I’ve finished giving mock job interviews to all of my students as part of their final exam, took two weeks, 202 in total! It’s been a good opportunity for them to get some experience as they really don’t know much about these things and also It gives me some useful knowledge, being the other side of the table for once. 🙂
I gave them the choice to choose their dream job, they had to arrange a time with me, sort it out themselves, those that didn’t do this will inevitably get a poor mark. Of all those interviewed, I would say that less than 10% would have actually got the job. I wasn’t being particuarly strict, it’s just most of them were pretty clueless and unable to sell themselves without jumping back to a memorised self introduction, that I explicity said was not allowed!
I’m teaching students in their 3rd year (out or 7) all of whom are studying to be doctors or dentists. Even though they are only about 2/3 years younger than me, they are very much still kids in many ways, quite immature, especially the boys who are more like 16 year olds. Don’t get me wrong, the students here are very hardworking, but they are compelled to do this, how much they actually learn is debatable. Sunday is their only day off, from 8-5 Monday to Friday they’re busy, Saturday is for practical experiments.Then there is my class which is in the evening.
So in all, over 40 hours a week of classroom time, not to mention homework! 🙁
I’ve taught at many different universities and my general observation is that the single biggest difference between the students here and at other universities is their provenance, not their ability.I would say totally, 85-90% of my students are from Changchun, most (if not all) have parents and or family relation that is a doctor or in the medical profession. Which will of course, in the future enable them to get a medical job upon graduation! Is this the same in the UK? Yes i’m sure it is but not quite to the same extent that it is in China.
Something I’ve noticed over the last year of teaching at this univerisity, is that students from smaller cities or towns, outside of the province almost always are better students. They are faster, more interested and much more likely to question things. One of my favourite techniques in the classroom to encourage debate, is to deliberately say a statement that will try to provoke a reaction; i.e something they disagree with – If only to get them to express their own opinions on things.
They are the few students that have the ability to critically analyse something, to use independent thought not just to blindly follow what other people think. I think this is partly due to their upbringing -because they have to have been very astute, motivated and diligent to have been able to have got this far – afterall the university entrace system blantently descrimates against those who don’t have access to the best high schools and thus the coaching for the crucial entrance exam.
However, more often than not in China, if you’re unfortunate to be born into poverty there basically is no chance whatsoever. Here you could be the next Motzart or Einstein but if you’re born into a poor family in the countryside you will probably never have the opportunity to show your talents. In this sense, It’s a nation of unfairness, a nation of real extremes, haves a have nots.
I think the big difference is that, for all its faults, in the west there you still have a chance, allbeit slim. Whether this is due to the education system, system of government, or the simple fact that the gap between rich and poor is not as big, I’m not so sure. 😕
Fortunately there are exceptions, take one of my students from a very small town in southern China, his dream to be a doctor. Or the Chinese korean students that are very, very quick. They have the added advantage of being trilingual – when you’ve already mastered two languages a third one is so much easier to grasp. The girl from a very remote part of northern China, bordering Russia, who brought up on a farm with no access to education as we know it – family used all of their savings (and borrow) to pay for her to go to high school and have a chance at getting into university.
On the other hand, the advantages to this system are that it preserves the status quo, keeps those rich people rich while allowing those who are not so poor a very limited shot. Which is what I think the system is trying to achieve i.e perpetuating the class system.
It’s sometimes easy being a foreigner looking at things in China, from my comfortable postion things may seem interesting or curious where in reality they are tough and not really very nice. I just wonder what I would be like if I was Chinese, born into such an environment, where the best and brightest or the richest and most lucky want to go abroad and most likely not return permananty.
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