations of why women get
                stoned to death for adultery when their adulterous partners don't
                (yes, the poor men were tempted by the sight of an ankle, elbow,
                cheekbone or whatever), Hong Kongers who tell me that the Race
                Relations """""""advisory""""""" board can't include non-Chinese
                because they are not fluent in Cantonese, Latin Americans who told me
                there were no indigenous people left in their country (in a class
                containing a Quecha speaker, a union organiser in Bolivia who was
                jailed, escaped to Chile, jailed, escaped to Argentina, jailed,
                escaped to UK, I'm so glad he was there on that one particular
                occasion to put them to rights), and so on, so many times.

                Now, when you teach, you should accept students' views and incorporate
                them into the lesson as valid opinions. Students need to be valued.
                But when those views are bullshit? In an L1 situation teachers can
                argue the toss. Students in UK and US are in a subordinate position
                but they have the ability and language command to answer back. But in
                an EFL situation, especially one where you have a monolingual,
                monocultural class, you may have to nod and smile about some opinions
                expressed about Tutsis in Ruanda, about those who had their limbs
                removed in Sierra Leone, about Jews in Morrocco, about the Orang Asli
                in Malaysia and Indonesia, about the Christian minorities in the
                Moluccas and the Muslim minorities from Mindanao who are
                'infiltrating' other provinces in the Philippines.

                Our students are not virgin sweeties any more than we are. And when we
                are 'stranded in another culture' the advice to 'let the students
                inform us' can rebound on our senses and our logic.

                How do you cope when students say things that are unacceptable?

                Dick
              • Tom Topham
                ... If all Chinese agree that Tibetans are subhuman, who says that this opinion is unacceptable? I usually try to call them on it, not in an I am right, learn
                Message 7 of 14 , May 14, 2002
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                  >Now, when you teach, you should accept students' views and incorporate
                  >them into the lesson as valid opinions. Students need to be valued.
                  >But when those views are bullshit? How do you cope when students say things
                  >that are unacceptable?
                  >
                  >Dick
                  If all Chinese agree that Tibetans are subhuman, who says that this opinion
                  is unacceptable?

                  I usually try to call them on it, not in an "I am right, learn this" way,
                  but as an honest exchange of opinions.

                  Specifically, Dick, we share the Poles/Jews experience, and I have had a few
                  very good Dogme moments in classrooms in a debate of me (and a minority of
                  students) arguing against the racism of the majority.

                  It is an interesting logical conundrum - people should be open and tolerant
                  and accept difference, so I will accept that you people are virulent racists
                  who want to stamp out difference (or won't, either way the logic breaks
                  down).

                  I've never worked in China, don't know if politics/informants/expulsion from
                  the country could be real issues?








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                • lifang67
                  Dick: I don t see how the student who asked what seems to me to be a very reasonable question leads you to the problem you cite. It rather seems as if she is
                  Message 8 of 14 , May 14, 2002
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                    Dick:

                    I don't see how the student who asked what seems to me to be a very
                    reasonable question leads you to the problem you cite. It rather
                    seems as if she is leading away from it.

                    As for the problem you cite, assuming it is not rhetorical: we remain
                    student centered in the face of student nonsense by the simple
                    expedient of humbly allowing the teacher's own views the same
                    withering criticism to which the teacher would subject theirs. Where
                    that is not possible, the teacher must hold his tongue.

                    For example. A Chinese pilot tries to put himself between an
                    imperialist spy plane and his homeland. He loses his life in the
                    attempt. Teacher, what the hell difference could it possibly make
                    what kind of planes were being flown, except to the manufacturers?

                    If your kids are in a position to answer you that way, I would say
                    the topic is fair game. Otherwise, I would find a topic where they
                    feel more at home.

                    I think that your sample is, as you admit, not representative, but
                    nevertheless terrifying. It suggests to me how much the Western
                    dominated climate which both engenders and is engendered by the EFL
                    business has succeeding in brainwashing people, the extent to which
                    Chinese young people have adopted the myth of the West and forgotten
                    their own history. (But it's still a beautiful song.)

                    dk
                  • John Moorcroft
                    i have always found that the tone of all the parsnips issues (politics, sex, race, alcohol, narcotics etc.) in language classrooms will be led by the shared
                    Message 9 of 14 , May 17, 2002
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                      i have always found that the tone of all the 'parsnips' issues (politics, sex, race, alcohol, narcotics etc.) in language classrooms will be led by the shared culture of all of the participants. The exchange of ideas between the students will dictate the agenda. A native speaker has to be a diplomat and everywhere that i have taught as a visiting foreigner, students may have been curious about my views on parsnips but I find the discussion works much better if i keep them to myself. definitely occasions for restricting TTT. I may make comments on what 'most people in my country seem to think' or (if I happen to know) my government's policy towards but never without serious badgering form the class!




                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: fshdt <fshdt@...>
                      To: dogme@yahoogroups.com <dogme@yahoogroups.com>
                      Date: 14 May 2002 16:28
                      Subject: [dogme] Re: Any advice?


