My oh my. So now it’s very hot: Today the temperature was in the mid 30’s, but with the humidity it felt more like 40°C. My usual walk to school – a 10 minute journey down the main road – has become a gruelling ordeal that leaves me very hot and bothered as I arrive for class. Yesterday I made the mistake of going for a run in between my lessons and returned to school looking like I had stepped fully clothed into my own personal sauna. Not cool. Apparently it gets much, much hotter in August; but thankfully I will have returned to the UK by then.
Just finished my weekend teaching, which seems to get longer every week. It’s frustrating not having regular classes that I can work with and improve, and whilst I understand the logic of maximizing my exposure to all the students in the school, I can’t help thinking my teaching time is not being best-utilised. Having said that I had an interesting class last night with the oldest students (incidentally the ones I think benefit most) about their views of China and the role it will play in the future. I was expecting some very simple responses, but was surprised when they started talking about the economy, history and education in China and how they felt it would impact them in the future. It was the first time I had tried something like this and it’s something I will be repeating in future lessons.
In contrast, today I had my first sleeper: a kid in the front row of my afternoon class decided, on more than one occasion, to have a little sleep in the middle of my class. I was thinking of the appropriate response – shouting was high up on the list – when I remembered that these kids go to school from 7.30am until 5.00pm every week and then do homework on top of that at home, so come the weekends you’re bound to feel a little dozy. Rather than shouting, I asked him politely if he could at least sleep sitting-up so that when the headmaster came past I would not be in for the chop. He dutifully obliged.
A few things are starting to annoy me at school. One is the daily rendition of ‘The Beatles – Hey Jude’ that I am subjected too in my office. It’s not that it’s the worst Beatles song ever – that’s clearly ‘Yellow Submarine’ – or that its badly sung; just that I spend the rest of the day with the same, annoyingly catchy, tune in my head. God damn you Paul McCartney. The second thing is the 1980s era DVDs that are used to teach the younger children, which are so bad they make me want to scream. The videos, like most things from the 80’s – mobile phones the size of a brick; Perrier water; Margaret Thatcher – are just not cool anymore; a fact made worse by their drab production set, which seems to be a mid-level office that masquerades as an office, restaurant and a kitchen / bedroom depending on the lesson being taught. Oh and the ‘actors’ wear particularly bright clothes – yellows, oranges, greens – that are not, and will never be, cool.
I now have some time off before teaching again on Tuesday evening. I should be going to Shanghai tomorrow to pick up my suit (can’t wait!) but will postpone this until next week when I have been paid. I will get fitted for a leather jacket when I go back (for no other reason that I want one) so it’s better if I have some money to offer in exchange for said service. If anyone is interested I have just written an article for the programme which helped me come out to China. You can see it here:
I gave them the picture with the ‘willful man’ saying in the background, which I am happy to say they have included. Excellent stuff.