Teach English in Xikou Zhen - Zhangjiajie Shi

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This is a much neglected point, dismissed as inconsequential by many, but one that deserves a much closer look. I recall I was invited to one of those parties thrown by the local teachers for the occasional visit of a district education inspector once — although I wasn’t teaching at the time — and, said gentlemen being somewhat in his cups, asked the general assemblage, ‘Can anybody here tell me what the primary quality of a good teacher is?’ The silence was deafening. Nobody was willing to commit: whether that be to ridicule, from contemporaries in the following months, or professional suicide. As I had nothing to lose already being at the bottom of the sociological barrel, and not being all that far behind as far as ‘being in the cups’ stakes goes, I thought I’d open my impertinent trap. ‘Well’, I said, ‘I’m not a teacher’. ‘Dushen’t matha’, he eloquently endowed. ‘But from what I recall of my secondary schooling’, I continued, ‘the primary quality of a good teacher is retaining sufficient humility to continue to learn, mostly from the very people he’s teaching: his own pupils’. ‘Theeeaar schpeeksch a wiysch man’! And every gimlet eye in the house, above every mouth that wished it had thought of the same words, levelled themselves on me with a look of such malevolent hatred the effect of which was to turn what had been a somewhat mundane night, for me, into one of delirious delight. The starting point has to be ‘In loco parentis’, ‘in the place of a parent’, a position in which many parents (dare I say, most, in the west?) fail in function. But this isn’t an invitation to assume godhead; it’s an invitation to understand that the terms responsibility and authority are inexorably synonymous, and hence a degree of self-policing that goes with that. This is where analysis comes in, and where things can get a little complex. Analysis is dependent upon perception, and that perception upon point of observation. Our point of observation is a result of conditioning from: • our formal education • our cultural background • the perceived power personalities that influenced our sociological conditioning . . . to name a few aspects.1 So, we must understand the point from which we begin analysis is a conditioned one already, and when that is transposed into another national context again, with totally different standards of judgement, inherent, things can get just a little complex and, frankly, just a little too much for some people. If you’re not well centred, the stance of ‘The Golden Lectern’ can be very appealing as a suit of armour, but this will cripple your abilities, severely limit your pupils’ potentials, and greatly curtail career prospects even in the most demanding market conditions. If you can’t deliver on the goods, nobody needs you: it’s not hard to analyse that. I’ve immersed myself in any number of different cultural environments and emerged from the experience all the better for it. I have been exposed to other ways of thinking that are totally different to those I have been brought up with, that have challenged me, yet, when I have examined them, have been unable to fault them, and had to admit to them being simply another way of seeing: an alternate perspective. The humility factor is there: I’m right to go. 1 From ‘Baseline’, Crosswell, 2003.