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avant-garde_chauvintist wandering through the garden of ideals

This is your mind on university

CHINA | Tuesday, 18 March 2008 | Views [646] | Comments [2]

My university experience took my mind and inflated it with a bicycle pump.  Then, it turned it inside out, poured acid on it to make it melt, and blended it to a pulp.  Then, it poured it into a mold, slightly different from the previous mold, and baked it a little to harden. 

This is not unlike descriptions of brains on drugs and alcohol, but my mind-alterning experience was the result of university classes and many a conversation at Highland Coffees. 

It has long left my mind that university students in China are anything like university students in the United States.  But the conversation I had today with a couple of my students not only reinforced this view, but almost blew it wide open simultaneously.

THe conversation was simple, innocent.  I started talking about interesting, but general things about the students in my class.  Then, I asked them to ask each other similar questions.  The class went round and round.

"Do you have a girlfriend?"

"Do you think any girl is pretty?"

"What is your dream job?"

But one student had other ideas. 

"What do you think of the situation in Tibet?"

The other student had no idea what he was talking about.  "Nick, do you know what Wundt is talking about?"  "No."  "Ok, let's move on."

The questions proceeded with gentle prodding and outright jokes. 

Then, it got to one of the more English-literate students.  One of the more inquisitive students.  One of the more in-tune-to-what-Teacher Lea-is-thinking students.

"Lea, I want to ask what you think of the situation in Tibet."


"Because I think you know more about it than we do."

That simple, yet not so innocent question led to an entire discussion about the riots in Tibet.  I probably said too much.  But I pulled up articles on the computer (articles, mind you, that were not restricted by the Chinese government) to show what's going on in Tibet. 

The conversation was getting sort of heated, so I changed the subject.  But not before I asked two students to stay behind after class.  I wanted to see what they really think and try to understand why they think it.

The details are numerous, and, for fear of my blog being censored again, I will not relate them here.  But suffice it to say that these students are starting to ask questions.  They are starting to think for themselves.  But they are definitely scared of it.  They are scared of what might happen if their brain is blended and remolded.  They are scared of admitting that their government may not always be right.

And they aren't prepared to think that much anyway.

Tags: culture, students, work



you've made the great start on that^^

  You Mar 23, 2008 10:07 PM


i remember the conversations and experiences i had (am having) in school far more than the classroom lectures I sat through and I'm willing to bet that this will be one of the conversations your students will remember with a special appreciation...

  Lauren Mar 24, 2008 1:08 AM

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