                      --- In dogme@y..., "lifang67" <kellogg@n...> wrote:
                      > I wonder how many non-Chinese on this list can correctly answer the
                      > following questions:
                      >
                      > a) When did World War II start in China? (The month and the date as
                      > well as the year)
                      >
                      > b) Who was the Japanese Quisling who ruled China during World War
                      II?
                      >
                      > c) How many Chinese died in the war?
                      >
                      > d) How many Chinese people starved to death during the "Three
                      > Disaster Years" that JFK was president of the USA?
                      >
                      > (Answers below)
                      >
                      > Some Chinese kids might have some trouble with the last one, because
                      > it's still a state secret, but I'm quite sure they could answer at
                      > least two out of the first three (as long as they are mainlanders).
                      > In fact, they can probably sing you a very beautiful song in answer
                      > to the first question.
                      >
                      > My point is not a general one about not confusing a particularly
                      > tendentious variety of human history with the total human
                      experience--
                      > although during the period of history we are talking about the
                      > Chinese view of events was far more representative of humankind than
                      > the view which has now become standard "world" history (that is, the
                      > official hagiography of Western imperialisms).
                      >
                      > My point is this: your learners DO bring of knowledge about World
                      War
                      > II and even JFK to your class. It's just not the same knowledge that
                      > you have, or your textbook contains. Vive la difference!
                      >
                      > dk
                      >
                      > a) The 18th of September 1931, with the Japanese invasion of Chinese
                      > Northeast.
                      > b) Wang Jingwei, whom the Allies first denounced as a Communist and
                      > then helped to prop up; he abandoned the Allies because he thought
                      > Japan would win the war.
                      > c) Over twenty million, that is, over three hundred times the number
                      > of Americans who lost their lives.
                      > d) Somewhere between twenty million (official figure) and forty
                      > million (unofficial). It is the only time in recorded history that
                      > the population of China declined. China could not receive famine
                      > relief because of the opposition of JFK.
                      >
                      I took a little time to reply to this because I wanted to check it out
                      with students. My mainland students are a minority, 6 out of a class
                      of 23. Some of the Macau students are mainland born but it doesn't do
                      to ask too many equations about this. Any way, none of them knew
                      the answers. The mainlanders are not typical because they have been
                      given scholarships here and so they are rich or at least have guanxi
                      to get the money.
                      When it came to JFK one student asked a question, something that does
                      not happen every day, not spontaneously. She did know about the famine
                      during the 'great leap forward' and wanted to know how JFK or any
                      foreign leader could have sent aid to a famine that was vigourously
                      denied by the government of China, a government that also controlled
                      all the means of distribution.

                      This leads to another problem that crops up every so often in my
                      classes. I want to be student centred (though of course every bit of
                      student centering I do has a fair dollop of me in it, but I try) but
                      my mainland students recently volunteered some information to me and
                      the class. They told me that Tibetans, being primitive peoples, had
                      special dispensation from the Peoples Government to commit two murders
                      for free before they would be arrested. I've managed OK with the old
                      heavy US turbo-prop committing aero-suicide by out-manoeurvring a jet
                      fighter and with the HK beief that the civil service pension fund was
                      bankrupt because it had been emptied to fight Maggie's Falklands War
                      (no, no, no, she was evil but not stoopid). I've survived Poles who've
                      told me that Hitler was too soft, Saudis who've explained that in
                      their country women are treated equally but different and that's why
                      they can't be allowed to drive cars, explanations of why women get
                      stoned to death for adultery when their adulterous partners don't
                      (yes, the poor men were tempted by the sight of an ankle, elbow,
                      cheekbone or whatever), Hong Kongers who tell me that the Race
                      Relations """""""advisory""""""" board can't include non-Chinese
                      because they are not fluent in Cantonese, Latin Americans who told me
                      there were no indigenous people left in their country (in a class
                      containing a Quecha speaker, a union organiser in Bolivia who was
                      jailed, escaped to Chile, jailed, escaped to Argentina, jailed,
                      escaped to UK, I'm so glad he was there on that one particular
                      occasion to put them to rights), and so on, so many times.

                      Now, when you teach, you should accept students' views and incorporate
                      them into the lesson as valid opinions. Students need to be valued.
                      But when those views are bullshit? In an L1 situation teachers can
                      argue the toss. Students in UK and US are in a subordinate position
                      but they have the ability and language command to answer back. But in
                      an EFL situation, especially one where you have a monolingual,
                      monocultural class, you may have to nod and smile about some opinions
                      expressed about Tutsis in Ruanda, about those who had their limbs
                      removed in Sierra Leone, about Jews in Morrocco, about the Orang Asli
                      in Malaysia and Indonesia, about the Christian minorities in the
                      Moluccas and the Muslim minorities from Mindanao who are
                      'infiltrating' other provinces in the Philippines.

                      Our students are not virgin sweeties any more than we are. And when we
                      are 'stranded in another culture' the advice to 'let the students
                      inform us' can rebound on our senses and our logic.

                      How do you cope when students say things that are unacceptable?

                      Dick



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