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avant-garde_chauvintist wandering through the garden of ideals


CHINA | Tuesday, 24 June 2008 | Views [916]

Carlos is one of my best students.  His English is pretty good.  His concentration is awful.  His desire to pay attention in class is minimal.  But his creativity…is astounding for a Chinese student. 

He often thinks of things that other students can’t imagine even after he’s said it.  It was always a joy to have his ideas mixing with the generic ones in class. 

When he came to class. 

Carlos decided early in the semester that I’d picked on him for no reason, and didn’t come to the majority of classes this semester as a result.  How do I know this?  He told me during the final. 

My only rule for the final was that they show up on time.  I allowed them to sign up in the order they wanted to come, but told them that if they weren’t there when their time came they got a zero on the final.  It was very simple. 

Carlos showed up late.  He missed his exam resulting in a zero on the final.  He showed up just after I gave my last final expecting to take his.  I told him no.  

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to give him is final.  It was that he’d basically ignored the fact that he had my class all semester, and managed to be one of two students who showed up late for the final.  I decided that he needed to learn this lesson the hard way. 

Chinese students have very little independence.  Everything is done for them (the picking of classes, the arranging of schedules).  And because they don’t have to do anything for themselves, it is very evident in class (they often forget their books, they don’t do their assignments unless reminded a hundred times, they can’t show up on time).  

He and I went round and round for about a half hour.  He trying to make excuses, me telling him that he’d made some bad decisions and there was nothing I could do for him.  Eventually, the apologetic young man gave up, decided to learn his lesson my way, and left. 

I felt disgusting.  I knew I’d done the right thing, but I still didn’t like the feeling of it.  I went home and checked his grades.  I’d given him a zero for participation for all the classes he’d missed.  I decided to amend that to a 25%, and he ended up passing the course with a 52%.  I sent him an email saying that he ended up passing the class, but I hoped he still learned his lesson. 

His very enthusiastic response thanked me and said he had learned something from the experience.

I only hope it’s true.



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