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avant-garde_chauvintist wandering through the garden of ideals

Chaos theory

CHINA | Wednesday, 23 April 2008 | Views [553]

My classes are generally a random conglomeration of my students' reactions to things I say or do. I plan, but things often don't go exactly as I plan. And any teacher will tell you that there is a LOT of improvisation that goes on in a classroom.

Combining that with my almost complete inability to keep them from speaking Chinese during class, and you get a pretty completely chaotic situation.

Most times it's fun. I make fun of the ones who don't pay attention enough to understand.

"Cole, what do you think?"

"I don't know."

"Do you know how to say anything else in English? Maybe, yes, and no?"

The ones who do understand laugh.

I play little jokes on the sleeping ones.

"Hey! Everyone look at Travis!" Everyone turns and stares at him until he wakes up to 20 sets of eyes crinkling with laughter in his direction. [Side note: yes, I gave him his English name. I gave him a choice between Paul, Charles, and Travis. Without even the ability to pronounce Travis at the time, that's what he picked. He does not look like a Paul, a Charles, or a Travis.]

I try my best to be a least slightly entertaining with big hand gestures to help them understand. Or dancing. Or singing.

"Wake up! Waaaaaaaaaakkkkkee uuuupppp!"

Today, my chaotic class was actually a discussion of the chaos theory. As a side to the events occurring in the second part of Back to the Future, I decided to make it a little more intellectual.

It sort of worked. They definitely and obviously have opinions about destiny and one's control over it. It's just hard for most of them to talk about in English.

I started by asking if Leonardo's life would be different if he wasn't late for every class.

"Think about it. Leonardo is late EVERYDAY. What if one day he's not late, and there is a big car accident right where he crosses the street everyday. Not being late would change his whole life, right?"

It helped them understand a little.

One student said, "God controls everything." Which surprised me in this atheist country.

Other students gave examples about how they've changed their lives.

"I will give an example. Today, I woke up at 7:45. I had 15 minutes to get to class. I left my room at 7:57. I had to decide whether to run or walk to class. Our teacher told us that if we are late, our grade is deducted by one point. If we are absent, it's two. I decided to run to class. I arrived 20 seconds before the bell. So, I think I changed my future by deciding to run."

I couldn't convince him that things could have been pre-destined to be that way.

Most thought that things are pre-determined, but we have a little influence.

In general, we succeed today in having a discussion about more than where to use "the" in a sentence. Regardless of their interest or crazy ideas, I enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed making six students who were sleeping get in front of the class and perform "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" to wake them up. Actually, that pretty much made my day!

Tags: work

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