Posts Tagged ‘life’

I’m disappointed by The Times.

May 28, 2013

There. I’ve said it. I’m disappointed by The Times. It’s their coverage recent murder of the British army soldier in Woolwich that’s getting me upset. I mean I know it’s news, and so has to be reported, but does the newspaper have to publish a video the murderer’s explanation while he’s standing there with his hands covered in his victim’s blood? Did ITV? Did anyone? And yet The Times, a newspaper that prides itself on its investigative journalism did just that.

Can someone explain to me why that’s acceptable? Or right? Report the facts. Have the video as evidence to support your reports, but no one, I repeat no one, should have been allowed to see that video, unless they had do. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Don’t do something, just because you can.

This brou-ha-ha about Abercrombie and Fitch

May 12, 2013

There’s this storm in a teacup thing going on in America at the moment over comments made by the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch where he says his company tries and sells his overpriced clothing to the “cool kids” at school (so long as they’re so thin as to get blown over by anything stronger than a mild breeze).

In response I’ve seems people comment that he’s being cruel for not selling his clothes in “XL Sizes”, that he’s never had kids who’ve been bullied at school, that he’s “heartless”, and a bunch of other things that the speakers feel about him that cover much the same ground.

To a degree I can see why the complainants are upset. No one wants to feel as if they’re on the “outside” or whatever. But equally why should the company cater to the fat, ugly, or downright weird if they don’t want to? If you want to raise a child who is so craven in their need to belong that they buy jeans for $150, then be my guest, but I don’t know I’m sure that’s something you should be proud of.

Funny comments I got at interview

April 27, 2013

Today was entrance examination day at my school. The school gets a few hundred applicants, they do a couple of papers in the morning, followed by an interview in the afternoons. I’ve just come back from the interviews. Here are my favourite comments I got back:

Q) Pick a number between 1 and 5…….?

A) 34

Q) Pick a number between 1 and 5…….?

A) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Q) Choose a number between 1 and 5…….?

A) 7

Q) Excluding China, which is your favourite country?

A) China

Q) Which is your favourite country?

A) Which country are you from?

Q) What is the longest journey you’ve ever taken?

A) Three Days.

Q) Where did you go?

A) Beijing

Q) Did you go by train or car?

A) No we flew

Q) And it took you 3 days to fly there?

A) Yes

Q) What is the most important thing in your life?

A) My life (I said “Yes your life,” assuming he wanted clarification, but his answer was life).

Q) What famous old customs do the Chinese have?

A) Basketball.

Q) How far from here do you live?

A) 34kg

Q) Do you really mean kg?

A) Yes

Q) You sure?

A) Yes really

Q) Have you ever read a book in English?

A) I have a book in English.

Q) What’s it called?

A) The dictionary

Q) What job does your mother do?

A) She’s the boss.

Q) What is she the boss of?

A) The company.

Q) What does the company do?

A) Business.

They may not be the funniest comments in the world, but they kept me amused.

A surreal conversation here in China

March 3, 2013

One of the things I’m probably most embarrassed about, when it comes to my life in China, is my lack of language skills. I’ve got maybe 10/20 words, and I get by with that, and a lot of pointing. Given I’ve been here almost 3 years, it’s not good. I could defend myself by saying that I’m a visual learner, and that I have no chance of grasping the script, but let’s face it, that’s bunk.

Anyhow I was in the bank today (yes banks in China are open Sundays) to pay my electricity bill (£6 or $10 for the month for those of you who care). I was queuing up when I had a conversation with what the Americans might call a “greeter” that saved me 10 minutes in line. It went like this (with English translations afterwards):

“No card, no card” (You do know sir that if you have an ATM card, you can pay you bill electronically).

“Yes card, yes card” (Interestingly enough I think I have the card I need).

“Card, Card?” (You have an ATM card?)

“Card, Card” (Is this the card I need?)

“Card, Card.” (Yes that is the right card. If you’ll follow me).

“Card, Card” (Good but I can’r read Chinese).

“Number Number” (Put your card in the slot).

