Monday, September 26, 2011

Violence is never the answer

So, when I decided on the name of this post, I had no idea how relevant it was going to become. I originally started writing this blog post during our Chinese lesson with Mr. Fu, because one of my head teachers today gave a child a bloody nose. I left it half-started and was watching some internet TV and grading papers when I found this:

If you can't tell from this wonderful picture (I don't have a
scanner), this is a drawing of a classroom. That's a person at
the bottom, holding a gun. There's a teacher at the front, with
their hands up, and an animal and another object hanging from
the chalkboard. I don't know what the side panel is.

This is a close-up of the teacher, who is yelling something.

And, a zoomed-in version of the shooter at the back of
the classroom.

 Naturally, after finding this picture, I was thrown off quite a bit. It's not every day that you find a picture of a child shooting up a classroom in amongst the spelling tests you're grading. I left to go show the girls and Iraise, and they told me I should definitely take it to Mr. Dong in the morning. There is tons of writing in Chinese on the paper, and speech bubbles in Chinese characters. At the very least, he would be able to tell me what it said and then inform the head teacher of what happened.

As I was standing and talking to Lauren and Iraise about it, Mr. Zhou walked by. I grabbed him and asked if he could translate any of it for me. I didn't have a whole lot of faith in his translation skills, just because his English isn't always reliable, but it was worth a shot.

He told us the characters on the side panel were too small to read, so we asked him what the top said. It had a bunch of characters and the English letters "C.F.". He didn't know the word, so he mimed it - sniper rifle. Okay, cool. That didn't make me feel any better. So we pointed at the kid with the gun at the bottom. The only words he knew the English translation for were, "very dangerous". Sweet. Definitely not feeling any better. We pointed to the top, by the English teacher. He said the characters on the desk said something about "American."

My brain - "Cool. This kid is anti-American and wants to kill me."

After a lot of stuttering, though, we got this out of Mr. Zhou: "There are four American groups. Some game." I wasn't sure what that meant, so he looked at the panel one more time. He told us the top said something about, "help me!" Still not making me feel good. The next one, he mimed an air mask. Thank God Iraise was there to translate that one, because when Mr. Zhou said, "no more air" and covered his mouth, I thought for sure he meant suffocation. After a few more minutes, we finally got to the conclusion that this kid made the drawing based off an American zombie video game called Cross Fire, hence the C.F. I'm still planning on going in to show it to Mr. Dong, so he can at least tell the head teacher and perhaps mention that it's not exactly appropriate to draw pictures of guns to give to your foreign teacher.

Okay, back to the original intent of my post.

I'm getting really sick of some of the head teachers here. This morning in one of my classes, I broke everyone into pairs and had them practice interviewing each other based on 10 questions on the board. Then, they had to write a paragraph about their partner to turn into me. The point was to practice using words like him, her, he, she, his, hers, etc. In Chinese, they use "ta" to signify both he and she, so a lot of kids have problems knowing when to use those words. Naturally, they were talking, since it was a speaking, listening, and writing exercise. Of course, there were kids goofing off as well. That comes with the territory. I was walking around the room and going up to those pairs to ask them where their paper was, how their progress was coming, and all of that. The head teacher heard the noise and came into the room to "watch". By watch, I actually mean do the following:

1. Bash a boy on the back of the head with a textbook for goofing off.
2. Take a boy out into the hallway to "talk to". This boy came back about 10 minutes later, with his entire shirt drenched and a nosebleed.

I'm pissed about this for two reason. First, the most obvious reason is that I don't condone hitting children, especially in a school. I especially don't agree with making twelve year olds bleed because they weren't listening. THEY'RE TWELVE. Of course they're not listening. Second, this completely and totally undermines any authority I've gained in this class, because it sends the message to them that their head teacher thinks I'm not controlling them and she needs to step in.

As predicted, things escalated after she finished "disciplining" the boys. After their time was up to finish their paragraphs, only seven kids (out of a class of 58) had finished. We had a little chat and I told them that it was unacceptable that only seven of them had finished. They had to sit in silence for 5 minutes while they finished their paragraphs.

Another problem I've been having with my classes is that, since I don't have a printer, I've had to improvise with my handouts. I use cards with numbers that I hand out to make partners, etc. I have to reuse pretty much everything I have with all of my classes, because it's just not humanly possible for me to make roughly 600 copies of everything. These kids, though, are so destructive with anything you give them. Half of the numbered cards they turned into me weren't even usable any more. They were ripped or folded or written on or crumpled into balls. We had a little chat about that as well. I told them that when I gave them these things, I expected them back, and I expected them back in the same condition. I don't give them back their papers crumpled or torn. Quite a few of them looked pretty ashamed, so I think I got the message across. We'll see on Friday! (That's when I see these kids again).

To end on a funny note, we had our regular Monday meeting with Mr. Dong. He was passing around a paper with reminders of how to be safe over the holiday that's coming up next week. One of them was to only take marked taxis, and I guess this was the one he found to be the most important. He told us:

"Only take marked taxis, and by this I mean the ones with the light. If you do not, they may take you to rural areas. Once you are there, they will sell you. Or they will make you their wife, because you are young and beautiful."

We immediately started laughing hysterically. I had a flashback of Paige telling us in training that her biggest fear was getting kidnapped.

Hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife. You might get snatched up by a taxi driver in China.

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