“Number Number?” (Do I put my PIN number in?)

“Number Number.” (Yes then I’ll press some buttons)

“Number Number?” (So I enter my Account Number now?)

“Number Number.” (Yes)

“Green Green.” (That button tells the machine you want to pay your bill if the amount is correct).

“Card Card?” (How do I get my card back now I’ve paid my bill?)

“Card Card.” (Press that button)

“Shi Shi.” (Thank you).

“Bye Bye”

A question of overly tight leadership control?

January 4, 2013

Ok, so I’m the Head of Science where I work. I wish I could say that makes me important in some way, but it doesn’t. I suspect more that it’s more a matter of being a cheerleader for the subject, supporting staff, doing the paperwork, and knowing that the buck’s going to stop somewhere near me if anything “blows up.”

Anyhow, the firm’s training me up to get some further “management responsibilities” (hopefully I’ll be climbing the greasy pole of management sometime soon), and asked me to research something at my school, which I did. It wasn’t anything serious, I wasn’t plotting villainous world domination, just trying to find out how students are assessed before they arrive at the school.

The Chinese response seems to be mistrust and unwillingness to relinquish any data, fearing it’ll result in a loss of control. I asked one person about the data, and was told one thing. When, in about 30 minutes, I disproved what he’s said, he told me something else.

That is something I’ll never understand about this place. I’m not dangerous, I’m no threat. If you speak to anyone, you’ll find out I’ve got the kids best interests at heart. They might find the students more boisterous than is usual in a Chinese classroom, but my results are good, and when I’m observed, I’m described as “highly effective.” So why keep menial pieces of data from me?

I’m told it’s the “Chinese Way,” that that’s what the Chinese do, that they view data as “means of control,” but it’s actions like that that are almost bound to make me come over all “dog with a bone” if the data seems innocuous.

A Chinese student’s ear for English

January 3, 2013

Teaching in China is interesting. The kids, in the main are good, motivated kids, who want to do well and succeed in the future, and that makes our job easier when it comes to presenting content.

One of the things I’ve noticed, however, is the kids ear for what I call idiomatic English. To my mind, it separates the good linguists from those that try. With the new kids at school, you learn quickly that you have to speak in short simple sentences when you speak. The Chinese have really good English, but it’s obtained by drill and rote learning. As a result, they know the words, but don’t have what I call that “fingertip feel for the language” (which isn’t all that surprising when you think about it).

By the time they’re about to graduate (or come back to visit the school), you hope you can build more complex sentence structures with them, along with a love of language. They’re going to spend the next 4 years abroad, so you hope they’re getting a love for the language.

My favourite example of what I’m talking about is the question “How’s it going?” To me, that separates the really good linguists from the rest. Ask a lot of people that here, and I promise you’ll get “To the…..” as an answer. I know they heard what I said, but they seem to translate the question as “Where are you going?” I ask that question a lot as one of my indicators of how strong their English is. That allows me to adjust my English accordingly.

I’ve had a really good accurate answer to that question 4 times now, and I ask it a lot. That probably tells me that our English department probably need to work on that sort of thing.

An interesting comment from a student

December 30, 2012

One of the things I’ve got to teach at the moment is DNA in my Senior Year class, and I had the students brainstorm what they knew about DNA. It was this that caused the interesting student comments.

First the students in China seem to think they are descended from Homo Erectus, which startled me when I heard it a couple of years ago. I’m not sure if the idea came from a particular bad teacher, or if it’s general across Chinese students, but that idea is there.

This lead to an interesting digression into “reliability of evidence.” They’ve been told the evidence is there by Historians (not necessarily the best explainers of biology), so we had a discussion about the reliability of evidence for a while.

The other thing that surprised me is that Chinese have no idea of their boarders. I was explaining that one route that early man might have gained access to China was through India. They were convinced that China shouldn’t have a boarder with India. Not that the boarder is in the wrong place, but that if India ceded it’s claim, they wouldn’t have a boarder at all. I ended up having to pull up a map to prove them wrong,

No offence to the Chinese, but they can be weird sometimes.